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□  Psychological Bases of Self-Mutilation 1937

□  Positive Disintegration 1964

□  Personality-Shaping Through Positive Disintegration 1967

□  Mental Growth Through Positive Disintegration 1970

□  Different contemporary conceptions of mental health 1972a

□  Psychoneuroses Is Not An Illness 1972b

□  The Dynamics of Concepts 1973

□  On the philosophy of development (article) 1976

□  Nothing can be changed here 1979

□  Multilevelness of Emotional and Instinctive Functions 1996

□  Existential Thoughts and Aphorisms

□  Fragments From The Diary of A Madman

Note: this file is based upon an OCR rendering of the original text and may contain typographical errors. As well, this OCR has auto-spelling correction (the manuscripts have multiple spelling mistakes). When quoting material please consult the original image files of the text to ensure accuracy. I have tried to maintain a good approximation of the original materials.


Published as a separate and in Genetic Psychology Monographs, 1937, 19, 1-104.




Translated from the Polish by William Thau, M.D.


Department of Public Health, Division of Mental Hygiene, Warsaw, Poland

Preface (By C. Macfie Campbell) ..................................................................... 3

1. Introduction...................................................................................... 5

2. Self-mutilation in states of psychomotor hyperexcitability ....................................... 7

3. Self-mutilation in acute psychoneurotic conditions................................................ 12

4. Self-mutilation in states of neuropathic dramatization and hysteria............................... 16

5. Self-mutilation in relation to a feeling of inferiority, guilt, or

the need to be in the spotlight...................................................................... 22

6. Self-mutilation in conditions of emotional hyperexcitability and

lack of mental balance (instability)................................................................. 29

7. Asceticism........................................................................................ 34

8. Suicide in relation to self-mutilation............................................................ 43

9. Self-mutilation of Michelangelo, Dostoyefsky, Weininger, Dawid, and Tolstoy....................... 48

Michelangelo......................................................................................... 48

Dostoyefsky.......................................................................................... 52

Weininger............................................................................................ 62

Dawid ............................................................................................... 63

Tolstoy.............................................................................................. 70

10. The relation between self-mutilation and heteromutilation........................................ 79

11. Sadism and masochism in relation to self-mutilation and hetero-mutilation........................ 88

12. Educo-therapeutic conclusions.................................................................... 95

13. Cultural values associated with self-mutilation.................................................. 99

References........................................................................................... 102


* Received in the Editorial Office on February 27, 1936, and published at Provincetown, Massachusetts.

** Polish Research Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation at Harvard in 1934-35.



The fear and suffering which dog the footsteps of man are not always thrust upon him by the external conditions of his life. He himself may, to a certain extent, be the author of these disturbing experiences. Nervous and mental patients present in striking form such experiences and offer opportunity for their intensive study. Thus the conditions which underlie morbid fears have been partly disclosed, and we see how they are dependent upon a complicated play of forces in the depths of the personality. The dynamic elements which are revealed by the study of nervous patients are not peculiar to them. They are the constituents of human nature in general, but in the normal they are concealed by the conventional surface.

In the present monograph the author takes up the problem of pain or suffering in so far as it is self-imposed, due not to external factors but to subtle underlying forces which play an important role in the destiny of the individual. In psychiatric literature there are already many case reports in which the role of self-inflicted pain has been carefully studied. The need for punishment is a factor which is now freely drawn on for the explanation of many forms of nervous and mental disorders.

Dr. Dąbrowski does not take up for intensive analysis individual cases where self-punishment, or automutilation, seems to play a role. His task is rather to give a general review of the field and to show the various settings in which this symptom may occur. His study covers a wide field. He makes a survey of the nervous disorders of children and of adults; he discusses men who have revealed themselves in literature, as well as those who have undergone an analysis in the consulting room.

To the general reader this monograph will be an interesting work of orientation, while the specialist will be particularly interested in the presentation of this topic by a Polish colleague.




In this work we shall investigate the problem of mental and physical self-mutilation.1 We do not presume, however, to settle this question; our aim is only to approach and to study at close range the symptoms of this form of behavior. Once familiarized with the symptoms in general by means of a sketchy description and differentiation, we shall try to define the physical, mental, and social causes of their development, and to state their connection with the psychophysical constitution and with certain pathological conditions. Finally, we shall make a few suggestions of a prophylactic, therapeutic, and educational nature.

The source of the majority of self-mutilating symptoms is the wish to suffer. The “necessity” for suffering, which at first glance may seem paradoxical, is deeply embedded in the human soul, and is more common than it appears to the normal mind. Certain religious orders based on the value of suffering, besides on other principles, have expanded throughout the whole world. There is no doubt but that there exists a more or less normal necessity for suffering following the feeling of guilt, or the possession of certain defects, suffering which is considered a redemption, or a way of moral perfection. We shall call attention chiefly to that seeking for suffering and those symptoms of self-mutilation which may be considered pathological. We shall use the following criteria, not claiming, however, very strict differentiation, in determining the pathological or non-pathological nature of the symptoms: (1) intensity of symptoms, i.e., force with which they appear; (2) duration of the symptoms; (3) their intensity in relation to the intensity of the factors by which they are caused. Besides considering the active infliction of pain, we shall call attention to the symptoms of passive submission to suffering, and the symptoms of the provocation of suffering. Moreover, we shall endeavor to throw light on the connection between the apparently opposite tendencies of self-mutilation and infliction of pain on others, a connection which in certain cases will prove to have a common source.

In this way the meaning of the term “self-mutilation” will be-


1 This study concerns only auto-mutilation in psychoneurosis, psychopathy, and cases taken from observation of daily life considered normal.

1937 C. Dąbrowski 5




come much broader than the meaning usually attributed to it. I mutilate myself; I submit to self-tormenting; I torture others—these often spring from the same source, from a necessity of experiencing suffering, a necessity manifesting and gratifying itself in various ways.

In respect to the “phenomenon” of self-mutilation we distinguish between the inflicting of physical suffering and psychic self-torture. The “sphere” of physical self-mutilation is accessible to external observation; the psychic self-torture, above all, to introspection.

These are two sides of the same phenomenon, appearing in one or the other sphere depending on the mental make-up of the given individual, his age, education, or form of disorder. Most frequently the self-mutilation appears in a typical case under both forms, with predominance of one or the other. In the majority of cases, we are inclined to accept the identity of sources of self-mutilation in both spheres in the same individual. For instance, psychomotor hyperexcitability may be the cause of the initiation and development of nail-biting, wounding the nail-fold, scratching of the head; on the other hand, hyperexcitability resulting in tactless awkward behavior may lead to self-accusation and psychic self-mutilation. Penitent self-mutilation may appear in the form of self-flagellation, in exposing oneself to physical discomfort; in the psychic sphere, it may take the form of accepting morally humiliating obligations. Disorders of superficial sensitivity in more or less localized areas frequently cause pinching and scratching of these areas. Trouble which is of indistinct, changeable localization or of deep sensitivity may cause states of strong psychic tension, difficult to release. This difficulty increases the tension and makes it worse. If of long duration it may result in a suicidal tendency and may lead to suicide. Infantilism, underdevelopment of sexual organs, and homosexuality may be the basis of physical self-mutilation (scratching the nipples, mutilating the sex organs) as well as of self-hatred or self-humiliation. Strictly sexual masochism appears also frequently in both spheres. The cases cited present the similarity or identity of sources and mechanisms in both types of self-mutilation. There are, however, a number of cases in which the connection between these two spheres is not very clear.



Localized irritations of different types cause the desire to touch the areas in which they arise. We notice this urge in ourselves-touching an aching tooth or a healing wound. This desire has to a certain extent a protective character. It is frequently hard to check this urge in a very intensive irritation. (In smallpox the hands of the patient are bound to prevent scratching the scabs.) In many cases the consciousness of disfiguration cannot avert the scratching and touching of the irritated areas. A common type of irritation, a frequent starting-point of self-mutilation, is pimples on the head, face, and back. We observed a few cases of children and adults whose trouble began with scratching the skin of their backs in the area where the pimples were present. Another type of self-irritation is illustrated by the case of 17-year-old M who systematically scratched his left elbow; it was proved on examination that this spot, an area of four to six cm., was strongly anaesthetic, and that this was the irritating agent. In another case, exhibiting nail-biting with mutilation of the nail-fold, it came out that the patient had partial thermo-anaesthesia and hypalgesia of these areas. Moreover, since childhood, he had shown marked endurance to physical pain, and had permitted extraction of teeth without flinching. We also observed a few cases of nail-biting with bad tearing of the nail-fold and of the skin on the inside of the fingers in individuals who had had chorea or symptoms of pseudo-athetosis in childhood. In others, we found hypersensibility of the skin to formalin or methyl alcohol, in and around the areas which were being scratched.

We frequently deal with local external self-mutilation corresponding in a greater or lesser degree to the spot, for instance, irritation of the right groin in inflammation of the appendix, scratching of the skin in the region of diseased joints, and mutilation of the abdominal walls by digging or scratching with the nails, in intestinal tuberculosis. In the case of 18-year-old S with intestinal tuberculosis, we were concerned with the scratching by the patient of various areas of the abdominal walls. In a state of great excitation he screamed, begging for a knife in order to cut through the abdominal wall to reach the irritating spot.

In case this irritation, which may be the starting-point of self-




mutilation, is difficult or impossible to discover, we must be careful not to infer that such an underlying cause does not exist. The fact that this underlying cause frequently is discovered after the self-mutilation has begun points to the necessity for caution. We observed, for instance, a tendency to scratch the skin of the left groin and scrotum a few months before the appearance of a varicocele. In other cases, we found allergic eczema of the hands after some time had elapsed since the beginning of automutilation of this region.

In cases where the self-mutilating process cannot find a point of outlet, we very frequently find a variability in the localization of self-mutilation until the finding of a more adequate area, either because of the protracted cessation of the self-mutilating activities in any given area for purely accidental reasons or because of the existence of some more or less vague, little-known pathological agent (for instance, disorders of deep sensibility). Two cases of self-mutilation reported by Janet throw light on the mechanism in question.

The first case concerned a 10-year-old boy, whose hands and whole body were covered with wounds and scabs. The father of the boy seemed to be normal, the mother very nervous. The child was normal and healthy till his fifth year. At that time the patient had measles and whooping cough in succession, after which he began to scratch a few blisters which appeared on his forehead, especially before falling asleep and after awakening. He began gradually to scratch other blisters which appeared on his body and finally every spot on his body (blemishes, warts, black and blue spots).

Janet asked the question presenting itself first of all in such a case: “does the child feel pain?” It was brought out that the sensation was normal. In answer to the question concerning why he did this, the patient said, “I don’t know, but I just have to do it” (42). Janet asks whether we are not dealing here with delight of experiencing pain (the question so intriguing to psychologists), and he answers that this behavior should be interpreted as the expression of a tendency which developed into to an irrepressible habit in the child’s mind, weakened by disease, and which could not be held back even by the coexistence of pain. This process is similar to smoking or drinking which many addicts cannot suppress despite the consciousness of the threatening danger.

We think Janet is right on many points. Nevertheless, the

1937 C. Dąbrowski



psychic process taking place in the former case is basically, different, despite many similarities, from the process occurring in the habitual smokers. In the latter case, the realization of the habitual tendency is not connected with pain or feeling of discomfort at the moment of gratification, but only with the consciousness of untoward results later on. Janet justly places the case of the 10-year-old boy in the class of tics, obsessions, and delirium, which, in its initial phase, may have been occasioned by weakness of the mental powers during the illness and perhaps to some extent by the toxic agents caused by the diseases.

Another case reported by the same author concerned the patient Pb who was continually pulling out the eyelashes from both lids. The family had a tendency toward obsessions and especially toward tics. Pb was a neurasthenic; any emotion provoked various gastrointestinal disturbances which passed quickly. Beautiful eyelashes were an outstanding feature of most members of this family, and the girls of the family paid much attention to them. Janet assumes, it seems to us, rightly, that in Pb, inclined by nature to obsessions, the above factors and some accidental itching around the eyes could produce the realization of the tendency (42).

In neurotic conditions, especially in young people, we encounter an excess of such impulses, either in the form of hyperkinesis in general, or tics, with which may be combined disturbances of inhibition. In nervous individuals the sphere of impulsive and subconscious life is more strongly developed than in individuals of more resistant nervous constitution. Therefore the cortical control appears weaker and of shorter duration, or is out of proportion to the exciting agent, in consequence of which either an excessive inhibition (anxiety state) or a weakness of inhibition may appear at any given moment. The preoccupation with any emotion causes a diminution of the repression of impulses and the impulses increase (scratching the head, biting the nails, hyperkinesis while studying or reading). Meige and Feindel (55) in their work on tics present the mechanism in the following way: “Any prolonged concentration of the attention on a particular act or a particular idea presupposes a concomitant weakening of inhibitory power over other acts and ideas, which then become corrupt and inopportune, are incapable of further repression, and blossom into tics.”

A disturbance of inhibition often appears in nervous individuals.



Therefore we encounter the phenomenon of the psychomotor release—an excessive activity of one group of tendencies and inhibition of others. In such a state, a purely accidental excitation may become the starting-point for the release of great tension. Frequently a state of strong tension becomes released by the beginning of self-mutilation in an accidentally localized area without other stimulation; then the self-mutilating activities systematize and transform themselves into compulsions (for example, biting and wounding of the lips). We observe the above symptoms in nervous individuals who are characterized by a certain lack of synthesis of psychophysiological activities. The emotional state deepens this lack of synthesis in accordance with Janet’s (43) view that: “The emotion has a dissolving action on the mind and diminishes its synthesis.” Neurotic individuals, who often have a great analytical capacity, fail more or less to synthesize, and are inclined to disintegration of behavior.

If we pass from higher to lower functions, the psychomotor activities of these individuals are also marked by a certain disintegration, a certain lack of coordination of the motor sphere with mental processes. Let us consider the mental work of a neurotic. While preoccupied with an emotionally colored problem or while performing an unpleasant duty, which also produces an emotional state, some psychomotor functions are not coordinated with mental processes but acquire a certain independence which may, among other symptoms, be revealed in nail-biting, laceration of the nail-fold, scratching of head and throat, pulling out the hair, biting the lips, etc., or touching nearby objects and semiautomatic writing of the same word over and over. It is known that overexcitable individuals with diminished repression, with a tendency to psychic disintegration (Schizoid types of Kretschmer; tetanoid types of Jaensch) have great difficulty in coordinating the main action of lower motor functions, which difficulty may, in coexistence with some irritating agent, appear as a process of self-mutilation. Moreover, the motor hyperexcitability, combining itself with disturbance of inhibition. causes the necessity for release which, in types described above, is often realized by finding on one’s own body exciting areas which may serve as starting-points for self-mutilation. The finding of some bases for the unchecked impulses, and their fixation to an underlying process brings a psychic relief. This is one of the ways of releasing the accumulated psychic energy, as is its release in the

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form of onanism in anxiety states or of sexual relations in other emotional states. The mechanism described above is the basis for the development of many tics, to which group should be added many self-mutilating processes. This is proved by the frequent development of a particular self-mutilation following the intensification of certain tics; self-mutilation of fingers (wounding, biting) following onychophagia, or wounding the head and laceration of healing wounds growing out of a head-scratching tic.

These disturbances of inhibition and assumedly the lack of harmony in the coordination of the cortical centers and the autonomic nervous system can explain partly the appearance of self-mutilation in the hypnagogic state, on awakening, during a long stay in bed (convalescence), in emotional states, or while solving some problem. In children and adolescents the urge for activity is stronger than in adults. It is known that forced suppression of motor activity because of disease, travel, or sleeplessness disorganizes the control of actions and facilitates the appearance of hyperkinesis as well as self-mutilation.

The faculty for bearing pain in self-mutilation must probably be interpreted as some physical or psychic hypalgesia. We have already called attention to the former; the latter should be explained as a state of psychic tension produced by mental, emotional, or impulsive obsession (compulsion), and finally by auto-suggestion causing a weakening of the pain sense during self-mutilation. The explanation of this state is analogous to the interpretation of the diminished feeling of pain during fighting or during a state of great nervousness.

In this section we have discussed, in the first place, the role of the exciting agents in the origin and the development of self-mutilating tendencies. The examples cited above show that these tendencies are the result, on one hand, of various somatic irritations, and, on the other hand, of psychic overexcitability and tendencies to obsession. Either of these may be a predisposing and a determining factor, depending on the type, strength, and duration of its action. A strong exciting agent may be simultaneously a predisposing and a determining factor of the self-mutilating process (itching, hyperesthesia), and it may be its exclusive cause. On the other hand, the exciting agent often has only a supplementary accidental effect, and the deciding agent may be the tendency toward obsession or psychomotor overexcitability in ordinarily introverted types.



In overexcitable individuals showing a lack of mental equilibrium, a sudden unpleasant excitation often causes an emotional shock. This facile appearance of shock is combined with a tendency toward nervous outburst. In introverted, schizoid individuals, we often encounter self-mutilation as one of the most convenient means of liberating oneself from an unbearable tension. Self-mutilation may act, in this condition, by means of the most easily borne physical pain or suicidal attempt, as a compensatory substitute for psychic pain or shame.

In individuals with little emotional flexibility, some great disappointment may undermine their faith and ideals, with consequent loss not only of the object of feeling but also of the faith in the value of even the strongest personal sentiments. This loss destroys previous mental harmony, sometimes to the point of self-vengeance, thus ending the unbearable pressure created by conditions of life. This mechanism is illustrated by the case of 18-year-old Miss M , a nervous idealist, very intelligent and highly sentimental, quick tempered and overexcitable. M showed in childhood a moderate tendency to hyperkinesis, nail-biting, scratching of the nail-fold, and a tendency to excessive enthusiasm and periodic depression. No hereditary stigmata were found. M fell in love with one of her acquaintances and decided to marry. Some time later, it turned out that the chosen one had deceived her. Within a few hours after learning this, she gave herself to the least acceptable and even physically repulsive of her suitors, after which she committed suicide. We deal here with an emotional shock caused by a sudden disappointment. The realization of one’s own conflicting tendencies toward the object of one’s emotions and toward one’s ego produces as a reaction in young, impulsive, introverted girls a state of depression and doubt concerning the value of the deeper emotions, together with a focusing of vengeance on one’s own self. An individual with a plastic mentality and the ability of adaptation to new conditions can bear such a disappointment, but types of lower plasticity, self-centered, introverted, are ordinarily unable to attain equilibrium. Depending on the faculty of decision or on the activity, they end by suicide or submit passively to life, finding release of the





strong psychic tension in forms of self-mutilation most accessible to passive and very sensitive types. Exposing oneself to laughter and to physical and psychic mistreatment treatment (for instance, self-accusation, humiliating oneself by lowering his social position, playing a part of the one “whom they slap in the face”) are means of self-vengeance for mistakes, in a form of protest characteristic for such personalities. A strong emotional shock to such individuals destroys their adaptation to the realities of life and very frequently leads to one of two possible ways of meeting these situations: suicide or annihilation of pain by self-mutilation.

We also encountered self-mutilation as a form of compensation for moral pain and shame in a 17-year-old girl of schizothymic constitution who attempted suicide after disappointment in love, and began systematically to wound the lower abdominal regions when her suicide was frustrated. She did not allow the wounds to heal and continued this self-mutilation for several months until she fell in love, this time successfully, with another man. We deal here with the necessity for the liberation of accumulated psychic tensions in the easiest form for the given individual. The release is not entirely automatic, but to some extent conscious. We have also observed cases of self-mutilation as one of the means of getting rid of an unbearable state of psychic tension caused by great vasomotor effort. The anxious state, feeling of strangeness of one’s body (extremities), and feeling of dying away were causally related to pinching, in order to bring back the state of activity, to increase by this means its weakened functions. A similar mechanism was found to exist in one of Janet’s (44) young patients who, letting drops of boiling water fall on his palm, said, “Only this can bring me back the feeling of myself.” We have also noticed a similar mechanism in individuals with symptoms of acute depression. In these cases it was, as we emphasized above, for the anxious, introverted, or passive types, the easiest way of release from an unpleasant state of psychic overexcitability.

The form of release of the psychomotor tension in states of acute anxiety may be very unclear to the individual himself and for this reason after the fact of self-mutilation he seeks to explain and justify his behavior. This explanation is very often not based on the real facts. Such a mechanism was probably at work in the case of the 12-year-old S who exhibited a systematic pulling out of the



eyebrows. S was of a passive type, in poor contact with his surroundings, of inferior ability, and suffered a feeling of inferiority. The patient’s excitability, vomiting of unknown origin, fatigue, drowsiness with difficulty in falling asleep, and feeling of dying away may arouse the question of a disorder of visceral sensitivity. Passivity and slow mental activity could, under aggression of schoolmates, constant noise and unrest at home, and weariness (he went both to common and Hebrew schools), give rise to anxiety over the school situation with tics and persecutory ideas. We assume that pulling out of the eyebrows “in order not to be recognized,” as the patient said, by hostile schoolmates was an accidentally found outlet for the necessary release of the tension of the above-mentioned state in which the patient’s personality was the predisposing factor and the environment the determining one.

We also find self-mutilation as a symptom of an acute state of anxiety in the case of 13-year-old L who exhibited biting of the nails and tongue in a marked degree. L was uneasy, showed hyper-motility, was rather physically underdeveloped and undernourished. There was a slight left ptosis, hypertrophy of the lymphatic glands, moderate dermographism, and increased tendon reflexes. Otherwise the neurological and medical examination was negative. In the hospital, he screamed frequently, bit his hands, did not want to eat, was obstinately repeating that he wanted to go home, that he wanted to die and would die if he were not sent home. He said he hated school because “the teachers beat the children.” In school he felt badly for being the oldest and tallest in his class, having had to repeat one year because of failure in French, He sometimes dreamed of the children being beaten in the school. Asked why he bit his hand, he said that by doing so he wounded his classmates. He wanted to study at home “all day and all night,” but lie did not want to go to school. He said that if be were forced to go to school he would go to the cellar and kill himself with a knife, and that “there are lots of penknives at home.” During his stay in the hospital he attempted suicide by asphyxia, then broke the window and tried to kill himself with the pieces of glass.

No hereditary stigma was found, and at birth the delivery by forceps was without ill effect to the patient. He did not feel well in school and was several times transferred from one school to another. Once, while playing, he was unintentionally the cause of

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a fractured skull of a schoolmate whom he liked. He took this much to heart and refused to go to school. He had fever without meningeal symptoms for a few days, after which he began to bite his hands and to press his eyes.

The inferiority complex combined with nervousness, anxiety, and uneasiness among strangers were here the predisposing factors. The emotional shock caused by the accident in school gave rise to the acute state of nervous anxiety. The mechanism of the self-mutilating process (scratching and biting of the hands, screaming, and suicidal attempts) may be interpreted, on the one hand, as a characteristic form of the anxious passive individual’s release of the tension and, on the other hand, as a way of avoiding unpleasant school experiences. The application of self-mutilation was based on observations that it was a successful means of getting the desired results.

On the basis of neuropathy there arise and develop very often unmotivated phobias which result in the manifestation of absurd ideas. This is illustrated by the case of 18-year-old S who, prompted by the fear of future military service, begged the physician to cut off his hand; when the latter refused, he went with the same request to a chiropractor who extracted 12 healthy teeth at one sitting. To this class belong the self-mutilations of compensation—neurotics who sometimes mutilate themselves badly in order to obtain compensation despite the possibility of finding adequate work. It may be assumed that the mechanism of these processes is similar to the mechanism of compulsions. The mental restlessness, increased by autosuggestion, takes the road indicated by the goal and in this way the accumulated tension is liberated. The necessity for obtaining compensation may be explained here by the state of the patient’s increasing feelings of uncertainty and of the need of care, the source of which lies in past acute states of anxiety (experiences on the battle front or industrial accidents). The weakening reality feeling, together with the state of anxiety, facilitates the development of obsessions.




In children and adolescents we often deal with a tendency to dramatization in order to satisfy desires “to get one’s point.” This tendency is based, on the one hand, on mental overexcitability and, on the other hand, a lack of an even and rational educational influence by the parents. Contradictions in forbidding and ordering, revocation of given commands, and excessive and unreasonable anxiety concerning the child cause a pathological transformation of the egocentric spirit in the child which directs it toward tyranny in regard to the parents. The observation of weak points of the parents’ behavior is the basis for the building up by the child of an entire group of methods for attaining his desires. We are using the term “dramatization” for the description of these tendencies as a group and the term “neuropathic dramatization” in cases showing neuropathic peculiarities.

If the child, under these conditions, realizes that the source of its mother’s greatest concern and unrest is the child’s health, looks, or contentment, he will, in order to reach his goal, take advantage of his mother’s weakness by simulated or by actual damage to his health and by exposing himself to some discomfort and unpleasantness. The case of the 12-year-old M, an only child, a tyrant to his mother, who in order to provoke her to worry about himself got her powder box and powdered and painted his eyes so as to “look sick,” illustrates this point. Another case concerned a child of nine years, who was nervous, suggestible, and capricious. Irrational rearing, conflicting orders, and denials caused a strong development of stubbornness in this child, who, being well aware of his mother’s weakness, namely her great sensitiveness to the opinions of others, used to throw himself on the street during a walk, to scream or to feign convulsions in order to terrorize his mother for refusing his requests and to assure himself of future indulgence. While walking with his mother at a summer resort, in the absence of onlookers, he applied his method in the changed surroundings. He would run ahead several feet and throw himself down in order to give the mother a chance to observe him longer. As she approached him (on the physician’s advice, she did not hurry immediately to help him) the attack would suddenly cease and the boy




would get up and again run ahead of the mother to find a suitable place for the repetition of his act. A similar but more refined mechanism is illustrated by the eight-year-old W, a son of cultured but neuropathic parents and an only child. The very exclusive mutual affection with the mother, her excessive fear for the child’s health, and the lack of proper understanding of the necessity for the child’s social development (relationship with schoolmates, common sports, etc.) were the bases of the development of the child’s pathological egocentrism and dramatization. The boy forced his mother to come for him (the school in a small town is only about 200 yards away). When the mother did not come, he used to throw himself on the ground and bite his hands or scratch his face. When the father punished him by standing him in a corner, the lad obeyed, but did not leave the corner later, after the time of punishment had elapsed. He stood there for over an hour and thereby forced the father to apologize and give up punishment. Watching his parents’ worried looks through the keyhole and windows intensified his state of pathological egocentrism.

Sometimes the neuropathic dramatization may take a dangerous course, as in the case of the 14-year-old M, who, when his desires were not acceded to, provoked nose bleeding. Once, the loss of blood reached about one pint and caused fainting. The underlying causes were the boy’s nervousness and faulty upbringing. The determining factor was the observation of the impressions which a small accidental nose bleeding made on his parents.

We have emphasized here the fundamental importance of faulty methods of upbringing in the origin and development of pathological dramatization. It is not always the principal factor-sometimes it is only the determining one. This may be illustrated by the case of 14-year-old A, who showed overexcitability, suggestibility, hysteric stigmata, and attacks. Despite these symptoms, A was cooperative, active, a good pupil and companion. A resented very strongly that she was left at home during vacation when her parents went to various health resorts with her older; sickly sister. Observation of the effects on her parents of her fainting, which happened accident-ally when she gulped a drink of strong soda water, resulted in stimulation of fainting spells. After a pseudo-attack, A usually ordered the maid not to tell the parents, being sure that she would



do just the contrary. We are dealing here with neuropathic dramatization of a hysterical personality. The high level of her acting was based on her innate tendencies to dramatization. In boarding-schools, we have observed many cases of self-mutilation by tickling the palate to provoke vomiting, letting blood from the nose or exposure to cold. The motives behind these cases were the desire to play truant from school or to shirk work of some sort, attracting attention, and provoking affection. With minor exceptions these cases concerned neuropathic individuals, who expressed in a way most characteristic of their psychological types (introverted, passive types) this need of arousing interest in themselves, or of freeing themselves from unpleasant situations.

In young people of introverted, anxious, and overexcitable natures, bound by affection or feeling of love, we find characteristic tendencies of self-mutilation to “spite” the beloved person. This is a punishment of the dear one by causing harm to oneself, and is quite characteristic of women or of men with some feminine psychic traits. This mechanism is illustrated by the case of M, sick with pneumonia, who in the course of a heated discussion with her fiancé declared that, on any further argument from him, she would go out bare-footed in the snow. In reply to this the fiancé remarked that one more unpleasant word from her would make him stab his hand with his penknife. Self-mutilation is for such individuals the simplest means for release of the tension and also for a more or less conscious attainment of certain ends.

Posing, eccentricity, and tendencies to dramatization in such a personality are illustrated in a passage from the diary of L:

The conditions of my life were not as I may have desired; when I experienced hardship caused by relatives whom I loved and by whom I wanted to be loved, I took it out on myself. This occurred especially when I endured even a just punishment by my mother, who loved us dearly, but who was very strict. I always punished my mother with my air of misery. I refused food, feigning illness; I complained very much and pitied myself at such moments. In quarrels with my husband, when I felt that I was not quite in the right, when every sharp word on his part irritated me and brought me to a helpless anger, I would decide to revenge myself in a similar fashion and would cause myself to endure pain, hunger, and

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cold. I once ran out of the house in a light summer blouse, in order to catch cold and “to die,” but the first chill made me wish strongly that my husband would come out and take me back speedily before I caught cold. I enjoyed speaking of death, imagining myself on the hearse and picturing him weeping and whispering tender words over my dead body . . . . .


Self-mutilation in connection with definite hysterical dramatization is illustrated by the case of 17-year-old S who had been admitted three times to a psychopathic hospital for observation. During her first stay at the hospital, she exhibited symptoms of amnesia, complaining of not knowing her oven name. During her second hospital residence she repeatedly subjected herself to trauma, refusing to eat, making tube-feedings necessary, and then battling the nurses so violently that it required force to handle her. Orientation and memory were good except for continued protestation of amnesia for the events preceding her first admission. She tended to project on to the physician. Possibly stimulated by contact with a schizophrenic patient, she developed pseudo-hallucinations. She showed a tendency to exaggeration and dramatization. She called constantly for the doctor and nurses and was capricious. She repeatedly tore the dressings from a surgical wound, contaminating it. She did not want to go home and threatened to do self-injury if sent home. A constant tendency to flirtation and confabulation was observed. (She made repeated suicidal attempts without justified cause and frequently ruminated on suicide. She once stated that she wanted to commit suicide for fear of pregnancy.) Physically she was well-developed and of good carriage, but her gestures and movements were exaggerated. Hair was normally distributed, with little hair on the legs. The right pupil was somewhat wider than the left. Menses were normal. Neurological and medical examinations were negative. Intelligence was higher than average. Both parents were considered “unstable” and very sensitive, suggesting a possible hereditary factor. At the age of two the patient had convulsions, together with an ear abscess. Until the age of seven she was brought up by strangers. Her 15-year-old brother was drowned when she was seven. At home, she frequently showed outbursts of anger and jealousy in relation to one of her younger sisters for whom the father had



a strong affection, yielding to all her desires. She got along badly in school, was irritable, and liked to play truant. She once purposely wounded her hand in order to obtain a physician’s certificate of sickness to excuse herself from school. She showed a tendency to-wards running away and vagrancy. She repeatedly presented her-self at various hospitals with the symptoms of an acute abdomen, operation in some instances was frustrated by her lack of funds, and in other, by the surgeons’ refusal to operate. She succeeded in achieving two laparotomies: on one occasion a chronic appendix was removed, and on the last, a cyst of Morgagni was removed and the uterus was suspended. She attempted suicide on several occasions, and it is of interest that the attempts followed immediately upon a frustration in bringing on an operative attack. On her last admission, the patient told a story of having taken morphine at home (supplied by a friend who was a nurse) for the appeasement of pain and dissatisfaction. Under a thin disguise of anxiety she shows marked satisfaction in the picture of herself as a morphine addict, as a more colorful personality. She shopped from one clinic to another, being examined and receiving different diagnoses. After a quarrel at home she refused to leave her bed. Her father brought her food, thereby giving her great pleasure. During a friend’s visit she suddenly jumped out of a window without any plausible reason. We see here, as the basis for self-mutilation, a pathological need of arousing the interest of others in herself, typical of hysteria, and a state of unrest probably in connection with disturbances of deep sensibility. These factors, together with a degree of suggestibility, predisposed the patient to self-mutilation.

Disorders of deep sensibility, characterized by changeable and in-distinct localization, can be the basis of the changeable localization of self-mutilation. Unrest combined with these disorders, the growing tension, difficulties in finding a way of release, for instance, lack of a new idea for self-mutilation, and difficulties in arousing the interest of others in oneself apparently caused suicidal attempts as a means of freeing herself from the tension. 2. The use of self-


2 This mechanism corresponds to the mechanisms observed by Janet, Ribot, and others, according to whom co-anaesthetic disorders sometimes cause an unbearable self-consciousness with great tension. The patient’s ignorance of the cause and the lack of known symptoms result in states of excitement more frequently than do known, common factors.

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mutilation for the realization of one’s desires and for the attainment of desired ends depends on the case of utilization of the accessible means. In hysterical individuals of a normal intelligence level, observation of the outcome of their tendencies to self-mutilation, of a probably non-purposive nature, results in the repeated conscious use of the same mechanists to reach a desired end.



Nervous individuals who are approaching maturity may some-times show self-mutilation in connection with a feeling of inferiority and with transitory periodic depressions. The state of depression and feeling of inferiority very often gives place to a state of periodic euphoria, self-praise, or exaggerated feeling of one’s usefulness. In youths dissatisfied with themselves, we observe, in similar states of depression, emphasis of their worst traits and a feeling of a lack of attractiveness, with a craving for affection and sympathy. Nervous youths, especially during the period of adolescence, begin to day dream of their sickness and death.

According to Adler, day-dreaming about one’s own death, sickness, humiliations, and sometimes the realization of these dreams develops itself on the basis of a feeling of inferiority, and is a compensation for this feeling, in order to arouse pain and pity in the parents so as to be kept deeply in mind by them (2). No doubt this is a common, but not all-explanatory mechanism. Mental overexcitability, anxiety, inability to adapt oneself to new surroundings, and especially poor sociability and difficulty in one’s relationship with others may be the bases of self-criticism and self-reproach. Individuals with such peculiarities reproach themselves for their inadequate behavior in play and in work; they discover a series of faults in their conduct and in adverse and grave situations: they always foresee the worst possibilities and have no faith in themselves. Some real inadequacy of behavior in a given situation, together with the feeling of inferiority and the need to assert oneself, is the cause of continuous reproaches as well as of overexcitability, depression, and “eating oneself up” with worry.

In such individuals we meet, on the one hand, with anxiety, embarrassment in new surroundings, and observation of one’s own behavior with a consequent sense of uneasiness and awkwardness of movement; on the other hand, we meet with an extremely subtle conscience, with the tendency to analyze oneself, with a sense of one’s peculiarity, and a feeling of distinctiveness. Introverted types, retiring individuals, natural only in a familiar group, are usually



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marked by a greater subtleness of thought and feeling, a tendency to contemplation, and to finding interests in uncommon problems. These are some of the factors causing self-consciousness and the discovery of many traits of one’s own superiority.

Stepping down to a lower level in fellowship and social life, and realizing that this group is represented chiefly by individuals of low moral and social values, causes a feeling of inferiority and sensitive-ness, and a tendency to explosiveness. This state often leads one to inappropriate actions and to self-derision in consequence of which there arises self-reproach, a feeling of shame, and self-mutilation. Besides the part played by the child’s psychophysical constitution, a great part in the initiation and development of the above-mentioned emotional states is played by inadequate methods in educating the child. The infliction of inappropriate punishments (beating), lack or irrationality of the educational system and fear of the teacher, results in excitability, inadequacy of self-control, anxiety, and consequently self-mutilation. An abandoned, disliked, and neglected child, who is a poor mixer and not aggressive, releases this increasing, and at the same time repressed, tension by self-mutilation. This is taking vengeance on society by causing others to suffer his self-mutilation. Self-mutilation of “the injured and humiliated” (Dostoyefsky) arises under such circumstances.

We shall pass now to a large chapter of self-mutilation in connection with the feeling of guilt and the need for purification by punishment. In emotionally overexcitable, inadequately reacting individuals, harm to someone often results from excessive sensitiveness, lack of control, misunderstood reproaches, or misjudged relationships. Anxiety, and a difficulty in making decisions, does not allow him to admit the guilt and to explain the misunderstanding. Therefore, self-mutilation (and atonement for sins) becomes the easiest way of purification to free oneself from the strong mental tension.

Children and adolescents often engage in self-pricking with pins, kiting of the fingers and lips to bleeding, kneeling on peas, sleeping on a hard bed. Weak, anxious, and sensitive children show excessive affection for the mother. We find that during the pre-adolescent period such children rapidly develop an attitude of great overconfidence, as a form of revolt and protest against the



former dependence and submission. Such youths become, subconsciously to a great extent, annoying and even cruel to their parents. (This is especially so in the relationship between these sons and their mothers.) The realization, after regaining their equilibrium, that they have done some harm to the parent, especially when the death of the parent makes reconciliation impossible, produces a feeling of guilt and a need for punishment which is frequently effected in the form of self-mutilation (living through past experiences, meditation, self-accusation, and physical self-mutilation). Under such circumstances, a suicidal tendency or attempt at suicide may arise, as an expression of the impossibility of gratification of the need.

At the bottom of the feeling of guilt, need of punishment, or self-mutilation, we frequently find disorders in the development of sex-interest and instincts. Inadequate development of the sex life in children and adolescents may result from innate factors and also from the harmful influence of the surroundings (watching the scenes of parents’ sexual life, and the suppression of experiences connected with this; the teaching that all sex-interest is sinful; the punishment for masturbation; improper influence of servants; disappointment in the first love affair or sexual experience). If introverted, anxious, neurasthenic infantile types of personality, inclined to exaggerated self-analysis and lacking proper guidance, are ex-posed to such situations, there appears a feeling of guilt and a conflict between sexual tendencies and this guilt associated with the need for penitence. Self-mutilation is often a result of such a conflict.

Faulty educational methods as the basic factor in the abnormal development of a child’s sexual instincts is illustrated by the case of 13-year-old L, the son of a woman who was fond of gay social life and flirtations. L showed from childhood self-mutilating tendencies; from his twelfth year he whipped himself. “Fight with flesh” contained within it “fight with woman.” L avoided the society of women and, despite the reproaches at home which made him suffer humiliation, he could not help turning away when meeting women, even those who were the closest friends of the family. The influence of his mother, sexually overexcitable, flirtatious, and continually seeking amusement, was one of the causal factors. The mother,

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not knowing the workings of her son’s mind, ignored his becoming aware of her habits and did not notice the arousal of his pathological affection for herself (jealousy, need of fondling). She minimized the importance of her son’s nervous outbursts, when, beautifully dressed, she was about to go to a dance. The feeling of sexual desire towards his mother, and its association with the tendency toward masturbation, were the bases of the development of a feeling of guilt and need for punishment, together with a fear of women.

Among neurasthenics, self-accusation and self-mutilation may be the result of a strong mental tension and depression combined with a feeling of impotency and inferiority. This mechanism is illustrated by the case of 18-year-old S who was a pleasant, cooperative boy of high intelligence. Once he slashed both his wrists with a penknife; several times, in states of excitement, he lifted heavy stones. In these instances he wanted to punish himself for masturbation and to free himself from the unpleasant state of mental overexcitability. A feeling of inferiority, combined with masturbation, shyness in relations with girls (when in their company, the thought persisted that he would not be able to have relations with them), together with acne of the face, played a part in the development of self-mutilating and suicidal tendencies. The following points throw light on the source of this condition. In his family, his mother was fonder of his better-looking brother, of whom the patient was jealous. He was not brought up to be an active member of the community; he took no part in plays, amusements, or school activities. He was highly emotional, which he probably inherited from his parents. This condition was intensified by masturbation which the patient considered from the beginning sinful and punish-able (he grew up among people holding such convictions). These factors produced states of strong mental tension of an anxious character which were released by self-mutilation.

