Positive Disintegration
Positive Disintegration Podcast
Dabrowski 101, An Introduction to the Theory of Positive Disintegration

Dabrowski 101, An Introduction to the Theory of Positive Disintegration

Join Emma Nicholson and Chris Wells for Episode 60

In episode 60, Chris and Emma introduced the theory of positive disintegration in a nutshell. We did our best to make it as approachable as possible and kept jargon to a minimum. Our goal was not to deliver a scholarly presentation of the theory but one for the layperson going through positive disintegration.

This introduction was created especially for the 2024 Dabrowski Congress for attendees who want to learn more about the theory behind the conference. Our hope is that it will serve for years to come as a primer for positive disintegration. As Emma often says, TPD is not only a theory but an experience, and those going through it appreciate a mirror that makes sense of their struggles.

The topics we covered:

- Background of Dr. Kazimierz Dabrowski

- Nervousness, Psychological Tension and Big Emotions

- The Five Types of Overexcitabilities

- Types of Development, Developmental Potential and Multilevelness, and Multilevelness in Personality Growth

- Hierarchy of Values, the Third Factor of Development (and Nature, Nurture, and the Third Factor)

- Unilevel vs. Multilevel Disintegration

- Positive Maladjustment, Spontaneous Multilevel Disintegration, Pain, and Self-Reflection

- Challenges in Discovering and Acting on Values, and Organized Multilevel Disintegration

- Transforming Overexcitabilities into Tools for Growth

- Lifelong Journey of Personal Growth, and Personality as an Achievement

- Resources, DC2024, and Final Thoughts

Register for DC2024 at https://dabrowskicenter.org/register

If you want to join one of Chris’s courses this year, click here to register your interest and receive more information.

We created Dabrowski 101 as a video and podcast episode. You can watch the video on YouTube.


“The prefix over attached to ‘excitability’ serves to indicate that the reactions of excitation are over and above average in intensity, duration, and frequency” (Dabrowski, 1996, p. 7, Multilevelness of Emotional and Instinctive Functions).

"Making multilevelness the central concept in the approach to development means that we have to apply it to every phenomenon under scrutiny. It means that we are using a new key, or paradigm, with which to approach human behavior and its development. It now becomes less meaningful to consider, for instance, aggression, inferiority, empathy, or sexual behavior as unitary phenomena, but it becomes more meaningful to examine different levels of these behaviors." (Dabrowski, 1996, p. 10)

“Discovering in ourselves higher levels of development, higher tendencies, and sensitivities, we simultaneously create them.” Dabrowski, 1994, "The Heroism of Sensitivity," an interview in Advanced Development Journal.

"Do not run from yourself but conquer yourself!" P. Cienin, 1972, p. 40, (Existential Thoughts and Aphorisms).

“Movement from “what is” to “what ought to be” opens a channel for resolution and direction of developmental tensions. When this channel is not open, as in unilevel disintegration, the tensions lead to severe psychosomatic illness, psychosis, or suicide.” Dabrowski, 1977, p. 43, (Theory of Levels of Emotional Development, Vol. 1)

“Crises are periods of increased insight into oneself, creativity, and personality development” Dabrowski, 1964, p. 18, (Positive Disintegration)

More resources

Connect with us

Positive Disintegration on Substack

Visit the Dabrowski Center website



The Positive Disintegration YouTube Channel

Adults with Overexcitabilities group on Facebook

The Tragic Gift blog by Emma

Email us at positivedisintegration.pod@gmail.com

Please consider supporting the podcast to help fund this work through the Dabrowski Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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Positive Disintegration
Positive Disintegration Podcast
What can be positive about disintegration? Join us for an exploration of positive disintegration through conversation and shared stories. It’s a framework for understanding a variety of intense experiences that often look and feel like mental illness, but which can also be viewed as building blocks for creating an authentic personality.