The role of sexual disorders as the basis for self-mutilation is again illustrated by the case of 17-year-old M, mentally of a dysplastic type (Krertschmer). M was extremely pious and inclined to convert her less devout friends. At her request, her tutors gave her permission to form a religious circle. She was troubled when she failed to influence her chums; she then stopped eating meat. At night, when she noticed that everybody was asleep, she would take



her poorly stuffed mattress to the classroom, put it on two benches and spend the night lying flat on her back. She repeatedly put wooden boards on her mattress and slept on them. The patient explained this behavior by saying that she had to prepare herself to take the veil. On persuasion, she stopped this mode of sleeping but began to pour salt into her tea and coffee. She often maintained that she under-stood personalities and that she could size them up at first sight. She was jealous when greater affection was shown to her younger brothers and sisters. She showed timidity in conversation with the opposite sex and considered dancing a crime. She showed unhealthy sexual tendencies toward girls and she became irritable and fretful when they moved away from her. She considered books on normal love-relations sinful. In preparing her work in the required course in literature, she at first avoided the amorous passages, but, when her curiosity was aroused, she became overexcited (very large pupils, blushing, trembling hands, uneasy movements, repeated unnatural wild laughter),” After a certain time, she experienced pangs of conscience and an aversion to life; she considered herself a criminal, and the authors of the books foolish and dishonest. We deal here with a hysterical person with homosexual tendencies, sexual overexcitability, and a feeling of inferiority, and probably mental deficiency.

In the case of L we found a relatively weaker neuropathic basis. L entered the convent at the age of seven and, under influence of the convent atmosphere and religious reading, began to imitate saints by whipping herself. She locked herself in the bathroom before going to bed, and having entirely undressed herself whipped her-self with a cord till she bled. She did it with the conviction that blood-letting had a purifying power. L whipped herself for several years until, on growing older, she realized that using self-mutilation brought on a state of sexual excitement and gratification. She admitted that the cause of her self-mutilation was “hunger for affection.” (L was brought up away from her parents; as she states, she never was loved.) L repeatedly used self-mutilation to attract attention. It must be assumed that the need for arousing others’ interest in her was also caused by the lack of parental love and care.

Twenty-year-old S of asthenic, introverted type was excited by the stories of the penitence of saints and felt the need for suffering

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as a purgative to escape hell and to merit redemption. To that end, without betraying herself, she began self-mutilation by placing sharp and hard objects in her bed at night and by binding herself tightly with cords. The more she felt the pressure, the greater was her joy. In the passage from her autobiography concerning this period, she writes:


This was not enough to calm me; if my reason and the influence of the surroundings had not prevented me, I would have lain on red-hot coals, I would have submitted myself to slashing with a sharp knife and to all kinds of tortures I could imagine. It seemed to me that if my wishes came true I would have felt happy. I remained in such an emotional state for several nights in succession, and felt no need of sleep, yet in the day time I felt well.


After several years S stopped these practices and gave as a reason for stopping that she had a distinct, strong, and tempting sexual experience during their performance, “If not for this and the immediate surroundings, I should have tortured myself, no doubt, in a different way, for I found in it pleasure and satisfaction.”

We have mentioned several times the role played by a state of anxiety in the arousal of the feeling of guilt and the need of punishment. Improper influence of the surroundings may provoke the appearance of groundless feelings of sin in suggestible children. Fight-year-old M pricked her hands and heels with a hat-pin. She beat her chest with all her strength and when asked by her older chums why she did it, she answered: “I must do so, because I often tell lies, I am afraid of Hell, and my mother says, ‘one can repent in this world’.” This child invented for herself various punishments as a means of purification for her imaginary sins. As early as her fifteenth year she started purifying herself by starvation. From the etiological standpoint the neuropathic heredity and the influence of the nervous mother, a religious fanatic, may have played a great part.

The last-described cases belong to ascetic self-mutilation, and they were put in this chapter because of the characteristic role of inferiority, guilt, and need of purgation, in the development of their self-mutilating tendencies, and, on the other hand, because of the lack of definitely systematized self-mutilation,

In individuals without physical, mental, or social ground for



the formation of inferiority feelings, but of introverted and passive makeup, we frequently observed self-mutilation as an expression of the need of distinguishing themselves, by showing unusual endurance in the most convenient means for obtaining the acclaim of the group. In a very few cases of this kind Adler’s theory may be accepted. Self-mutilation rarely resulted here from excessive inquisitiveness into their inner experiences by introverted, suggestible individuals of unbalanced tendencies. Sometimes this need developed from an accidental observation of their dull sensitiveness to pain or painful experiences. Interest in such experiences sometimes betrayed a masochistic character. In other cases the cause was an interest in the endurance of pain by certain highly regarded characters of history and literature.

We were acquainted with the cases of several young people who observed themselves while inflicting physical pain on themselves, measuring how deeply they could insert a pin into their hands, and noticing how their faces would change as the pain increased. These individuals trained themselves to tolerate pain without showing the slightest change in expression. S, 18 years old, especially requested while undergoing a necessary operation that a nail be torn off his finger without anaesthetics, wanting to probe the limit of his endurance. The statement of physicians, during operations, or of dentists, during drilling and extraction of the teeth, that they are exceptionally patient in enduring pain gave these patients great pleasure.

A similar mechanism is shown in certain children’s’ games; the so-called endurance games, based on competition on “who can stand the greater number of blows with the rod on the soles of the feet,” or the determination of who will be able to kneel longer on peas, to stand longer on one foot, or to keep quiet longer in the classroom. Many competitors take part in these games; the initiative, however, usually comes from the types described above. A characteristic form of endurance game, without partners, combined with the need for perfection and the intolerance of mental suffering, is illustrated by the case of eight-year-old F, who, not being able to bear the sight of blood, and suffering from phobias and a state of excitation when watching the slaughter of animals, purposely watched the servant slaughter hens as a way to fortify herself and to distinguish herself in this field.



Many investigators of the emotional life of youth speak of individual or group excursions to cemetery chapels or morgues to observe the appearance of the dead, the expression of the face, the characteristic posture of the body and its morbidness. This phenomenon is fairly frequent, and we must consider it as a sign of interest in death because of its mystery and terror. In certain cases, however, the desire to look at the dead body is an urge to experience, to intensify, and to confirm with their senses the imaginations and oppressive feelings experienced in connection with the problem of their own deaths, their own destruction. To our questioning as to what drove them to such observations we were frequently told that they felt drawn to it in spite of moral pain and repulsion. Particular experiences related by some of them indicate that they like to visualize themselves in place of the corpse, and in imagination to vary the expression of the face, to change the position of the body, and to modify the surroundings as they imagine it would be in the case of their own death. Analysis of other aspects of the mental make-up of this type of individual very frequently throws light on these tendencies. Oftentimes, more or less typical nervous symptoms, neurasthenia or psychasthenia, were elicited; in many cases a feeling of inferiority was found. In the latter case; imagining oneself an object of interest, and visualizing the pity of parents and relatives may be one form of compensation of imagined or real inferiority. The psychasthenic or neurasthenic most frequently keeps himself outside of society. Unabsorbed by the changes and continuous cur-rents of life, he has a chance for the observation of his deeper, less apparent symptoms. The emotional life unstirred by the outside world is turned inward. These factors make it easier to be occupied with such problems as that of death or the value of life. A normal person on the death of even an intimate friend or relative usually suffers merely a slight shock which does not leave deeper impressions. Not so with psychasthenics or neurasthenics, who are inclined to exaggerated self-analysis, phobias, and depression, “striving for ideals and homesick for eternity.” To many of them the struggle with




the fear of death is a most important problem, from which result the attempts to accustom themselves to scenes of death and reflections on suicide. These experiences, despite the accompanying sadness and fear, are colored sometimes with the pleasant feeling resembling that which we experience when touching a painful spot. Obsessive thoughts of death as the end of all endeavors tinge the mood with sadness. Characteristic of these anxious psychasthenics is the in-ability to adapt themselves to the present mood of the environment, unless it be a sad one. These people, in a moment of joy, think of its rapid end and of oncoming unpleasantness. Constant rumination on restlessness, fear, and sadness obscures their happiness. We observed an individual with symptoms of self-mutilation who, in the most pleasant moments in his family circle or among friends, repeated in his thoughts: “Oh, if I could die, if I could only not exist.” A reaction similar to this is a particular fondness for and tendency to deal with subjects full of unhappiness, sadness, and horror in life, literature, and painting. The outcome of action in literary works in a way which conflicts with the instinct of self-preservation, death of what should live, survival of what should perish, and the triumph of evil and pain over joy produces in such individuals exaggerated emotions which can hardly be explained as those of artistic satisfaction alone. A young and very cultured man stated, for instance, that of all the works of Puvis de Chavannes he liked best the picture entitled “Young Girls and Death,” which presents six young girls dancing in the woods with flowers in their arms unaware of Death lurking among the flowers. Such tendencies frequently point to the existence of conflict within the ego. The feeling of sadness and pain, and the reflection on and increase of this feeling, may introduce an element of pleasure. The fact that this condition is unpleasant but inseparably associated with the mental structure of the subject, leads to the sublimation of sadness, pain, and morbidity into symbolic forms by which he measures the phenomena of the outside world. On the other hand, this is a sort of refuge from the outside world into his inner world which is emphasized and given a certain quality of sanctity and inaccessibility. Many individuals inclined to self-mutilation find satisfaction in the realization of their own solitude, injuries, sadness, and misunderstanding. “I prefer to be a dissatisfied Socrates than a satisfied animal,” is for them a characteristic

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expression of their inner feeling. The very solitude of the observer is frequently associated in nervous individuals with the ability to evaluate more easily the pretexts and falseness of the social milieu. Discovering “human beasts in the shape of man” (Zeromski) becomes a passion in many such people who look for the worst side of life.

In real life and in the creations of individuals inclined to self-mutilation we find many destructive tendencies. The created characters reveal destructive tendencies which destroy them mentally and physically. It is obvious that the solution of a problem by healthy reasoning should not destroy the individuals concerned. And yet we see that Judym (from “The Homeless” by Zeromski), a strong man, profoundly emotional, and a realist, condemns himself to destruction by casting aside Joas’ deep love for him, which he sup-posed would have hindered him in fulfilling his obligations to society. Yet, putting ourselves into Joas’ and Judym’s position, we see precisely that their union would have increased the value of their work for others, and would have given Judym the necessary strength for the fulfillment of difficult tasks and also eliminated many inner conflicts. Joas’ whole personality was exactly the converse of Judym’s chimera; and the way in which Judym solves his internal conflicts forms in us the conviction that he will end by suicide or by breaking down mentally because of inner suffering, that he will not fulfill the accepted obligations to humanity, and that he will destroy Joas’ life. One feels that the author is unable to remove some destroying force which exists everywhere, which inflicts the least expected and most painful blows because it is directed against youth, beauty, and the most cherished sentiments. These characters were all created by a man who possessed an appreciation of beauty, of individuality, and of heroism, who, in moments of the greatest blossoming of these qualities in his heroes, destroys them by blind accidental forces and foolishly insignificant conflicts existing in their imaginations. This is precisely “the laceration of his own wounds” but it is also evidence of his desires to destroy as a symptom of his philosophy that “all arises from dust and to dust shall return.” Such writers as Dostoyefsky and Zeromski possess, on the one hand, a strongly developed sense of reality, recognizing the “human beast” in general and in particular, and, on the other hand, a worship of upright and long-



suffering people who suffer only because of their spiritual values. They bear the painful knowledge that wrong is never rectified or revenged, that the evil of cosmic character frequently infects innocent and beautiful souls (Eva Pobratimska), and that in greatness lies the secret germ of lowness. This knowledge, together with the conviction that in a young beauty lies the bud of ugliness, and that in life lies the seed of death strengthening its power in each unit of life with every passing moment, produces a state of continuous restlessness, torment, and pessimism. The greater the ability to see the unpleasant side of life and, at the same time, to escape beyond it and beyond the realm of death, to disregard all values, the greater will be the restlessness and self-mutilation. The mind, not allowing itself to be deluded, and unable to adapt itself to life, will logically lead to self-mutilation, to suicide, and to more or less conscious hatred of its own disintegration. Since, however, this spirit is a real component of the mind of the individual, and since it is felt as one’s own and therefore an integral part of the personality, it frequently becomes pleasurably colored. Thus a certain unpleasant state can be explained to some extent as agreeable and also as disagreeable. This mental splitting and aversion to life is opposed by the instinct of self-preservation and the sense of reality, which struggles with these tendencies in order to preserve the ego. The more pronounced this disintegration, the stronger is the urge for destruction and the wish to die. Schopenhauer’s life was characterized by conflict between the instinct of self-preservation and the negation of the wish to live. The ability to notice the “human beast” in all its complexity and realism, along with sympathy for the down-trodden individual and a deep subtleness of feeling, characterizes Dostoyefsky, Tolstoy, and Zeromski. The need for spirituality, on the one hand, and the tendency toward sensuality, on the other hand, are the basic characteristics of Weininger. All these authors showed self-mutilating tendencies to a high degree, and some of them displayed certain hetero-mutilating tendencies as well.

Berent (7) calls attention to the conflicts of Nietzsche’s mentality in the following way:


Actual conflict in Nietzsche is a discord of spirit, whose roots reach deep into human nature, an eternal quarrel of fiery emotions with coolness of thoughts, of dreaming, and of lively

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imagination with severe calm of strict logic; the torment of the poet who considers himself insane, a phantom, an exile from the realm of truth with intuitive feeling of the deeper secrets of life, paralyzed by a distrust of feelings and intuitions.


Nietzsche’s work is the expression of his spiritual reality. The conflict exists between Apollo, symbol of ideals, of sculpture and painting in the realm of art, of intuition, measure, number, and refinement, and Dionysus, symbol of music, passions, savageness, and abandonment. Nietzsche [according to Jung (47)] was of an intuitive type with a tendency to introversion (Apollo) which found its expression, for example, in Geburt der Tragedie and Also sprach Zarathustra. He had, however, the earmarks of savageness, the signs of an untamed will (Dionysus), and indications of episodes of strong erotic excitement.

What are the pathological foundations on which is based the mental structure of individuals showing a conflict of tendencies? This is a complicated problem, and we are not trying to solve it. We shall submit only a series of examples, indicating their complexity. Mental overexcitability may cause the need of action which may be expressed in the form of good for the community, in reform work, etc., but it is usually associated with sensitiveness (vulnerability), isolation, repression of emotional needs, and self-mutilation. In individuals with homosexual tendencies there occurs often a struggle between their natural instincts and the feeling of shame, inferiority, and depression associated with knowledge of their abnormality. In drug addicts, alcoholics, and gamblers endowed with a refined conscience, their tendencies are in constant struggle with the feeling of humiliation and helplessness. Compulsions and sado-masochistic impulses may be the bases of conflicts of different groups of tendencies (loss of some tendencies due to the awakening of aversion to them during the fight, love, and hatred involved in sado-masochism). The more they are equal in strength, the harder the struggles and the more intensive becomes the self-mutilation.

As we have shown, self-mutilation as an expression of the struggle of conflicting tendencies is met with in rather introverted individuals, whose subjective life overbalances the influence of objective life. A slight predominance of introversion over extraversion may be the basis of an excessive repression of tendencies of opposing natures, of a state of strong tension, and of self-mutilation (Jung).



Asceticism, in the present meaning of the term, is based on the repression of natural requirements for the attainment of a chosen end, usually religious. The practice of asceticism in different forms is found in the most remote eras of human history. The investigations of Durkheim (26) Levy-Bruhl, and others show that asceticism is one of the religious practices among primitive people. The endurance of pain, discomforts, and fear were indispensable qualifications of a leader or of a high personality. The recognition of these qualities as of high value served to introduce training in the endurance of pain as prerequisite to entrance into the class of warriors and to the elevation from childhood to manhood. In Australia only those were included into the men’s circle who had for some time practiced asceticism. In civilized Sparta the boys were hardened by beating. Prostration of Christian warriors in the form of a cross prior to battle finds its analogy in the self-torture of men of nomadic tribes (American Indians, Australians) before war. The ability to control his sensitivity to pain proves that the given individual will not be afraid of wounds in battle, that he has lifted himself above minor things, and that he is nearer to God. After showing his heroism he is honored; after passing through a series of hardships he receives membership in many select and secret organizations. The observation that moderate asceticism strengthens not only courage, endurance, and mental power but also health was one of the bases for the introduction of regular fasts on appointed days; this also was necessary before making the more important decisions and the taking of any important steps. There is also, largely from the same source, prohibition of dancing and other pleasures during certain periods. In many people moderate asceticism is one means of assuring fertility. Asceticism, sanctioned by the state and religious authorities, soon began to take collective communal form (convents, sects, secret societies, etc.). As we have stated above, such or other forms of asceticism are found in all known people, primitive as well as civilized. In some people asceticism did not go beyond the form of moderation and training in endurance (Jews, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Japanese). Among the Jews, ascetic customs be-fore the period of exile, as well as after (Hassidism and Rabbinism),


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explicitly forbade tortures and ordered fasts, spiritual exercises, and meditation. The body to the Jews was the expression of beauty created in the image of God. Close observance of the laws and emphasis on the value of fertility were the only outlets from the misery and difficulties of the reorganization of life after exile.

Roman asceticism was an asceticism of warriors characterized by exercises in the endurance of fatigue and pain and practical competition for public leadership. Moderation, chastity, and temperance in food and drink were associated with the performance of religious ceremonies in Japan. These, together with orders to control their passion for their chosen desires, were the means to bolster courage and readiness for sacrifice. We shall deal more closely with Greek, Hindu, and Christian forms of asceticism, as the most original, and exercising the greatest influence on the religious life of humanity.

The beginnings of the practice of Greek asceticism are found in the Elysian Mysteries of the cult of Dionysus. We find in them the role of ecstasy in purification (catharsis) from the baser elements of existence. The struggle between soul and body, pessimism concerning the value of temporary life, the necessity for preparation for the separation of the soul from the body by suffering and by states of ecstasy are expressed in the Mysteries. In the Orphics we find mystic practices by which it was possible to enter into relation with the occult world. The interdiction of meat-eating was based on the belief that in animals as well as in man is embedded the germ of indestructible life. These ideas are also found in the Pythagoreans who practiced exercises of silence and emphasized strict principles of life, and also in Empedocles’ belief in reincarnation (the basis for the prohibition of meat consumption), and asceticism as a method of liberation from sensual life. The conflict between matter and form, between the sensual, changeable, and temporary, on one side, and the intellectual, immutable, and eternal, on the other, is most strongly emphasized in Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and in the Neo-Platonism. The Cynics and Stoics realized these ideas most closely. For the former, the Way to perfection was flip systematic liberation from the outside world, limiting to the minimum . One’s natural needs; for the latter, strife against the sensual desires by submitting them to reasoning, by ruthlessly strict appraisal of the moral value of each action (absolute ethics, lack of appreciation of what lies between right and wrong).



The Greek asceticism emanates, as we see, from a philosophical investigation and the belief that there are two conflicting elements in man. The aesthetic taste of the Greeks, the development of their sculpture, their tendencies to philosophical contemplation, and the relative rarity of cruel persecutions and catastrophes were the factors which guarded the Greeks against practicing physical tortures. The Greek asceticism had a great influence on Europe, Asia Minor, and Africa, and especially on the Jews (viz., Filon the Jew, De Vita Contemplativa) and Romans.

Special sources in a particular phase of the development of asceticism are found in the Hindus. The Hindus are described as mild, cold, and passive. As a matter of fact, in the majority of cases they are nervous, emotionally and sexually overexcitable, and frequently impulsive. The mildness, calmness, and passivity is to a great extent the result of a turbulent mode of living and of a training and a philosophy of life grown out of experience and suffering. India was a country which afforded an abundance of such experiences: misery, starvation, malaria, and earthquake mercilessly sweeping away each year thousands of people, numerous victims of venomous snakes, the striking and humiliating antagonism of the castes (hunger of pariahs and their pitiful treatment in contrast with the wealth and power of the princes). An important factor was also the frequent conquest of India by people of little spiritual culture but of overwhelming physical force (Mongols, Mohammedans), or by powers seeking imperialistic development and material profits (British). These factors produced a feeling of helplessness, of fear and pain, and as a consequence, what is characteristic of people with whom one misfortune follows another, a subconscious desire for complete annihilation, the ending of the destructive work begun by fate. The daily occurring tragedies of life require constant adaptation to them. The Hindus adapted themselves to these conditions by resignation, self-withdrawal, mental shrinking, passivity, and self-mutilation, as means of becoming insensitive to pain, to misfortune, and death. They bore the tyranny of others calmly. A compensation for their humiliation was the feeling of spiritual elevation. Experience during the ages rendered permanent this characteristic attitude in regard to violence. The relation of the Hindus to reality was described in the holy hooks which were greatly respected

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as guides of life. One who was able to tolerate the worst experiences with indifference, especially pain and death, won the name of ascetic and the highest esteem and admiration.

In Bhagavad-Ghita we find the definition of an ascetic as follows: “It is one who has neither desires nor prejudices (ill will)” (39). In hyperexcitable and introverted individuals it was insufficient to reach the state of indifference to experiences of life; they found an outlet for their excitability in increasing the life experiences by the application of self-mutilation. The following passages from Hindu books indicate various immediate causes for self-mutilation, all of which have as a common basis the desire for the annihilation of pain by producing indifference to earthly pleasures, for attaining higher aims, and for the transformation of the lowest orders to the values of higher orders.


He submitted himself to asceticism for a very long time and so battled his body that he became thin as a shade and almost turned into a spirit (53).

He went into the woods Gangadvar, where he practiced the severest asceticism. Once when a fire fed by a strong wind broke out in the forest, Dhatarasztra not only did not save himself by escaping but he awaited, with Gandhari and Kunti, the tongues of fire as their deliverers.

Dhatarasztra and two women, subjecting themselves to a sacrificial fire, understood that he gained for them eternal life in heaven (53).

The King Kshatrya, surnamed Viswamitra, in order to surpass the sage Vashishta hopelessly submitted himself for thousands of years to horrible self-mutilation, which in the end led to the foundation of the caste Brahma (53).

As the legend says, King Jonkhishaera tiring of life, and disillusioned, went to Mount Meru, and after many unpleasant adventures on the way reached the celestial mountains where he finally was admitted to the Swarg, the abode of happiness. Since that time many Saddhus courageously directed themselves toward the same goal, making this perilous journey alone and frequently never returning (11)


Sometimes the goal of the ascetic practice was the final annihilation of life, which was the source of all pain and evil. The fear of the continuous wandering of souls, with the belief that the



path to the heights of spiritual existence or that this existence itself will be a continuous torture, was the basis of self-mutilation by continuous and agonizing wandering to bring the final destruction closer.


Oftentimes this religious order (Dzajns) was joined by individuals tired of life. Bareheaded, barefooted, and nude, they wandered through India eight months out of the year, for two or three thousand years, often without assurance and even without trust in God. Mortifying their decrepit bodies only to prevent a new existence, they wandered constantly in order to assure themselves avoidance of the wandering of their souls, -eternal freedom and final annihilation (11).


Not all the forms of self-mutilation have as their aim the real elevation of the individual to a higher spiritual level. They were frequently combined with a tendency to dramatization, with tricks, produced for profit and the gratification of vanity and the excitement of admiration. Despite the difference between both forms we find in the second form an expression of the tendencies both to lift themselves to a higher level and also to get into the limelight. This is again a distorted way to perfection. As I have shown, the Hindus are introverts who rather favor mental dissociation, mysticism, and ecstasy. Many times the causal experience of agreeable states of excitement and ecstasy (accidental experience of fatigue, narcotization) was the basis for the application of this accidentally observed method of bringing themselves into this state. The observation that pain induced or increased the state of excitement had some significance in its adoption for this purpose. They used in India the diverse kinds of self-mutilation, ranging from the simple exercise of moderation in nourishment, clothing, talking, etc., to physical self-chastisement and the worst tortures. To the last belonged such forms as: spending whole days naked on spiked boards; holding the arms up for many months, or years, without interruption until atrophy of the muscles and stiffening of the joints set in; pressing the closed fists until the ingrowing nails broke through the palms. Different castes of Saddhus practice various forms of self-mutilation. Buddhism did not recognize self-torture but pointed the way to attaining insensibility to one’s suffering by meditation and the exercise of control over natural instincts.

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Christian asceticism was the result of a combination of Hebrew practices of moderation, Oriental influences (Egyptian, Hindu), Greek philosophy, Christ’s principles based on his life and death, and finally the prolonged persecution which produced resistance to physical and moral pain. The last of these was due to the influence of the belief that earthly life is only a period of trial and preparation for eternity. The tradition of solitary and collective meditation, fasts, and other religious exercises as an initiation to the teaching of others, Christ’s directing the way to Him of those who would be-come His pupils, and the influence of practices in other religions were the bases of the future establishment of monastic orders with rules for self-denial, prayers, and other forms of religious exercises. Whipping was one of the oldest and simplest forms of physical tortures based on the consideration of whipping as a punishment.

Asceticism had its periods of intensification during times of unusual stress (famine, epidemics, war, and earthquakes). Asceticism thrives most frequently in countries where the people are character-iced by emotionality and sensitiveness (Spain, France, Italy, Russia), much less in Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian countries.

The church did not officially recommend self-torture as a method of attaining perfection. Instead, it directed the exercise of self-denial in accordance with the principle that, by mastering oneself, one gains authority over others. Pope Gregory VII spread his reign over the world by withdrawing from it. The Protestant and Lutheran churches did not recognize asceticism. The unofficial but favorable treatment of moderate asceticism by the Catholic church was the basis for the formation of centers of asceticism by certain individuals who thus became founders of religious orders. Depending on the personality of the founder and on his experience, more or less strict regimentation was involved and different methods of asceticism were prescribed.

A series of facts shows that a great role in the practice of asceticism was played by ecstatic states, visions, etc., accidentally experienced or developed under the influence of reading the lives of saints, and based on mental excitability and tendencies to disintegration. Among Christian saints we find many personalities who were characterized by violence of emotions, bad habits, and the tendency to utilize neuropathic disorders. (St. Hieromius was tormented by the hardest



temptations; St. Paul, St. Francis d’Assisi, and St. Vincent de Paul showed violence of feelings; St. Augustine and St. Anthony, the hermit, were inclined toward sexual excitability; Saints Mary Magdalen, Afra, and Margaret of Cordova were courtesans). Overexcitable individuals who are inclined to experience strong emotional states are marked also by a greater tendency to dissociation. Stimulation of a particular excitable group of tendencies leads to the realization of these tendencies, despite opposition, resistance, and struggle. A great conflict between opposite tendencies arises from various states of emotional ambivalence (attraction and repulsion, a need and fear of its realization) which, in conjunction with a degree of mental disintegration, is the basis of the domination of one group of emotions over the others. This is realized many times by way of self-mutilation. I think that the transformation from a state of sexual passion to one of asceticism, from unrestrained bad habits to self-control and idealism, may be effected by a struggle of conflicting tendencies in which one tendency or group of tendencies is driven out by another. The beginning of the victory is most frequently the states of rapture and ecstasy, whose intensification may bring about permanent changes in the mental structure and provide a foundation for the strong development of one tendency at the expense of the suppressed or vanquished one.

The knowledge of one’s sexual excitability, the strength of which one experiences constantly and which is distinctly antagonistic to another group of tendencies, the need of sensual purity, may cause physical self-mutilation. Whipping and other means of torture are often a means of release of sexual tension; as witnessed in the case of St. Pasquales Baylon who answered, when asked by one of his companions whether he experienced sexual temptations: “Yes, but as soon as I feel them, I immediately whip my body with rods until the pain appeases the temptation” (52).

In the initial stage of self-mutilation, sexual excitability most frequently increases and it ceases or transforms itself into other forms of psychomotor release only in more advanced stages. Self-mutilation may intensify a state of ecstasy; therefore, one frequently tortures the body subconsciously in a state of ecstasy to reach a higher degree of exaltation. Sometimes reflection on the different possibilities of

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torture stirs up the individual to ecstatic states. This was the case with St. Theresa who wrote of the Child Jesus:


Ah, above all, I wish to be a martyr; to be a martyr, here is the dream of my youth! This dream grew in me in a cell at Carmel. But here is another madness for I desire not only one kind of martyrdom but to satisfy me I should need all of them. . . . . . As you, my Adored One, I should like to be whipped, and crucified. . . . I should like to be plunged into boiling oil. I want to be torn by wild beasts like Ignatius of Antioch; to be bread worthy of God. With St. Agnes and St. Cecilia I should like to put my throat under the executioner’s axe; to whisper the name of Jesus while burning at the stake like Joan of Arc. Jesus, open for me the book of the lives of the Saints, which contains the deeds which I should like to accomplish for you.

Reaching an ecstatic state by self-mutilation after its protracted practice requires very frequently an increase of the intensity of self-mutilation, because of the blunting of the excitability. On the other hand, exhaustion often follows a state of ecstasy and consequently there arises an unpleasant state of depression. Both these factors result in a need for an increase of suffering which becomes to some ascetics as essential as narcotics are to drug addicts.

Only suffering can from now on make my life bearable, all my wishes center on suffering: how many times do I raise my voice from the secret recesses of my soul to God, “Lord, to suffer or to die is the only thing I am asking Thee” (46).


We have discussed above the influence of strong impulses, of violence of feeling, and of conflict between groups of tendencies in self-mutilation observed among the saints. There exists, however, another group, characterized by a weakness of certain impulses. The fear of the experiences of life, fear of sexual impotency and of the entire sexual problem, and a tendency to ambivalent action of these impulses (curiosity and aversion) are included in this group. The consequences of such weakness are an increase of the anxiety state, self-accusation, and self-mutilation. In the saints we find, according to the observations of physicians and others, various disorders of the nervous system, principally of a functional nature such as hysteria, anxiety-neurosis, and neurasthenia, as well



as disorders of sensibility and attacks of violent pain. These nervous states are associated more or less with the disintegration of certain groups of tendencies and with self-mutilation.

In conclusion of this section on asceticism we shall consider Janet’s theory which, although based primarily on the observation of self-mutilation in one female patient (observation over a 20-year period), gives some insight into one of the mechanisms of asceticism. At the bottom of asceticism Janet sees the fear of yielding to a flood of violent passions, together with the knowledge that submitting to them will lead to exhaustion. This patient of Janet’s stated that she possessed the rudiments of the most dangerous passions and that, if she were not constantly on her guard, her passions, would dominate her and lead to unbridled licentiousness. This watching over herself, with the stifling of her sexual desires and the shrinking away from the difficulties of life, probably produced some suppression of other actions, which gave her pleasure. Janet thinks that many cases of asceticism can be explained by the need to escape from pleasure and the search of pain for the prevention of danger from uncontrolled debauches and passions. One may say that this is an action to assure a readiness to struggle with the passions, and also to assure a defense against future temptations. The fear of experiencing what is usually considered a pleasure is, according to Janet, the most important factor in this mechanism (44).



We shall review here in brief only those kinds of suicide which reveal a common base with self-mutilating tendencies and primarily those which are the result of these tendencies. The starting-point is some exciting agent which, depending on its intensity, produces a disharmony of tendencies and becomes the center of the struggle in their attempts at reintegration. New complexes of tendencies arise by whose regrouping the formerly dominating tendency may be weakened. The reinforced exciting agent may subdue many tendencies to the disadvantage of the previously dominating one. Suicide follows in individuals in whom the undermined dominating tendency, which Janet calls the “reality function,” becomes itself the irritating agent.

The suicide of Spitznagel, a friend of the great Polish romantic author Slowacki, is an example of suicide based on the irritability and struggle between tendencies. We know from the psychological works of Julius Slowacki that he was, in contrast to Spitznagel and despite his great overexcitability and tendency to depression, a type which easily realized his aims in the world of dreams and fancies by which he transformed real life as he wanted it. Spitznagel, on the contrary, needed to see spiritual values in life and had a much more strongly developed sense of reality and criticism, which did not allow him to transform reality at will. Not finding in the real world the spiritual values he sought, there was an intensification of the inner conflict resulting in self-mutilation and suicide.

Weininger’s suicide was the result of an inner conflict between the need of spirituality and the sensual life symbolized by woman. In the period preceding his suicide, Weininger showed ascetic and self-mutilating tendencies, as well as a tendency to inflict pain on others.

Stavrogin’s suicide (from Dostoyefsky’s Devils) was the result of the continuous struggle of a whole complex of tendencies, namely, a tendency to auto- and hetero-mutilation, an attraction toward sin associated with a desire for atonement and a need and fear of self-derision. The desire to destroy fear led to an aversion to life and to the rejection of the dominating tendency, the ability to adapt to the changing conditions of life. An impulse to suicide, to kill the fear of death, is found in psychoneurotic individuals. Fear of




the cruelty of passing from life to death, the destruction of beauty and of all signs of existence, forms an unbearable situation and a need for freedom from it.

The following fragments of Korzecki’s conversation with Judym from The Homeless of Zeromski throws light on Judym’s mental state:


A young boy, a son of a poor miner, died here a few weeks ago. I brought him a little red hat once from Milan, a present bought on my trip . . . . for one franc. . . . Here in this garden he used to run and jump all day long. This little red head . . . . when I learned that he died of diphtheria, I purposely undertook the most important tasks, laid out plans, all in order not to think of him. Well . . . . and so it passed. And then one evening sitting in the armchair . . . . I raise my eyes and see a red spot moving along the wall. And in my ears rings his gay voice. Do I know after all if it was a spot? It was a sadness, red and awe-inspiring as the death itself of such an innocent life. . . . But I have also another sickness, I have an extremely refined conscience, there is an aching leftover. Misfortune and grief are the possessions of truth. Too great a distance lies between truth and the coal-pits.


In the character of Korzecki we find strong tendencies to self-mutilation in the form of irony and acrimony in regard to others as well as to himself. The too accurate observation of conflicts in life based on mental excitability and inner conflicts was the basis of self-mutilation and suicide. In individuals practicing self-mutilation, we often find the need for a gradual increase of the intensity of self-mutilation for obtaining a state of contentment. The gradual adaptation to agents of a certain strength leads to the infliction of ever increasing tortures; such situations may arouse suggestions of suicide or attempts at suicide as the most effective means of self-mutilation. This is a narcotization sui generis with suffering by which suicide becomes the strongest means of self-mutilating narcosis.

In states of depression, attacks of acute neurosis of vasomotor origin, in connection with which there arise a feeling of doom, a feeling of impending death, or a fear of insanity, suicide may appear to be the only means of liberation from an unbearable state after self-mutilating attempts at suicide. The experiencing of a suicidal

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attempt and of freeing oneself from states of restlessness in the moment of decision to commit suicide increases the need and transforms it into an obsession. Individuals revealing tendencies to self-mutilation and suicide often have a feeling of aversion or of strangeness to oneself. One of Janet’s patients who jumped out of the window motivated her decision by a wish to die by her illness and a feeling of wretchedness which, however, had no apparent organic basis. We associate symptoms similar to the above most frequently with a state of hypochondria, melancholia, etc., based, it is supposed, on a disorder of deep sensibility, of which nothing more definite can be said at present. A more exact knowledge of the mechanism of these feelings will most likely enable us to throw light on this type of suicide. The patient’s difficulty of finding the cause of this feeling of wretchedness intensifies the struggle with the latter and increases the state of restlessness. This leads sometimes to rebellion against the ill-defined, obscure, and consequently most unpleasant excitation and, in these conditions, the instinct of self-preservation becomes itself the strongest exciting agent and produces a necessity for self-destruction. The above factors, which are at the bottom of self-mutilation and suicide, have their sources in the psycho-physical structure of the individual (disharmony in a group of tendencies, neuropathic states, disorders of deep sensibility).

Difficult mental conflicts and an abnormal educational environment have a great influence on the arousal and development of suicidal desires as enlarged self-mutilating tendencies. Parental love and the child’s feeling that he is of some value play a great part in the development and transformation of the child’s egocentrism. An abandoned child is deprived of the influence of these factors. A break in the physical and spiritual contact with the mother and disorders during the developmental periods cause a weakening of self-esteem which retards the development of the instinct of self-preservation. The feeling of affection and cordiality is to the child as indispensable for his mental development as feeding is for his physical growth. The gradual development of self-reliance and of the ability to adapt easily to new surroundings is based on the feeling that in case of mistakes one has the unfailing help of his dear ones. Lack of this assurance causes mental overexcitability, a feeling of uncertainty and self-appraisal as an unnecessary and useless individual.



This is illustrated by the case of 15-year-old Z, who was disliked and neglected by her parents. Before one of her suicidal at-tempts she left her governess the following note: “I can’t live with-out any security; I wanted to be a good soldier but I guess that I am only a coward.” Before attempting suicide she often emphasized the worst sides of her appearance and character. She said that she wanted to die, that it is “better to disappear in the darkness.”

“Injury and humiliation” as a basis of self-mutilation and at-tempts at suicide is illustrated by the following passage from the autobiography of Z:


I have the misfortune to belong to the class of the unknown, the homeless and the unnecessary in this world. From child-hood, since I realized what a homeless child means, a horrible question tormented me: why didn’t I have parents, why am I so unhappy? I envied all children their parents, especially when a mother caressed her child in my presence. I did not even try to go near the children of wealthy parents because I considered’ myself something inferior, evil and despised. . . . I willingly tried to comply within the limits of possibility with my guardian’s instructions, but revolted more than once, which led to misunderstandings during which my guardian derided my origin and stated that such homeless children were good for nothing, that they were outcasts of society, who will never come to anything good. . . . I hated the parents, especially my mother, who for her momentary pleasure (when fifteen, I already understood it) brought me into the world and threw me at the mercy of fate instead of depriving me of life before birth, or immediately after. (If I met with such a misfortune, I would kill myself and the child.) when the guardian taxed me, as it seemed to me, too much, I decided to do away with myself. I then constrained myself to eat nothing the whole week; I became so weak that I fainted, but, death did not come. . . . After a few days of rest, and after again hearing the usual reproaches, I ran out several times at night barefooted in the snow or opened the window and stood there for sometime in order to catch cold and to die sooner, for such a life is a martyrdom.


Suicidal tendencies, especially in youth, may, according to Adler’s theory, develop on the basis of a feeling of inferiority which in turn may be caused by an inferiority of certain organs, by conditions of

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life, or conflicts in the family. As exposure to sickness and pain is often a form of self-mutilation in order to arouse pity among the interested ones, so may the contemplation of and attempts at suicide be used to arouse pity and to injure others. The refusal to eat and exposure to cold are often expressions of a need to attract attention or to play an important part in life. Lacking other means to reach the first rank and to arouse interest, one looks for it sometimes in dreams of death or in suicide. Suicide can finally be the strongest form of protest or vengeance for failure in life, the last stage of self-mutilation and, therefore, also of the torture of others (2).

Individuals whose lives are predominantly inner, introverts and schizoids, have ordinarily little emotional plasticity. Their emotional relationship with others is usually very deep and thus their disappointment and disillusionment more easily destroy their mental unity. Emotional overexcitability, ambition, and self-consciousness are the factors which prevent them from occupying themselves in the daily tasks because they brood over their mistakes. An unbearable state is created not only because the given individual has lost, for instance, a person with whom he was strongly connected emotionally but also because he himself has made such a mistake that the object of the emotion was not in keeping with an emotion of high moral value. In such a state, aversion and hatred may be turned against oneself as the cause of these mistakes. Sometimes psychic injury has such a force that it irreparably destroys the mental integrity. Emotionally overexcitable individuals, unable to create a philosophy explaining their past sufferings, often end by suicide. The impulse of self-destruction may begin with physical or psychical self-mutilation and end in suicide.




Michelangelo Buonarotti had a characteristic group of self-mutilating traits. A series of complicated factors played a part in the arousal and development of these tendencies. His father was irritable, unstable, and inclined to phobias. Nothing definite is known about his mother. His mother’s tiresome horseback trips a short time before his coming into the world may have had some influence on Michelangelo’s nervousness (78). Severe punishments by his father and uncle for neglecting other studies because of his preference for drawing and sculpture were also not without influence (78).

At about 17 years of age he had a nervous shock when one of his companions, Pietro Torrigiano, in a fight broke the former’s nose with a blow of the fist. The disfigurement remained perm-anent. Michelangelo had a strong but not well-proportioned figure (the upper half of the body was more strongly developed than the lower). His forehead was large in proportion to the whole skull. Since his early youth he was subject to many different ailments (head-aches, neuralgia, toothaches, eye-aches, kidney and bladder stones); despite this he lived to be very old (12). Anxiety associated with nervousness, awareness of his physical unattractiveness, and past humiliations caused the birth of a feeling of inferiority compensated for by a tendency to irony, disdain, and irritability. Emotional hyper-excitability, at times when it was difficult to find a full outlet in art, released itself in self-mutilation, a characteristic means of release for the type of anxious and distinctly introverted individuals to which Michelangelo belonged. Emotionality and a predominantly inner life produced a strong need for love and deep enduring friend-ship. However, he experienced in this respect not only disappointments but also humiliations. One of his beloved ones played with his excitability: she excited his jealousy by flirting with others. He detested her in the end; he begged fate to disfigure her, and to make her fall in love with him, so that he could in his turn refuse her love and cause her pain.


Michelangelo suffered on account of his bad looks because to such a man as he, loving physical beauty more than any-



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body else, ugliness was a disgrace. Traces of this feeling of humiliation are found in a few poems he wrote. This feeling was the more vexing as during his whole life he was consumed by love, and it does not seem that any of his love was requited at any time . . . . .


A strong affection for Victoria Colonna and Th. Cavalieri did not cause him disappointment. The first affection was rather a friend-ship characterized by platonic love; Victoria Colonna had many masculine traits. The features of her face betrayed a strong will, a certain hardness (high forehead, long and plain nose, the upper lip short and peevish, the lower lip prominent, tight-mouthed, chin salient). Her profound knowledge of art and taste for the sciences were the outstanding reasons for the existence of this affectionate relationship. His emotional contact with Th. Cavalieri, a mixture of friendship and platonic love, showed traces of pathological infantile affection, as Rolland points out.


He wrote him letters (Th. Cavalieri), he turned to his idol with humble groveling submission. He called him a powerful genius, a wonder, the light of the century. He begged him not to scorn him, that he could compare himself with him, whom nobody could equal, he offered him in tribute his life, all his future. . . . .


Taking into consideration the peculiar form of his emotional link with Cavalieri (who must have been a very handsome man) and his feeling for Victoria Colonna, a woman of a rather masculine type, one may assume the possible existence of a certain homosexual and infantile trait in the genius of sculpture. Another indication of this is his portrayal of young forms of physical beauty in art, his lack of desire to marry (from a group of five brothers including Michelangelo only one was married), and a feeling of particular affection for handsome adolescents. This, however, was not of a definitely pathological character. Traits such as the subjection to mood changes the difficulty or impossibility of making a decision, and outbursts of anger point also to infantilism. From childhood Michelangelo suffered from states of anxiety. He was afraid of being infected with the Black Plague and worried about the health of his family; he was afraid of persecution and attacks on his life.



Most frequently, moreover, he suffered from a groundless, vague restlessness and from fears of pending misfortune (12). He was continually undecided, never being able to make up his mind to choose between two projects. He could not reach an agreement with himself and changed his mind frequently, which led him to outbursts of anger and shame, and caused self-aversion and self-hatred. States of restlessness, associated with physical troubles as well as with excessive mental excitability, the feeling of inferiority, and his introversion were the causes of reversals of decisions and changes in points of view. This led sometimes to lying and flattery. The realization of his condition and the hatred of certain traits of his character were the bases of self-mutilation, whipping, and asceticism. Michelangelo’s excitability expressed itself also in excessive activity and in a pathological ardor for work.

Once while horseback riding he noticed a mountain dominating a whole region, and the desire arose in him to forge it into the Colossus visible to sailors from afar. He worked furiously, forgetting food and sleep. He wanted to do everything himself; it gratified him to support his father and his brothers by his work; he helped every-where. He was seldom satisfied with himself and felt that he could not express in his work all his thoughts and desires. In letters he inserted postscripts, then destroyed most of them, dispatching few. The magnitude of his work, despite his tremendous energy, increased his restlessness and his doubts of being equal to his task. Behind the above-mentioned character traits was, on the one side, the feeling of talent, and, on the other side, a continuous restlessness which was seeking motor release in his plans and works. Here also lie the will to power and the need of greatness which were associated with the need of creation and also with feelings of inferiority in certain respects and the striving for their compensation. States of depression were caused by an excess of these needs, the superabundance of ideas and desires being in disharmony with the possibility of fulfillment. The feeling of inferiority, extreme sensitivity, and dwelling above all in the world of creation were some of the causes of his solitude and of his difficulties in relation to others. It was part of Michelangelo’s individuality and at the same time an expression of his instinct of self-preservation and creative need to protect himself against the feverish political life and the superficialities of contemporary society.

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This increased his difficulties in adapting to new surroundings and intensified his states of fear. The lack of expression of sentiment and the difficulties in his everyday life were compensated for by his tightening the emotional link to the family and to a small number of friends. The death of his dearest ones, resulting in increased solitude, with the coexistence of the above-mentioned traits produced pessimism, weariness of life, and yearning for death. Nobody was less receptive to joy and better created for pain. He noticed only pain in life; pain only he felt in the immense universe. “A hundred joys will not outweigh one torture.” “All afflicts me,” he wrote, “even the good because its brevity oppresses and saddens my soul as much as the wrong itself.” He grew each year more sullen and the idea of death absorbed him more and more; he congratulated his nephew on the loss of his infant son. His room was as gloomy as a grave. On the stairway he painted Death with a coffin under his arm. He lived miserably and he entirely neglected himself. His plunge into the problem of death acted on him repulsively and alluringly at the same time. Often in such a state he indulged in mystical worship toward which he had had a tendency for a long time. He retained this association with his ascetic mode of life. (He ate only to keep himself alive, he slept in his clothes and shoes, and he suffered all kinds of discomfort.) He remained emotional and hyperexcitable, with an “absent-mindedness” in every kind of under-taking. In the last years of his life he thought less and less of his creations, giving them away and sometimes destroying them. When he finished work on “The Taking Down from the Cross,” he broke it with a hammer. He would have shattered it to pieces if not for his servant, Anthony, who begged him to make him a gift of it. Such was the indifference which Michelangelo showed towards his work just before his death. The following factors contributed to his increasing pessimism and withdrawal into himself: the frequent chronic pathological disorders; the feeling that he was inferior in looks and in certain character traits; continual restlessness; the need for and lack of a strong love and the appreciation of his and great moral value, together with the realization of his vacillation; lack of decision, lies and flattery; sudden arousal of likes and dislikes; disharmony between his numerous plans and the un-fulfillment of the majority of his projects; the greatness of his



ideas and genius of his work, and the frequent immaturity of his procedure; and lastly, continuous disappointments in life. The lack of an adequate outlet in family life and love, and the aversion to life were compensated by his ardent pathological addiction to meditation on death, and on the organization of the environment which continually reminded him of suffering. Becoming accustomed to suffering and realizing that it is inseparably connected with our own minds, that through its intensity and its interweaving into life it constitutes our personal property, causes in such individuals as Michelangelo a fervent worship of suffering and death.



Self-mutilation constitutes one of the most important personal traits of Dostoyefsky as well as of the heroes in his works. From authoritative sources concerning his life and from an analysis of his works, the following factors come to light as the bases of his self-mutilating tendencies and their realization

1. Emotional overexcitability and a decidedly predominant inner life (introverted type).

2. Feeling of inferiority.

3. Lack of harmonious refinement of his personality (mental disharmony, conflicting groups of tendencies).

4. Acceptance of the philosophy of suffering as the most perfect system of living (on the basis of personal experiences).

We shall endeavor to examine these factors one by one. Dostoyefsky, from his childhood, showed signs of emotional overexcitability and nervousness. He suffered from nervous headaches and palpitations, according to Dr. Jaworsky (a close acquaintance), and showed symptoms of hypochondria. According to his wife, friends, and acquaintances he was of an explosive type, excitable, and inclined to extremes in feeling, judgments, and actions. Soloviov (a Russian philosopher and a friend of Dostoyefsky) describes him as a very sensitive man, a subjectivist who found references to himself in the most innocent conversations. This excitability brought him to the border of insanity. In states of excitement he was irritated by trivialities. Once the slamming of a door joining their rooms by his wife provoked a nervous outburst. On another occa-

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sion he threatened to jump out of the window if she talked loudly. He was suspicious and groundlessly jealous; he often reacted with outbursts of anger to simple jokes. In states of excitement he showed a lack of self-control and judgment. This may be illustrated by his behavior when playing roulette. He would leave his wife at home without a penny, to spend his last few coins on the game, directing her not to yield him her savings despite his requests, and yet he would burst out in anger and beg for the remaining money after his losses in the game. He very often realized his pathological impulsive-ness, but was unable to control it. Dostoyefsky said to himself that he was subject to great excitement, that all his life he was of a passionate nature, and that in his impulsive acting he would go beyond the normal. One of his heroes expresses this state in the following way: “I realized perfectly that I exaggerated these facts immensely; but how could it be helped? I had already lost control over myself and was trembling as in fever . . . when I once felt the urge for something, I went headlong after it.” He easily fell into childish fears about his wife and children and often expressed a feeling of impending death. The mental overexcitability and the states of anxiety produced an unbearable self-consciousness, causing frequent outbursts, loss of presence of mind, and ridiculous actions, which became the basis of a feeling of guilt, humiliation, and self-accusation. Lacking the possibility of finding an outlet for the tension, the state of restlessness and excitement increased. The knowledge of an inner source of these states strengthened his self-accusation and self-mutilation. Dostoyefsky writes of himself that in the absence of outer excitation the inner ones became predominant and caused nervousness and day-dreaming (13).

This scarcity of outer excitations can be explained by the conditions of his rearing as well as by the influence of overexcitability and hypochondria. Dostoyefsky’s parents spent a rather isolated life, and the children had no companions at home or even later at school. The lack of this broader relationship was compensated by a tightening of the link with the siblings and hence one had to have his brother’s traits to be a real friend. Dostoyefsky did not dance, he avoided the large meetings and brightly lighted places, and showed from his early years a tendency to discuss the principles of life. He hardly knew the countryside, did not embrace nature, and it played no part



in his life and creations. He was a novelist of the town, a talented creator of darkness and of human evil. Being an introvert, he was predisposed, under the influence of these tendencies, to inward reactions, to an inability to associate with others, to states of anxiety, to excessive inhibition, and to self-mutilation.

In Dostoyefsky’s personal experiences as well as in his works, the feeling of inferiority is found as the basis for self-mutilation. In the awakening and development of this feeling in Dostoyefsky the following factors are found: debility, epilepsy and other ailments, a feeling of solitude, an inability to associate with others because of which he could not take his true place in the social life, and, lastly, the feeling of humiliation in connection with his passion for roulette. The emotional state, associated with feeling of unworthiness, finds an outlet in self-mutilation (exposure to humiliation, exaggeration of instability, self-abasement, and deliberate cynicism, physical self-mutilation, etc.). This is a “laceration of the wounds” (Zeromski), the desire for palpating one’s painful spots. Individuals of such a nature often compensate for this feeling of inferiority in the world of dreams and in asceticism. These states are illustrated most strongly by Memories of a Man from Underground, A Raw Youth, and The Insulted and Injured, fragments of which we quote as follows:


The worst fact, however, was that I thought I had a stupid face. . . .

I know from looking in the mirror that my appearance is damaging to me because I have a common every day face. If I were only rich like Rothschild, who would pay attention to my face? Could not thousands of women, if I would only whistle to them, come flying to me with their beauty?

I have forgotten even the beating but I could not for any-thing pardon the way he pushed me aside without noticing me at all. . . .

It was the torment of torments, a ceaseless, unbearable feeling of humiliation, because of the thought which was turning itself into a continuous impression that I ;vas a fly on the face of the whole world, an ugly unnecessary fly, the most reason-able intelligent and the noblest, that is another thing, but just the same a fly, which yields to everybody, whom everybody humiliates and insults . . . . no, I am simply Dolgoruky, an illegitimate son of my former landowner, Versilow. . . .

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Don’t dare to sit together with well-born children, you are of a low origin the same as a lackey. And he slapped me very strongly on my plump pink cheek; and relishing it, hit me again and again. . . .

Each time I come to a place where there are many people, I get the impression that the eyes of everybody present act on me like electric sparks. I begin to shrink, to shrink physically. . . .

I could not acquire the slightest dignity. Once I reproach myself for an excessive softness and politeness, and again I get up and commit some rudeness. . . .

Everybody always laughed at me, but nobody knew that I was more conscious than all of them of my ridiculousness. What offended me most was that they did not guess it.

A secret feeling of power is more unbearably delightful than an open domination. If I were a millionaire it seems to me that I would find pleasure in wearing the oldest suit, so that I could be taken for a man of no account, almost a beggar, to be pushed and disdained. A knowledge of my true position would be enough for me.

Who knows that from my first dreams or almost from the earliest childhood I could not imagine myself otherwise than in the first rank.

I started to test myself to see if I was fit for a monastery and asceticism. To that end for a whole first month I ate only bread and water, afterwards I added soup, and morning and evenings a glass of tea. . . . So I lived a year in complete health and moral contentment, in continuous happiness and enthusiasm.


Many factors contributed to produce the lack of harmonious formation of Dostoyefsky’s personality, his instability and tendency toward mental disintegration. His sensitivity and facile explosive-ness produced changes in his relationship with his dearest ones and with himself. The passion for gambling was so strong that it trans-formed him mentally. According to reports of his wife he became loathsome while gambling (flushed cheeks, inflamed red eyes, trembling.) Besides this the hypochondriacal state and epileptic attacks were also an important factor in the periodic transformation of his self-consciousness. Dostoyefsky also had certain infantile traits (changeability of mood, dependence, suggestibility). From these sources arose states of enthusiasm and aversion, love and hatred,



feeling of his own value and scorn of himself, and excessive idealization alternating with exaggerated criticism.

The more nearly equal the strengths of the conflicting groups, the more the conflicts and their struggle are sharpened and the disintegration deepened. A strong repression of the vanquished traits by the victorious ones is associated with an increase of tension. The aroused resistance intensifies the repression, causing outbursts of rage and hatred in relation to himself. A return of victory to the originally dominating traits causes self-vengeance and release of the stifled tension by self-mutilation (in introverted types). In individuals of ambivalent feelings, a longer suppression of feelings or actions of base moral value may so intensify their tension that freedom from this state requires a very strong agent in the form of, for instance, the commission of a very degrading action below the standards of the perpetrator.

Dostoyefsky had a highly trained ability to penetrate into personalities and was exclusively interested in the inner life. Hence, in his own life, and in the lives of his heroes, we often see an abnormal interest in their own most unpleasant experiences. The passion for self-observation was the cause of experiments on himself, leading to his exposure to injuries, to day-dreaming about the most ghastly subjects, to the exercise of the innermost impulses in order to examine them, and to experience a deep feeling, shocking and unknown. The interest in the possibility of experiencing unusual states may change the normal direction of one’s tendencies. This is due to the effect of consciousness on the regrouping of the tendencies, and we observe a slight degree of dissociation of the personality into three groups, of which one is self-observation, and the other two are the conflicting groups (for instance, love and hatred, pride and humiliation, pleasure and pain). Abasement, going down to lower depths of life, may be a means for emphasizing in a pathological way one’s peculiarity and unusualness in the realization of these states. Dostoyefsky’s own real experiences, as well as the one created in his imagination, are illustrated by a series of passages from his works:


Each moment I realized the existence of many most conflicting elements. I felt the turmoil in me. I knew they were always seething in me, that they tried to get out of me, but

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I did not let them, I purposely did not let them out. . . .

Not only was I unable to become bad, but I became as nothing at all, neither bad nor good, neither vile nor upright, neither a hero nor a worm. . . .

These changes occurred in me somehow suddenly, for some time I could despise others, and here, suddenly, I began to raise them above myself. . . .

Besides that, a depression was emerging, a hysterical long-in, and contrasts and conflicts were appearing, so I clung to debauchery. . . .

Please tell me, why did it happen to me, as if purposely, exactly in moments during which I was most able to realize with all subtleness “what is beautiful and sublime” as they once said, that exactly at that time (this I cannot account for) I had to commit such improper actions, which . . . well, just actions, which everybody commits, but which slipped out of me, as if purposely at that time, when I realized that this should never have been done. . . .

I came to the point wherein I felt some secret abnormal vile satisfaction, when returning to my corner sometimes during St. Petersburg’s horrible nights. I painfully realized that today I again had committed obscenities, that what was done could not be undone, and inwardly I was gnawing at myself and exasperated myself to such a degree that the bitterness transformed itself finally into a shameful weakness, followed afterwards by a definite delight. The voluptuousness arose in this case on the basis of too sharp a realization of my degradation. . .


Dostoyefsky’s life, full of sad experiences and of suffering, had forged these elements into his sex and love experiences. As much as the love for his wife brought him calmness and satisfaction, so the love for Mrs. Suslova was bound with humiliation, restlessness, and other forms of suffering (abrupt breaking off, and making up, misunderstandings, attraction and repulsion). Dostoyefsky was of a rather passive, infantile type; Suslova was dominating, active, inclined to tyranny, categoric, and extreme (she divided people into the holy and the vile). Many of her relatives said that she was given to blind spells of passion. She had a commanding beauty and certain perverted traits (sadistic). She showed in regard to Dostoyefsky love interwoven with periods of aversion and hatred. She



demonstrated to him practically that love may be associated with hatred, including sadistic and masochistic tendencies (13). She excited his sexual desires and then refused relations. Her irony and sarcasm, preceding and surrendering to passions, played the part in associating suffering with joy, abasement with delight. Tormenting and degradation of emotional, overexcitable, but weak-willed individuals by a beloved person increase, the normal sexual excitability. In such conditions the increase of irritation, anger, and hatred in relation to the object of feeling may be transformed into strong adoration and ecstasy. The experience of such a state leaves )a trace combining pain with pleasure. In Idiot, Memories from Underground, Humble, and others, we find a series of characters and experiences illustrating the above-mentioned emotional states: “That I wanted more and more to lie at her feet, and again to kiss the ground on which rested her soles, and worship her.” “My eyes were inflamed with passion; and how I detested her and how she attracted me at that moment.”

Dostoyefsky’s life brought him many sad and tragic experiences. As mentioned above, he was emotionally strongly attached to his family, and he had no capacity for association with his colleagues. The conditions of life arranged themselves so that he could not, since his early youth, live with his family. As a young college student (17 years old) his father was murdered. A few years later he was accused of anti-governmental activities and sentenced to death. The sentence was read to him with all the formalities and he was convinced that he had only a few minutes to live. At the last moment the death sentence was commuted to several years imprisonment in Siberia. In the Idiot, Mishkin mirrors Dostoyefsky’s emotions in regard to capital punishment in the following way: “Who can say that human nature can bear it without becoming ill? Why this incomprehensively unnecessary degradation?”

The restraint of the prison and his debasement to the criminal class created an unbearable state. There began the epileptic attacks, the state of mental disorder, which, Dostoyefsky tells, seemed to be distinguished by a mental splitting and the separation or tile processes of thinking from the emotions and the will. For a man who loved to be alone, to remain with his thoughts, it was unbearable to stay among the criminals under the constant surveillance of the guards.



He wrote about it in his letter to his brother Michael:


“For five years I have been under the control of wardens in a crowd of human beings, and never, not even for one hour, was I alone. To be alone is indispensable for a human being, as is drinking and eating; otherwise, in this forced communal life you become a hater of mankind” (13).


One can find three phases of reaction to suffering in general, and especially to the unmerited and forced sufferings of the overexcitable, introverted individual. The first is a momentary state of stupor, followed by a feeling of rage and hatred against the cause of suffering; the second is a somewhat chronic state of psychic intoxication with suffering, self-retirement, and a necessity to frighten others with his suffering; the third and last, is the creation of a philosophy of suffering on the discovery of its power to deliver one from the higher moral values. It is clear that I am giving here only a brief outline. In principle, however, it is in accordance with the reaction to Dostoyefsky’s suffering and many of his heroes. Such an adaptation to suffering may not reach the third phase, but may stop at one of the intermediate stages. The less clearly the perpetrator is determined and the more distant he is, the greater is the state of excitement and helpless anger. I have already mentioned, in the first chapter, that indistinctly localized vague excitations cause a stronger mental tension and make its release more difficult in contrast to the simple visible excitations. Such vague and poorly localized excitations are seen in self-mutilation in the psychic sphere, where the suffering is undeserved and imposed by an unknown perpetrator (forces of nature, laws of society for which all of society is responsible, etc.). The lack of a starting-point for the outlet of tension causes states of helpless fury. In overexcitable and introverted individuals of a high cultural level two things may occur simultaneously in the first and second phases as a reaction to great misfortunes: suicide and mental disease. Suicide is rarely met with as a reaction in passive types (Dostoyefsky). In order not to reach the third phase, a suffering individual must find some points of support, even illusory and weak. We think that in the case of a type like Dostoyefsky, these props were the feelings of exclusiveness and superiority by tragic living, and a feeling of delight in suffering, which may be the



influence of the instinct of self-preservation in a helpless situation. To this we must add the decrease of tension by frightening others with his sufferings and its demonstration in a most painful way. Dostoyefsky embraced a gulf of suffering, misery, and primitive passions; these traits became his second nature. His first suffering is imposed on him, but later this is weakened and diluted by his voluntarily accepting an attitude of suffering, which he then exhibits for the attainment of sympathy and exciting of interest. Only after many years does Dostoyefsky begin to glorify his punishment and his suffering, reaching the third phase of reaction-the formation of the philosophy of suffering. In The Brothers Karamasov, and especially in the Idiot, he introduces submission to suffering (Mishkin) as a principle of life. In the figure of Mishkin he presents his thesis that spiritual strength is associated with physical weakness and suffering. The three indicated phases of suffering are illustrated by quotations from Dostoyefsky’s works:


Even a toothache can cause pleasure. These groans firstly drive away all your humiliating consciousness and the aimlessness of the experienced pain, the whole immovability of nature, for which you suffer in spite of all. But nature does not.

Consciousness departs, the enemy is no more; the pain, however, exists. The knowledge that if somebody, somewhere, somehow desires it, your teeth will stop aching, and if not, they can go on aching for three months and finally nothing will remain for your comfort but self-whipping or strongly striking of your fist against the wall and absolutely nothing more.

The man looks, the cause disappears, the reason evaporates, the guilty cannot be found, the offense stops being offensive and changes itself into fate, something similar to a toothache, for which nobody is responsible, for which there is the same remedy, striking the fist against the wall.

She (Nellie) was begging, not out of necessity, she was not abandoned, not left at the mercy of fate. She ran away, not from cruel persecutors, but from friends who loved and adored her; she wanted to astonish and frighten with her actions as if boasting about her actions. But something mysterious ripened in her soul. . . . So, the old man was right, she was insulted, her wound could not heal, as if she tried purposely to irritate it, with secrecy and distrust of all of us as if she delighted in her pain, in this egotism of sufferings, if we may

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say so. This aggravation of pain and the delight in it was comprehensible to all; it is a delight of many of the insulted and injured, oppressed by fate and feeling this injustice.


In Nellie the need for confidence and sympathy were struggling, on the one hand, with the fear of confidence and, on the other hand, with a recollection of past tortures. The plastic mind of the child embraced too many tragedies and injustices and, therefore, it could not get out of the chaos which had arisen following her transition from the atmosphere of insult and violence into an atmosphere of friendship. The state of intoxication by suffering lasted for such a long period that it led to a habitual search for sad experiences because of a need for the assurance of the permanency of the change. The struggle of conflicting tendencies led after a long period to the formation of a new system of tendencies.


I used to have such moments, that if it happened that some-body slapped me in the face, possibly I would even be glad. I say that certainly I could succeed in finding, even in such a case, a certain feeling of pleasure; of course, a pleasure of despair but nevertheless it is in despair that the greatest delight is located, especially when one clearly feels the hopelessness of a situation.

The knowledge of infamy glimmering through for a moment, knowledge which made my soul shiver—will anybody believe?—was intoxicating me all the more. Why, if one must fall-one must.

I realized well this despair, yet-will anybody believe?-ecstasies grew in my heart to such an irrepressible degree that I thought I was dying.

Well, from these insults, from these railleries of unknown origin, begins finally delight, reaching sometimes the summit of voluptuousness.

Well, a man loves not only well-being, does he like suffering in the same degree? Sometimes a man likes suffering very much, to an insane degree.

Suffering—why, it is the principal cause of conscience. True, I declared that conscience is man’s greatest misfortune, yet, I know that man loves it and will not exchange it for any pleasure.


These examples illustrate how the philosophy of suffering grew



out of Dostoyefsky’s personal experiences. He reached the summit of suffering beyond which could only be mental disease.



The mental profile of a young suicidal thinker is clearly outlined by an analysis of the work and correspondence of Weininger as well as by the testimony of his friends. His had a mentality inclined to a strong degree of self-mutilation. Despite his exceptional capacity for logical analytical thinking and a great mental penetration, Weininger’s synthesizing ability was artistic rather than scientific. His ideas, which could form at most a skeleton of theories requiring many changes and completion, were for him, due to his suggestibility, negativism, and emotionality, real values with which was associated an obsessive need to convey the proof of their exactness. His chief work, Sex and Character, has an unbalanced scientific value. Much as the first part is a systematic, highly objective analysis of a bio-psychic hypothesis, so the second part forms the summary of a subjective judgment permeated with emotionality, and striking by its arbitrariness. The first shows the needs of the author’s mind; the second, the needs of his impulses. The whole reflects the author’s changeability of methods and moods and a certain childishness of his mentality. It bespeaks also a conflict between mind and sensuality, between what is free (noumenon) and what is not free (phenomenon). The opposing natures of the basic tendencies is the cause of the struggle between them, where the strength and duration depend on the difference between the strength of the conflicting tendencies, and the more this force reaches equality, the fiercer is the fight. Herman Swoboda (77) aptly states that “Man liebt die Widerstände, die man besiegt, man hasst die Widerstände, vor denen man zurück weicht.”

Conflicts hard to combat and continuously irritating sharpened the antagonism of tendencies in Weininger. Through autosuggestion these grew and took on a stubborn character. In the world of ideas, this conflict and the hatred of conflicting tendencies took in Weininger the form of a struggle between the mind and sensuality, which in him became identified with the struggle between male and female. The above process points to a certain mechanism, in the develop-

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ment of the process, of the basic role of autosuggestion and tendencies to sensual and emotional obsessions in the arousal of a hatred of one’s own tendencies. Continuous mutual irritation by conflicting tendencies contributed to the formation of emotional or logical arguments for the degradation of the conflicting tendencies. All of Weininger’s nearest friends call attention to his tendencies to self-mutilation and to asceticism, and especially the fear in the last month of his life of suicide. He exhibits, on the one hand, a search for the vilest traits of woman and, on the other, asceticism, the striving for sanctity. Exhaustion in the struggle without result was implied in Weininger’s opinion that there are three ways out of mental conflicts: “Selbstmord, Galgen oder ein Ziel, grösser and herrlicher als es jedem Mensch errungen.”

The agent determining Weininger’s death was, rightly, the conflict between the announcement of his work, which proved the lack of soul in woman and considered her as a sensual element, a denial of existence, and the impossibility to reconcile his conduct with this theory. But the development itself of such a situation points to a predisposition to self-mutilation. Self-mutilation was here an extreme form of striving to destroy certain tendencies. The publication of Geschlecht and Charakter put Weininger in a situation without a solution, because if lie remained alive he would have to behave in conflict with his theory and tell lies which would, according to him, carry the greatest harm to the mind, and be a sign of retraction.


The eminent Polish psychologist known in the United States for his work entitled “Intelligence, Will, and Ability to Work,” 3 a represents one of the few figures in scientific literature whose mental attitude molded during thirty years of mature life and active work was completely changed as a result of a great shock, which became the fulcrum of shifting tendencies repressing one another.


3 The value of this work may be judged from the contents of the following letter received by Dawid: “Having read your work, we all heartily wish to see it published. In the meantime, President G. Stanley Hall decided to make for you a rare exception. If you will trust us your manuscript, we shall copy and publish it in an abbreviated form in the Pedagogical Seminary at the university’s expense”



From early youth David showed a great liking for books; he was contemplative, self-sufficient, did not take part in plays with his brothers and schoolmates. He was wrapped in himself, introverted, probably of schizoid nature. Those who knew him found him outwardly cool, even-tempered, possibly impersonal, proud of himself and of his work, and conscious of his mental power.

He was always an exponent of the school of experimental psychology. Accuracy was a characteristic feature of his thinking, and clarity, of his speech.

As a young scientist, during the International Educational Congress in Munich, in 1896, he called attention to the degeneration of the analytic school of psychology and pedagogics, the decided victory of the positivist school to the exclusion of spiritualism, telepathy, and mediumism. This passionate battle against the analytic school would indicate that, in spite of Dawid’s acceptance of this experimental view, he does not lack interest in philosophy which would be expressed by a more indifferent manner. It shows rather a keen penetrating mind, searching for facts and disliking vague argumentation, and simultaneously needing a philosophy of life, with rather strongly suppressed metaphysical impulses. The following is proof of the emotionalism of this outwardly cool personality: “There were always things in the face of which I was unable to be quiet and indifferent, to restrain myself from a protest.” In spite of this, his work as a whole, between 1881 and 1910, reveals the calm of an accurate investigator. He finds an explanation for the world in physicochemical phenomena. That which could not be experimented upon was not worth the effort of thought. The last four years of his life bear a totally different character. It was a period of exceptional shocks, suffering, breakdowns, and the development of the belief in the existence of a supernatural world. The cause of this change, seldom found in such minds, was the suicide of his wife whom he loved very dearly, but whom he failed to help in her mental conflicts and thus was unable to prevent her death. It is conceivable that schizoidal, introvert types, self-centered, outwardly indifferent, usually get more attached to their dear ones, and separation from them more often causes severe shocks and breakdowns, because of more frequent than normal exclusiveness of their feelings, their greater intensity, and the greater difficulty of adapt-

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ing themselves to new conditions of life. David’s letters throw light on this period of crisis and struggle:


I loved my wife deeply, she filled the greater part of my life, but I loved her also for myself, not for her. After the catastrophe I became aware of it. The pain of losing this most beloved one is inexpressible. It is a burning remorse that I did not do anything to save her, that for a series of years I led her on to this by my behavior ... I always felt sure of myself, I was proud, hard, and a severe judge. Nothing existed before which I could bend, except material and social forces. And, behold, here was a power before which I felt crushed.... death awakened in me something like a new organ, the ability to see or realize certain things.

All that was best and most beautiful in my life, all that can be considered as happiness—I owe to my wife I, myself was not sufficiently aware of this before. Now the only thing which is left to me is despair, which is absolutely a deadly disease, only death is so terribly slow in coming. People will say that this is weakness. Perhaps it is, it depends upon the point of view. I only know that last year I learned more than during my previous life, and that I never possessed such a full knowledge of myself, the consciousness of the sense of life and duty.


The above quotations clearly show the change of tendencies caused by a shock. These tendencies, depending on the personality, sought another fulcrum and, led by the instinct of self-preservation, found it in the belief in the existence of spiritual life. According to Lukrec, Dawid’s friend and biographer, there was in him “a deadly struggle between the empirist and the mystic, the Titan of exact science, demanding proofs and facts, and the despairingly lonesome, solitary man, wishing to believe in life hereafter and the possibility of a reunion with the beloved one he had lost.” These struggles lasted years, it was accompanied by a characteristic symptom frequently found in deep mystics, the tendency to moral self-scourging, self-accusation, and asceticism. Dawid had no real sin behind this self-torment. Lukrec explains this as follows:


This moral self-calumniation is a test, not of David’s moral value, but of his new spiritual state. To find a proper criterion to appreciate David’s value, we must seek it in his works and



ideals, the highest ethical standards of his life, his disinterested-ness, poverty, unshaken ceaseless defense of the weak and tormented, and his vigorous fight for scientific, social, and political principles and convictions.


His despair at the loss of his wife ruined him physically and completely exhausted him mentally. He gradually developed tuberculosis. Simultaneously with the weakening of the functions of his body, the need of spiritual union with his wife grew through paroxysms of pain, acuteness of intuition, sometimes hallucinations.

Pain caught me with new strength. Walking along the street, I cried. One day, when I was in this state, I heard a voice: “Don’t cry, Wladzio, it had to be. I was obliged to do it.” These words were pronounced by myself, but, on the other hand, as if against my will . . . . . . all at once the thought came to me: Why—I can die, yes, I shall die. This idea made me very happy and from then on brought me relief. The first motive seemed to me to be the escape from pain, later, other feelings and motives of punishment and expiation accumulated around this decision.


In this newly developed mental attitude, idealism takes place of materialism; in psychologico-educational methods of work, intuition finds place beside the experiment. Transformation through personal experiences, especially suffering, and the conscious, active weakening and destruction of selfish impulses of an individual capable of intense spiritual life (spirit of sacrifice, charity, suffering) becomes the aim of education. Voluntarily accepted suffering plays a role of decisive importance in this process.


In his desire to establish himself firmly in the reality of the spirit, man, within the limits of his possibilities, suppresses all that attached him to life up to that moment, first of all his personal sensual feelings and needs.

Practice has, for a long time, taught ascetics that it is indispensable for them to repress the sex impulse in order to develop a higher spiritual-religious life. The strength of this impulse is then! sublimated. This interdependence is proved in a way almost experimental by the quoted cases of Novalis and others, in which sensual love is transformed directly into spiritual love; the object of sexual feeling becomes one of religious cult.

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Suffering, endeavor, and abnegation are most closely connected with the emancipation of the spirit. Their mutual relation is that of cause and effect.

I consider every suffering and voluntary renouncement as if I were returning something I had previously taken unjustly through selfishness, weakness, covetousness, through something in which there was guilt.

We saw that suffering elevates man, ennobles his spirit. But this is only in cases of active suffering resulting from a conscious will, an effort, a denial, a sacrifice in the name of a higher ideal.

I am afraid that I may lose the capacity for suffering, as this suffering keeps her alive; it seems to me, the moment I cease to suffer, she will die again-this time for good.


We see here that the need of suffering and its evaluation are caused by the firm belief that it is the only means of contact with the beloved person. Suffering which finds its expression in the feeling of guilt may be considered, on one hand, as the mark of personality (introspection, self-sufficiency, introversion), which always takes full and rather exaggerated responsibility for its actions: on the other hand, as the sign of the appearance of a new and strong complex coming to the fore with sudden and extraordinary force, causing in the person a feeling of dazzling, but also of sadness, that so strong a complex was hitherto suppressed and insignificant (the reality of spiritual life).

Essentially, suffering which is, so to speak, thrust upon one, accepted and considered as an indispensable condition for spiritual life and for the satisfaction of the highest needs (spiritual relation-ship with his wife) must be included in the philosophy of life of a thinker, must be exercised by an active personality and afterwards amplified to produce intense spiritual experiences. Hence arises the problem of sacrifice and death as the most intense suffering, and at the same time the condition for complete transition to spiritual life.


The deepest ultimate feature of mystical life is the need, the hunger for sacrifice, in one form or another, partial or complete. The highest, most perfect sacrifice is death, and, as a matter of fact, from a certain point of view, one may say that the essence of mysticism, its guiding idea, is the process of partial dying, and its final word is—death.



Dying is not only a passive self-denial, but also a simultaneous active self-sacrifice. Each disinterested action, each sacrifice, endeavor, and effort made for others is a partial death, the giving up of some part of one’s body.

Courage is the state of mind of one who has either never learned to love life or was compelled to renounce it, and always thought that at any moment such a renouncement, planned and accepted in advance, might be fulfilled.

Courage can be understood only as the state of mind of one who has risen beyond life, i.e., beyond organic and sensual life, beyond what is need and satisfaction, gain or loss, and which, therefore, is able to act in a manner contrary to his own interests and self-preservation.

In the moral ecstasy which accompanies acts of sacrifice and heroism, the readiness for death is an obvious fact. Every act of courage is a decision of death.

One must become indifferent to fame, to sensual pleasures and intellectual delights. We must lose them to conquer others. We must renounce everything that is good in life so that later it will become our property through effort, will, and contemplation.

Why are people taught to live and not to die? The one who does not know how to die will not know how to live. To value life above all is to miss its purpose-such a life becomes an error, a toy of external forces.

To be capable of these actions (heroism, sacrifice) we must agree to acknowledge death as such, accept it in advance and consider it as one of our most essential problems.


The idealization of his wife, the feeling of guilt in connection with her suicide, inclusion of suicide in his philosophy of life, and his own suicidal tendency are among the fundamental factors for his acceptance of the suicide, as a positive symptom, from a moral point of view.

It was chiefly a question of suicide as a punishment, a sacrifice, a means of reunion with the beloved person, an expression of void in life.


In all great changes, moral crises, the idea of suicide nearly always arises - at least as one of the alternatives.

Mystics disregard their bodies and senses, they yearn for death, conversions are often accompanied by thoughts of suicide.



Suicidal ideas usually arise when a struggle begins between complexes of opposing tendencies, neither of which prevails over the other, or when the difference is insignificant. The result is the destruction of both, neither of them being able to gain preponderance, thus making impossible the creation of one predominant complex, supported by several minor ones. As soon as one of the principal complexes gains distinct preponderance, the philosophy of life is formed, peace ensues and the tendency to suicide subsides.


The tendency to suicide goes together with instability of personality, variability of states and moods.

In order to take away his life, one has to stop being oneself and to become another personality. A split of personality must appear. This second person is beyond life, is transcendental, for, only that kind is able to oppose and counteract the empirical person. The impulse to suicide, the same as the impulse to heroic death in sacrifice, is the gaining of the sense of the transcendental being, its independence, its becoming active.

Man agrees to the amputation of an arm, knowing that the other will carry the work. In the same manner, he resolves to meet a voluntary death because he knows that some other form will take the place of his ruined body.

The will to die is a declaration of desire of future life.

The faith in the life hereafter, in the world beyond, is a protest and a final victory of the instinct of life in all its symptoms over death, suffering, deception, which belong to “this world.”

Another world is opposed to this one, a world in which all is saved and preserved that gives life its value, and the highest of values—life itself. It is not only preserved but exalted, made perfect.


For types such as Dawid (introvert, self-sufficient, inclined to deep and exclusive affections), a new and quite different philosophy of life was the only way to hold on to life, the necessary solution of the instinct of self-preservation. In this manner he solved the impossibility of agreeing to the separation from his dear beloved, also the problem of the moral role of suffering and sacrifice, and besides found new sources of the maxim: “Love and death are the principal sources of individual knowledge.”




Tolstov does not show such striking inclinations to self-mutilator as does Dostoyefsky. Nevertheless, a closer study of his works reveals distinctly the writer’s self-mutilating tendencies and the deepest strata of his mentality. The factors causing Tolstoy’s self-mutilating symptoms may be grouped as follows:

1. A sensual overexcitability, craving for pleasure, ability for introspection, sensitivity, and fear of yielding too easily to impulses,

2. A strong physique, a sense of abundant energy, an emotional excitability, a strong tendency to attach himself to individuals and to brood over the loss of dear ones.

3. A feeling of inferiority, guilt, and need of penitence, on one hand, and a desire of distinction, on the other.

4. Autoerotism, as well as certain homosexual traits.

5. The urge to create and a gradually developing sense of worthlessness of his own productions as his moral systems of life were becoming more complicated.

6. A need of self-penetration into his most hidden hypocritical’ feelings, tendencies, and actions.

7. A tendency to states of overexcitability and depression.

8. A conflict between his pride (innate and acquired through his environment) and the subconscious desire for humility derived from his mental attitude.

These factors will be described in their logical order on the basis of the writer’s diary and memoirs, as well as of those works which reflect his personality to a greater degree, Tolstoy was naturally exuberantly healthy, full of energy, which, unreleased in work, sought to escape in channels common to people of his class namely in sensual pleasures. The force of these physical demands and of their gratification was so strong that it made Tolstoy quite helpless, filled him with fear of yielding completely to these impulses. He feared his desires, yet his strong, healthy body derived contentment from these experiences. The smell of horses’ sweat and the suffering of hunted animals intoxicated him. He excels in the description of war pictures, yet he is one of the greatest exponents of pacifism. We find in the majority of his works (War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Power of Darkness, The Devil, Father Sergius),

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meditations on the fatalistic influence of sexual impulses on man’s life. They destroy man’s personality, debase his character, and drag him down morally. Experiences of this kind lead him to subject himself to ascetic rigors. In his youth he enlisted in the army, in an attempt to suppress his low impulses by military discipline, only to return with a stronger desire to the sexual pleasures. The keener his sexual tendencies, the more arduous is the struggle to suppress them, which leads to his medieval ascetic attitude toward marriage.

He presented these experiences most distinctly in The Kreuzer’s Sonata and in Father Sergius.

The most disgusting is that, in theory, love is sublime and ideal, while in practice it is so swinish and abominable that the very thought of it provokes nausea and disgust.

Sexual desire is always a torment, a terrible torment, which ought to be checked, not yielded to, as we do.

It should be recognized that prostitutes who sell themselves for a short time are ordinarily looked upon with scorn, while women who sell themselves for a long time are usually respected.

Tolstoy strongly attached himself to his family and his dear ones, and from his earliest youth he suffered greatly through the death of his beloved mother and friends.

His excessive emotional sensitivity caused much stronger traumas than usual in such situations.

I noticed a pale, yellow, transparent object; I could not believe it to be a face; but, gazing at it intently, I recognized the familiar beloved features. . . Then only, I understood where the heavy odor came from, which together with incense, filled the whole room. The thought that this face, which a few days ago, was full of beauty, the face I loved better than anything else, could cause such fear revealed the bitter truth and brought me to genuine despair.

The ability to observe and urge for introspection as well as the power of plastic reproduction of events was the cause of strong emotions.

The feelings of aversion and disgust which affected Nechludow grew stronger as he listened to the description of the decaying body, of the liquid oozing from the nostrils of the poisoned man, and of his protruding eyes.



The worship of health, strength, and physical beauty suffers here an exceptionally strong blow; the consciousness of transformation of beauty into decay, evoked by the sight of the dead body, produces a strong mental shock. The urge to investigate, to study each phenomenon exhaustively, produces interest in the problem of death. The more successful he was in life, the more frequently and deeply he thought of death as an inevitable end; an awe inspired by death transformed itself into a metaphysical fear. These meditations brought him to the idea of suicide (The Death of Ivan Ilyitch). He concealed articles with which he could put an end to his life when the moment arrived. Each succeeding death of his near ones increased this morbid state. His grandmother, his father, two brothers, and a son died. The instinct of self-preservation draws him away from the study of this problem for a short time, but at the occurrence of a new death he suffers a stronger blow than before.

“I wanted to show a smiling face, but at this moment my astonished eyes behead the lid of a coffin leaning against my door.” He cannot tolerate the contrast of the coexistence of despair and joy, the hypocrisy of nature, smiling at death. “The birds twittered in the grove about great happiness, as though enchanted” (Three Deaths). To the tragedy of the enigma of death is added the consciousness of mankind’s egotistical attitude to it.

“The very fact of the death of close ones always produced in everyone the feeling of joy—that it was he who was dead and not I” (The Death of Ivan Ilyitch). The need of adjusting oneself very quickly to death causes a feverish self-tormenting inquiry into all of its phenomena and peculiarities. Out of this internal struggle alone rises the question of immortality, caused probably by the instinct of self-preservation. The most desirable form of such immortality would be the reincarnation of the whole physical being. Tolstoy felt, however, that this was impossible (Impressions of the Decaying Body).

The peaceful death of plain people who depart from life without despair, having fulfilled their destiny, becomes one of the sources of calmness. “She quit life without regret, she was not afraid of death, accepted it as a favor or joy; how often these words are spoken; how rarely they are anything but an empty phrase. In this earthly life she accomplished a great thing: she died without fear

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or regret.” These intense sensations gradually reached the climax and produced a more tolerant attitude to the question. Tolstoy learned slowly to adapt himself to the thought of death, included it in his philosophy of life, and began his notes with E. B. J. (esli budu jit: if I shall live).

The death of his relatives strengthened this attitude. “It was at Petia’s (his son) burial that, for the first time, I began to wonder where I shall be buried.”

In this period of involution, a slight loss of strength and decrease of sexual desire were compensated by the search for faith and spiritual immortality, regardless of physical death. For a long time Tolstoy could not visualize the value of spiritual immortality alone. Thus, more and more frequently and clearly he began to see the possibility of acquiring immortality by spiritual development and sensual suppressions. “Whoever sees the meaning of life in self-perfection, cannot believe in death, nor that such perfection can be interrupted.”

One of the main reasons for Tolstoy’s self-torment was the discord between his physical ugliness and the desire to be popular and in the limelight, between timidity and shyness, on one hand, and the need to play an important role in the world, on the other. Zweig gives the following description of his physical appearance


Rough-hewn like wood split for firing are the cross-beams of the forehead surmounting the little windows, the tiny eyes. The skin, like the outer surface of a wattle-and-dab cottage, is of clay, is greasy looking and lusterless. In the middle of the full quadrangle of the face, we see a nose with gaping bestial nostrils, a nose that is broad and pulpy as if flattened by a blow from a fist. Behind untidy wisps of hair project misshapen flapping ears. Between the hollowed cheeks lies a thick-lipped surly mouth. The general effect is inharmonious, rugged, ordinary, verging on the coarse.

Tolstoy himself says he had “the most ordinary, vulgar, and ugly features.”


I didn’t even have anything noble; on the contrary, my face was common, just as my large feet looked like those of a peasant. At the time, I felt very much ashamed of it.



In another place he says of himself, “I, a boy with a flat nose and hair sticking up on my head.” He wanted to dance, but did not know how; he wanted to play a role in society, but did not succeed. In situations demanding quick reactions, he reacted too late. He envied his brother the ease with which he approached girls and kissed them, whereas he was unable to do it although he desired it. It hurt him that he had to play a secondary role in society, that in games and dances he always came out last.

All this made him irritable; he felt the least annoyance in the most exaggerated manner. Every punishment humiliated him too deeply. When his tutor locked him up, he became hysterical, felt sure that nobody loved him, and meditated on God’s injustice. Many a time, as a reaction to vexations, he would imagine his injurer dead. “When Dad called me a wretch, I hated him for a long time and wished his death.” He reacted to praise in the same exaggerated fashion. “Praise acts so powerfully, not only on emotions, but also on the mind of man, that under its pleasant influence I became twice as wise.” The feeling of humiliation, together with his ugliness and bashfulness, sought compensation in the fields in which he could come to the foreground in his imagination. “I was too sensitive and ambitious to be reconciled with my fate. I forced myself to despise the pleasures procured through the possession of a good-looking face. I made a great effort to find delight in my proud isolation.” He wanted to become the greatest athlete in the world, and in view of this went in for sports. He wanted to be the greatest scientist in Russia and even in Europe. To find an outlet for mental strain based on his feeling of inferiority and great sensitiveness, he sought annoyances and irritations to free himself of this state. “I expected with joy the moment when they would lead us out (of a first rate restaurant to which Tolstoy had brought a poor musician) and it would at last be possible to give way to my anger.” The desire to distinguish himself sometimes took the form of self-torment in his imagination “It would be better for me if I were a criminal, then, there would be a kind of consoling morbid glory in my despair.”

The feeling of inferiority, of imperfection and of bashfulness produced in him a feeling of guilt, dislike, and hatred of certain of his own features, the need of sacrifice, torment, and destruction of certain of his own complexes, and the desire of working toward

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self-perfection. He understood that his feeling of inferiority and his ugliness might bring about compensation in some valuable form, that suffering growing out of such a background is of great importance for spiritual perfection.

Yesterday I thought that if my nose were deformed, it would be an incentive toward moral perfection. I nearly felt like experiencing this affliction which I called misfortune, but which would make suicide justifiable.

Great introspection, an obtrusive desire to examine every matter thoroughly, and taking this as a basis for his principles of behavior, caused a strong tendency to self-torment after he had attained the consciousness of his unworthiness, of his sin and guilt. Even in his youth this led him to seek self-perfection through suffering, to a sacrifice of his needs, of his selfish impulses and comforts.

The man who acquires the habit of suffering must be happy. To this end, to harden myself to pain, I would hold heavy scientific books at arm’s length for five minutes, or go to the closet and scourge myself till I had tears in my eyes.

In search of punishment he fasts, goes on pilgrimages to cloisters, refuses himself many comforts to which he is accustomed, and above all indulges in moral self-scourging.

I am guilty of all sorts of disgraceful sins: I lied, plundered what belonged to others, committed adultery and all kinds of brutish acts, I used to get drunk; I had every possible crime on my conscience. At that time I began to write, out of vanity and desire of gain; pride pushed me to it.

The violence of the passionate struggle is a proof of the lack of harmony and peace of mind in Tolstoy.

The abolition of some of his characteristics must also involve the destruction of the causes of an excessive attachment to physical life, to pleasures which include doing wrong to others. This produces the tendency to get rid of property. The idea of distributing his land and running away from people of his social standing (Nechludow attempted to marry a prostitute) and voluntary self-imposed realization of his convictions. From childhood on to old age, there is an ever growing tendency toward self-sacrifice for the sake of others. In his youth, he wants to sacrifice his love for Marusia (his




first love for a servant), for her happiness and that of the man she loves, he wants to look for people who need his help; to do without servants, to sell the carriage and to distribute the money to the poor; at a mature age, he wants to sacrifice fame as a writer (he refused the Nobel prize), honors, and land. All this, as an expression of his craving for reform, was based on a feeling of guilt: “Now he understood that the only means of deliverance from evil from which people perish is the obliteration of their guilt in their own selves, that everyone should blame only himself and not others.”

Besides this, certain slightly marked autoerotic and homosexual features were one of the reasons for the lack of mental balance between the opposing tendencies. Admiration of his own body, even in his childhood and adolescence, strong egocentricity which he could restrain but with difficulty, would be a proof of the former, whereas certain tender sentimental feelings for some of his school-fellows and friends (Serge in his memoirs of childhood) would’ suggest arguments for his possessing the latter, although to a lesser degree.

One of the more important causes of unrest and torture in Tolstoy was the contrast of his two halves: the artist and the moralist. As an artist he was above all a naturalist, an impressionist, a genius in reproducing nature’s life in its most varied forms, especially physical life. As a moralist, he considered the spirit as the only indestructible substance which develops more and more with the suppression of sensual life. Nearly all forms of art, outside of some works designed for special moments (religious music) were to Tolstoy harmful to spiritual perfection, because they excited passions—particularly the imagination. “Everybody knows that most adulteries are committed under the influence created by these arts-especially music.”

“How could anyone who feels like it be permitted to hypnotize people and do whatever he pleases with them. And worse still when the hypnotizer happens to be any kind of rascal.”

Tolstoy’s dislike of art grew in proportion to his dread of its power over him, of the too strong impression it made on him, as under its influence he would forget all his moral principles. Music affected him to tears.

A great psychological penetration, a passion for pleasure, as well



as for the struggle against it, an inclination to probe himself, a strong and unconditional acceptance of moral principles, produced a tendency to ruthless unmasking of all falsehood, lies, and appearances, chiefly his own. He was tormented by the realization of the inadequacy of means of carrying his convictions into effect, and looked with suspicion on his former ideas as to who is “ comme il faut.” He was subject to states of emotional excitement, sometimes bordering on that of ecstasy, to euphoria followed by a state of depression, usually of short duration. This variability of moods is tied up with a restless dissatisfaction and a feeling of unfulfillment. One of the reasons for unrest and dissatisfaction with himself was the contradiction existing between his proud, aristocratic carriage, his desire to command, and his craving for humility derived from his philosophy of life. Violence, authoritativeness, determined views, when coming in contact with people, the practical inability to adapt himself to the masses, and, on the other hand, awareness of the morality of people of his class far inferior to that of simple folks. Spontaneity of feeling, attachment, and faithfulness were qualities he found more often among the latter. Inclined somewhat to being demonstrative and decorative, he expressed his desire for simplicity and humility, among other things, by wearing a peasant’s shirt, learning how to make boots, ploughing for a short while, drinking kvas, and so on. He was unable, however, to get in direct touch with the life of peasants, to know them more intimately, to establish a closer contact. This caused an inclination to self-criticism, pangs of conscience, and a dislike for half-hearted solutions.

All the mentioned complexes are only examples of the lack of mental balance of Tolstoy’s personality. The vitality of his nature caused constant struggles between these opposing tendencies whose heterogeneous interplay would be impossible to trace because of their being so numerous and complicated. Their struggle caused shiftings, subduing, or permanent suppression. The suppression of some of them and arising or awakening of others could produce the combination of pleasant and disagreeable feelings (disappearance and birth). Symptoms of this phenomenon can be found in profusion on nearly every page of his works:


But in spite of this, or perhaps just because of this, some unrestrainable power forced me, against my will, to politeness and cordiality toward him.



I lived through some sublime, incomprehensible sweet and, at the same time, sad moments of delight.

The very consciousness of my position (consciousness of his wife’s betrayal) filled me with joy (intoxication with his own humiliation).

The feeling of humility-it made his heart bleed with joy and pain at the same time.

Nechludow felt in himself the voices of two people; one of them called for happiness which would also involve others, the other desired his own pleasure, even at the expense of his dear ones ... the latter man-beast developed now in Nechludow and vanquished the other-the spiritual one.


Those opposing tendencies given the test of life kept on causing new complications and producing actions which confused them still more.

He struggled against hypocrisy and maintained that words with-out acts do not mean much, but he himself, for many years, was unable to act according to his principles and carried them into effect only so far as appearances were concerned (outward mania for peasant life), because he did not have the strength to break up with his family. He tended toward modesty and simplicity, but invariably led the life of a rich man; he wanted to distribute his land among peasants, but fear of his wife, threatening suicide, and of family conflicts prevented him from doing so. He detested his creative art, hated music, and yet rested when he gave way to them. He considered the body as a center of evil, but it was inexpressibly difficult for him to free himself of its excessive influence on his emotional state, his thoughts, and actions. All his life long he fought against the fear of death which tormented him nearly to his last days; he admired people who died quietly, and, in his older years, felt an unfulfilled desire for life. He wanted to become accustomed to the idea of death, to consider it as a means of freeing himself of earthly life, but this desire remained too distant an aim and became real only in the last months of his life.

“The whole life of a man who desires death would be a constant drawing nearer to his aim, and finally its becoming true.”




Weininger betrayed a tendency to mutilate himself as well as to torture others. In the peremptory, ardent analysis of the most degrading traits of woman and the tendency to extend to woman in general his exaggerated subjective observations, we see him de-lighted with his theory of denial and hatred. Here are a few examples of the original statement by Weininger concerning his theory:


I maintain that there is no mother to whom it could cause only pain if a stranger, though with quite base intentions and vile calculations, desires her daughter and seduces her, or..... A man is not interested in the nudeness of another man, while every woman in her own thoughts lays bare every other woman, thus proving exactly the common general shamelessness of her sex (80).


This hatred, rather more theoretical than practical, arose in Weininger in the last month of his life, or at least was intensified, on the one hand, perhaps by the influence of unpleasant personal experiences, and, on the other hand, by the influence of an ever growing conviction of the truth of his theory. Hating and struggling against his sensuality, he combatted and hated it outwardly as symbolic of the woman in himself. The difficulty of the struggle in-creased his excitability and hatred. As a reason for his suicide Weininger gives the need of killing himself in order not to kill others. In accordance with the above, killing himself would be destroying a separate entity; killing another, however, would be the destruction of his own hated tendencies by the destruction of these tendencies in others. Weininger presents this problem as follows: “He who kills himself, kills simultaneously the whole world, and he who murders another, commits by this act, the greatest crime in that he murders himself in the one who is murdered.”

We find many a time, as a seemingly inexplicable fact, one-sided and mutual aversion and even hatred among individuals of similar mental and physical structure. Let us consider the case of W, an alcoholic, showing nervousness, excitability, and conflicting tendencies towards explosiveness and reticence. Moreover, in childhood, he





showed signs of somnambulism, restless sleep, and nightmares. At first, W showed dislike, then hatred, for his 12-year-old son who possessed a character and physical build, and had certain psychopathic traits, similar to his own. W frequently expressed hatred for his son by torturing him mentally and by cruel beatings. He liked and treated his daughter quite well despite her striking peculiarities. This fact might be explained by the action of an unknown agent or by the influence of greater affection for the child of opposite sex. However, such cases are very frequent, and cases where we find hatred of the child of similar mental structure and love of the other of the same sex but of different mentality exclude such an interpretation. I think that a similar mechanism may be posited in regard to Stavrogin’s hatred of Verchoviensky (from Devils by Dostoyefsky). Stavrogin hated in Verchoviensky the vileness, to some extent similar to his own, and the actions arising from it committed for the sake of acting, for the delight of doing wrong. It is a known fact that we do not like people who have traits similar to those of our own which are unpleasant to us in one respect or an-other or at one time or another. They irritate us too frequently and we think of them or others remind us of them too frequently for us to be able to accept with calmness their somewhat external objectification. Hating these characteristics in ourselves, we bear them still less in others. On the other hand, it is easier to find an outlet for an aversion or hatred to our own traits when we notice them in our dear ones. Hence the frequently met torturing of others, as an expression of mutilation of ourselves. Such an explanation of the existing correlation between auto- and heteromutilation allows us to understand in many cases the pleasure and delight felt by people who are humiliated, derided, and who feel the same pleasure in torturing others, often in a most refined way.

Many a time it is difficult to find in an object of torture a similarity to the traits of the torturer, the traits he hates. Here we may consider the case of little Matrosha (from Dostoyefsky’s Devils), with a “freckled, common face and, at the same time, very childish and unbelievably gentle,” whom Stavrogin purposely exposed to chastisement by her mother and whose soul he poisoned by awakening her sexual feelings. He did this perhaps to ascertain whether he would be able, by damaging an innocent one, to awaken clearly

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in himself a moral sensitivity and a consciousness of his moral structure. Stavrogin, by artifice, brings her to sin, fills her little head with pangs of conscience, and leads her to suicide. He anticipates her act with restlessness and delight, and makes no effort to prevent it. The destruction of a sympathetic feeling for Matrosha, his leading her to suicide and awaiting it in a state of strong tension, testifies to an obsessive need for the finding of the strongest agents for liberation from a state of restlessness. Besides this deed, the repression of an immediate reaction to the insulting behavior of other people (a slap in the face) was in many cases the means of probing the limit of his vileness, which caused him a “delight superseding everything.” We shall understand it more clearly on the basis of Stavrogin’s self-analysis, included in the so-called “document” in Devils.


As often in my life as I happened to be in a disgraceful, humiliating, vile and especially ridiculous situation, I felt, parallel with an unbelievable anger, an unusual delight. The same occurred in moments of crime and danger. Invariably, while committing a theft, I would be intoxicated by the depth of my downfall. Not only the baseness gave me pleasure (in this respect I always had a sound mind) but also the torment-ing feeling of infamy. Whenever I stood as a target waiting for the shot of my adversary, the same degrading and ecstatic feeling grew in me. I shall confess, that I was always looking for this feeling, since I did not know other stronger impressions. When I was slapped in the face (and this happened in my life twice) I again felt the same in spite of the terrible anger. If I controlled the anger the delight superseded any-thing imaginable.


Stavrogin had frequent possibilities for outbursts of anger and for the humiliation of others, but seldom did he have a chance to experience great humiliation and derision. Hence, the experiencing of the latter would require a much greater tension. Mental overexcitability, and a tendency to psychopathic outbursts are released more easily and strongly by the action of the strongest agents. Therefore the search for humiliating and derisive situations becomes more comprehensible. Stavrogin provoked and insulted others in order to elicit an insult and abasement of himself. He illustrates a



continuous inner struggle between the feeling of anger, aggression, and of the anger of others. In cases where it was difficult to become an object of aggression, Stavrogin found the object and subject in himself. He was the perpetrator of mutilation, and its victim. This is illustrated by a passage from the “document”:


I took out my anger on whomever I could. On one such occasion, not without any reason, the thought seized me to mutilate my own life, but in a most ludicrous manner. For a year already I had been thinking of suicide, but now something better occurred to me. One day, looking at lame Mary, Lebedkin’s sister, who served here and there and who at that time was not yet insane but simply an ecstatic idiot and madly in love with me (my companions found it out), I decided to marry her. The idea of marriage with such a despised creature irritated my nerves. It was hard to imagine anything more monstrous. Anyway, I did not marry her only because of a wager on champagne after a drunken dinner.


This passage calls our attention once more to the close connection of self-mutilation and suicide with the torturing of others, and secondly to the great facility by which the focus of anger and aggression is shifted from the object in the outside world to certain personal groups of tendencies. Admission of the hypothesis that heteromutilation is often a realization of a need of torturing because of certain of one’s own traits facilitates the analysis of many types of similar behavior. We are not free to evaluate, in regard to the case analyzed above and in other similar cases, the other factors which can influence the realization of auto- and heteromutilating tendencies. Some of these factors are the needs of conduct against the dominating tendencies in order to experience pleasure; the need of self-observation which is combined with new and very irritating experiences; strong impulsiveness; tendencies to obsessions and compulsions; tendencies to periodic emotional tension expressing itself in successive states of excitation and depression, followed by the need of submission to the action of strong agents frequently of opposite natures for obtaining a mental outlet. All of these last-named tendencies may intensify the auto- or heteromutilating tendency, and in many cases may constitute the basis predisposing to the development of the latter.

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The scale of intensity and of variability of the auto- or hetero-mutilating tendencies depends on many factors. First, it depends on the complexity of the mental structure; secondly on the variety of experiences; lastly, on sex and age. Here is another example of Dostoyefsky’s rich collection of types presenting a coexistence of auto- and heteromutilating tendencies, but in a different direction and application than in the previous example. The 14-year-old Nellie (Insulted and Injured), abused by life, in whom, in a less complicated way because she is childish and without an admixture of criminal tendencies, appears a tendency to an auto- and hetero-mutilation under the influence of the same incentive. Here are her words:


They will scold me, and I purposely shall keep quiet, they will beat me, and I shall keep quiet and quietly let them beat. I shall not burst into tears for anything in the world. And they will feel angrier, because I don’t cry. . . .


And, referring to another experience:


Let her (daughter) leave him for good. Better let her beg, let him see his daughter begging, and suffer.


The knowledge that moral and physical pain is not the exclusive possession of one, but a property of all, brings alleviation to suffering. Therefore, suffering people do not tolerate contentment or joy near them. Frequently the despair may be assuaged by meeting a greater misery in others; in a suffering man, the decrease of pain may occur by its real or imagined causing of pain in others. The injury often produces an aversion and sometimes a hatred to the uninjured. Knowledge of a lack of guilt (as in the case of Nellie) intensifies this state, and self-mutilation may be the result of the desire to intensify the imposed pain in order to manifest to others the guilt by blaming everybody for the injury. On the other hand, a protracted state of moral pain may be replaced by a gradually increasing euphoria or a certain kind of mental anaesthesia produced by an excessive increase of pain and destroying the ability to feel it.

To torture others by self-mutilation may lead to a condition con-verse of the above. In children and adolescents, too much pampered and spoiled, overexcitable, and introverted, we find the symptoms of



nervous dramatization, as described in the third chapter, appearing with the infliction of injury by more or less conscious self-mutilation in order to cause pain to parents and guardians. This is one form of torturing others by self-mutilation.

In Weininger’s and Stavrogin’s examples we touched the problem of the association of criminal with suicidal tendencies. It would seem at first hand, that here is complete independence, just as there seemed to be in the relation of self-mutilation with heteromutilation. In fact, it is not so simple as in the latter case. Frequently murder, with suicides following, give us examples of this relation. For instance, we often find the murder of a deceiver and then suicide of the murderer. What is the most convincing explanation of this process? A whole complex of positive tendencies constituting the mental peculiarities of a given individual changes its quality more or less quickly, and this change is somehow imposed on him. Despite the experience of delight in suffering, many pathological individuals strive at the end to destroy what is unpleasant, and the degree of their striving depends on the strength of the group of conflicting tendencies and the speed of action of the unpleasant agent. If the complex of denied tendencies is at the given moment a dominating one in the mentality of the individual, its annihilation produces a striving for the destruction of the personality whose most important component has lost its raison d’être. However, besides the desire for self-destruction, there arises simultaneously the desire to destroy the object of the disowned impulse, that object which forms a part of the mentality of the individual, and which is symbolized in the external object. There arises a need to destroy both inseparable components: the object and the subject. The self-murder is in relation to him-self a murderer; he kills in himself a complex of the conflicting and dominating tendencies.

The phenomenon of the suicide pact throws light on this problem. It often occurs that a man, who in the beginning agrees to be murdered, later opposes the murder with all the strength of the instinct of self-preservation. This apposition causes aggressiveness on the part of the other member of the agreement. We have in this case complete disregard of the wish to live. The self-murderer decided about the life of his companion as well as of his own; he includes this life in the components of his own mentality which he sentenced to die.

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These facts, concerning sometimes even the elite of the intellectuals, testify to the consideration of the one sentenced to death as a projection of one’s own mentality. This is illustrated by the case of M M, a high official who killed his wife and sons (the sons were 12 and 16 years old) as they fled his shots. M M obtained his high position through his own work and he was liked and respected by his friends and subordinates. For some time before the tragic event he changed his occupation often and showed a lack of method in his work. The following is a passage of his diary, found after his death:


Is life worth living? Whoever decides to free himself from the painful prison of life resembles a bird which, after spending the winter in a peasant’s hovel, lights for the first time before the window and starts on his flight toward the sun..... What a delight to be free, never to feel the cold or the hunger, not to become ill, not to fear skepticism, or terror, not to bear the human beast, not to tolerate violence; to forget the horrors of prostitution, not to see pampered parasites any more, not to observe the sneering and cynical smiles. The reaching of this state of perfect’ happiness is entirely within our power. We can transform the tragic illusion of life into a happy existence of absolute insensibility, without effort, without longer suffering and without tiresome struggle. Let us not be afraid of death, let us spread its cult, let us create in ourselves a state of striving for freedom, for eternal silence (36).


While reading this, we get the impression that this passage is the voice of a deeply thinking man, sensitive to the most unpleasant sides of life, a pessimist who was at the time exceedingly depressed. The fact, however, of imposing death on his wife and children re-mains in conflict with the mentioned aversion for the toleration of violence. For the murdered ones, fleeing in terror from the bullets, the submission to death was not “without effort, without longer suffering and without tiresome struggle.” It may be assumed that, at the time of the murder, the author of the diary was in a state of Melancholy, under the influence of the already existing tendencies to destroy not only himself but others also. In many people showing suicidal tendencies, one may observe the coexistence of a tendency to kill others. Therefore, Talian’s aphorism that “He does not kill



himself who did not want to kill another, or at least did not wish another to die” is somewhat justified.

According to Freud, in each case of suicide one can find some desire to kill the one with whom the suicide identified himself. Many phantasies about death, fears of death, and the feeling of impending death, found in neuroses, betray a mechanism which may be expressed as follows: one wished somebody to die, one is this somebody (most frequently the father), and one is dead (need of punishment). Wishing someone or oneself to die may be the expression of the feeling that only death can solve the conflict (34). The subjects of the dreams and phantasies of people showing suicidal attempts often indicate the existence of destructive tendencies, containing cosmic catastrophes, epidemics, ravaging of humanity, or similar events. One seldom finds in creatures of a pessimistic philosophy a knowledge of the sources of their personal pessimistic out-look on the world. On the contrary, there exists a striving toward objectivity of their tendencies in the form of a philosophic system. Suicide as a logical conclusion of a worldly outlook associated itself with the need to impose this outlook on others and to destroy them. Schopenhauer’s philosophy of denial, based on cosmic arguments concerning the social and individual vital uselessness of life, ought to lead to suicide. According to Schopenhauer each of us would give up living if committing suicide would not be associated with un-pleasant experiences. In this view we see a struggle of conflicting tendencies in Schopenhauer himself. It is an erroneous statement that each of us would most likely end life if this end were not connected with unpleasant experiences. It should rather be assumed that Schopenhauer wanted his wish to die to be more generalized. But this was not so, and hence the intensification of his aversion for society, turning into hatred, perhaps motivated by the fact that he felt in himself what he despised in others, namely, the very strong wish to live, the force of inexhaustible instincts which made him enjoy in his later years the spending of his works among the despised society. The extreme conflict between the mental and the sensual needs, the in-creasing suppression of the wish to live, and the surrender to this wish were the basis of the state of overexcitability and of states of anxiety and aggression in literary creations as well as in life, in the form of irony, disdain, and hatred directed toward men in general.

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This was intensified perhaps by the fact that logically the hatred should have been directed primarily toward himself, which was difficult on account of the presence of a greater wish that he live rather than the others. Therefore, the hatred was projected outwardly.

These projections of hatred on society, in association with fancies of destruction, are frequent, and appear coupled with various forms of psychopathy but having many interrelations. We often observe the easy commission of suicide in murderers or in people contemplating murder. The history of the Russian anarchism and nihilism supplies us in this respect with many facts of the frequent occurrence of murder followed by suicide. We find quite often in criminals, killers either without scruples or with a certain feeling of pleasure, a great degree of emotional insensibility when learning of their sentence to death or during their execution. Destructive tendencies, which in execution have their realization through destroying the subject of such feeling, play a role. Such or another degree of mental disintegration, usually associated with the struggle of opposite tendencies, is to some extent an explanation. Some light is thrown on the relation between suicide and murder by their statistical relation in different countries or periods of time, which cannot, however, give the expected conclusions on account of the scarcity and the unsystematic arrangement of the data. As an example we submit the figures of H. Denis (15) concerning suicides and murders in Belgium.




Per 1,000,000 inhabitants

Murders Suicides

1870-1874 15.6 69

1875-1879 17.0 83

1880-1884 17.7 103

1885-1889 15.2 117

1890-1894 16.3 127

1895-1899 16.5 119

1900 18.6 117

1901 19.7 126





Closely related to self-mutilation and heteromutilation are two forms of sexual psychopathy : masochism and sadism. We may call masochism a physical and mental, passive or active self-mutilation giving sexual satisfaction. This definition is close to the one given by Kraft-Ebing, according to whom masochism is based on sexual pleasure by subjection of the individual to some despotism, mistreatment, and humiliation. I emphasized above that masochism may take active form-this opinion may arouse disagreement. On the one hand, we may consider self-mutilation (physical or mental) for the purpose of finding sexual satisfaction as an active form of masochism; on the other hand, this form may be considered as a symptom of sadism practiced on oneself. I think that the first view is nearer the truth, inasmuch as the “active self-mutilation” most frequently appears as one of the components of a whole complex of masochistic symptoms. We shall call sadism, by analogy with the above, the physical or mental torturing of others, causing sexual satisfaction to the torturer. Masochism is one of the forms of self-mutilation but concerns only the sexual sphere.

Observations show us that masochism appears most frequently in women. It appears occasionally in men of a personality approaching the feminine and of a build, facial expression, voice, and movements diverging from the male type in greater or less degree (typus feminus). Otherwise, tendencies to self-mutilation on sexual grounds are characteristic rather of the female; a tendency to torture others on this ground marks the male. Many individuals with masochistic tendencies are of an infantile type which approaches in certain respects the feminine type. Very frequently there co-exist in one individual masochistic tendencies, a tendency to self-mutilation, and a tendency to experience pleasure in pain. Let us take the example of Alfred de Musset, who was inclined to mental self-mutilation, to ecstasy, to intoxication with self-inflicted pain, and the need of gratification for some sexual impulses by way of self-inflicted, physical pain. This is pointed out in a passage from La Confession d’un Enfant du Siècle:


She gave me a locket with her miniature portrait. I wore it near my heart, as many men do, but one day, after finding at



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a merchant’s a figure made of iron at the end of which was a plate covered with sharp points, I fastened the locket to the plate and wore it so. These pins which pricked my chest at each movement, produced in me such an unknown delight that I often pressed it with my hand, to feel it more intensively. I knew well that it was an act of madness; love causes others, worse ones. . . . . Since this woman had deceived me I took off this locket. I can’t express with what sadness I took off this iron belt, and what a sigh my heart gave, when it became free. Ah, my poor scars. So you will become effaced? Ah, wound, dear wound, what balsam shall I put on you? . . . . . I should have hated this woman. She was, if I may express it so, in the blood of my veins. I cursed her, but I dreamed of her. . . . (61).


As the infliction of physical pain produced the feeling of pleasure by sexual excitement and the expectation of gratification of the sexual impulse, so the accompanying moral pain, arising from the obstacles in the realization of the sexual desire, caused strong sexual excitement which sought in outlet. Liberation for a longer or shorter period of time from certain emotional states (fear, anger, depression) by sexual relations is characteristic of excitable people. In many cases an already existing sexual excitement is increased by moral or physical pain, thus securing a faster relief of the sexual tension. Paul Federn says, justly, that “strong painful sensations of the skin seem to act physiologically as an aphrodisiac in many, perhaps in all, people (27). It should be added that there will be a great difference in the efficiency of the action “as aphrodisiac” depending on whether it will act on a person with a masochistic tendency or a normal one.

Predisposing factors to a feeling of pain as an agent exciting the sexual instinct, besides the psychopathic basis, may be: firstly, the arousal of unpleasant emotional excitements, together with the sexual ones, caused by some organic disorder as, for instance, phimosis; secondly, our observations indicate the important influence of strong pain in the region of the rectum, during sexual relations, caused by hemorrhoids or dilation of the rectum; and lastly, the feeling of pleasure, emphasized by Adler, in children beaten on the buttocks due to the simultaneous sexual excitement. This coexistence of sexual excitement and physical pain may pass into a prolonged state, which may cause a permanent combination of these two states.



Similar deductions from these observations are made again by Federn:


Algolania in its strict meaning arises first of all in people in whom pain is associated with sexual impression. This impression may be so strong that the co-existing pain loses its unpleasant character and colors only qualitatively this sexual experience.


Nevertheless, the observed cases point to the frequent lack of apparent organic irritations. In these cases, it may be assumed that the exciting factor may be a certain functional disorder of the sex organs, for instance, in early or late maturity or what we call “childish paradoxism,” and in the opposite state, infantilism. In the first case we deal with the exaggerated excitability of the sexual instinct frequently associated with an exceptionally strong activity of the sex glands; in the second, we are concerned with an accompanying mental overexcitability caused by the protraction of the maturing period, and most frequently connected with so-called sexual psychoneurasthenia, states of anxiety and shame which often play a part in determining masochistic tendencies. Besides the above factors, an important role is played by the sex of the subject on which the above-quoted agents act selectively. We have already stated that sadism is more often met with in men, masochism in women or in men with certain feminine or childish traits. This is associated with man’s sexual activity and woman’s passivity. Certain investigators, like Sadger, point to the importance of the sexual dermal excitability in masochists. This is in accordance with the observed facts of the greater dermal excitability of the male masochists than in normal cases. We presented as an example of masochism the case of Alfred de Musset who showed many feminine traits and some mental infantilism. The tendency to masochism in J. J. Rousseau, who showed many infantile traits, is also known.

A man with a tendency to masochism seeks most frequently the type of woman who would complete his weakened masculine traits. To a certain degree he resigns his independence to her influence and designs. We see a strong analogy between the mechanism governing the masochistic complex and the mechanism of the broader group of these phenomena, i.e., with mental and physical self-mutilation. In both states, a strong part is played by mental and physical irritation,

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strengthened by the tendency to obsessional thoughts, feelings, and impulses. In the one and in the other we observe conflicting systems of tendencies (male masochists, female sado-masochists). These states most frequently develop on a neuropsychopathic basis, marked by disorders in the system of tendencies and frequently by a lack of arrangement of complexes of tendencies and the submission of them to a dominating one.

Sadism, as well as masochism, is a normal symptom when present in a slight degree. Sadistic tendencies should be considered as a result, on the one hand, of cruelty and of masculine activity, and, on the other, of a too intensive sexual excitement. We have already spoken of the role of sexual excitement and of the relation of activity and passivity in this state. Cruelty is founded on the desire to inflict suffering on others, whereby the perpetrator feels pleasure in causing suffering. A sadist feels the same, but that pleasure possesses a sexual color. Sadism, as well as heteromutilation, is connected with a destructive tendency. The cruelty of a sadist will most frequently, but not exclusively, involve sex. Guy de Maupassant, possessing sado-masochistic tendencies, said of his cane: “The marvelous instrument, with the aid of which I already killed twenty dogs” (37). Sadists very frequently come from families whose members showed strong tendencies to cruelty and aggression, and also to masochism.

Many of the factors determining sadism by sexual excitement act as in masochism (balanitis, phimosis). Adler calls attention, justly, to the significance of punishment, beatings, and states of fear in the feeling of inferiority and in its compensation in the form of aggression, in the form of a “will for power,” which may, among other things, express itself in a tendency to sadism. Impulses of aggression, arising as a consequence of suppressed instincts, either sexual or otherwise, may also lead to sadism. Sometimes a too intensive stifling of different impulses and the long lasting realization of self-mutilating tendencies in man may cause a protest of the dormant sadistic impulses. We suppose that such a mechanism was active in many Inquisitors whose poorly realized need of torturing others appeared in the most convenient and sanctioned form of inflicting tortures as if coming by order of the existing religious heads. The difficulties in the realization of many natural impulses, external and internal conflicts, cause in many anger and aversion to indications



of the more natural consummation of these impulses in others. Joy, naturalness, signs of harmony in a given group cause in such people hatred, anger, and a need to oppress others. This may be noticed very frequently among teachers, educators, and monastic authorities in their treatment of pupils or wards. It begins, most frequently, by an unconscious heteromutilating activity with a sadistic tinge in relation to people who symbolize groups of tendencies repressed or destroyed in the torturer. All the investigators who inquire into this problem point to the association of sadism with masochism. Freud sees in Dostoyefsky an impulse to destruction directed against himself, expressing itself in masochistic tendencies and feeling of guilt. He sees in him also definite sadistic traits: excitability, quarrelsomeness, intolerance even in relation to the beloved ones, finding pleasure in humiliating others, etc., (34). Such an explanation is in accordance with Freud’s view of the structure of the majority of perversions, which are, according to him, an alliance between two opposed impulses (68). Sadism, as well as masochism, according to Freud, is a frequent derivative of the Oedipus complex, and the phantasy of being beaten, punished, and humiliated. Freud thinks that masochism is not a primitive impulse, but arises from sadism which became re-versed and directed against oneself (shifting from the object to the ego). The phantasies of being beaten, arising as the basis of masochism, have frequently the same meaning as being loved, in the genital sense (32). Phantasies on the subject of being beaten and castration are found, according to Freud, in erotogenic masochism. In the so-called moral masochism we deal with the sexualization of the super-ego, which becomes the sadistic factor in relation to the ego. The third and simplest form of masochism is the feminine masochism, seen in men either of infantile type or those who betray certain feminine traits (30).

Tendencies of both kinds often coexist in the same individual. Sometimes sadistic impulses arise in a given person in relation to one sex, and the masochistic in relation to another. Federn describes cases in which he observed changes of the sadistic into masochistic tendencies during treatment. We observed a case of sadism in a man in relation to his son, and of masochism in relation to his wife, as well as a case where a mother was sadistic in regard to her son, and masochistic in her relation to her husband. Sadistic interest may be

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aroused by a potentially existing masochistic tendency. Let us take, for example, the Marquis de Sade, who, in his works, along with the description of sadism, gave descriptions of all kinds of sexual per-versions, with such a knowledge of the subject and such a penetration into the mechanism of the particular perversions and of the emotional states associated with them that we may suppose that he possessed complicated sexual perversion, passing from one into another. Furthermore, his biographers submit proofs concerning the existence in him of some equal perversions besides sadism. Torturing others combines itself in Marquis de Sade (23) with the need to torture himself. The wish to die and to destroy himself (nirvana principle) took in him a peculiar form, namely, a wish that the earth over his grave appear as if it had never been cut and that the spot be forgotten.

A sado-masochistic complex of weaker intensity, developing itself in a person of a subtle and romantic disposition, is seen in the life of Alfred de Musset (61). It is evident in his Confessions of a Child of the Century and from the poet’s correspondence. On the one hand, we observe physical and mental self-mutilation frequently with sexual excitation. On the other hand, we read of mental mistreatment of his beloved. Paying her homage turned after a few minutes into the infliction of a deep moral pain. The passage from weeping, praying, and adoration to swearing and mistreatment points, in accordance with the above views, to the existence of a sado-masochistic complex. This is demonstrated by the following passage from Con fessions of a Child of the Century:


After the end of these scenes where my mind exhausted itself in tortures and rent my heart, in turn accusing and sneering, but always with an urge to suffering and to return to the past,-after the end of it, an unknown love, an exaltation pushed to excess, ordered me to treat my beloved like an idol, like a goddess. . . . A short while after accusing her, I was on my knees. If I did not accuse her, I begged for forgiveness, when I did not sneer, I cried.


That lack of a distinct predominance of activity over passivity, of the masculine mental traits over the feminine ones, developed on a neuropathic basis into a sado-masochistic form with the predominance of masochism into a special form of Dugas’ “mental instability.”



We showed above that the relation of sadism and masochism in the same individual may differ, with more or less great predominance of one or the other. We had under observation a 17-year-old student, W. who presented himself with a request for a medico-psychological qualification for a military training school. From the conversation it was found that he was subject to frequent fainting attacks on observation of his own slightest wound or “a drop of blood.” He was indifferent to the sight of blood or a wound in others, and very frequently purposely looked forward to seeing wounds and blood. He inspected with pleasure the murdered or the dead. In phantasies and dreams he imagined a field of battle covered with dead troops. He was then strongly sexually excited. No disorders of heart and vascular system were found. From further observation and conversation it was found that W began to masturbate a few years before be matured; he showed a tendency to onychophagia, laceration of the skin, especially of the nipples which, incidentally, became enlarged under the influence of their mutilation and frequent excitation. Besides this, he was obtrusive and aggressive in his relations with his family. This indicates the presence in W of the sado-masochistic complex, with predominance of the first. His dermal hyperexcitability and irritation of the nipples, associated with pleasure, testify to the presence of a masochistic complex.



We have no special up-to-date treatise concerning self-mutilation as a total complex. Certain symptoms are touched only occasionally in discussions of various mental problems. We do not pretend to advance this problem so far as to be able to make very definite educational suggestions. Moreover, the fact that self-mutilation is in many cases related to or symptomatic of various pathological disorders (nervousness, psychasthenia, hysteria, and others) makes it difficult to suggest educo-therapeutic methods which could be applied to symptoms and not to the basis of the disease. These arguments ex-plain the limitation of our presentation in this section to very general suggestions. We treated, however, in a somewhat broad manner certain aspects of a few forms of self-mutilation which probably constitute a separate disorder.

Self-mutilation on the basis of psychomotor excitability may be prevented by:

1. Periodic psychomotor release.

(a). Sports, games, interesting discussions, interesting occupation during convalescent period in bed (hand work, interesting reading, and conversation), the quickest possible getting out of bed.

(b). Treatment by means of therapeutic gymnastics.

2. Adequate choice of profession affording active occupation, avoiding sedentary life.

3. Persuasion and gradual working up of the self-control in the psychomotor sphere.

4. Hydrotherapy.

5. Prevention of such causes of psychomotor excitability as alcoholism, diseases of the nervous system, shocks, emotional conflicts, etc.

There arises, in regard to disappointments, the problem of the prophylactic preparation of young emotional and introverted individuals for the broader orientation in regard to vital problems, and the keener observation and understanding of people, for seeing reality as it is, and for changing the tendencies to idolatry into definite lasting values (a life of high moral value, interest in religion, literature, art, and social work). Sources of states of melancholy and depression are so diverse that presenting even a general outline concerning self-





mutilation on the basis of these is impossible. Of great importance in the prevention of anxiety states is an early formation in the child of an ability to form broader contacts, and the sparing of conditions which might cause unconscious suppression of natural instincts. Finally, the elimination of punishment, of fright, and of quickly countermanded orders should be replaced by persuasion, especially in introverted and overexcitable individuals. Neuropathic dramatization has its most frequent source in the excessive fondling of the child, or conversely, in neglecting it, in useless activity, vacillation, or unequal treatment of children. Educational suggestions appear rather distinctly as a result of the content of the above-described cases. Methods which may be applied to hysterics eo ipso may be applied to self-mutilation on a hysterical basis. Self-mutilation on the basis of a real inferiority in one or another respect may be compensated for by the discovery in the given person of values which allow him to distinguish himself. (Usually such values can be found.) Definite suggestions come up in relation to people whose self-mutilation is based on anxiety or timidity. Gradually becoming accustomed to contacts in a small group of friends of the same age and different sexes is suggested in such cases. In cases of self-mutilation on the basis of feelings of guilt and inferiority, combined with inadequate environmental influence on the development of the sex instinct in the child, the basic problem, again, must be attacked. So-called self-mutilating endurance games most often do not require therapeutic or educational prophylaxis, but only a slight change of the need to distinguish oneself into a more mature and less infantile sphere of behavior.

Self-mutilation produces similar traits in emotionally hyperexcitable individuals through distressing experiences, submission to pessimistic moods, meditation about death and the uselessness of life, etc. The early creation in the child of an ability to form wider association and the formation of an inclination in a definite direction, depending on his interests and capacities, would be valuable in weakening the tendency towards an exclusively inner life and strengthening the life in the family group. In such people, the formation of an active basis for life and of a faculty to fight the evil in himself and others is possible. Pathological forms of asceticism, such as mutilation of the body, extreme self-

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destruction, bringing oneself to ecstasies by self-mutilation, or by the use of narcotics, the infliction of pain for the delight of suffering (intoxication with suffering), may develop on the basis of experiences of mental injuries in childhood, states of anxiety and feelings of guilt, hysteria, tendency to obsessions, lack of refinement of the personality, or mental overexcitability. Therefore, the prevention and treatment of this type of self-mutilating symptom must be aimed at the basic disorder. Constitutional factors of poorly known structure and mechanism take part in the arousal of auto- and heteromutilating and sado-masochistic complexes, playing a great part in self-mutilating processes. According to the theory of Freud, the education of a child during the first years of life, based on principles of mental hygiene of the sexual life, can have great prophylactic value. The early prevention of overexcitability and of tendencies to aggression and explosiveness and the development of persuasion and self-control may also be of importance here. The comprehension by pedagogues, physicians, and parents of the psychology of the developmental periods (especially the period of maturation) may be of great importance for the prevention of the pathological appearance of these disharmonious tendencies and struggles of conflicting complexes characteristic of overexcitable individuals in this period. Lastly, the elimination of such determining factors as balanitis, phimosis, and various irritations of the rectum may weaken masochistic and sadistic tendencies. The struggle of conflicting complexes is very frequently of constitutional origin (sado-masochism, sexual ambivalence, and different states of disintegration of tendencies) and hence, it is difficult for us to discuss the treatment of these basic causes. We can modify only the effects of the activity of environmental influences on a given complex of constitutional traits, and in that way influence one or another system of traits. The same may be said in regard to introversion (which plays a great role in the predisposition to self-mutilation) if this introversion has arisen and developed on a constitutional basis (astheno-schizoid types of Kretschmer, tetanoid types of Jaensch, etc.). Introversion, as well as the group of conflicting tendencies which have arisen or become intensified following specific environmental influences, may be modified only within certain limits. It is a question of not allowing it to develop into self-mutilation, or into a greater disorder, and of the best possible arrangement of conditions for the relationship of



such individuals with others, in order to take advantage of their oftentimes valuable cultural potentialities.

We can say nothing more definite about therapeutic influences on the disorders of deep sensibility which is assumedly at the basis of many self-mutilating and suicidal tendencies. Further investigations of the autonomic nervous system and endocrine glands may help to solve this problem.



We think that it is erroneous to consider all neuropathic and psychopathic symptoms only as pathological disorders which need to be cured. Up to date, we are far from having mastered man’s various psychobiological mechanisms. We cannot tell why in one case children of alcoholic heredity show unusual capacities, in another, epilepsy. We do not know why hereditary syphilis exists, in one case in conjunction with a striking personality, in another with imbecility.

We must be still more careful in the treatment of psychoneurotics only as patients. Dr. Serrin’s examination (at Dr. Toulouse’s) of very capable children revealed that about three-fourths of a large group presented various symptoms of nervousness. The feeling of inferiority, whose compensation often leads to self-mutilation (self-accusation, aversion, and hatred of certain of one’s own traits and their conscious suppression, overcoming and destruction), may be the source of many cultural advances according to the following view of Dr. C. Macfie Campbell:


A feeling of inferiority may be an incentive to put forth one’s best efforts, and perhaps no great accomplishment has ever been attained except under the spur of some such stimulus (9).


Such and other forms of inability to adapt to changing conditions and to broader relationships with others are found in authors of great philosophical and educational systems and in representatives of science. Lack of easy “rapport” with others is usually compensated for by a tightening of the emotional link to one’s family (self-mutilation and suicide after loss of a near relative) and the intensification of the religious and cultural life. Psychic overexcitability, the lack of a uniform molding of the personality, and instability of the psychic structure are not always the basis of mental disease. Frequently, independent of disease, or after having gone through a psychotic episode, great mental suffering because of conflicts, or a crisis, stabilization of the personality at a higher level occurs (Beers, Dostoyefsky). States of struggle of conflicting complexes, suppression, and torture of one complex by another often produce outbursts of energy from a strong tension in the form of creative activity (Dostoyefsky, Scho-





penhauer, Nietzsche, Weininger, Zeromski, and others). We think that educational suggestions recommending temperance, the acceptance of responsibility for one’s actions, and the undertaking of necessary responsibilities are not alien to the spirit of a reasonable and moderate asceticism. It is an expression of the indispensable subordination of natural impulses under the will of the subject (9).

Reaching a high level of self-control and of inner harmony requires a long systematic training. Exercises in submitting the natural instincts to the authority of the intellect and moral principles of a philosophy of life in order to reach a high degree of self-control and inner harmony is by all means desirable. The desire for difficult undertakings, in spite of penetration of many obstacles for reaching a valuable goal, is in harmony with ascetic principles. Asceticism has also great merits in combating the tendency to live from day to day, to live for enjoyment. It has shown us definitely that in emotional individuals with strong and conflicting complexes one can, by great systematic effort, subordinate a complex of lower - to one of higher value and use the combined energy for the perfection of moral values. The emphasis on the need for subordination of lower values to higher ones has not been without influence on the development of the idea of self-sacrifice for goals accepted as more exalted (society, father-land, science). At the basis of self-sacrifice one can often find the influence of the doctrine of religious asceticism. A large degree of civic asceticism, arising under a strong, though most frequently barely noticeable, influence of religious asceticism, is the self-sacrifice in accepted obligations, as in saving one from drowning, in the leaders’ not deserting the troops or the crew [“Where the sheep perish, must the shepherd also fall,—Zolkiewski (58)]. Lastly, one of the highest ideas of humanity, the purifying value of suffering (provided it is correctly interpreted), is continuously alive, for example, in the deepening of the moral culture of man by suffering, in its influence on philosophical creation and on the origin of the educational and moral system. We must, on the other hand, direct our attention to the perverted practices of asceticism, beginning with the torturing of the body and ascetic epidemics (cults of self-flagellants), and ending with self-abasement, ecstasy in degradation, the practice of tortures for the sake of torturing, more or less unconscious narcotization by suffering (58), and, lastly, inconsistent with human self-respect, the ter-

C. Dąbrowski



rorization of the senses and compensation of sensual needs in a humiliating manner. This testifies to the absence of culture of the pseudo-ascetic (baseless idolization of the chosen persons of the other sex, application of tortures as strongest agent for sexual experiences, etc.) Separation from family obligations, symptoms of cruelty to the nearest ones, indifference to the sufferings of others, with the simultaneous practice of strict asceticism in relation to oneself, again give no evidence of a high level of moral culture but, rather, of a warped personality or a serious mental illness. Severity to oneself should be accompanied by sensitivity to the sufferings of others. In other cases we deal with pathological fanaticism, with a need for torturing not only oneself but also others, which has grown out of a pathological repression of one’s desires, and a more or less unconscious need of vengeance on others, under the guise of a fight for religious principles (Inquisition).

In the conclusion of our deliberation we gain the conviction that voluntary and non-pathological forms of self-mutilation, useful for self-control and the harmonization into a higher type of personality, are a very important mechanism of self-education, of the completion of sublimation of a way to a philosophy of life, based on the ennobling value of suffering. In emotionally overexcitable, introverted individuals, this is one of the noblest forms of adaptation to life after having experienced hardships, an expression of the protest against injury, suffering, and death. 4


4 Non-adaptation of these individuals may express itself in such forms of protest as mental disease, suicide, and crime.



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Kazimierz Dąbrowski, M.D., Ph.D.


Professor, Polish Academy of Science, and Director, Institute of

Child Psychiatry and Mental Hygiene, Warsaw





Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital

and Harvard Medical School, Boston































Published in Great Britain

By J. & A. Churchill Ltd., London







During the past thirty years the Polish psychiatrist Kazimierz Dąbrowski published over fifty papers and five books on child psychiatry written from the point of view of his “theory of positive disintegration.” But none of this work is known in the United States since there has been little communication between Poland and the West throughout most of this time. Dąbrowski’s theory of positive disintegration emphasizes the positive aspects of “pathological” symptoms and thus it is of special interest to psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers concerned with problems of personality development, psychotherapy, and community mental health.

In my work as Editor of the International Journal of Psychiatry, I became familiar with Polish psychiatry and with Doctor Dąbrowski’s theories. I am pleased to be able to introduce them to Western readers.

Several of the chapters in this book appeared in Polish, French, and Spanish journals, and other were lectures delivered in Polish. This is their first appearance in English. An initial translation was prepared by Doctor Dąbrowski’s assistants in Warsaw; he and I then reviewed it to clarify the content for Western readers. As this material was originally written from a more theoretical point of view than that usually presented in the West, there were no clinical examples, but for this edition Doctor Dąbrowski added a number of clinical illustrations of his concepts and several case histories.

J. A.


PREFACE      page v


INTRODUCTION BY Jason Aronson, M.D.      page ix














viii Contents










INDEX      page 127


Introduction (1)



Contemporary theories of personality derive from a broad range of sources and are the concern of many academic disciplines: clinical psychiatry, psychology, cultural anthropology, sociology, genetics, and philosophy. This is inevitable, for personality theory is concerned with the nature of man and his relation to the world, a subject broad enough to include all of human endeavor. The scientific understanding of personality calls for vigorous confrontation of theory with widely diverse data. Since immediate clinical needs require us to extrapolate beyond what is rigorously validated, it is crucial that conventional patterns of thought be confronted with different theoretical orientations. Kazimierz Dąbrowski’s theory of positive disintegration is outside the current modes of personality theory; it stems from sources at present neglected in the United States, it views “pathological” symptoms as generally positive factors in personality growth, and it was developed in Poland, a country that has been largely isolated from the West in recent decades.

September 1, 1939, is the date of the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and of the systematic attempt by Hitler to obliterate Poland as a nation. During the German occupation no practice of psychiatry was permitted. As part of an attempt to eliminate all Polish cultural life, Polish schools



1 This work was supported in part by Public Health Service Research Grant No. MH-07791-03 from the National Institute of Mental Health.


x Introduction

were closed and Polish intellectuals exterminated. Most Polish psychiatric patients and psychiatrists were killed. Of the four hundred Polish psychiatrists practicing before the war (about ten of whom were psychoanalysts) only thirty eight survived. No psychoanalyst has been in practice in Poland since 1939.

With the establishment of the Polish Democratic Republic after the war, Poland was placed under the Soviet sphere of influence. Medical and psychiatric services were socialized, and clinical psychiatry was officially oriented to Pavlovian concepts. Thus the isolation from the West, which began with the German invasion, continued. Since 1956 there has been a gradual resumption of cultural relations with the West and a revival of interest in Western developments in many areas, including psychiatry and sociology.



Dąbrowski is a professor in the Polish Academy of Science and the Director of the Institute of Children’s Psychiatry and Mental Hygiene in the Academy. Born in 1902, in Lublin, Poland, he received his M.D. at the University of Geneva Medical School in 1929 and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Poznan in 1932. He was a Privat Docent in child psychiatry in 1934 at the University of Geneva.

He studied psychology and education in Geneva in 1928 and 1929, with Édouard Claparède and Jean Piaget, obtained psychoanalytic training and analysis in 1930 in Vienna, Austria, under Wilhelm Stekel, and had additional training


Introduction xi

in clinical psychology and child psychiatry in Paris and Boston. In 1931 he studied child psychiatry in Paris under George Heuyer at Vaugirard and attended the lectures of Pierre Janet at Claude. From 1933 to 1934 he studied under Macfie Campbell, Director of the Boston Psychopathic Hospital, and William Healy, the first Director of the Judge Baker Foundation.

From 1935 to 1948, except for the interruption of the German occupation, he was the Director of the Polish State Mental Hygiene Institute and High School for Mental Hygiene in Warsaw, which had been organized with the aid of the Rockefeller Foundation.

He is the author of over fifty articles in psychiatry, mental hygiene, and clinical psychology, published in Polish, French, German, and Spanish. Among his books are Handbook of Child Psychiatry, Handbook of Mental Hygiene, Nervousness in Children, and Positive Disintegration—all of them in Polish. This is the first translation into English of Dąbrowski’s theory of positive disintegration.




The roots of this view of personality, which give prominence to the positive aspects of psychiatric symptoms, may be traced to the concepts of the evolutionary development of the central nervous system of Hughlings Jackson, the English neurologist, to the concept of growth of the Polish psychiatrist, Mazurkiewicz, and to the work in child development by Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist.


xii Introduction

Hughlings Jackson’s concepts of evolutionary development, hierarchical levels, and dissolution of the central nervous system, largely neglected in psychiatry in the United States, have not suffered this fate in Europe. In recent years Henry Ey in France, Von Monakow in Switzerland, and Jan Mazurkiewicz in Poland have extended Jackson’s concepts of evolution and dissolution into psychiatry. Henry Ey has applied them to the psychology of normal individuals. (For example, sleep and reverie are viewed as forms of normal dissolution.) Von Monakow has utilized Jackson’s theories in his contributions but has also introduced many additional concepts: klisis (movement toward objects), ekklisis (movement away from objects), and syneidesis (biological synthetic power in humans and animals). Von Monakow has emphasized the interpretation of psychiatric symptoms from the point of view of changes over time.

Mazurkiewicz, who died in 1948 in Warsaw, was the outstanding Polish psychiatrist in the field of Pavlovian psychiatry and was also a neo-Jacksonist. He emphasized qualitative changes in the development of the nervous system and the significance of emotions as directing forces. Mazurkiewicz emphasized that besides strictly mechanical determination of the activity of the nervous system there are the so-called own forces found in lower animal organisms but more noticeably in humans. He called these forces own because he regarded them as not limited to proportionate responses to excitation—as more than simple reflexes to a stimulus. Through the study of chronaxie, and electroencephalographic, neurologic, and psychiatric examinations, he arrived at the view that in synapses, in the thalamic area, and especially in the frontal lobes, the activity of the nervous


Introduction xii

system is quantitatively and qualitatively transformed. He regarded instincts and emotions as directing forces in animals and human beings and as also being involved in the conditioned reflexes of Pavlov: unless you have the animal’s interest, you cannot condition him—if the dog is not hungry, he cannot be conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell.

Jean Piaget, Director of the Institute of the Science of Education (Jean Jacques Rousseau Institute) in Geneva, has studied the development of reasoning and speech in children. He emphasizes many forms and states of development—prelogical, logical, mathematical, and other kinds of thinking in the child. His concern has been primarily with developmental psychology and with the influence of social environment on this development. He considers development a gradual unfolding of abilities in the child.

Dąbrowski extends Hughlings Jackson’s theory of evolutionary development of the central nervous system to the psychological development of the personality. Like Mazurkiewicz, he places emphasis on self-determination and he incorporates Piaget’s views of the progressive unfolding of abilities. He stresses, however, the positive function of conflict, anxiety, and psychopathological symptoms.




Dąbrowski refers to his view of personality development as the theory of positive disintegration. He defines dis-


xiv Introduction

integration as disharmony within the individual and in his adaptation to the external environment. Anxiety, psychoneurosis, and psychosis are symptoms of disintegration. In general, disintegration refers to involution, psychopathology, and retrogression to a lower level of psychic functioning. Integration is the opposite: evolution, psychic health, and adequate adaptation, both within the self and to the environment. Dąbrowski postulates a developmental instinct: that is, a tendency of man to evolve from lower to higher levels of personality. He regards personality as primarily developing through dissatisfaction with, and fragmentation of, the existing psychic structure—a period of disintegration—and finally a secondary integration at a higher level. Dąbrowski feels that no growth takes place without previous disintegration. He regards symptoms of anxiety, psychoneurosis, and even some symptoms of psychosis as the signs of the disintegration stage of this evolution and therefore not always pathological.




In the first chapter, concerning the general theory of positive disintegration, Dąbrowski presents the concept of the instinct of development and describes the processes of positive disintegration and secondary integration. In positive disintegration (in contrast to negative disintegration) the individual has a high level of intelligence and creativity, the symptoms arise during periods of developmental crises or of extreme stress, both insight and a capacity for emotional closeness


Introduction xv

are present, the whole person is involved rather than merely narrow symptoms which do not arouse the individual’s concern, and there is a balance of retrospection and prospection. These criteria are strikingly similar to those that a Western psychiatrist would use to determine suitability for psychotherapy.

In the original form of these essays, which were written in a cultural orientation unfamiliar to American psychiatrists, there was no illustrative clinical material. Dąbrowski has added an occasional clinical example illustrating his concepts and several case histories, of which two, Ella and Jan, appear at the end of the first chapter. In both cases the psychiatrist intervenes in the patient’s life situation: in the first by talking with and making suggestions to Ella’s teacher, in the second through a discussion with the dean of Jan’s school and by arranging a meeting between a social worker and the young lady with whom Jan was “in love,” but with whom he had been too shy to indicate his interest. Except in the case of the child, an American psychiatrist is likely to regard these arrangements as being the responsibility of the patient himself. The interventions seem to arise from Dąbrowski’s concern that the patient handle these particular crises successfully. As his final sentence has it, “psychotherapy is multidimensional aid in overcoming . . . a crisis.” The case histories illustrate Dąbrowski’s view of symptoms as signs of positive development, and what may be described as the sociological (or supportive or manipulative, or paternalistic) aspect of his therapeutic approach.

In Chapter 2, “The Principal Dynamics of Multilevel Disintegration,” Dąbrowski describes various aspects of dissatisfaction with oneself. He extensively utilizes the concept


xvi Introduction

of “self,” which has been largely ignored in psychoanalytic theory. Initially, Freud used the self concept of “ego ideal,” but later he dropped this in favor of “superego.” In recent years Erik Erikson, in his conceptualization of developmental stages and of “identity” described in his books Childhood and Society and Identity and the Life Cycle, has returned to the area of “self.”

In Chapter 3, “The Feeling of Inferiority Toward Oneself,” Dąbrowski describes the self as a hierarchy of levels with the possibility of conflict. He regards this conflict (the feeling of inferiority toward oneself) as generally playing a positive role in personality development, distinguishing it from Adler’s concept of inferiority, which emphasizes the comparison of self with others. Dąbrowski considers the development of self—self-awareness, self-control, and self-criticism—as important in development as the influence of heredity and environment. Moreover, since he thinks of the developed self as largely independent of these other two factors, he describes it as a third factor. In Chapter 4, he describes the role of this third factor in the development of personality.

In “Remarks on Typology” there is a description of character patterns based on the theory of positive disintegration. Chapter 6 contrasts psychopathy and psychoneurosis. Dąbrowski regards psychopathy as a strong primitive integration type with few or no neurotic symptoms and no capacity for development and psychoneurosis as a positive disintegration type with many symptoms and considerable capacity for personality development.

In “Jackson’s Theory and Positive Disintegration” Dąbrowski outlines Jackson’s theory of evolution, Mazurkiewicz’s concepts of development, and the similarities and


Introduction xvii

differences of the work of both men in comparison with his own theory of positive disintegration. Primarily, Dąbrowski feels that symptoms of disintegration are necessary factors in development.

In “Positive Disintegration and Child Development” the implications of the theory in the development of normal and neurotic children are discussed. Infancy is viewed as an integrated period, with disintegration being manifested during developmental crises.

In “Mental Health as the Progressive Development of Personality” Dąbrowski joins Kurt Goldstein, Erich Fromm, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Gordon Allport, who define mental health in terms of development and growth. This idea of mental health as a continuing progressive process has been described by such terms as becoming, self-realization, self-actualization, growth motivation, extension of self, and realization of potential.

Like Thomas Szasz, author of Myths of Mental Illness, Dąbrowski rejects the medical model of “illness” for psychiatric disorder. Szasz’s definition of psychiatric disorder as “disturbances in patterns of living” is congenial to Dąbrowski’s point of view, but Dąbrowski regards slight psychiatric disorders as necessary for personality development and would not consider them wrong patterns.




A theory must be able to provide a logical framework for the explanation of a broad range of data. Dąbrowski relates his concepts to a variety of empirical data, everyday obser-



xviii Introduction

vations, and clinical experiences. First, psychological examination of normal children in Warsaw public schools who were judged by their teachers to be above average in intelligence and well adapted has shown that about 80 per cent have different symptoms of nervousness and slight neurosis such as mild anxiety, phobias, inhibitions, slight tics, and various forms of overexcitability. Dąbrowski regards this as evidence that psychiatric symptoms are frequent in children who have a high potential for development. Second, in normal development greatest personality growth occurs during periods of greatest psychological upheaval, for example, during puberty—evidence that anxiety and nervousness can be accompanied by accelerated development. Third, severe environmental stress often may, in producing psychological crises, contribute to creativity and growth—evidence that situations of stress can precipitate development. Finally, in highly creative persons periods of psychological disharmony are often present and related to their creativeness—evidence of the positive correlation between creativity and different states of disintegration.




In the West the most broadly accepted theoretical model of intrapsychic conflict and symptom formation is that of psychoanalysis. Early in its development, psychoanalysts regarded frustration as negative and they encouraged extreme permissiveness in child rearing. But it was soon recognized that experience with conflict was an essential part of growth;


Introduction xix

either extreme conflict or complete absence of conflict led to psychological difficulties.

Psychoanalysis emphasizes the disequilibrium among id, ego, and superego, which may lead to symptom formation, to new or strengthened defenses, or to growth. It tends to see reality largely as a screen on which one projects inner conflicts. Two American psychoanalysts, Erich Lindemann and Erick Erikson, have particularly concerned themselves with the social and psychological aspects of development.




Erich Lindemann, whose contributions to psychosocial understanding have come to be known as “crisis theory,” (2) describes the individual as normally in a state of equilibrium in relation to this environment. Occasionally he meets a situation which he is unable to handle with his usual homeo-


(2) Lindemann describes his concepts in:

1. Symptomatology and management of acute grief. Amer. J. Psychiat. 101:141-148, 1944.

2. Preventive intervention in a four-year-old child whose father committed suicide. (With W. Vaughan and M. McGinnis.) In Emotional Problems of Early Childhood, G. Caplan (ed.). New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1955, Pp. 5-30.

3. Psycho-social factors as stressor agents. In Stress and Psychiatric Disorders, J.M. Tanner (ed.). Oxford, England: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1960. Pp. 13-17.

4. Preventive intervention in individual and family crisis situations (With D. Klein.) In Prevention of Mental Disorders in Children, G. Caplan (ed.). New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1961. Pp. 288-397.


xx Introduction

static methods and becomes emotionally upset. An emotionally hazardous situation (or emotional hazard) is a sudden alteration in the field of social forces within which the individual exists, such that his expectations of himself and his relationships with others are changed. Examples are the loss of a significant relationship, the introduction of new individuals into the social orbit and the transition in role relationships through beginning adolescence, and the facts of marriage and job promotion. Crisis refers to the acute disturbance that may occur in an individual as a result of an emotional hazard. During a crisis the individual shows increased tension, unpleasant affect, and disorganized behavior. His attempts at solution may end in his returning to his former psychic equilibrium or may advance him to a healthier integration. However, if the problem has been beyond his capacity to handle, he will show nonadaptive solutions and will have restored equilibrium at a lower level of integration. Lindemann emphasizes the importance of significant persons in the individual’s life during the time of a crisis. Even minor influences of a significant person at this time may determine the outcome of the crisis in one direction or another. In the course of life, all people have experienced many such crises, the outcome of which has determined their personality, their creativity, and their mental health.

What Lindemann describes as “crisis” (increased tension, unpleasant affect, and disorganized behavior) is termed “symptoms of disintegration” by Dąbrowski, who feels that, although this process may have either a positive or a negative result, in the vast majority of cases the outcome is positive. Dąbrowski sees a negative outcome only when the environ-


Introduction xxi

mental situation is very unfavorable or when there is a severe physiological process present.

In the description of emotionally hazardous situations, Lindemann emphasizes an alteration in the field of social forces. The press of maturation is seen as causing an emotional hazard through effecting a change in role relationships. Dąbrowski hypothesizes an internal disposition to development: the instinct of development. He regards external hazards as stimuli to the activity of this tendency and, therefore, in general advantageous to personality development. If the instinct of development is strong, he feels that emotional hazards always have favorable consequences.

The similarities between Lindemann’s crisis theory and Dąbrowski’s theory of positive disintegration are striking, but not surprising when one recognizes that both men have been concerned with similar problems in preventive psychiatry. Lindemann, Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Massachusetts General Hospital, has been involved with problems of community health in the Mental Health Services of his hospital and at the Wellesley Human Relations Service, which he organized in 1948. Dąbrowski, who organized the Institute for Mental Hygiene in Warsaw in 1935 and is at present Director of the Institute for Mental Hygiene and Child Psychiatry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, has been dealing with the same problems.


Erik Erikson, in his theoretical contributions to ego psychology, has described specific conflicts in different stages of


xxii Introduction

psychosocial development. (3) He distinguishes eight stages of psychosocial development, indicating specific nuclear conflicts for each stage. The outcome of the first crisis, which occurs in early infancy, determines whether the individual’s inner mood is characterized by Basic Trust or by Basic Mistrust. Erikson regards this outcome as depending largely on the quality of maternal care. The second stage is the crisis of Autonomy vs. Shame—whether the individual is to be characterized by a sense of autonomy or by a sense of shame. The third conflict, part of what Freud has described as the Oedipus complex, is Initiative vs. Guilt. It depends on the resolution of affectionate feeling toward the mother and competitive feelings toward the father. The fourth crisis arises in the child’s learning and collaboration with others. Its outcome determines the relative strength of his sense of Industry as compared to his sense of Inferiority.

The fifth stage, the identity crisis, has been the focus of Erikson’s attention. He defines ego identity as the accrued confidence that one’s ability to maintain inner sameness and continuity is matched by the sameness and continuity of one’s meaning for others. This search for integration


(3) Erikson’s concepts are developed in numerous publications. The major ones are:

1. Ego development and Historical change. In The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. New York: International Universities Press, 1946.

2. Childhood and Society. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1950.

3. Young Man Luther. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1958.

4. Identity and the Life Cycle. New York: International Universities Press, 1959.

Introduction xxiii

involves a recapitulation of earlier battles. “A lasting ego identity, we have said, cannot begin to exist without the trust of the first oral stage; it cannot be completed without a promise of fulfillment which from the dominant image of adulthood reaches down into the baby’s beginnings and which, by the tangible evidence of social health, creates at every step an accruing sense of ego strength.” (4)

The sixth stage is Intimacy vs. Isolation. Intimacy refers to the ability to face fear of ego loss and to achieve intimacy in sexual relationships, and close friendships. Generativity vs. Self-absorption is the seventh crisis. By Generativity Erikson means an interest in establishing and guiding the next generation. The final stage of life is the crisis of Integrity vs. Despair and Disgust. Integrity refers to the acceptance of one’s life cycle as something that had to be, the recognition of a sense of order and meaning in life.

Erikson sees human growth “from the point of view of the conflicts, inner and outer, which the healthy personality weathers, emerging and re-emerging with an increased sense of inner unity.” (5) The solution of each crisis is dependent on the solution of earlier ones. His concepts of ego synthesis and resynthesis in the development of identity are similar to Dąbrowski’s concepts of disintegration and secondary integration in personality development.

Dąbrowski, however, unlike Erikson, has not concerned himself with specific conflicts at various stages of development. He agrees with Erikson on the importance of crisis periods in the achievement of new integrations. He places


(4) Erikson, Childhood and Society, p. 218.

(5) Erikson, Growth and crises of the healthy personality. In Identity and the Life Cycle, p. 51.

xxiv Introduction

particular emphasis on the Identity vs. Identity Diffusion conflict which Erikson describes as primary in adolescence. In Dąbrowski’s terminology this conflict is described as the arising of self-awareness, self-criticism (the “third factor”), the development of a personality ideal, and a well-organized disposing and directing center.




Neither Lindemann nor Erikson has written specifically on the positive functions of acute psychoses. That anxiety, even psychoneurosis, may have a positive function in personality development is not inconsistent with current attitudes in Western psychiatry, but that psychoses—the persecutory delusions of paranoia, the hallucinations and withdrawal of a schizophrenic, and the wild hyperactivity of a manic—may play a positive role in an individual’s maturation falls strangely on our ears. We tend to view psychosis as a failure of defense, the surrender of attempts at adaptation. Yet French and Kasonin some years ago and Bateson recently have suggested that psychoses may have a positive function.

Thomas French and Jacob Kasonin an article published in 1941 (6) present the hypothesis that a schizophrenic episode “may be a transitional episode in the process of emancipation from an old method of adjustment and ‘learning’ a new one,” and that the patient may achieve on recovery “a better social adjustment than had been possible before the illness.”


(6) T. French and J. Kasonin. A psychodynamic study of the recovery of two schizophrenic cases. Psychoanal. Quart. 10:1-22, 1941.

Introduction xxv

More recently, Gregory Bateson in a brief introduction to a patient’s story of his psychosis (7) suggests that schizophrenia is a “vast and painful initiation rite conducted by the self,” and that it has a definite course to run leading to the birth of a new identity. Both of these papers are congruent with Dąbrowski’s emphasis on the positive function of acute psychoses.




Dąbrowski’s theory of positive disintegration is interesting—even exciting. The ubiquity of psychological symptoms has always confounded a simple descriptive psychopathological approach to mental illness. Dąbrowski’s theory gives these symptoms a role in normal personality development that is consistent with their broad distribution as shown by epidemiological studies and as felt by those aware of the problems of themselves and of those around them. But intellectual excitement is not the best criterion of meaningfulness. What is the scientific status of Dąbrowski’s theory of positive disintegration? Is this a fundamental contribution to psychiatric theory? Do his concepts form a more adequate model for personality development than those of other theories?

The answers to these questions depend on more thorough definitions of his concepts than are available in these


(7) Percival’s Narrative: A Patient’s Account of His Psychosis 1830-1832. G. Bateson (ed.). Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1961.

xxvi Introduction

chapters. The concepts of third factor, disposing and directing center, and unilevel and multilevel disintegration are not precisely defined clinically; their exact meaning is vague. This is not to say that these concepts cannot be defined precisely, only that explicit definition is not achieved in this book.

For example, Dąbrowski initially defines the disposing and directing center as “a set of dynamics determining the course of the individual.” Does he mean by this the goals for which the individual is striving? Or the mechanisms he uses to handle his problems and achieve his ends? He adds, “It can be at lower, primitive levels of development or at higher levels of moral and social evolution.” Now it seems that this concept represents the individual’s values. This view is strengthened by his description of the disposing and directing center as moving the individual in the direction of his personality ideal. But according to whose value system is one set of values regarded as at a “higher level of moral and social evolution” than another? When we turn to his clinical use of the concept a broader meaning emerges. In the case of Ella, Dąbrowski says, “There is the gradual formation of the disposing and directing center hindered by the child’s inhibition but supported by her determination to handle new situations despite anxiety, her strong feelings of obligation and her ambition,” and “successful handling of the crisis will . . . strengthen her disposing and directing center . . .” Here the concept clearly means more than value; it seems to include all functions of coping with reality. In the case of Jan he writes, “In the course of psychotherapy there was the growth of a new disposing and directing center developed from a decrease of his inhibitions, increased awareness of his own ability and increased confi-

Introduction xxvii

dence from what he had learned in examining his developmental history.” A Western psychiatrist would be likely to describe this as an increase in strength of the ego. But if “disposing and directing center” refers to the perception and adaptation to reality, what can be meant by its being at “higher” or “lower” levels? The answer may lie in cultural relativity. Culture affects all aspects of ego function—perception, motor control, memory, affect, thinking, reconciliation of conflicting ideas, and adaptation to reality. Even within a culture there are sub-cultural (class and ethnic) differences in the perception of reality and the adaptation to it. The concept of a pattern of such functions which moves in a direction regarded as “higher” by other individuals within that culture is possible, even intriguing. There is, of course, considerable variation among personality theories of the degree of precision and clarity of concepts. These problems are not unique in the work presented here.

And, too, something more than meaningfully defined concepts is necessary for a theory to achieve scientific status. It must show broader explanatory power than alternate theoretical models. As described above, the phenomena conceptualized by Dąbrowski can be stated in other theoretical terms. Moreover, a theory of personality is functional. It is relevant to a broad range of problems: treating emotionally disturbed patients, planning educational programs, and raising children. The clinical usefulness of Dąbrowski’s ideas is only hinted at in these chapters. Of course, like man, no theory is born an adult ready to meet all challenges. But if the theory of positive disintegration is to develop through adolescence to maturity, progressive clarification of its terms, of the breadth of its explanatory powers, and of its practical implications must be achieved.

xxviii Introduction


The strength of the theory of positive disintegration is in its integration of psychopathology with personality development. Its weakness is in the looseness in definition of its concepts. Its growth and development depend on further clarification, particularly concerning its relation to specific clinical data.



The Theory of Positive Disintegration



THE ONTOGENETIC DEVELOPMENT OF MAN IS characterized by factors which appear, increase, reach their peak, and then become weaker and even disappear. This growth and decay, development and destruction, increase and decrease, occurs with emotional factors as well as with intellectual ones, with physiological and with anatomical elements.

Human behavior, from birth through development, maturation, and old age, is under the influence of basic impulses. During the process of growth a particular impulse may weaken, some specific functions of the mind may diminish, the importance of one personal goal might decrease and another assume dominance. Even during the reign of a specific factor, a contrary element may appear which first seems to be a minor side path but slowly becomes the


general avenue of development. These diverse tendencies all derive from the biological life cycle.

Throughout the course of life of those who mature to a rich and creative personality there is a transformation of the primitive instincts and impulses with which they entered life. The instinct of self-preservation is changed. Its direct expression disintegrates, and it is sublimated into the behavior of a human being with moral values. The sexual instinct is sublimated into lasting and exclusive emotional ties. The instinct of aggression continues in the area of conflicts of moral, social, and intellectual values, changing them and sublimating itself.

These tendencies and their realization result in deflection and dispersion of the fundamental impulsive forces. The process occurs under the influence of an evolutionary movement which we call the developmental instinct. Stimulated by this instinct the personality progresses to a higher level of development—the cultural human being—but only through disintegration of narrow biological aims. Such disintegration demonstrates that the forces of the developmental instinct are stronger than the forces of primitive impulses. The developmental instinct acts against the automatic, limited, and primitive expressions of the life cycle.

The action which weakens the primitive sets disrupts the unity of personality structure. Thus personality develops through the loosening of its cohesiveness—an indispensable condition of human existence. The developmental instinct, therefore, by destroying the existing structure of personality allows the possibility of reconstruction at a higher level.

In this procedure we find three phenomena which are to some extent compulsory:


The endeavor to break off the existing, more or less uniform structure which the individual sees as tiring, stereotyped, and repetitious, and which he begins to feel is restricting the possibility of his full growth and development.

The disruption of the existing structure of personality, a disintegration of the previous internal unity. This is a preparatory period for a new, perhaps as yet fairly strange and poorly grounded value.

Clear grounding of the new value, with an appropriate change in the structure of personality and a recovery of lost unity—that is, the unification of the personality on a new and different level than the previously existing one.

Transgressing the normal life cycle are new tendencies, goals, and values so attractive that the individual does not perceive any sense of his present existence. He must leave his present level and reach a new, higher one. On the other hand—as described above—he must preserve his unity; that is, he must continue his psychological life, self-awareness, and identity. Thus the development of the personality occurs through a disruption of the existing, initially integrated structure, a period of disintegration, and finally a renewed, or secondary, integration.

Disintegration of the primitive structures destroys the psychic unity of the individual. As he loses the cohesion which is necessary for feeling a sense of meaning and purpose in life, he is motivated to develop himself. The developmental instinct, then, following disintegration of the existing structure of personality, contributes to reconstruction at a higher level.




Primitive integration is characterized by a compact and automatic structure of impulses to which the intelligence is a completely subordinated instrument. The adaptation to reality in individuals with primitive psychic integration is limited to direct and immediate satisfaction of strong primitive needs. Such individuals either do not possess psychic internal environment or possess it in only its embryonic phase. Therefore, they are not capable of having internal conflicts, although they often have conflicts with their external environment. They are unaware of any qualities of life beyond those necessary for immediate gratification of their primitive impulses, and they act solely on behalf of their impulses. In terms of Hughlings Jackson’s hierarchy of levels, they are at an automatic, well-organized, unselfconscious level of evolution. Inhibition occurs only in a limited way. Under severe environmental pressure these individuals show slight forms of disintegration but only temporarily, for when the stress ceases they return to their former primitive posture of adaptation. They are not able to understand the meaning of time; they cannot postpone immediate gratification, and they cannot follow long-range plans but are limited to the reality of immediate, passing feelings. They are capable neither of evaluating and selecting or rejecting environmental influences nor of changing their typological attitude. Individuals with some degree of primitive integration comprise the majority of society. In psychopathology we find that psychopaths very primitive integrated structure.


Nevertheless, the compactness of primitive integration has many variations in degrees of stability and in mutability. In normal persons, primitive structure can be changed with some effectiveness by certain conditions. The structure of the individual may contain stronger or weaker dispositions to disintegration and therefore can be influenced by the stresses and strains of life. These environmental factors which affect the disposition to disintegration determine the active, and in some cases accelerated, development of moral, social, intellectual, and aesthetic culture of the individual and of society.




In contrast to integration, which means a process of unification of oneself, disintegration means the loosening of structures, the dispersion and breaking up of psychic forces. The term disintegration is used to refer to a broad range of processes, from emotional disharmony to the complete fragmentation of the personality structure, all of which are usually regarded as negative.

The author, however, has a different point of view: he feels that disintegration is a generally positive developmental process. Its only negative aspect is marginal, a small part of the total phenomenon and hence relatively unimportant in the evolutionary development of personality. The disintegration process, through loosening and even fragmenting the internal psychic environment, through conflicts within the internal environment and with the external environment, is the ground for the birth and development of a


higher psychic structure. Disintegration is the basis for developmental thrusts upward, the creation of new evolutionary dynamics, and the movement of the personality to a higher level, all of which are manifestations of secondary integration.

The effect of disintegration on the structure of the personality is influenced by such factors as heredity, social environment, and the stresses of life.

Loosening of structure occurs particularly during the period of puberty and in states of nervousness, such as emotional, psychomotor, sensory, imaginative, and intellectual overexcitability. The necessity of partial submission of one impulse to the rule of another, the conflicts of everyday life, the processes of inhibition, the pauses in life’s activities—all take a gradually increasing part in the transformation of the primitive structure of impulses to a higher development.

Disintegration may be classified as unilevel, multilevel, or pathological; and it may be described as partial or global, permanent or temporary, and positive or negative.

Unilevel disintegration occurs during developmental crises such as puberty or menopause, in periods of difficulty in handling some stressful external event, or under psychological and psychopathological conditions such as nervousness and psychoneurosis. Unilevel disintegration consists of processes on a single structural and emotional level; there is a prevalence of automatic dynamisms with only slight self-consciousness and self-control. The process of decomposition prevails over the process of restoration. In this kind of disintegration, there are no clear and conscious transformational dynamics in the structure of the disposing and direct-


ing centers. (1) Prolongation of unilevel disintegration often leads to reintegration on a lower level, to suicidal tendencies, or to psychosis. Unilevel disintegration is often an initial, feebly differentiated borderline state of multilevel disintegration.

The essence of the process of unilevel disintegration may be shown in the following extract from a diary written by a young male patient who present signs of increased affective and ideational excitability in a period of emotionally retarded puberty:


I cannot understand what has recently happened to me. I have periods of strength and weakness. Sometimes, I think I am able to handle everything and at others a feeling of complete helplessness. It seems to me at some hours or days that I am intelligent, gifted and subtle. But then, I see myself as a fool.

Yesterday, I felt very hostile toward my father and mother, toward my whole family. Their movements and gestures, even the tones of their voices struck me as unpleasant. But today, away from them, I feel they are the only people I know intimately.

I often have sensations of actual fear when watching tragic plays and movies; yet, at the same time, I weep for joy or sorrow at what I see and hear, especially when the heroes mostly lose in their struggles or die.

I often have thoughts full of misgivings, anxiety, and fear. I feel that I am persecuted, that I am fated. I have a trick of repeating phrases, like a magic formula, which drives out these obsessive thoughts. At other times, I merely laugh at such notions; everything seems simple and easy.

I idealize women, my girl friends, mostly. I have feelings


(1) The disposing and directing center is a set of dynamics determining the course of the individual. It can be at lower, primitive levels of development or at higher levels of moral and social evolution.


of exclusiveness and fidelity toward them, but at other times I feel dominated by primitive impulses.

I hate being directed by others, but often I feel no force within me capable of directing my actions.


We see here considerable instability of structure and attitudes, lack of a clear hierarchy of values, lack of signs indicating the “third factor” (2) and the disposing and directing center in action.

In multilevel disintegration there is a complication of the unilevel process by the involvement of additional hierarchical levels. There is loosening and fragmentation of the internal environment, as in unilevel disintegration, but here it occurs at both higher and lower strata. These levels are in conflict with one another; their valence is determined by the disposing and directing center, which moves the individual in the direction of his personality ideal. The actions of multilevel disintegration are largely conscious, independent, and influential in determining personality structure. They are based, in their development, on the psychic structure of the individual and on the arousal of shame, discontent, and a feeling of guilt in relation to the personality ideal. In multilevel disintegration the mechanism of sublimation makes its appearance; this is the beginning of secondary integration.


(2) The “third factor” along with the factors of heredity and environment, determines the maturation of a man. It arises in the development of the self, selecting and confirming or disconfirming certain dynamics of the internal environment and certain influences of the external environment. Its presence is evidence of a high level of personality development.


Multilevel disintegration is illustrated in the following extracts from the diary of a young student training to become a teacher:


For several years, I have observed in myself obsessions with thinking, experiencing and acting. These obsessions involve my better and worse, higher and lower character. My ideals, my future vocation, my faith to my friends and family seem to be high. Everything that leads me to a better understanding of myself and my environment also seems high, although I am aware of an increased susceptibility for other people’s concerns which cause me to neglect or abandon “my own business.” I see the lower aspects of my character constantly in my everyday experiences: in decreased alertness to my own thoughts and actions, a selfish preference for my own affairs to the exclusion of other people’s, in states of self-satisfaction and complacency . . .a desire to just “take it easy.”


Also, I see my lower nature expressed in a wish for stereotyped attitudes, particularly in regards to my present and future duties. Whenever I become worse, I try to limit all my duties to the purely formal and to shut myself away from responsibilities in relation to what goes on about me. This pattern of behavior makes me dejected. I am ashamed of myself; I scold myself. But I am most deeply worried by the fact that all these experiences do not seem to bring about any sufficient consolidation of my higher attitudes, do not influence my “self” to become my “only self.” I remain at once both higher and lower. I often fear that I lack sufficient force to change permanently to a real, higher man.


The process of pathological disintegration (adevelopmental) is characterized by stabilization or further involution with a clear lack of creativity, feeble development and re-


tarded realization of goals, a lack of tendency to transformation of structure, and the prevalence of a narrow, partial disintegration process.

Partial disintegration involves only one aspect of the psychic structure, that is, a narrow part of the personality. Global disintegration occurs in major life experiences which are shocking; it disturbs the entire psychic structure of an individual and changes the personality. Permanent disintegration is found in severe, chronic diseases, somatic as well as psychic, and in major physical disabilities such as deafness and paraplegia, whereas temporary disintegration occurs in passing periods of mental and somatic disequilibrium. Disintegration is described as positive when it enriches life, enlarges the horizon, and brings forth creativity; it is negative when it either has no developmental effects or causes involution.





Having described the fundamental kinds of disintegration, we now turn to a short description of the processes of disintegration and the changes they cause in various areas of human life.

Let us begin with the impulses. The most general dynamic, and the ground for others, is the instinct of life and its evolutionary aspect—the developmental instinct. Two


groups of impulses are differentiated in ontogenetic development: autotonic and syntonic. Autotonic instincts are egocentric, such as the drive for self-preservation, possessions, and power; syntonic instincts are heterocentric, such as impulses of sympathy, sexual drives, cognitional and religious drives, and social needs. Some instincts appear to be on the borderline between autotonic and syntonic. For instance, the desire for sexual release in its primitive form is an egocentric, autotonic instinct. However, in the course of development it becomes associated with social, syntonic drives. Both autotonic and syntonic instincts are part of the multidimensional instinct of development. The existence of these two opposite groups of instincts, each superimposing itself on each progressive development of the other, provides opportunity for conflicts between them. Every battle between them gives rise to a new balance, a new complex of compromise, a new development of personality.

The effect of positive disintegration on the developmental instinct is as follows: During the embryonic period the developmental instinct is biologically determined. After birth it contributes to adaptation (instinct of adaptation) to the sensing of inner forces in relation to the environment, and to the drive to establish balance between these inner needs and outer realities.

In the next phase of the developmental instinct the instinct of creativity appears. Creativity expresses non-adaptation within the internal milieu and a transgression of the usual standards of adaptation to the external environment. Von Monakow’s mechanism of klisis and ekklisis in relation to the external world (attraction to and avoidance of external


objects) is also present in the internal environment. In creativity, there is both a fascination with and a rejection of internal conflicts.

In the further progress of the instinct of development, the personality structure is influenced; this is the phase during which the instincts of self-development and self-improvement emerge. With this phase the “third factor” begins to dominate within the internal environment. There is an extension of creative dynamics over the whole mental structure. Processes of multilevel disintegration ( klisis and ekklisis in relation to certain factors of the internal environment, feelings of shame, guilt, and sin, and an “object-subject” relationship to oneself) appear in the development of personality. We also see an increase in concern with the past and the future and a clear development of a personality ideal.

In this phase of self-development, in which the personality structure is moving ever closer to its ideals, there are two distinct constituents: The first is a dynamic of confirmation, the approval of aims and the ideal of personality; the second is a dynamic of disconfirmation, the strong disapproval of certain elements within the self, and the destruction of these elements. This occurs as the third factor becomes stronger in its effect on personality.

The most obvious aspects of positive disintegration occur in the sphere of feeling. Throughout the thalamic center of the protopathic affectivity, throughout the cerebral centers of emotional life based on an ever stronger stressing of the factors of pleasure and pain, we come upon activities of the highest level, which, shattering the primitive level of affectivity, mix and revalue the fragments, not only building


a stratiform division but also releasing new managing dynamics and subordinating previously existing forms. Under the influence of positive disintegration, will and intelligence are separated from each other and become independent of basic impulses. This process causes the will to become more “free” and the intelligence to change from a blind instrument in the service of impulses to a major force helping the individual to seize life deeply, wholly, and objectively. In the further development of personality, intelligence and will are again unified in structure, but at a higher level.

In religious individuals, development produces such signs of disintegration as asceticism, meditation, contemplation, and religious syntony (the feeling of unification with the world). All these are signs of stratified development of the internal environment.

In relating disintegration to the field of disorder and mental disease, the author feels that the functional mental disorders are in many cases positive phenomena. That is, they contribute to personality, to social, and, very often to biological development. The present prevalent view that all mental disturbances are psychopathological is based on too exclusive a concern of many psychiatrists with psychopathological phenomena and an automatic transfer of this to all patients with whom they have contact. The symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, and psychoneurosis, as well as many cases of psychosis, are often an expression of the developmental continuity. They are processes of positive disintegration and creative nonadaptation.

This view indicates that the present classification of mental symptoms and many of the generalizations about them are not satisfactory for the complex, multivarious problems


of mental health. The classification and generalizations may suffice for the psychiatrist who deals only with patients coming to him in the psychiatric clinic, but they are inadequate to the handling of problems of prevention, difficulties in child development, problems of education, and minor problems of nervousness and slight neurosis. The “pathological” disorders of impulses, of rationality, and of personality can be, on the one hand, the symptoms of serious illness, noxious for an individual and for society, but on the other hand they may well be—in the author’s opinion—and usually are a movement toward positive development. In fact, these disturbances are necessary for the evolutionary progress of the individual to a higher level of integration. Increased psychomotor, sensual, imaginative, and intellectual excitability are evidence of positive growth. These states are frequently found in individuals at times of their greatest psychological development, in highly creative persons and those of high moral, social, and intellectual caliber.

The theory of positive disintegration places a new orientation on the interpretation of nervousness, anxiety, neurosis, hysteria, psychasthenia, depression, mania, paranoia, and schizophrenia.

Let us now turn to the expression of positive disintegration as it occurs in some mental disorders. Hysterics do not have a harmonious emotional life, but very often they have deep emotional relationships to other people and a sensitivity to the feelings both of others and of themselves. They often show a tendency to idealize and present individualistic patterns of intellectual and imaginative activity. They are frequently highly creative. Because of a propensity to suggestion and autosuggestion, they have a very changeable


attitude toward reality. Their inclination toward dissociation is unilevel in nature. They do not adapt easily to new conditions. They are moody and display a tendency to overexcitability and depression. Their opinions, work, relationships with other people, and life attitudes are likely to be quite changeable. Besides these characteristics, they have rather infantile psychic traits. The expression of the instincts of self-preservation and sex is, for example, rather superficial and capricious. The lack of multilevel forms of disintegration means the lack of sufficient self-consciousness and self-control.

The psychasthenic, as the name implies, is characterized by weakness. Either physical or psychological asthenia may predominate. Patients in whom psychic asthenia is dominant usually seek help in hospitals and sanatoria; those in whom somatic asthenia is dominant generally try to handle their difficulties themselves. Many in the latter category are writers, actors, and philosophers, often persons performing difficult mental work. In the structure of psychasthenics we often note weakness of lower dynamics with strong higher, creative ones. For this reason the lower level of function of reality (practicality) may be troubled, while the higher level of the same function may be very efficient (creativity).

In both states of cyclic disorders one can observe symptoms which are positive for personality development. The depressive syndrome with inhibition which makes action difficult and gives rise to anxiety and suicidal thoughts is a disintegration of the internal environment. In this phenomenon we see cortical inhibition, an excess of self-analysis and self-criticism, and feelings of sin and inferiority. The


manic state shows intensified general feeling, rapidity of thought, emotional and psychomotor excitement, and great mobility of attention. Symptoms of the manic state will vary depending on the hierarchical level attained by the individual. At lower cultural levels there will be aggressiveness, provocation of annoyance, and a tendency to respond to annoyance; individuals at higher levels will show excessive alterocentrism, social hyperactivity, and creativeness. In manic-depressive psychosis the nature of the disintegration will depend on the changeability from manic stage to depression and on the level of culture.

Paranoia is characterized by psychomotor excitability, rapidity of thinking, a great inclination to criticize others without self-criticism, and an intensified self-attention without feelings of self-consciousness and self-doubt. Paranoiacs present a very rigid integration with systematized delusions of persecution and grandeur, and egocentric excitability. They also reveal an inability to adapt to real situations that contributes to a narrow form of unilevel disintegration. The absence of self-doubt and self-criticism and the narrow range of the symptomatology reflect the absence of multilevel disintegration. Paranoid structure to some extent is similar to psychopathic structure in that both show integration. In the psychopath, the integration is broad but is at a low hierarchical level, whereas the paranoiac the integration is at a higher hierarchical level but is partial and thus contributes to narrow unilevel disintegration.

The schizophrenic shows two basic symptoms: intensified mental excitability and psychic immaturity which hinders adjustment to the environment (especially to an unsuitable environment). In schizophrenia there is fragility and vul-


nerability to external stimuli, psychic infantilism, and weakness of drives. The schizophrenic individual is characterized by hyperesthesia with an inclination to disintegration and very often to accelerated development. Disintegration in schizophrenia is a mixture of positive and negative types on the borderline of multilevel and unilevel disintegration. There are hierarchical traits in levels of integration, but the integration is fragile and has distortions. Schizophrenics are inhibited and rigid and have strong anxiety and autism. The irregularity of environmental influences and the shortening instead of prolongation of the developmental period (perhaps because of a special constitution) lead to intolerance of developmental tension, to negation, and to fragmentation of the personality. Nevertheless, some plasticity of psychic structure and dynamics is present, since it is not uncommon for the psychiatrist, after a long period of observation, to change his diagnosis from schizophrenia to reactive psychosis with some schizophrenic characteristics.

From the point of view of the theory of positive disintegration, we can make a diagnosis of mental disease only on the basis of a multidimensional diagnosis of the nature of the disintegration. The diagnosis may eventually be validated by observation of the eventual outcome. The distinction between mental health and mental illness rests on the presence or absence of the capacity for positive psychological development. Somatic diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis, and heart disease cause psychic disturbances in individuals who are well adapted to both external and internal environments. They permeate a broad or narrow, short or long interval in life activities, an interruption of integrated relations of the individual. The interruption of life activities


means that the dominant disposing and directing center is unable to engage in all of its previous activities. This curtailment may lead to a large partial disintegration and withdrawal of one field to another level. The transfer from one level to another is possible only in cases which exhibit a hierarchical internal milieu.




The positive effect of some forms of disintegration is shown by the fact that children (who have greater plasticity than adults) present many more symptoms of disintegration: animism, magical thinking, difficulty in concentrating attention, overexcitability, and capricious moods.

During periods of developmental crisis (such as the age of opposition and especially puberty) there are many more symptoms of disintegration than at other times of life. These are also the occasions of greatest growth and development. The close correlation between personality development and the process of positive disintegration is clear.

Symptoms of positive disintegration are also found in people undergoing severe external stress. They may show signs of disquietude, increased reflection and meditation, self-discontentment, anxiety, and sometimes a weakening of the instinct of self-preservation. These are indications both of distress and of growth. Crises are periods of increased insight into oneself, creativity, and personality development.

Individuals of advanced personality development whose


lives are characterized by rich intellectual and emotional activity and a high level of creativity often show symptoms of positive disintegration. Emotional and psychomotor hyperexcitability and many psychoneuroses are positively correlated with great mental resources, personality development, and creativity.

How can positive disintegration be differentiated from negative disintegration? The prevalence of symptoms of multilevel disintegration over unilevel ones indicates that the disintegration is positive. The presence of consciousness, self-consciousness, and self-control also reveals that the disintegration process is positive. The predominance of the global forms, the seizing of the whole individuality through the disintegration process, over the narrow, partial disintegration would prove, with other features, its positiveness. Other elements of positive disintegration are the plasticity of the capacity for mental transformation, the presence of creative tendencies, and the absence or weakness of automatic and stereotyped elements.

With regard to sequences: The presence of unilevel symptoms at the beginning of the process of disintegration does not indicate negative disintegration to the degree that it would later in the process. The presence of retrospective and prospective attitudes and their relative equilibrium, and the process of the formation of a personality ideal and its importance to the behavior of the individual—these indicate a positive operation.

The capacity for syntony with other individuals (in the sense of emotional closeness, understanding, and cooperation even with the possibility of organized and conscious conflicts with them) also indicates a positive process. In


cases of psychoneurosis and sometimes psychosis, in addition to the factors listed above, positive disintegration can be recognized by the individual’s capacity for autopsychotherapy.

The criteria of differentiation between positive and negative disintegration must be further studied from the point of view of the diagnostic complex, the characterologic pattern, and the environmental circumstances in which they occur. The points above are only a brief, initial effort at clarifying this problem.

The accuracy of the differentiation of a positive from a negative disintegration process in a specific individual can be proved by examination of the eventual outcome of the process. In the great total process of evolutionary developmental transformation through disintegration, negative processes are relatively infrequent and represent a minor involutional discard.




Secondary integration is a new organization of compact structures and activities arising out of a period of greater or lesser fragmentation of the previous psychic structure. Partial secondary integrations occur throughout life as the result of positive resolutions of minor conflicts. The embryonic organization of secondary integration manifests itself during the entire process of disintegration and takes part in it, preparing the way for the formation of higher


structures integrated at a higher level. The seeds for integration are the feeling of dissatisfaction, discouragement, protest, and lack of higher values and needs for them. This state increases the sensitivity of the individual to both the external and the internal environment, causes a change in the primitive impulse structure, forces the transformation of primitive impulse structures, and encourages the movement of psychic dynamics to a richer, higher level. As secondary integration increases, internal psychic tension decreases, as does movement upward or downward of the disposing and directing center, with the conservation, nevertheless, of ability to react flexibly to danger. The disintegration process, as it takes place positively, transforms itself into an ordered sequence accompanied by an increasing degree of consciousness. Secondary integration can proceed in different ways: It can be (1) a return to the earlier integration in more nearly perfect form; (2) a new form of integration, but with the same primitive structure without a higher hierarchy of aims; or (3) a new structural form with a new hierarchy of aims. This last form represents a development of the personality.




The most important elements of disintegration which indicate future integration and development of the personality are as follows:



1. Definite seeds of secondary integration.

2. Prevalence of multilevel rather than unilevel disintegration, with an attitude of rejection toward “lower” structures.

3. A definite instinct of development with approval of higher structure and dynamics.

4. Strong development of a personality ideal.


Symptoms of disintegration occur in highly talented people. There is a difference between the disintegration process in the development of personality in a subject of normal intelligence and that process in the course of life of a genius. In the normal subject disintegration occurs chiefly through the dynamism of the instinct of self-improvement, but in the genius it takes place through the instinct of creativity. The first concerns the total psychic structure, the second only certain parts of psychic organization.




In psychology, this theory emphasizes the importance of developmental crises and gives an understanding of the developmental role of, for example, feelings of guilt, of shame, of inferiority or superiority, of the “object-subject” process, of the “third factor,” and of so-called psychopathological symptoms. It introduces new elements to the present view of the classification and development of instincts. It does not regard instincts as rigid and as existing only under the


influences of phylogenetic changes but rather conceives of them as changing through positive disintegration, losing their primitive strength and evolving to new levels of expression in the cycle of human life.

In education, the theory emphasizes the importance of developmental crises and of symptoms of positive disintegration. It provides a new view of conduct difficulties, school phobias, dyslexia, and nervousness in children. An awareness of the effect of multilevel disintegration on the inner psychic milieu is of basic importance for educators.

In psychiatry, this theory leads to an increased respect for the patient, emphasis on psychic strengths as well as on psychopathological processes, and attention to the creative and developmental potential of the patient. The theory indicates the necessity in diagnosis and treatment to distinguish disintegration as either positive or negative in nature. The theory of positive disintegration represents a change in the traditional psychiatric concepts of health, illness, and normality. Perhaps these concepts can be clarified by the presentation and discussion of two case histories.




Case One


PROBLEM. Ella, 7 ½ years old, was admitted directly to second grade in a public school on the basis of her admission examination. During the first days of school she had many difficulties. She was emotionally overexcitable, had


trouble eating and sleeping, and cried at night. There was a weight loss of five pounds, and she showed some signs of anxiety and transient depression. She asked her parents to transfer her to first grade of the school.

The patient was the older of two children. Her sister, 5 years and 10 months old, was more of an extrovert and more independent than the patient. The mother was harmonious, rather introverted, and systematic in her work. She was concerned about the long-range implications of the patient’s difficulties. The father was of mixed type with some cyclic and schizothymic (3) traits. He was dynamic, self-conscious, and self-controlled. The development of both children had presented no special problems. During the preschool period Ella had been an obedient girl but from time to time emotionally overexcitable, ambitious, independent in her activities, and sensitive toward the external environment, though in a subtle, private way. She had always had a great deal of inhibition. At 4 1/2 she had begun to discuss with her parents the problems of loss, of death, and of life after death.


MEDICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINATION. Medical and psychological examinations were both negative. I.Q. was 128. Rorschach: ambiequal type with some predominance of kinesthetic perceptions. Aptitude toward mathematics, decorative arts, and, in general, manual dexterity was evident. There was a tendency to introversion and systematization


(3) Schizothymic is Kretschmer’s term. It refers to an asthenic bodily type having such psychic characteristics as theoretical rather than practical abilities, difficulty in contact with people, and some tendency to internal conflict.


of work. The first steps in her work and in a new situation were the most difficult for her. Once they had been taken, she did much better. She was very clearly inhibited, although ambitious, and had feelings of inferiority and superiority.


INTERPRETATION. Ella was an introvert with rather schizothymic traits. She was intelligent, self-conscious, and inclined to be emotionally overexcitable, and her excitability was easily transferable to the vegetative nervous system. She was ambitious and tended to be a perfectionist but was somewhat timid and likely to resign in the face of external difficulties. She had symptoms of transient depression, anxiety, and inhibition. However, her aims and ideals were clear, and she leaned toward moral and social concerns. She presented the type of emotional tension very closely related to psychic development.

We see in this case a fairly early stage of positive disintegration with emotional overexcitability, ambivalences, and the initial formation of psychic internal environment. There is the gradual construction of the disposing and directing center, hindered by the child’s inhibition but supported by her determination to handle new situations despite anxiety, her strong feeling of obligation, and her ambitions. This conflict, increased by her need to meet new situation, presents a crisis in development.


TREATMENT. This child must be treated with an awareness of the positive function of her symptoms. In our evaluation we see her as an intelligent and ambitious child with many assets who at present is in a developmental crisis. The wisest course would be to help her surmount this crisis. Her


successful handling of the school situation will decrease her inhibition, strengthen her disposing and directing center, and contribute to her further development.

Ella can, and preferably should, be treated at a distance and not through direct psychotherapy. Originally, her teacher had intended to transfer the patient to the first grade. The child knew of this decision, and it had increased her ambivalence; she was depressed and she herself asked to be transferred. However, after a conversation with the psychiatrist, the teacher changed her mind. Understanding the situation better, she helped the child by not asking her to participate in class but allowing her to come forward whenever she felt prepared to answer. In six months she was one of the best pupils in the class and received an award for her work. Emotional tension diminished and the dystonia of the vegetative nervous system disappeared.

There are further means of help. One could see the child from time to time at long intervals, following her normal lines of development and her normal internal and external conflicts. We must know the conditions of her family and school life and perhaps help her parents to be aware of her developmental needs and, on the basis of this understanding, of the ways in which they can help her to more permanent adaptation both to herself and to social life.


DISCUSSION. We have viewed this case as that of a normal child with a high potential for development and have seen this development through a necessary crisis precipitated by a new, difficult external situation. We have not recommended any psychiatric treatment. What might be the effect if these symptoms were seen as psychopathological


and treated by intensive psychotherapy? The emotional, introverted, and self-conscious child could be deeply injured. The labeling of the symptoms as pathological in itself would have a negative effect. In addition, the social milieu would be likely to view the child as disturbed if she were seen in intensive psychotherapy, as, indeed, would the child herself. The apprehensions of the parents might increase, and the teacher might treat the child in a more artificial manner than she would otherwise. All this would increase the emotional tension of the child, especially her tendency to an introverted attitude and timidity. These conditions could create new problems and an increasing need for psychotherapy.

Directing Ella’s attention to the products of her fantasies could result in excessive attention to them and artificially increase their effect (although knowledge of them would give increased understanding to the therapist). Regarding the symptoms as psychopathological would imply the desirability of their elimination. However, they perform a positive function for this child, and to deprive her of them would be a serious matter. Focusing on pathology might accentuate anxiety, inhibition, and flight into sickness. Viewing and treating these symptoms as psychopathological would itself create conditions that would appear to confirm the correctness of that approach.


Case Two


PROBLEM. Jan, a 21-year-old student of the Polytechnic Institute, came to the Mental Hygiene Clinic with his


problem: He had failed twice to pass from the first to the second year of classes. He had symptoms of depression and thoughts of suicide. The patient was very close to his mother and in states of depression would announce that he would commit suicide if his mother died. He was afflicted with speech disturbance—stuttering. He felt unable to complete examinations with groups of students since he was anxious about his stuttering and concerned that he would be ridiculed. Under these circumstances, he found himself unable to concentrate on his examinations.


MEDICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINATION. Neurological, laboratory, x-ray, EEG procedures were all negative. The patient was extremely intelligent and particularly apt in his field of studies. He showed a high emotionality and imaginative overexcitability, strong inhibitions, guilt, an attitude of timidity, discontentment with himself, feelings of inferiority toward himself, and feelings of disquietude and anxiety. He presented a very strong moral structure and a tendency to be exclusive in his emotional attitude and in his relation to other people.

Jan’s father had died when he was 10 years old. He had one brother eight years older than himself. Jan’s past history showed the gradual development of his symptoms. During puberty at 15 years of age, they were particularly strong but in time receded. It was during this time that he first showed a slight stutter. This minor speech defect had tended to decrease since then, but it had lately abruptly increased.

Further information revealed that he was in love with a high-school girl of 17, but he was sure that she did not love


him. However, he had no objective basis for this conclusion. His timidity had prevented him from declaring his interest. The mother, who had heart disease, was sympathetic to her son and wanted him to be married. The relationship with his mother was particularly strong because he did not have other confidants.

Jan’s depression had begun to deepen when he felt he had failed in his love affair and especially after his second failure in his examinations. There was an increase of inferiority feelings toward himself and of feelings of distance from and meaninglessness of the external world.


INTERPRETATION. The patient was introverted, schizothymic, and emotionally overexcitable and had trouble adapting himself to the demands of the external environment. He was very inhibited and had an inferiority complex based on his stuttering. He had a high level of subtlety of introspection and moral attitude toward himself and his environment. There was a clear hierarchical development of the psychic internal environment, but his disposing and directing center was not strongly developed because of lack of attainment of his aims, poor adaptation to this social environment, and lack of proper self-evaluation. In the various difficulties of everyday life his emotional excitability increased, and he showed the symptoms of subacute emotional crisis. This state caused, and was in turn increased by, his difficulty in taking examinations and his subsequent failure. At the same time, his condition was clearly connected with his emotional attachment to a girl and his inability to realize a satisfactory relationship with her.

Psychoanalytic therapy might be very helpful to this


patient, although a narrow psychoanalytic approach might focus too exclusively on his relationship with his mother and particularly on his hostility and guilt. Of course, this young man had guilt with regard to his mother and we could discuss here his Oedipus complex. But this was not the core of his difficulty; it was, rather, related to the development of his personality. In the development of personality the psychic internal milieu grows through the dynamism of multilevel disintegration. Guilt is one of many useful dynamisms, as are discontentment with oneself, feeling of inferiority, and disquietude. Jan’s examination of himself in relation to his mother, his concern about his fantasies, and his feelings of special obligation because of his mother’s illness all contributed to a sense of distance between his lofty ideals and obligation and his feelings of the inadequacy of his everyday life. This guilt can lead to a greater self-knowledge and clear ideals. No man develops a high level of personality without this process.


TREATMENT. After a conversation with the psychiatrist, the Dean of the Faculty allowed the patient to be examined alone, rather than with a group. A social worker saw the girl in whom he was interested. It was clear that she knew of his interest and loved him, but, being of the same type of timid and inhibited personality, she had difficulty in expressing her feelings.

Jan was given speech therapy and psychotherapy. The psychotherapy was aimed at helping him understand and utilize his character pattern and symptoms. In his type this meant the recognition of and collaboration with the principal dynamics of his development. Thus it was necessary


to recognize and clarify his introversions, withdrawal from people, vulnerability, and emotional overexcitability. These must be taken up in the context of actual, current situations. Psychotherapy here must encourage a deeply optimistic attitude toward symptoms. This does not mean that the psychiatrist suggests to the patient that he be foolishly cheerful; he must instead develop insight into his inner conflicts and external difficulties and a broad perspective on his future course through the harsh and often indifferent demands of life.

Under the conditions of the new examination Jan passed to the second year, and in the next examination he was one of the highest students in the class. In the course of psychotherapy a new disposing and directing center developed, owing to a decrease of his inhibition, heightened awareness of his own ability, and increased confidence from what he had learned in examining his developmental history. After several years he married the girl with whom he was in love. After several years he married the girl with whom he was in love. After several years he married the girl with whom he was in love. The marriage led to a new period of life, new problems, and further development.

The treatment did not resolve all of Jan’s basic problems, but it helped him to handle the acute crisis and to avoid some tendency to negative disintegration.


DISCUSSION. We see in this patient, an intelligent man, the process of multilevel positive disintegration, which on the one hand makes him capable of accelerated development but on the other leaves him susceptible to developing crises. His psychic distress was on the verge of being psychopathological; it had the potential for either positive or negative disintegration. It indicated deep dissatisfaction with his in-


ternal and external milieu and a tendency with very high emotional tension to resolve this on a higher level of synthesis. His symptoms could be diagnosed as “mixed depression and anxiety neurosis” or perhaps “borderline schizophrenia,” but such a label is merely psychiatric etiquette.

Since we see in Jan the progressive development of himself through external and internal difficulties, this patient is regarded as mentally healthy. From the point of view of the theory of positive disintegration, psychotherapy is multidimensional aid in overcoming too severe a crisis in the positive development of man.



The Principal Dynamics of Multilevel Disintegration







IN THE PRECEDING CHAPTER THE GENERAL theory of positive disintegration was described, and multilevel disintegration was distinguished from unilevel. But such a survey automatically denies detailed consideration of the manifold dynamics of multilevel disintegration itself: the feeling of disquietude, shame, discontentment with oneself, guilt, inferiority feelings toward oneself, and “subject-object” attitude.




The disquietude arising from the attitude of the individual toward his own development is completely different from




the disquietude which arises in the same individual from concern about his security within the environment. The second stems from the primitive instinct of survival, the first from the development of the internal psychic environment. The individual feels responsible for his own development; his sensitivity in regard to this feeling of responsibility (originating from concern that the growth of his personality is insufficient) results in a restlessness about himself. This disquietude presents an element of great importance for personality development and is very close to the process of astonishment in the evolution of intellectual activities. Disquietude and the astonishment of discovery are creative dynamics in the primary phase of development: the first is involved with the growth of feeling, the second with intelligence. Disquietude is a sign to the individual that his mental activities are in some way defective in reaction to external stimuli and are thus inappropriate. This new awareness is a signal of the birth of a direction center at a superior level; it is the symptom of the loosening and disorganization of the internal psychic environment. It reflects a discordance of primitive impulses integrated at a low level and of the tendencies which are not stabilized but voluntary and which have a potential for development. The feeling of disquietude is the first phase of distinction between “inferior” primitive impulses and dynamics of the personality ideal.





The feeling of shame is a strong emotion. It arises in a psychic structure sensitive to the reaction of the external world, particularly to environmental disapproval of one’s behavior. The presence of this feeling shows that the individual is conscious of the reaction of other people, especially those close to him. It is characterized by excessive response to the moral opinion of others. The sentiment of shame is concerned with internal moral attitudes and with social “opinion” toward these attitudes. In manifesting shame the individual is, to some extent, showing awareness of his inappropriate character. The substance of this feeling is clearly different from that of the feeling of guilt and the feeling of sin. Shame is the primary expression of sensitiveness to the judgment of the external world. It expresses disquietude concerning possible disharmony between moral values of the individual and the values of others around him. It marks one of the first stages of loosening and disintegration of primitive structure and instinct in the process of multilevel disintegration.

The feeling of shame is often expressed by the vegetative nervous system in a predominance of sympathetic reactions, such as acceleration of the pulse and blushing. From the psychic point of view, a shyness, awkwardness and a tendency to retreat are evidenced.



The feeling of discontent with oneself is the expression of an increase in multilevel disintegration. In the new, broader field of psychic multilevel structure one group of elements becomes the object of discontent and another group the source—one the judged, the other the judge. The first is disapproved by the disposing and directing center; the second is approved. The disapproval is repeated very often with participation of emotional experience of “subject-object” in the psychic internal milieu. Discontent with oneself is the symptom of lack of approval of the activities of primitive impulses. It is an evidence of the birth and development of what is “self” and what is “not self” in the internal environment. Discontent participates in the movement of the disposing and directing center to a higher level of development and in the increase in action of the third factor.




The feeling of guilt is the expression of a stronger engagement of the individual with regard to his own conduct than is the case in discontent with oneself. Guilt involves discontent with oneself and in some feeble degree a feeling of shame; it permeates the whole personality and is closely related to affective memory and a retrospective attitude.


However, the conscious awareness of his having behaved wrongly, either toward one’s own development or toward the human environment, is primary.

Guilt is often expressed by self-accusation and relieved through punishment and expiation. It is a powerful, penetrating feeling, close to Kierkegaard’s “fear and trembling,” and is connected with compelling movement at both conscious and unconscious levels. Its roots can be found in heredity and in distress in the early ages of life. Guilt has a tendency to transform itself into a feeling of responsibility, which embraces the immediate environment and even all society. As has been mentioned, it seeks punishment and expiation. These latter factors play a major role in relieving the feeling and in beginning the ascent of the individual to higher levels of development.

The sense of guilt arises during the process of multilevel disintegration because it is the expression of a dissatisfaction of the disposing and directing center with some lower activities in the psychic internal environment. Everyday experience and clinical observation have shown that psychoanalytic theories concerning the origin and development of guilt are not justified in many cases. This feeling appears in and is often closely related to strong emotional structure showing great sensitivity in moral and social areas. That is, the individual who has very distinct capabilities of positive development and responsibility is likely to suffer feelings of guilt. This kind of emotional structure is much stronger in nervous and in neurotic individuals. Intelligent and emotionally overexcitable children with a high level of reflection and self-observation often show external and internal conflicts accompanied by the feeling of guilt. For example:


P—-, a 3-year-old girl, very intelligent (I.Q. = 140), impulsive, imaginative, and emotionally hyperexcitable, had a clear attitude of opposition to but at the same time a deep affection for both her parents. Although there was strong mutual confidence between her and her parents, she presented mood changes with egocentrism to which her parents were in opposition. She reacted to the position of the parents by crying. However, a change occurred in this development. Without any coercion from her parents, but on her own initiative, she began to muffle her cries by placing her hands over her mouth. She declared she did not want to be a “crybaby” (the word utilized by the parents at the times of her crises). She rejected this baby crying and said she would be a very “good girl.” Her father said at one time that it sounded as if her cries were going up the chimney. After this, whenever she had a tendency to cry, she opened the chimney flue and waited for her crying spell to go away.



In the conduct of the child described in the preceding section we can observe the subject-object process—a normal aspect of positive disintegration in which two structures are opposed to each other in self-differentiation. In this case, one structure was connected with the “good girl,” the other with the “crybaby.” The child used “magic” to eliminate the unwanted structure. She also showed the feeling of guilt and of responsibility in viewing her “other” self as wicked.


The same girl, at the age of 6, went to her father and asked him to reach a robe that was on a high shelf, out of her reach. She said that her mother had agreed she could


have it. The father was not sure the mother had actually consented, but he accepted the child’s statement and gave the robe to her. When the mother came into the room, the lie was discovered, and the girl broke into tears. She did not want to eat and became very nervous. The mother suggested to the girl that she go to her father and ask his forgiveness. The father was very willing to forgive; he said that he very much loved his little daughter but he was surprised that she did not always tell the truth. In asking her father for forgiveness, the child offered all her chocolates to her parents. She assured them she would not take any of these chocolates as she had on other occasions even when she had said that she would not. Later the same evening, her father asked her if she had had a cup of tea. She answered, “Yes.” But after a few minutes she began to cry and said, “Papa, I have lied for the second time.”


This is a child with psychic overexcitability, of mixed type (emotional, imaginative, psychomotor, and mental) with cyclic and schizothymic traits. Inclination to perseveration, and sensitivity to the stimuli of the external world and to moral and psychological problems are evident.

Discontent with oneself, shame, and guilt, as well as the attitude of retrospection and prospection, are illustrated here. The discontent arises from disharmony between very impulsive activities and attitudes of reflection, which in turn stem from self-consciousness. Self-consciousness and the feeling of guilt lead to differentiation of superior from inferior levels of the internal milieu. The sense of guilt is an indispensable factor in development and particularly springs forth in individuals during rapid development. It contributes to the creative tension which forms the basis of self-education.

Feelings of inferiority and the third force play primary


roles in the formation of the psychic internal environment and in multilevel disintegration. These dynamics are helpful both in organizing and in moving the disposing and directing center to a higher level. They participate both in the development of personality and in the clarification of the personality ideal. Since they demand detailed clarification, they will be taken up in the following two chapters.

The operations of “subject-object” become clear when all introspective activities of the individual are taken into consideration. This ability to evaluate various aspects of the self can be understood by examination of its differential activities connected with the internal experiences of the individual. In multilevel disintegration this dynamic of “subject-object” plays a part not only in the internal development of tension but, even more important, in the multiple changes in time and space which result in hierarchical movement and in the elaboration of a new disposing and directing center as it gradually reaches new and higher levels of development. “Subject-object” is closely related to the processes previously discussed: disquietude, shame, discontentment with oneself, feelings of guilt, and inferiority feelings toward oneself. These processes are, to some extent, the expression of object-subject forces in the psychic internal environment. Such forces increase the intensity of all processes acting in the internal psychic environment.

As discussed above, disintegration causes the movement of the disposing and directing center to either higher or lower levels but with a gradual tendency for stabilization at a superior level of development. To the degree that the disposing and directing center takes its place at higher levels, the individual begins to live more closely in accord-


ance with his own personality ideal. The personality, during its formation, not only recognizes its ideal more clearly but takes part both in the elaboration of this ideal and in its effect on the transformation of inferior structures. Localization of the disposing and directing center closer to the personality ideal often occurs in a state of concentration and meditation, particularly after either very difficult periods of life—tragedies and severe stress—or significant pleasant events. Intuitive elaboration of the substance of experiences develops as a result of this transformation.



The Feeling of Inferiority Toward Oneself











The feeling of inferiority toward oneself is not discussed in scientific and popular literature. Inferiority feelings which are discussed in the literature are those related to the environment—for example, feelings of worthlessness as compared to others. The problem of inferiority feelings toward the environment, its causes, development, sublimation, and social compensation have been well described by Alfred Adler.

The concept of inferiority toward oneself involves an understanding of the structure and dynamics of the internal environment. The development of this feeling depends on the development of awareness in the internal psychic milieu of values, that is, the ability to distinguish some actions as


“superior” and others as “inferior.” The sense of values provides a standard of measure for behavior and gives inner support or disapproval to one’s own actions.

For the information of a feeling of inferiority toward oneself another dynamic is necessary: the “object-subject” relationship to oneself, an important factor in the construction of a multilevel internal environment. From this concept we come to the fundamental idea of the process of multilevel disintegration. In the course of positive disintegration we see disquietude in relationship to oneself, feelings of shame and guilt, feelings of inferiority toward oneself, and object-subject relationship to oneself. In this group of dynamics one of the most important is the feeling of inferiority toward oneself.

According to Adler, the child, having a very feeble and labile psychic structure, has feelings of inferiority in relation to adults, who appear to him to be omnipotent. His sense of inferiority tends to be compensated for by the development of a will to be strong or by excessive submission or aggression. The presence of some handicap, such as an injured leg or ugliness, increases the possibility of the formation and development of the sentiment of inferiority toward the external environment. Inequality and injustice, humiliation, the fact of being an orphan, poor living conditions—all contribute to the growth of this sentiment. The unique or spoiled child may also develop feelings of inferiority toward his environment when he moves from a setting well adapted to him to a different one which fails to recognize his uniqueness, as, for example, when he begins school.

Adler states that feelings of inferiority can be compen-


sated for in social or asocial ways, both of which are often observed. In individuals inclined to self-criticism and with a strong instinct of development, we see the formulation of high goals and observe the phenomenon of a positive, social compensation. There is wide agreement with the opinion of C. M. Campbell: “There are not many accomplishments of humanity that do not involve the feeling of inferiority.” (1) Intellectual development and the development of moral and social personality are impossible without the participation of this form of inferiority feelings, but feelings of inferiority toward oneself are also involved.

Positive disintegration occurs in every global development of man, especially during periods of accelerated development. It is a process of loosening and often of temporary dissolution of psychic structure, as in psychoneurosis and, more rarely, in psychoses. Multilevel disintegration is closely related to psychoneuroses and nervousness. It is also related to increasing self-awareness through the perception and elaboration of pleasant and unpleasant experiences.

The feeling of inferiority toward oneself is one expression of the process of multilevel disintegration, and it arises from the greater self-awareness and the self-examination that occur in multilevel disintegration.

The fundamental differences between feelings of inferiority toward the external environment and feelings of inferiority toward oneself are in the words toward the external environment and toward oneself. Feelings of inferiority toward the external environment present a phenomenon which can be permanent or temporary in all human beings—


(1) Towards Mental Health: The Schizophrenic Problem. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1933.


those who are normal, neurotics, psychopaths, and persons having many different psychotic disorders.

The feeling of inferiority toward oneself generally appears in individuals capable of development, especially accelerated development. It is manifested in nervousness, in psychoneurosis, and in psychosis, but it does not appear in psychopaths or in paranoid individuals.

The sentiment of inferiority as regards the external environment is related to conflict with this environment. The sentiment of inferiority toward oneself, when it is not morbid, constitutes a prophylactic factor in relation to the external environment. It is expressed and is a symptom of moral and cultural development. In contrast, the feeling of inferiority toward the external environment is primitive and occurs earlier in psychic development. It is not connected with development of the internal environment, whereas inferiority feelings toward oneself are very strongly bound with the existence and the increasing development of the internal milieu.




Awareness of the structure and dynamics of the internal environment is generally closely related to disintegration, especially to multilevel disintegration. In normal people this consciousness usually develops during the periods of puberty and menopause. It appears when internal conflicts are present, under conditions of suffering, and in psychoneuroses. The internal environment is intimately coupled with the


development of a hierarchy of feelings, that is, an awareness of different levels within oneself. The experience of hierarchy is much clearer during periods of change in one's values, either ascending or descending from previous levels.

Emotional knowledge of the internal milieu is associated with awareness of this hierarchy and with the movement of the disposing and directing center. This emotional experience contributes to the development of a consciousness which distinguishes many levels of values and many qualities of structure within the internal milieu. The feeling of inferiority toward oneself is connected with awareness of “infidelity” toward the personality ideal. It arises in the descent from a high level of values to a lower one.

The feeling of hierarchy—the awareness of multiple stratification—in oneself cannot occur without a clear personality ideal and a realization of the distance of many aspects of this ideal in the areas of impulsive, emotional, and intellectual activities. The very awareness of one's hierarchical levels is often the source of the feeling of inferiority toward oneself in the course of development. This occurs in periods of decrease in moral activities and in the comparison of the present level with the previous higher levels of behavior. The individual who is developing at a high level cannot always be without a moral disruption within himself and some degree of negative progress.

Individuals are not always at the highest level of their development. Fatigue, nervousness, disquietude, and anxiety may cause them to descend to lower levels of activity, that is, to a more primitive integrated state. But the individual in real development cannot remain at this level long. He becomes discontented with himself; he has feelings of guilt


and of inferiority toward his personality ideal. He then has the tendency to return to his higher level of development. The “fear and trembling” described by Kierkegaard is accompanied by conviction of descent from one's proper level.




As more intensive development of the personality occurs, and the disposing and directing center rises to a superior level, the third factor begins to play a greater role in development than does heredity or social environment. As we know, the third factor is an instrumental dynamism of man. Besides taking a negative or affirmative position with regard to one's own behavior, this factor takes a fundamental part in all periods of transformation in which new values replace old ones in the process of the complication and evolution of conscious life. The actions of choice, of negation and affirmation, with regard to the internal and external environment are very closely connected to the feeling of inferiority. In emotional experience, a negative attitude is regarded as inferior and an affirmative attitude is felt to be superior. The third factor constantly participates in all experiences of comparison of the personality ideal with the structure of the disposing and directing center, and with the direction and level of conduct in everyday life. The feeling of distance of this ideal from present activities determines the activity of the third factor and its support or disapproval of present pursuits.




Without the feeling of inferiority toward oneself no process of self-education is possible. For self-education there must be a conscious personality ideal and a desire to ascend to this ideal. It is accomplished through increasing organization of the disposing and directing center, which activates the third agent and its obsession for evaluation of present levels of feelings and activities. Exploratory behavior in either “lower” or “higher” directions, with increasing conscious awareness, guides the individual to clearer resentment of inferiority feelings and toward transformation of himself through self-education. Awareness of those things he has and has not realized is often the basis of the creative tension that moves him toward a stronger process of self-education. Self-education leads to the emotional experience of dualism in oneself, that is, an attitude of “object-subject.” The attitude expresses the relationship between what is educated and what educates.

The differentiation of inferiority feelings as sick or healthy depends on their place in the total structure and dynamics of the individual and especially on whether they play a creative or noncreative role in the development of the personality. Feelings of inferiority have a positive role in the process of disintegration when disintegration participates in the creative formation of the personality, in the realization of the personality ideal, in the movement of the disposing and directing center to a higher level, and in the increase


in activities of the third factor. This is positive utilization of inferiority feelings. The nonpathological feeling of inferiority is generally associated with transformation of the internal psychic environment. It is associated, too, with a creative attitude of negation and affirmation toward specific values of the internal milieu and toward certain forces of the external environment. The feeling of inferiority in the internal environment of the creative individual and the sentiment of inferiority in connection with the social environment, without simultaneous attitudes of resentment and hate toward this environment, express a favorable prognosis for the energy of the individual to be directed to positive transformation. The feeling of inferiority toward the external environment is negative, or pathological, when it has much more strength than the feeling of inferiority toward oneself. In this situation, which occurs in psychopathy and in some psychoses, there is direct expression of aggressive tendencies.




The majority of very creative, eminent individuals in the moral, artistic, and scientific areas of life show in their dynamics the development of the sentiment of inferiority toward themselves. Michelangelo, Dostoevsky, St. Augustine, Gandhi, and many others had feelings of inferiority as a basic mechanism. In Proust, Kafka, Zeromski, and other creative psychasthenics inferiority feelings are a fundamental dynamic. Beers and Fergusson, who represented the Ameri-


can movement in the reform of psychiatry and mental hygiene, passed through mental illness and suffered from ambivalent feelings of inferiority and superiority.

Without feelings of inferiority and positive disintegration the possibility of effective realization of the personality ideal and the achievement of a higher level of personality development does not exist. Self-education does not occur without the presence of inferiority feelings in relation to both the internal and the external environment—especially the former. A state of creative psychic tension does not exist without resentment of the distance between the personality ideal and the actual conduct of everyday life. This distance is clearly related to the feeling of inferiority in the internal psychic milieu, particularly with reference to the personality ideal.



The “Third Factor” in the Development of Personality







ALONG WITH INBORN PROPERTIES AND THE influence of environment, it is the “third factor” that determines the direction, degree, and distance of man's development. This dynamic evaluates and approves or disapproves of tendencies of the interior environment and of the influences of the external environment. It cooperates with the inner disposing and directing center in the formation of higher levels of individuality. Because of the third factor the individual becomes aware of what is essential and lasting and what is inferior, temporary, and accidental both in his own structure and conduct and in his exterior environment. He endeavors to cooperate with those forces on which the third factor places a high value and to eliminate those tendencies and concrete acts which the third factor devalues.




The importance of self-objectivity, self-criticism, self-control, and objective evaluation of the social environment has long been recognized. The conceptualization of this force as the third factor not only emphasizes its importance but allows us to more clearly trace its growth and development. This basic element in determining a man's development has a place next to that of heredity and environment. Moreover, its significance increases in the higher stages of man's development. The appearance and growth of the third agent is to some degree dependent on inherited abilities and on environmental experiences, but as it develops it achieves an independence from these factors and through conscious differentiation and self-definition takes its own position in determining the course of development of personality.

The following illustration of the third factor is based on the autobiography of a patient, W—, a student of philosophy, suffering from symptoms of anxiety psychoneurosis:


I have chosen my “self” from among many “selfs,” and I find that I still must constantly make this choice. For many years, during everyday activities, I have found myself questioning which is my “true self,” the one I think of as true or another which seems more and more strange to me?


In spite of these self-examinations, my “strange self” appears very strong and may be the cause for my fear of it and my concern for what is the truth of my internal make-


up. But I persist in choosing my “true self.” Often I am able to discover that certain types of activities belong to my “true self” and other do not.


My immediate environment is of little help to me because (except for a few people spiritually close to me) my environment itself is generally strained. I have a tendency to be opinionated, yet manifest uncertain attitudes in moral problems. These habits tend to provoke hostility about me.


However, when my anxieties weaken and my “true self” gets stronger, it is easier for me to endure pressure from my “strange self” and the effects of my external environment. I become stronger and, at the same time, more serene.




The third agent manifests itself in its initial phase during childhood. We may observe in a child's conduct simple and direct symptoms of his discontent with himself and his behavior; we note that the child seeks forgiveness for incurring displeasure. Manifestations of a child's independence of his surroundings and a growing excitability of a mixed type, with imaginative, psychomotor, emotional, and sensorial components, testify to the germination of the third agent. That is, symptoms of childish nervousness (which are forms of disintegration) express to some extent the activities of the third agent. All that influences the beginning of an accepting and rejecting attitude toward stimuli of the internal and external environment, and the placing of a high value on one inner trait and a negative value on another may be considered embryonic forms of the third agent.


The principal periods during which the third agent appears distinctly are the ages of puberty and maturation. The attitude of affirmation and denial, just beginning to bud in childhood, becomes dynamic at the age of puberty. An increased emotional, psychomotor, imaginative, sensorial, and intellectual excitability favors the process. A young man experiencing a certain loosening of his internal and external environments observes both these environments more or less closely and manifests an attitude of “subject-object” toward his own self. He assumes a critical attitude toward himself and his surroundings, strives to verify opinions with reality, attempts to transmit personal moral experiences to others, and makes demands of a moral nature both on himself and on other people. The consciousness of his ambivalences arouses in him alternately arouses a sense of superiority and of inferiority, a feeling of guilt and self-discontent, and a more or less strong anticipation of the future or retrospection over past experiences. During the period of puberty, young people become aware of the sense of life and discover a need to develop personal goals and to find the tools for realizing them. The emergence of these problems and the philosophizing on them, with the participation of an intense emotional component, are characteristic features of a strong instinct of development and of the individual's rise to a higher evolutionary level. In the period of puberty, therefore, the third agent is more dynamic and conscious than it was in childhood but remains still relatively uncertain in its service to the poorly outlined and wavering disposing and directing center.

The age of puberty moves slowly into a stage of mental harmony, during which time a more stable interior eqi-


librium arises as well as a greater harmony with the environment. Gradually a new structure forms, integrated on a different and more mature level than the preceding one. The desire to gain a position, to become distinguished, to possess property, and to establish a family will become the disposing and directing center. But the more the integration of the mental structure grows, the more the influence of the third agent weakens. The third agent may even pass away altogether.

The third agent persists—indeed, it only develops—in individuals who manifest an increased mental excitability and have at least mild forms of psychoneuroses. In these persons the disintegration process is protracted, moral ideals continue to play a considerable role, and the inner directing and disposing center continues to be wavering and uncertain, ascending and descending. They display mental lability, excessive naïveté, freshness of feeling, and what might be called the enduring of certain infantile features of the prolongation of the period of puberty. Mental disequilibrium, a certain inclination to normal disintegration, the absence of the swift attainment of a stabilized psychic structure, and a strong third factor are all signs of the ability to develop one's personality toward the realization of one's ideal.

The persisting and growing force of the third agent in adults appears simultaneously with the protraction of the period of maturation, with all of its positive and some of its negative qualities. This extension of the maturation period is clearly accompanied by a strong instinct of development, great creative capacities, a tendency to reach for perfection, and the appearance and development of self-consciousness, self-affirmation, and self-education.



Personality is a self-conscious, self-affirmed, and self-educated unity of basic and positive mental properties. It is a unity capable of gradual quantitative changes of particular properties and of groups of properties. Qualitative changes may also occur in the personality's process of development, but they are generally marginal as concerns their localization and disposition in relation to basic, already self-conscious and self-affirmed qualities. The formation of personality depends upon the existence of positive processes of disintegration in a given individual, upon the level of the disposing and directing center, and upon the personality ideal.

As we know, positive disintegration may be unilevel or multilevel. The former appears independently or precedes the latter and is then its primitive phase, denoting a loosening of the individual's mental structure with only slight participation of his consciousness. Multilevel, positive disintegration is a conscious process of differentiation of the individual's internal environment and will lead successively through conflicts between “lower” and “higher” levels of the inner environment, through a loosening and sensitization of various dynamics of this milieu, through the mechanisms of feelings of self-discontent, inferiority, and guilt, and through slighter and partial disorders of mental balance to secondary integration—that is, to a mental structure on a higher level.

Secondary integration accompanies dramatic experiences


connected with the oscillation of the inner disposing and directing center. The center may descend to a lower level and return (after some time) to the preceding one or it may pass the latter and settle permanently on a higher level.

The third factor appears embryonically in unilevel disintegration, but its principal domain is multilevel disintegration. Disintegration activities are related to the activities of the third agent, which judges, approves and disapproves, makes a choice, and confirms certain exterior and interior values. It is, therefore, an integral and basic part of multilevel disintegration. It is a sort of active conscience of the budding individual, determining what represents a greater or smaller value in self-education, what is “higher” or “lower,” what does or does not agree with the personality ideal, and what should be the course of internal development.




Secondary integration is preceded by the formation of a personality ideal, which actively influences the movement of the disposing and directing center to a higher level. The personality ideal is a remote pattern of which the individual is aware. At the same time, it is a store of organized and active forces arising out of multilevel disintegration and secondary integration. The evaluation of the presence and nature of the personality ideal is ascertained by the intuition and simple judgment of every individual realizing self-education; we may, however, conceive of it only in general outline and as a whole.

The disposing and directing center of a developing person-


ality is a more or less organized mental structure, emerging from as yet indistinct tendencies to attain a higher cultural and moral level. These tendencies are directed toward a level higher than the one existing under the immediate influence of environment and of moral standards. With the strengthening of the disposing and directing center, instincts achieve a higher level of expression and consciousness becomes richer. The third agent takes part in the activity of consciousness which determines general motives and evaluates activities as proper or improper. This aspect of consciousness has strong emotional components that participate in the mental and voluntary affirmation or negation of one's general, vital attitudes.

The appearance and development of the third agent parallels the organization and establishment of the disposing and directing center on a higher level and the distinct formation and steady growth of the personality ideal. The third agent draws its dynamics and purpose from the disposing and directing center and the personality ideal; in turn, it plays an essential part in the development of both of them. This is a deeply correlated, reciprocal activity. Generally speaking, however, the position and activity of a higher level of inner disposing and directing center are superior to those of the third agent.

In summary, we may say that the personality ideal provides they dynamic goal toward which the individual directs various mental energies. The disposing and directing center on a higher level constitutes the focus of the structure and dynamics of the arising personality. Disintegration is the mechanism of the process of personality formation. The third factor is subordinate to the personality ideal and to


the disposing and directing center on a higher level. It is also a constituent part of multilevel disintegration. The third factor strives to see that every concrete act of a given individual is in correlation with his personality ideal.

The individual human being, through his personality, masters his impulses. This process consists in purifying the primitive animal elements which lie in every impulse or group of impulses. For instance, within the range of the instinct of self-preservation, it will mean the separation and disapproval of lower-level self-preservation tendencies and of what is egocentric—that is, the selfish, indiscriminate striving toward the realization of one's own aims, with no consideration for the good or harm of others. As far as the sexual impulse is concerned, its exclusively somatic, uncontrolled, unindividualized expression, which lacks any tendency to exclusive emotional ties, will be disapproved.

The effect of the third agent is to insure the personality's mastering of its life impulses. It is not limited to acts of choice but takes energy from primitive, sublimated impulses and directs the personality toward creativity and self-perfection.




During the period of the development of the third agent the individual slowly but essentially alters his attitude toward his social environment. His relation to his environment becomes more and more conscious, clear, and determined.


He selects from its elements on which he places value. He becomes more independent. Owing to the activity of the third agent, he begins to accept only those influences of a social group that are congruent with his self-consciousness—those, therefore, that agree with the demands of his developing personality. Hence, in his exterior activity there may occur various forms of nonadaptation and conflicts expressing inner disapproval of those elements in the social group which are not congruent with his personality ideal. Such n individual will often be considered unsocial, queer, unadapted, and difficult. This estimate is incorrect, for the person acting under the influence of the third agent displays basic syntony and cooperation with the needs of social life despite his attitude of contradiction and disapproval. An alterocentric introversion, or—according to Rorschach—contacting introversion, is usually characteristic of such a person.




Self-education is the process of working out the personality in one's inner self. Self-education begins with positive disintegration and the appearance of the third agent. Self-determination then starts to replace heterodetermination little by little. The difficulties of adaptation as well as the development disorders can be removed by means of autopsychotherapy. From this moment on, moral evaluation and the individual's relation to his environment begins anew,


so to speak; the past becomes, in a certain sense, isolated from the present and the future.

In the initial phase of self-education the individual is suspended between the influence of clearly lower impulse tendencies, the strength of which gradually declines, and the pull of the personality ideal and the disposing and directing center, which are only gradually forming and establishing themselves. This is the phase of stratified disintegration, the period of Kierkegaard's “fear and trembling,” when one is unable to find support either in the so far primitive impulse dynamics and the “normal” forces of the social environment or in a high level of personality dynamics. This period may be regarded as a time of moral and individual maturation.

The period of real, essential moral maturation is often one of spiritual void: of isolation, loneliness, and misunderstanding. It is the time of the “soul's night,” during which the then existing sense of life and forms of connection with life lose their value and force of attraction. The period will close, however, with the working out of an ideal, the arising of a new disposing and directing center, and the appearance of forces of disapproval, shutting out every possibility of a return to the initial level. This is the process of development of personality. The third agent, having now gained the right to be heard, will admit no retreat from the road ascending to a personal and group ideal. The growing realization of a personality ideal is the secondary phase of self-education and is unique to the formed personality.

From the discussion above, we see clearly that the third factor plays a vital role in the development of psychic inner




environment. Its action is very closely connected with multilevel disintegration, especially with the development of an “object-subject” process within the self. It participates in the establishment of a disposing and directing center at a higher level and in the development and organization of hierarchy of psychic structure and of the personality ideal. This structure and these dynamisms are necessary to self-education and autopsychotherapy in internal conflicts and to positive development in psychoneurosis.



Remarks on Typology Based on the Theory of Positive Disintegration







ON THE BASIS OF THE THEORY OF POSITIVE disintegration we can distinguish some dynamic character complexes with reference to patterns of developmental transformation. Four character patterns can be identified: primitive integration type, positive disintegration type, chronic disintegration type, and pathological disintegration type.





This character pattern is a stabilized, primitive level of integration in which development of personality does not


take place. Its occurrence seems strongly influenced by constitutional factors.

In the pattern of primitive integration, frequently seen in everyday life, the disposing and directing center may have strong impulses, the direction of which decide the course and forms of behavior. The individual's relationships with others are impulsive in nature and not influenced by self-awareness. He responds to external stress with only a slight degree of disintegration. The tragedies of everyday life, such as the death of parents or friends, loss of a job, and imprisonment, are likely to produce only mild symptoms of disintegration. The disposing and directing center may fragment slightly but, because of the stable, compact integration, remains at the previous level. The individual returns to his everyday habits and activities; his difficulties will not have contributed to any transformation of his original psychic structure. When change of personality occurs, it is related to disintegration during psychic and physical development. This does not happen in persons of the primitive integration type.

Psychopaths are among those with primitive integration structure. They are characterized by a stable integration at a low level, and their activities clearly reflect primitive impulses. They are insensitive to stimuli other than those related to their psychopathic structure of impulses. This type of individual is not aware of the feelings of other people; syntony never develops. Intellectual activity is clearly of instrumental character and subordinated to lower-level impulses.

Among normal primitively integrated people, different degrees of cohesion of psychic structure can be distinguished.


The tendency to develop disintegration may be present in greater or lesser degree, but the elements of disintegration are much more feeble than the forces of integration. However, external stress, a high level of intelligence, and a capacity for introspection can help loosen the psychic structure and thus increase the potential for growth. Another life course may be distinguished in this type, for the forces of disintegration arising out of the experiences of life can result in a partial development. This, however, is rare.

The following is an example of primitive integration:


L—, a male engineer aged 34, was a specialist in a narrow field of technical science. There was nothing distinctive about either his heredity or his early development. His parents were rather simple people, normally ambitious in their outlook for the future of their children. L—showed good progress during his early school years. He was himself ambitious to excel in order to rise to a higher position. He was reasonably accommodating and sociable but showed little interest in the concerns of other people. From his childhood, he had been rather selfish in this way, caring primarily only for his own affairs.

After his secondary schooling and the completion of his technical studies (where again he obtained good grades) he went on to specialize in his field. He progressed very rapidly and soon gained a favorable opinion among his superiors, partly through his abilities and industry, but for the most part because of his principle of avoiding conflict with his colleagues and superiors. He devised several methods of flattery adapted to the varied levels of his environment. These methods were well worked out and effective, but quite primitive.

After several years of experience in his field L—perfected what seemed to him an infallible system of acquiring the protection of higher authority, a system based on four basic principles: first, avoid all conflict with colleagues,


thus reducing their sense of competition; second, flatter authority, specifically praising the “creative” ability of a superior; third, help both colleagues and superiors, but within limits so that personal time and effort are never exhausted; and fourth, carefully deprecate, in the presence of superiors, the value of scientists in other fields.

As mentioned above, L—had abilities, but they were incommensurable with the speed of his career. His weaknesses he countered by adjusting the tempo of his work and employing an enterprising “sixth sense” to catch and use any means whatever that might accelerate his career. Certainly it was to his advantage that he had specialized in a narrow field of science, poorly developed in his own country. His immediate superior had ambitions of his own: to initiate and expand this field of science in the country by creating a group of student-disciples.

L—devoted all his time and efforts to obtaining, as soon as possible, a high rank in this narrow field. To this end he conformed all his needs of friendship and love. He deliberately did not marry in order to avoid any obstacle in his career. By the judicious application of his four-part system he soon earned the reputation of cleverness.

L's personal ambitions increasingly restricted his scope of experience and interests. His syntony was superficial, even artificial, subordinated to the main aim of his life. There remained in him a distinct feeling of inferiority to those who, in his opinion, had reached a still higher level in the social hierarchy. On the other hand, he did not reveal any feelings of self-dissatisfaction. He did not feel inferior in regard to any internal ideal. He had no sense of guilt, despite his hypocrisies. In fact, the attitude of striving toward any moral ideal seemed strange to him. His guiding principle of life was to accommodate himself to changing conditions in order to take advantage of them for his personal benefit.

In spite of his amiability and sociability, he was emotionally cold. He had no ability to transfer his own feelings to other people or their to him.

His single external conflict was simple envy, the sense of inferiority in the presence of his social superiors. His life until the age of 34 was that of a person integrated on a low


impulsive level with his intellect fully subordinated, used as a tool in his drive toward a higher rank—a “career” in the common meaning. He had no internal depth, no distinct germs of moral personality. Rather, he showed signs of disappearing traces of the higher dynamics mentioned above. For that reason, L—was not subject to the process of positive disintegration.




This character pattern reveals the process of loosening and fragmentation of psychic structure, and transformation through the displacement of previous values and the introduction of new values. Multilevel disintegration is closely related to the development of the psychic environment. An individual of this type feels anxiety with regard to his own values and deep dissatisfaction with himself. He reacts to feelings of guilt and of inferiority toward himself and shows awareness of “subject-object” relationships to himself.

The positive disintegration type develops progressively through the life cycle by the processes of positive, multilevel disintegration. The individual is highly sensitive to the stimuli of both internal and external psychic environments and has the capacity to comprehend and accept a hierarchy of values. He reveals attitudes of both retrospection and prospection, a depth of experience due to a rich emotional memory. He is consciously aware of personal and social ideals and capable of mobilizing them. Because of past internal progressive transformations, he can understand and collaborate with individuals of various personality patterns. He has the ability to understand many different levels of


development in others. Such a person is often involved in conscious and controlled conflict with the external world. All these qualities contribute to a high level of values and an exceptional degree of maturity.




In the positive disintegration type can be seen many levels of achievement. The level attained depends on the higher and higher organization of the disposing and directing center, increasing self-consciousness, and progressive mobilization of the energy of the personality ideal on the path to secondary stabilization. Besides the positive disintegration type described above there is a chronic disintegration type, which manifests different characteristics. An individual of this type experiences multilevel disintegration but without definite tendencies to secondary integration. While he does not have the propensity to achieve synthesis of the decomposed structure, he shows no signs of psychopathological deterioration. However, crystallization of the processes of secondary integration is lacking. In the chronic disintegration type there is significant loosening and fragmentation of psychic structure but no noticeable development of an active disposing and directing center. An individual of this type is inclined to perpetual oscillation between different dynamisms and continual changing of activity and positions. He is incapable of decisive and determined behavior. Oscillation is his major characteristic. In the continuous variation of impulses which change his responses to external stimuli, no predominant stabilized value can be observed.


This type is creative and reveals some hierarchy of values, but this too varies. Such a person may be, at the same time, productive and inhibited, impressed with moral and social values and skeptical of them. He is without vital direction because of his hesitant attitude; at times he does not see any value in life or in creative activity. He has his own preventive forces against involution: the processes of positive disintegration and creativity. Although he does not develop strong mental disorder, he is seldom able to achieve secondary integration.




In this type of development there is negative disintegration: a decrease of consciousness and an increase of destructive processes with a tendency toward involution of the total personality, as in the chronic organic psychoses and the chronic schizophrenic psychoses. The psychic structure gradually fragments, the sphere of consciousness diminishes, and there is a loss of creative capacities. Of course, in this type of disintegration many subtypes can be distinguished.


Through the dynamics of positive disintegration development can progress from lower to higher types. The contrary can occur through the processes of negative, pathological disintegration. In the primitive integration pattern, there is little possibility of transformation to another type.

The cyclic individual possesses intellectual, moral, and aesthetic potentialities which form a solid basis for person-


ality development. In this type of person positive disintegration will result in the diminution of exaggerated sociability, overly practical attitudes, opportunism, and strong adaptation to the external environment. Positive disintegration in this type also leads to increased independence from the external environment (which little by little builds a hierarchy of values) and a heightened inclination to solitary meditation.

The contrary is true of the schizothymic type: Positive disintegration will lead to the development of some interest in other people, certain adaptations to the external environment, and some diminution of the feeling of exclusiveness of one's own norms. Thus such an individual will develop the capacity for symbiosis with other people. (1)

Transformation and development in the individual with imaginative overexcitability often occur. Indeed, a person of this type has the potential for considerable development. Through positive disintegration he will deepen his imagination and at the same time enlarge his sensitivity to the external world of nature and of social life. He will develop tendencies to evaluate and limit his impetuous, incorrect observations. As he enlarges his sense of reality, he will increase the degree of organization of his psychic structure. This form of transformation will permit him to build a heterogenic psychic structure in which intellectual, psychomotor, emotional, and sensory elements will help to deepen his imagination.



1 The effect of positive disintegration on Jung's extrovert type is similar to its effect on the cyclic type discussed above; and its effect on Jung's introvert type is similar to the discussion of the schizothymic type.



Psychopathy and Psychoneurosis






IN TERMS OF THE THEORY OF POSITIVE DIS-integration, psychopathy represents a primitive structure of impulses, integrated at a low level. The intelligence is subordinated to this structure and plays the role of an instrument. The psychopath possesses a strong constitutional factor, low sensitivity to other people's attitudes, and strong egocentric dynamics; he is indifferent to everything except his own small needs. The psychopath does not experience the anxiety one sees in the psychoneurotic; he does not suffer conflict in his internal milieu. In other words, he never undergoes a period of multilevel disintegration. Therefore, he neither is conscious of the complexity of his internal environment nor sees himself objectively. He is incapable of either self-criticism or self-control.

Without positive disintegration the psychopath's dispos-


ing and directing center remains primitive while it dominates the intelligence. The lack of a disintegration process is the chief reason for the psychopath's lack of syntony. He has no awareness of “we” but only a strongly developed sense of “me.” His adaptation to the environment is accomplished by the instrumental acts of his intelligence, not by his capacity for experiencing or his insight into the structure and dynamics of other people. As a result of this primitive structure, a psychopath is an asocial and, under the influence of his primitive directing center, often an antisocial individual.

The psychoneurotic individual differs from the psychopath. He is sensitive, restless, and capable of somatic expression of mental process through his vegetative nervous system. Often shy, apprehensive, and dissatisfied with himself, he has feelings of inferiority and guilt and may display a feeling of inferiority with regard to his environment. He experiences within himself the “subject-object” process—an increased self-awareness and an introspective knowledge of the many levels of his own personality. This is a process of experiencing one's own being, so to speak, of sensing one's own multiform nature which determines the process of cognition as well as of experiencing. The psychoneurotic's personality is plastic and variable since he is in a dynamic state of awareness of the subtleties of both his internal and his external environment. He is, therefore, a personality capable of disintegration and has the ability for distinct and often rapid development.

The psychoneurotic may have conflicts in relation to his external environment, but usually his conflicts are internal ones. Unlike the psychopath, who inflicts suffering on other


people and causes external conflicts, the psychoneurotic himself usually suffers and struggles with conflicts in relation to himself. In contrast to the psychopath, a psychoneurotic has a strong self-consciousness. As stated above, the psychopath's lower (impulsive) mental dynamics are integrated, whereas the psychoneurotic displays a disintegration not only of primitive levels but even of middle and high development levels. The psychopathic individual is able to develop only to a minimal degree; only if he has some neurotic factor in his psychopathic structure is there any possibility for personality development. The psychoneurotic, however, is capable of continuous evolutionary development through the process of disintegration and subsequent secondary integration.




The disposing and directing center in a psychopathic individual is integrated at a low level. This center consists of a dominating impulse or group of impulses directing the individual's life aims. Often intelligent, the psychopath is sometimes able to disguise his aims and patterns of behavior, but they nearly always reveal a low level and primitive quality.

In psychoneurotic persons the disposing and directing center presents quite a different aspect. In view of the disintegration, particularly the multilevel disintegration, characterizing psychoneurotics, the disposing and directing


center remains in a more or less unstable position. For a certain period it may be stabilized at a low structural level; later, it may pass on to the middle level. Finally, in periods of stronger development of personal ideals it may localize itself on a higher level. General weakness, emotional fatigue, and loosening of mental tension may sometimes lead to a periodic stagnation, even at a low level of integration, whereas constant insight into one's own interior environment (which is characteristic of the disintegration process), restlessness, self-dissatisfaction, feelings of guilt, sin, and inferiority toward oneself—the sources of increased tension—may bring the psychoneurotic individual to a higher level of integration.

The disposing and directing center has, therefore, no fixed level in psychoneurosis; it is unstable, migrating from one level to another, with a prevailing tendency to settle at a higher level. In states of disintegration (especially unilevel disintegration) over a period of time the psychoneurotic will reveal a multiplicity of directing centers and a change in their level. During puberty, for example, psychic movement can be observed between feelings of superiority and inferiority. A psychoneurotic will demonstrate rapid changes in values, ambitendencies, and ambivalences.

The lack of stability of the disposing and directing center in psychoneurosis and its distinct stabilization at a low level of emotionally cognitive structure in psychopathy are clearly connected with the problems of structure and function of the internal environment. In truth, we can hardly speak about internal environment in psychopathy, since the level of self-consciousness of psychopaths is very low. The psychopath is not subject to the process of multilevel disintegration.


All his activities are strictly subordinated to impulsive dynamics at a low level.




Although the psychopath does not undergo any essential processes and experiences characteristic of multilevel disintegration, he may experience a feeling of inferiority. But it is a feeling of inferiority with regard to the external environment, not a self-dissatisfaction. A contrary phenomenon occurs in psychoneurotics. Such individuals demonstrate various types of increased excitability. Psychoneurotics are typical example both of the process of development of internal environment and of the process of disintegration, especially the multilevel type. All the above-mentioned processes, which are lacking in psychopaths, are characteristic of psychoneurotics.

Essential elements of psychoneurosis are the dynamization of the internal environment, the experiencing of hierarchy in oneself, and the strong manifestation of dynamics progressing toward an ever higher hierarchy of values up to the personality ideal. With a growing awareness and stabilization of his personal ideal, the individual becomes more conscious of the distance separating him from it; his sense of reality increases, and the dynamics leading to the realization of his ideal become more distinct. As the personality develops, the substance and dynamics of the ideal become the principal disposing and directing center in the individual's development—the main source of developmental energy.




What is the role of the third agent? The third agent, together with the first agent (inherited and inborn dynamics) and the second (environmental influences), becomes the major developmental agent in highly cultured individuals with a high degree of self-consciousness. The dynamics of the third agent arise and develop in a certain number of individuals during periods of stress and during the developmental crises of life such as puberty, adolescence, and the climacteric. Rudiments of this agent may be seen in especially talented, sensitive, and sometimes nervous children. The third agent functions to deny some and affirm other specific peculiarities and dynamics within the individual's internal environment, at the same time denying and affirming certain forms of influences of the external environment. The third agent selects, separates, and eliminates heterogeneous elements acting in both internal and external environments. The third agent becomes active during periods of strong tension of the developmental instinct and during positive multilevel disintegration. It operates in individuals endowed with strong tendencies toward positive development and, therefore, may be often seen in nervous, neurotic, and psychoneurotic persons. Such individuals often have inferiority feelings (typical of these disorders), connected as a rule with the process of disintegration.

In psychopathy, there is neither a process of disintegration nor the development of a third agent because the disposing and directing center consists of an impulse or group of impulses integrated at a low level. Nor does the psychopath


experience inferiority feelings with regard to himself because the development of this feeling presumes the process of disintegration.




The disposing and directing center guiding all the psychopath's activities consists of primitive impulses to which the intelligence is subordinated as an instrumental adjunct. Moreover, it is a very strong subordination, permitting absolutely no transformation into self-critical activity.

The situation is quite different in psychoneurosis. The disintegration process characteristic of psychoneurotics sets in action multiform, multilevel, changeable conjunctions of intelligence with various disposing and directing centers which repeatedly move toward an ever higher level. In emotional, as well as intellectual, activities processes take place which lead to a purposeful loosening of the different levels of intelligence activity. Hence, in both neuroses and psychoneuroses conjunctions of disposing and directing centers with the activities of intelligence are multiform and variable.




Psychopathy is a rigid structure of largely constitutional character on a low level of integration with no essential ability for positive development. One might admit certain


possibilities of development under very strong and early influence, the action of which would cause the loosening or breaking up of the primitive impulsive structure. This influence would have to create some internal conflicts and anxiety within the psychopath, the first step in the development of the internal psychic environment. But such an eventuality is rather unlikely.

Nervousness and psychoneuroses are structures and groups of functions especially likely to develop positively by processes of unilevel and multilevel disintegration. Without these processes no positive development of a human individual is possible. Without nervousness and psychoneuroses there is no positive disintegration, and without positive disintegration there is no development.




Psychopaths as a rule do not create cultural works. The psychopath's intelligence, even at a high level, is not of a creative nature; it merely serves the egotistic purposes of the dominating impulse or group of impulses. Hence, even extensive use of intelligence leads not to creative ideas but to destructive action. As a result of these strong impulsive dynamics, it is difficult for the psychopath to make a long-range, controlling estimate of his own and other people's acts; therefore, he has no capacity for sympathetic insight into the states of mind of others and is unable to grasp any social, moral, or cultural problems.

Psychoneurotics, on the contrary, create works of culture


because of their high moral sensitivity, their capacity for introspection, their ability to estimate their own and other people's attitudes, and their ability to differentiate levels and to experience the “subject-object” process within themselves, i.e., because of their susceptibility to the processes of disintegration, especially those of multilevel disintegration.

In connection with these remarks, it is pertinent to quote a passage from Proust's novel Le Côté de Guermantes: “All that is great we owe to neurotics. They, and no others, have founded religions, created masterpieces. The world will never know how much we owe them, and especially how much they suffered to give all this to the world. We glory in their divine music, their beautiful paintings, and thousands of subtleties, without realizing the innumerable sleepless nights, tears, spasmodic laughters, urticaria, asthma, and—worst of all—fear of death they cost those who created them.”

Professor Neyrac, speaking about the role of fear in the life of Saint-Exupéry, the French author and aviator, said, “This was a fear of a special kind, having the property of raising the personality's development. Such fear is an instrument for raising to a higher level, and physicians should approach it with prudence and respect.” (1)



1 Quoted in Abély, P. De quelques equivoques psychiatriques. Ann. Medicopsychol. (Paris), 117:46-78, 1959.



Jackson's Theory and Positive Disintegration








HUGHLINGS JACKSON, THE FAMOUS ENGLISH neurologist, early in his career fully resolved to give up medicine and devote himself to philosophy but later decided to continue his medical career. His interest in philosophy led to his careful analyses of neurological symptoms and to major theoretical contributions that have served for many decades in the interpretation of psychological, psychopathological, and neurobiological phenomena. Jackson's work can be summarized in three principles which describe evolution from three points of view, each harmonizing with the other.




The first of Jackson's hypotheses is that evolution is the transfer from a perfectly organized lower center to a higher


but not so well-organized one. In other words, development consists of movement from lower, comparatively well-managed centers to higher centers that are more complex and, according to Jackson, less well organized.

The second principle is that evolution is a transition from the simplest to the most complex, from the lowest to the highest centers. There is no contradiction in regarding the most complex centers as being the least organized, since Jackson uses the word organized to mean well-connected. “Let us consider,” says Jackson, “a center composed of two sense and two motor elements, the former and the latter so well-connected with each other, that every excitement transfers easily from sense to motor elements. The organization of this very simple center is, nevertheless, on a very high level. We may also imagine a center composed of four sense and four motor elements, but the connections between these elements being so imperfect that it proves to be only half so well-organized as the former one.”

The third of Jackson's principles of evolution is that evolution is a transition from a more automatic to a more voluntary center. He assumes that the highest centers, representing the summit of nervous evolution and forming the physical basis of consciousness, are least organized, although most complex and voluntary.




As far as the negative process, or dissolution, is concerned, Jackson writes that dissolution is a process quite the reverse


of evolution. It is a process of involution, so to say, contrary to development: Dissolution proceeds from a more complex, voluntary, and not so well-organized center to a simpler, more automatic, and better organized one. Jackson in principle speaks only about partial dissolutions since total dissolution would be equivalent to death.

Partial dissolution may involve a given level or several levels of the nervous system, in a larger or smaller degree, or it may concern only a distinctly limited field. The first kind of dissolution, broader in scope, is generally related to mental disorders, the second to neurological ones; the first belongs to the field of psychiatry, the second to that of neurology. In addition, Jackson distinguishes positive and negative symptoms of dissolution. While negative symptoms appear as a consequence of disturbance of higher levels of the nervous system and signalize loss of function, positive symptoms are the results of activity of lower levels of the nervous system, not affected by disease. These are conceived as compensation for the damaged activities at higher levels of the nervous system.

Mental or nervous diseases are thus manifested directly only by negative symptoms and always begin at the most highly developed level, growing in a succession contrary to evolution. Concerning Jackson's theories, Mazurkiewicz (1) says, “All positive symptoms are not occasioned by disease,


1 Mazurkiewicz, who died in 1946 in Warsaw, was an outstanding Polish psychiatrist in the field of Pavlovian psychiatry and a neo-Jacksonist. His work was in the area of qualitative changes in the development of the nervous system and on the significance of emotions as directing forces in the life and development of both animals and human beings.


but are normal activities in lower levels, set free, owing to a lack of suppression from superior levels.” (2)

Dissolution, as above mentioned, may occur at various levels. The first level is characterized, according to Jackson, by lack of equilibrium and by alterations of personal unity manifested either by inner conflicts or by an emancipation of the unconscious system (by which Jackson means the expression of automatic behavior beyond the control of personality, such as tics and some compulsions). A feeling of manifoldness in one's inner self, automatisms, juxtapositions of parts of one's body, a feeling of strangeness toward oneself (kinesthetic states)—these are the expression of a deeper dissolution process. Jackson's commentators consider these states to be a disappearance of differences between subject and object. (3) The patient subject to mania displays a consciousness of unlimited activity, an identification of himself with the wave of time and the universe. Ey and Rouart regard the inability of a patient to adapt to surrounding reality as one of the negative symptoms of numerous morbid disorders.

The basis of Jackson's theory is the principle of the hierarchy of subordination and the dissolution or regression of the structure of functions. Personality, according to Jackson, ought to be considered as the total of an individual's tendencies, beliefs, emotions, and mental activities and capacities. It is the result of biological heredity, of physical



2 J. Mazurkiewicz. An Introduction to Normal Psychophysiology. (Wstep do Psychofizjologii Normalnej.) Warszawa: PZWL, 1950. Vol. I, p. 358.

3 H. Ey et J. Rouart. Essai d”Application des Principes de Jackson a une Conception Dynamique de la Neuropsychiatrie. Paris: F. Alcan, 1938.


structure, and of the psychological drama in which the individual has taken part.

The similarities of some processes occurring in normal people and pathological symptoms has led several authors to the concept of normal dissolution. For example, sleep is seen as having several degrees of dissolution: drowsiness, sleep with dreams, active sleep (somnambulism), and sleep without dreams. Ey and Rouart judge that all the three latter forms of sleep are an expression of dissolution in higher brain centers.




As we know, Jackson's theory is based upon a multilevel analysis of the nervous system. His concept of a well-organized center on a low level of hierarchy is easy to understand; it is more difficult to accept the statement that higher centers are less well organized than lower ones. By the term good organization Jackson seems to mean simplicity and automaticity. Yet “good organization” is not to be identified only with simple and automatic functions; it may also take place in a complex, labile structure. The good organization of a given system or a given center consists in the efficient execution of its tasks, and this may characterize a lower as well as a higher center. Here is an example taken from Forel, and quoted by Mazurkiewicz and Frostig: “The author, in order to stop a fight between two tribes of forest ants, dropped a speck of honey in the path of ants


hurrying from their ant hill to the fight. The majority of the army of ants did not stop to taste the honey; and those who did stop did so for only a short moment.” (4) Although it would seem that the social instinct of combat in ants is a more voluntary, younger structure than the instinct of self-preservation or food gathering, it appears to be at least as well organized as the latter. It is difficult, therefore, to accept Jackson's belief that a less organized center could subordinate a better organized one. In people capable of development, lower, simpler centers are mostly subordinated to a higher, more complex center.

Jackson does not inform us what the essential processes of evolution are and by what activities shifting takes place from a simpler center to a more complex one, from a more organized to a less organized center, and from an automatic to a voluntary center. Mazurkiewicz (5) and other authors consider that development proceeds by superposing new dynamics on top of old ones and not by destruction of the latter; therefore, the evolution of directing dynamics is at the same time a process of their increasing complexity in the directions pointed out by Jackson. Mazurkiewicz clearly stresses the fact that Jackson's theory ought to be extended by accepting qualitative differences between activities of different levels of the nervous system. He states that without this “an evolution from impulse to will” is not conceivable, as every impulse is an action depending until recently on a stimulus whereas voluntary actions always depend on one's own activity—and therefore on past rather than present


4 Mazurkiewicz, op. cit., p. 302.

5 Ibid., p. 295.


stimuli. “The forces of the external world and the tendencies of the organism,” Mazurkiewicz writes, “expressed by its own activity may not be reduced to a difference of quantity.”


The evolution of activities of the whole nervous system is dynamically an evolution advancing from a mixed, muscular-receptor nervous cell that appears already in coelenterates and the action of which depends only and exclusively on external stimuli, up to the adult human brain which is part of the nervous system, but anatomically distant from the periphery and functionally only very indirectly linked with it. This results, among other things, in the possibility of its displaying intentional management and will in a manner remote from the simple transmission of impulses along the reflex arc. (6)


Those qualitative differences of actions are closely connected with particular areas of the nervous system, in which, according to Jackson, three layers may be distinguished: spinal cord and medulla oblongata, which is most automatic and firmly organized and has only slight voluntary processes: striate body and Rolando's area; and gyri of the frontal cortex. Obviously the number of levels, as well as of qualitatively different mental strata, may be conceived by authors in various ways. It is just these qualitative differences that represent antagonism between the activities of particular levels. Mazurkiewicz describes this process: “in these cases we have to do with two antagonistic forces of a rather unstable equilibrium, with the prevalence of the evolutionally younger dynamics, but with the possibility of preponderance of the older dynamics under certain conditions.” (7)


6 Ibid., p. 258.

7 Ibid., p. 101 .


The example of the ants above quoted proves the transient, unstable equilibrium of antagonistic forces (hesitation observed in a few ants stopping for a moment by the honey drop) and also shows in the majority of these insects an indisputable prevalence of a factor of later development (social instinct) over the more primitive one (alimentary drive). Mazurkiewicz is of the opinion that the development of dynamics is accomplished by their “superposing” over the old ones, not by the destruction of the latter. It is possible that new dynamics destroy the old ones; however, it would seem that the “unstable balance” occurring between the activities of particular levels, i.e., the antagonism described above, may occasion severe alterations in older structures as a result of the growing significance of new ones.




What are the processes of evolution, and by what steps do we pass from simple reflexes, connected with external stimuli, to complex behavior? In contradiction to the views of Jackson and the neo-Jacksonist school represented by Mazurkiewicz, many mechanisms designated in the theories of Jackson as dissolution play a principal role in evolution. We call them processes of positive disintegration. This raises the question of the role played by disadaptation in the individual's development, including disadaptation to internal as well as external environment. It seems that in the process of evolution the factor of conflict with the surround-


ings and one's own self has a prominent part in checking primitive impulses. Reflection, hesitation, and inhibition, instead of automatic reaction to stimuli, are the expression of disadaptation; and these generally precede the gradual process of adaptation to new external and internal conditions. Such an unstable equilibrium gives the opportunity for the maturing of a new disposing and directing center. Hence, internal and external disadaptation, the absence of direct response of motor elements to stimuli, and the multiplying of indirect links between stimulus and reaction may increase the possibility of new and higher-level functioning and greater creativity. This whole process may result in a gradual development of new centers and new psychic paths—contrary to the opinion of Jackson and the neo-Jacksonists, who regard all mechanisms of dissolution as morbid. On the basis of the analysis of many groups of symptoms, it is evident that such a shifting of forces leads to psychoneurosis, which, in my opinion, is not morbid but rather one of the primary paths to positive evolutionary development. This evolution is not in contradiction to many mechanisms of dissolution but involves them, dissolution forming a basic mechanism of the evolution.

Dissolution can involve those lower, more primitive forms of memory, emotions, and impulses which are not included in the immediate level of the patient's aims. I disagree with the Jackson-Mazurkiewicz position that in mental disease there is always compensation for injured higher activities by a superactivity at lower levels. Mazurkiewicz has said that “memory is a feature of every one of the three basic psychic dynamics (cognition, emotion and psychomotor activity). Each develops during mental evolution,


and may, therefore, be simple or more complex, well-or-badly-organized, and similar to a reflex or nearer to conscious and voluntary activity, according to Jackson's law.” (8) It must, however, be added that lower kinds of memory may be subject to dissolution, owing to the influence of superior conscious activities.

Psychiatrists, encountering in their scientific and clinical work mental disorders of great intensity which often end unfavorably, have identified general morbid mechanisms in slighter mental disorders—psychoneuroses, states of depression, fear, anxiety, and lack of mental equilibrium—with mechanisms in drastic processes of involution. This is why psychiatrists attach an exaggerated meaning to any symptoms that are similar to those appearing in various morbid processes. It seems probable, however, that many of the slighter disorders just mentioned are an expression of positive developmental processes. For what is the path of evolution? It follows partial disintegration, which leads to the formation and conflicts of contrary sets of tendencies, then moves toward the development of a complex, multilevel structure with the formation of a higher hierarchy of aims.

Jackson's error (augmented by Mazurkiewicz) concerning the rejection of qualitative differences between different levels of the nervous system continues to be made whenever the psychiatrist overlooks qualitative differences in the mental disorders of various developmental levels. States of depression and hypomania, delusional symptoms, feelings of strangeness in relation to the world and to the self will differ qualitatively from one another and will have different


8 Ibid., p. 128.


meanings, depending upon the level of development on which they appear. Jackson, distinguishing negative and positive symptoms of dissolution, did not perceive that among positive symptoms we often encounter those which lead to the development of a higher evolutionary level. This is illustrated by the passing from feelings of inferiority and guilt through a state of disharmony and the conflict between various sets of tendencies to a level of stable moral values.

In his last paper Mazurkiewicz quotes the view of J. Joteyko concerning the participation of conflicts and inner disharmony in the development of man: “Mental states have a life of their own; they strive to live and develop fully. This being their aims, they fight inextricably, the winner triumphing. Those states cannot co-exist without struggling in our consciousness, which always represents one whole, but whose field of vision is limited to one spot. The aim of that fight is to assure the very best functioning of mental activities by perfecting its elements and by the victory of the strongest.” (9) These strenuous contests and conflicts, described as “over-educated self-consciousness” by Zeromski, are a feature characteristic of many psychoneurotic individuals and are seen in some psychoses such as schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychosis. Therefore, the symptoms of many “slighter” mental disorders ought to be considered an expression of positive rather than negative compensation and development.

Just as is the case in various developmental crises, such as puberty and sometimes the climacteric, many mental disorders may be the cause as well as the symptom of positive development of the individual, bringing increasing awareness


9 Ibid., p. 10.


both in retrospection and in prospection, even though there is disadaptation to the present situation. In both former and latter states a psychic complexity arises as a basic factor in the development of a multidimensional structure and in the potential for creativity. Every disease, including mental disease, causes a break in automatic adaptation and often gives impulse to an accelerated development. The stresses of life and the conflict of disadaptation may activate attitudes which until then had no chance of revealing themselves.

The Jacksonian hypothesis that the highest mental levels are most easily injured and are initially involved during illness has not been validated. Pierre Janet's “function of reality” places highest value on synthetic adaptation to the actual situation. However, the majority of outstanding creative minds in the field of art and even of science manifest in great measure an underdevelopment of this function of reality in conditions of everyday life. This indicates that their evolution involves disintegration. In this type of individual a strong instinct of development has overcome a lower “function of reality.” Neurasthenics and psychasthenics are in many cases mentally and morally very efficient, though often not able to complete this or that concrete action. Also there is no adequate evidence to support the hypothesis that dissolution begins in higher and newer functions and proceeds downward to simple, automatic ones. The life history of prominent individuals and also of many psychoneurotics reveals a dissolution and even atrophy of simple automatic functions, whereas their higher, complex functions are fully preserved. Gandhi's hunger strike is proof of a complete control of the instinct of self-preservation,


and of the instinct of hunger. Many individuals submit consciously to starvation down to a state of inanition out of the sense of duty, or for the sake of love. Others submit consciously to tortures. In many cases of psychoneurosis—for example, obsessional neurosis—we meet with an unimpaired efficiency of the higher functions while the lower functions are weakened, inhibited, or deficient. The recovery of numerous mental patients results in not only their return to their previous state of health but also the attainment of a higher level of mental functioning. Patients often manifest a development of their creative capacities even during the climax of their illness.

Taking into consideration the similarity between certain symptoms of mental diseases, the behavior of highly productive, creative, and intelligent individuals, and the symptoms shown by normal persons during such developmental crises as puberty or the climacteric and during periods of stress, I conclude, contrary to Jackson, that slight morbid symptoms may have a positive influence on the development of most individuals. In like fashion, by examining mental symptoms from the point of view of the development of the personality, I further conclude, unlike Jackson, that positive and negative disintegrative processes in psychopathology can be distinguished.

I find that slighter forms of mental disorder are closely related to an individual's accelerated development, are often indispensable to it, and, indeed, constitute its essential mechanism. This I have termed the process of positive disintegration.

Jackson's practice of labeling a given symptom as morbid cannot be used solely on the analysis of the symptom's struc-


ture and pattern. It is necessary to examine its place and significance in the developmental history of a given individual, and its dynamic meaning for him, depending on his age, sex, personality type, and cultural level.

Many symptoms of disintegration are not, as Jackson states, the expression of transition from a complex to a simple level, from a free to an automatic one, or from a hierarchically higher to a lower one, but often just the reverse.

Finally, in partial opposition to and in extension of Jackson's principles of evolution and dissolution, I believe that certain disintegrative processes which appear to injure higher functions in actuality cause the weakening, loosening, and dissolution of primitive structures and lead to evolutionary development of hierarchically higher structures.



Positive Disintegration and Child Development







THE PERIOD OF INFANCY IS A DISTINCTLY integrated one since all the activities of an infant are directed to the goal of satisfying the basic necessities. The opposite of integration is disintegration, i.e., structures and dynamisms scattered, separated, split, and not subordinated to a distinct disposing and directing center.

Disintegration is strongly manifested during the developmental periods of childhood. We may observe distinct signs of it in infants, both at about 18 months and at 2 ½ years of age. Capriciousness, dissipated attention, period of artificiality, animism, and magical thinking are closely connected with a wavering nervous system and unstable psychic structure. During this time a child's moods are changing and its acts are incoherent and very often in contradiction to one another. In the age of opposition, elements of disintegration become stronger.


A later but still typical period of disintegration is the age of puberty, characterized by its lack of emotional balance, its ambivalence, ambitendencies, variation of attitudes either with a feeling of superiority or of inferiority, criticism and self-criticism, often self-dislike, maladaptation to the outer world, and concern with the past or future rather than the present. A lack of psychic balance and disintegration symptoms are also likely to appear in the climacteric period.




Nervous children, who have increased psychomotor, emotional, imaginative, and sensual or mental psychic excitability and who show strength and perseveration of reactions incommensurate to their stimuli, reveal patterns of disintegration. A child with psychomotor hyperexcitability responds far beyond what is appropriate to the stimuli of his environment, occasioning conflicts within himself and with others. So does the child with increased emotional excitability, whose individual structure contains germs of disintegration (anxiety, phobias, slight states of anguish, and emotional hypersensitivity).

The child with imaginative hyperexcitability is not able to agree with his environment; he will often reach out beyond the limits of actual life into a world of dreams and fantasy. He manifests a pronounced maladaptation to reality. The child with sensory hyperexcitability, the exaggerated growth of the sensory sphere to the disadvantage of other spheres, may also have difficulties in adapting to his


surroundings and in managing himself in conditions demanding reactions of a different kind from sensory ones. The child with mental hyperexcitability can also be maladapted, owing to an exaggerated search for explanations and a tendency to intellectualize problems in everyday life.

Psychoneurotic children clearly demonstrate the large field of disintegration and the great variability of its symptoms. Increased excitability here is a minor manifestation, for disorders of thought, of sensation, and of emotional life are more important symptoms. Extreme manifestations of pathological disintegration are psychotic children—most typically schizophrenics.




Emotions play a vital role in the psychic life of man. According to Pierre Janet, they have a disintegrating influence upon the mind: “Every emotion acts in a dissolving way upon the mind, diminishes its capacity of synthesis and renders it weaker for a certain time.” On the other hand, it is well known that certain feelings, such as love, are elements that mobilize people, particularly children. We often observe a distinct association between increased emotional excitation (nervousness in general) in children and their capabilities.

Here we note two contradictory points of view concerning emotions in the psychic life of children: the theory of positive disintegration and Janet's negative view. These two opinions might be reconciled by the acknowledgment of two types of disintegrating action, one of them working


positively in the field of a child's development, the other working negatively. Positive disintegration renders the individual's psychic structure especially sensitive to stimuli, causing a deepening and acceleration of his development. Negative disintegration creates disharmony in the child's emotional structure without activation of tendencies to development or to creativity. Thus, in the case of emotional hyperexcitability, a child's susceptibility to exterior and interior stimuli increases, and a positive development of intellectual, moral, and aesthetic values is likely to take place.




Similarly, the feeling of self-inferiority, according to Adler's school and to other psychiatrists, may have either a positive or a negative influence upon a child's development, depending on the child's constitutional, intellectual, and moral capacities as well as on the effect of the environment.

The feeling of self-inferiority in children concerns their relationship not only to their surroundings but to themselves. It may be a symptom of multilevel disintegration causing a dispersion and sometimes even a splitting of the child's psychic structure, in which case it leads to the establishment of higher or “better” and lower or “worse” structure in the inner self. Such a process will encourage a growth in judgment, richness of emotional life, and movement toward the formation of a personality. There sometimes also develops a feeling of guilt attached to activities


originating at the lower level and to conflicts between lower and higher values in the internal environment of the child.




Frustration is generally considered a negative factor in man's development, but it may also have another aspect. We know of cases in which frustration played a positive role in the lives of individuals endowed with rich moral, intellectual, and aesthetic resources. The examples of Balzac, Fergusson, David, Dryden, and others prove that frustration may lead to positive compensation, may awaken abilities, prompt ambition, increase sensitivity, and contribute to the growth of creativeness and the development of an ideal. Frustration may have a principal part in the self-education of youth for during the period of puberty an attitude of will appears, confirming or rejecting certain values.




Psychic infantilism may also be related to positive development. An individual with this condition may show on the one hand expressions of mental immaturity but on the other hand considerable alertness, an increased psychic sensitiveness, and often very rich intellectual resources. This kind of immaturity in children and young people should not be considered disadvantageous; it is, on the contrary, a poten-


tially positive factor in their development. In many artists, writers, and scientists (for example, Chopin, Slowacki, Shelley, and Veininger) we may observe symptoms of psychic infantilism. The complex of psychic properties which we call infantilism may contain innumerable possibilities of development toward the creative personality.




The question arises: When may disintegration be considered positive? Examples of positive disintegration may be observed in the psychic phenomena of everyday life. During such periods as the age of opposition, puberty, and maturation we observe the strongest developmental progress, the most intense individual experience, and the greatest transformation of psychic structure. At the same time, however, we note that the individual undergoes a very serious faltering of equilibrium. Many specialists of this domain in psychiatry consider that these periods partly approach schizophrenia. According to Rorschach, persons of the so-called ambiequal type, who are highly harmonious, are seen mostly in the period of opposition and during the period of puberty, which, as we know, usually are times of disharmony and disintegration. Although some individuals have a disquieting wavering of psychic structure during these periods, they also may begin to display harmonious elements which develop in the course of time. Nervousness and psychic excitability, both characteristic of such a wavering psychic system, are correlated with positive capabilities.


Polish, French, and Swiss investigators agree that among capable school children 80 per cent are nervous or show symptoms of slight neurosis.

States of anxiety and of hyperexcitability and certain states of neurosis—self-dislike, depressive reactions, and a feeling of strangeness toward reality, for example—are often connected with the capacity for accelerated development and with psychic subtlety, a delicacy of feeling, and considerable moral development. Most of the mechanisms considered typical of psychoneurosis by Pavlov's school, such as the swaying of balance between the processes of stimulation and inhibition, excessive inhibition or stimulation, and disharmony between activities of the cortex and subcortical centers, or between the first and second signaling system, are phenomena generally observed in sensitive individuals with considerable abilities and potential for a high level of development.

Positive disintegration is also found in the psychopathology of eminent men. Beers, Fergusson, David, Wagner, and Dostoevsky show distinct psychotic or borderline psychotic processes. During or after their illness these men manifested higher forms of creative psychic organization than before. Even when suspecting psychosis, the psychiatrist must refrain from judging the case to be pathological disintegration until the end of the process. The so-called psychopathological symptoms—delusions, anxiety, phobias, depression, feelings of strangeness of oneself, emotional overexcitability, etc.—should not be generally or superficially classified as symptoms of mental disorder and disease since the further development of individuals manifesting them will often prove their positive role in development.

The theory of Jackson and the neo-Jacksonists, who con-


ceive development as the passing from a simple, automatic, well-organized level to a more complicated, less automatic, and not so well-organized level, is based in a certain sense on a one-sided idea of developmental mechanisms, especially as concerns children. First, we may observe well-organized activities on a very high level, and second (contrary to Jackson's theory), disease processes may involve structures of lower or middle levels, not interfering with higher activities. There is no evidence that psychoneuroses are the initial state of every mental disease.

The conception of Freud, stressing the morbidity of conflict between libido and reality, and between the id, ego, and superego, is not a full explanation of the dynamics of normal and pathological development. In my opinion, the conflict within the inner psychic milieu, especially in its multilevel structure, is one of the most important dynamisms in the positive development of personality.

The inner conflict in neurosis, described by Jung as pathological, seems to play a principal role in development, while Pierre Janet's “reality function” plays a synthesizing part in adapting the individual to reality. Janet regards the absence of “reality function” in the inner structure as a cause of psychoneurosis. The theory of positive disintegration implies that the “reality function” undergoes major transformations during development.

It seems probable that certain forms of maladaptation to one's self and to reality, hypersensitivity, lability of psychic structure, and even certain symptoms of internal discord such as self-criticism with a strong emotional accent are elements indispensable in man's development.

During developmental crises and during periods of stress


in the lives of children we may find in nervousness, neurosis, and many other disintegration processes hidden germs of positive intellectual and character development. This conclusion is illustrated by a school crisis:


M—, a girl 10 years old of asthenic-schizothymic type, had marked mathematical and scientific abilities and was dutiful, with a tendency to be overly so.

After good progress in one school she was moved to another, more extroverted system, where the teachers were prone to superficial appreciation of their students, basing their opinions on the pupil's boldness and originality.

M—, a rather shy girl with excessive inhibitions, withdrew from these new conditions and for several weeks showed both shyness and anxiety. She obtained marks that were fairly good, but much lower than in her former school. Her anxieties increase; she became resentful, slept badly, lost weight, and was either irritable or withdrawn.

After several months her marks improved, although she lost confidence in some of her teachers. When her parents discussed with her the possibility of moving to another class or another school, she replied: “It seems to me that in another class or school there will be similar teachers. I don't want to change. Always, only some of the teachers and some of the other student will like me. That's the way people are, and that's the way I am.” In this case, disintegration occurred in an ambitious girl with a strong sense of justice, resulting in withdrawal and resentment. The fact that she did not wish to transfer to another class or school seems to be explained by emotional exhaustion and, at the same time, an increasingly realistic attitude toward the environment and patterns of interaction with it. This is a sign of partial, still insufficient, but clear rebuilding. Secondary integration is evident in M's new appreciation of herself and others but is still combined with a feeling of disappointment and a certain degree of compromise.



Mental Health as the Progressive Development of Personality










ONE ASPECT OF THE CONCEPT OF MENTAL health is the relationship of frustration to one's psychic state. A person deprived of the possibility of fulfilling his basic needs experiences frustration. Such deprivation, especially in children and adolescents, often leads to slight or severe psychosomatic disturbances, to various asocial attitudes, e.g., increased egoism, aggressiveness, stealing, and delinquency, or even to psychosis. However, what is the relationship of frustration to mental health when deprivation is deliberately produced by the individual himself? Under these circumstances frustration takes on a different meaning. Individuals with great inner depth, social sensitivity, alterocentrism, and a strong sense of justice may consciously and voluntarily, like Mahatma Gandhi, commit themselves to self-frustration. Such individuals are aware that most people


are continually or intermittently deprived of the possibility of realizing their needs. This awareness often constitutes the basis for voluntary acceptance of similar deprivation in the name of social justice. Thus these individuals achieve their goals in personality development. There are, then, two processes of frustration: one involuntary, negative in results; the other conscious and voluntary, often conducive to personality development (in both those who practice it and those for whom it is undertaken).

A similar situation is evident with feelings of inferiority. They may lead to jealousy, anxiety states, depression, or aggressive tendencies. On the other hand, inferiority feelings, the sense of shame and guilt in relation to others and especially toward oneself, may form a basic dynamism for personality development. The sense of inferiority in relation to oneself occurring in a person capable of development is an acknowledgment of having acted incorrectly; there emerges a sense of disharmony between one's own moral possibilities and one's present behavior. Such feelings of inferiority may not be detrimental to the development of the individual but may be a positive element in his development.

It is not within the scope of this chapter either to discuss all the elements which may influence an individual's personality or to isolate any single factor. What should be noted, however, is that any one factor must be considered (so far as total mental health of an individual is concerned) in both time and space. By space is meant its position with regard to other factors that may be present; by time is meant temporal variability. Therefore, such specific symptoms as anxiety, phobia, or depression may be positive or


negative and ought not to be hastily or superficially judged by the psychiatrist.




The psychiatrist should not base his diagnosis of health or illness of a patient exclusively or even primarily on the actual symptoms the patient shows. Symptoms of nervousness in one individual may be automatic, half-conscious, uncreative reactions. In another patient the same symptoms can represent a process of increasing sensitivity, or even remodeling of the personality. Symptoms of unreality and depersonalization can, in one instance, indicate the onset of a psychotic process; in another situation they may signify a process of positive personality development.

Diagnosis of the pathological or healthy nature of the syndromes of inferiority and guilt depends on the role that these syndromes play in the individual, the relation between the individual and the group around him, and whether or not there is an increase in insight and self-awareness. In most cases it is possible to evaluate these factors by an examination of the patient's actual situation. However, in cases of severe neuroses and psychoses the psychiatrist can reach an opinion only after months or even years of observation and investigation which have allowed him to grasp the manifestations of unconscious, genotypic structure and their meaning to the whole personality of the patient.

Actual symptoms of psychoneurosis—or even psychosis—


do not tell us much about the fundamental process of the development or the dissolution of an individual. The same symptom picture in two persons may represent very different causal backgrounds and have very different results. The psychiatrist cannot, therefore, prognosticate about a given process on the basis actual symptoms, any more than he could pronounce a negative and final judgment about a child's personality on the basis of, for example, transient lying, tantrums, opposition, and disobedience. No final prognosis may be based merely on the appearance of any symptom.

Today, the well-known axiom Mens sana in corpore sano cannot be taken seriously. There are many physically health psychopaths, neurotics, and even psychotics. Conversely, there are many people physically ill whose basic psychic elements function at a high level. In fact, it can be observed that in many individuals physical illness causes changes in psychic structure which lead to increased sensitivity of consciousness, alterocentrism, responsibility, and broader conceptual horizon. Of course, the direction of such phenomena depends, to a large extent, on the specific psychic structure of a particular individual.

Immobility, physical weakness, unpleasant events in the external environment, and changes in the autonomic nervous system often increase the vividness and richness of imagination and deepen one's sensitivity to the external and internal world. Sherrington describes this condition as dissociation between the skeletal muscular function and the functions of thought and speech, while Pavlov describes it in terms of the second signal system typical of psychasthenics. The creative wealth of artists and philosophers is


not unrelated to past or current physical ailments. The English poet John Keats, afflicted with tuberculosis, wrote, “Such thoughts came seldom when I was healthy.” In many creative individuals physical illness accelerates the development of creativity and deepens the personality. From the chaos of symptoms of the physically sick there may emerge elements strengthening talent and developing personality. Surely, whatever meaning we may give to mental health, this is a positive side of it.




In current discussions of mental health a distinction is often made between positive and negative definitions. The negative definition is that mental health is the absence of symptoms of a pathological process or of a pathological constitution. The positive definition invokes the presence of some characteristic such as the fulfillment of one's potentialities, or the ability to love and to work. According to one view, the absence of pathological characteristics is sufficient for a given individual to be regarded as mentally healthy; according to the other, it is necessary to discover positive characteristics in order to consider a person mentally healthy. The first or negative definition is erroneous since psychic symptoms may be signs of positive personality development.

The theory of positive disintegration has it that most states of anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of psychoneurosis are necessary conditions of positive development


of the individual. They permit him to become susceptible to factors accelerating and deepening his personality growth. The individual who is nervous or who succumbs to psychoneurotic processes often shows a greater potential for psychic development—psychic health, not illness. Mental health is the progressive development of the personality; therefore, progressive psychic development is the movement toward higher and higher levels of personality functions in the direction of the personality ideal.

The propensity for changing one's internal environment and the ability to influence positively the external environment indicate the capacity of the individual to develop. Almost as a rule, these factors are related to increased mental excitability, depressions, dissatisfaction with oneself, feelings of inferiority and guilt, states of anxiety, inhibitions, and ambivalences—all symptoms which the psychiatrist tends to label psychoneurotic.

Given a definition of mental health as the development of the personality, we can say that all individuals who present active development in the direction of a higher level of personality (including most psychoneurotic patients) are mentally healthy. Also, many psychotic patients (including schizophrenics) who cannot have actual mental health have the potential for it.

The negative formulation of mental health, as we have seen, is static, but easy to describe specifically. The consideration of mental health as progressive development, on the other hand, constitutes a dynamic formulation but is difficult to describe explicitly. One approach would be to list the most frequent characteristics occurring during different stages in the life cycle, but this overemphasizes “average”


patterns. Such a formulation becomes more complete, however, by the introduction of exemplary values for these structures.

The question of normality in a person is usually decided on the basis of how similar his personality characteristics are, both in frequency and in force, to those psychosomatic processes most often encountered in a given society. The most frequent and thus “normal” traits express themselves in the following norms: practical rather than theoretical intelligence, predominantly egocentric rather than theoretical intelligence, predominantly egocentric rather than alterocentric attitudes toward society, and preponderance of the self-preservation, sexual, exploratory, and social instincts. These traits are commonly in compliance with group thinking and behavior and are often accompanied by minor, “safe” dishonesty. Such a group of “normal” traits in a person should, according to many, allow us to describe him as mentally healthy. Can we agree? No. This formulation is humiliating to mankind; a more suitable definition of mental health must contain, besides average values, exemplary ones.

An appraisal of the mental health of an individual must, therefore, be based on the findings of progressive development in the direction of exemplary values. Most psychoneurotics are mentally healthy according to this definition. An individual (even a schizophrenic) who has the ability to develop has potential mental health.

In assessing the mental health of outstanding persons one should apply individual, almost unique, personality norms, for the course of their development must be evaluated in terms of their own personality ideals. These individuals often show accelerated development in one direction or


another. They are likely to have psychoneuroses, one-sided skills, little stereotypy in their attitudes, often more or less impaired reality testing, easy transfer of mental tension to the autonomic nervous system, and often outstanding dexterity of higher functions with retardation of lower ones. An accurate evaluation must be based on a thorough knowledge of the history of their life and development.




Creativity is the ability for, and realization of, new and original approaches to reality. It is expressed in the new formulation of issues and in original productions arising from unique interrelationships between the psychic internal milieu and the stimuli of the external world. Stereotypy, the automatic repetition of past patterns, is a necessary phase in the development of an individual. It is concerned with activities of everyday life after they have been “learned”—walking, running, eating, and many occupational tasks. Automatic repetitions also occur in mental activities: orderliness in work, systematic functioning, short cuts in calculations, and the everyday association of ideas. The individual who shows personality development always has some stereotypy and some creativity. Stereotypy increases in old people but leads to progressive personality paralysis and mental retardation. The necessity of constantly living in the same cultural milieu with the same people is in a sense stamped with stereotypy. Where curiosity and disquietude do not arise, there is no more than automatic activity. The attitudes


of self-criticism, doubt, surprise, and disquietude are essentially healthy and creative.

Creativity is the enemy of stereotypy and automatic activity. A creative person is prospective and inventive even during retrospective contemplation. In the projective method of Rorschach a creative individual will give original answers with kinesthetic perceptions, color sensitivity, many whole responses, and awareness of light and shade. Persons of the ambiequal type, according to Rorschach, are creative individuals.

The ability to take new and original approaches to reality is particularly evident during the developmental stages of life and is often connected in some individuals with periods of emotional crisis, inner conflicts, and difficult life experiences. It seems to demand “turbulence” in the inner environment. The creative attitude commonly accompanies the infantile mental qualities, mental imbalance, and excessive sensitivity found in some adults. Psychoneurotics are very likely to be creative. They often show loosening and disruption of the internal milieu and conflict with the external environment.

Are creative people mentally healthy? A question phrased in this way has to be answered in general in the affirmative. They are not healthy according to the standard of the average individual, but they are healthy according to their unique personality norms and insofar as they show personality development: the acquiring and strengthening of new qualities in the realization of movement toward their personality ideal.





Mental health is accompanied by some degree of ability to transform one's psychological type in the direction of attaining one's ideal. During the course of development, an individual experiences self-criticism and feelings of inferiority toward himself. The third factor (which has been discussed previously) becomes mobilized. In building his character an individual often recognizes tendencies which he cannot reconcile with the need to develop traits other than those he already has. For example, he may aim at transforming his excessively schizothymic and introverted attitude by developing syntony, alterocentrism, and the ability to live with others.

If the individual possesses opposite mental characteristics, he may aim to go beyond a narrow extroversion through reflection, meditation, and the developed ability to remain in solitude. These changes may be necessary to complete and cultivate his present structure in the realization of his personality ideal. During the changes he experiences the processes of positive disintegration, through which his psychological type becomes more complex and is supplemented with new, and to some degree opposite, characteristics. This leads to development of his inner psychic environment, a deepening and enlargement of his life experience, and, gradually, secondary integration. The transformation of psychological type, the deepening and broadening of personality, is directly related to symptoms of positive disintegration.


Mental health thus necessarily involves some psychological symptoms.




The efficiency of basic mental functions is too often given as the prime characteristic of an individual's mental health. However, even granting that we could agree on what these functions are, insurmountable difficulties exist in formulating a definition of mental health. The efficiency of basic mental functions increases and diminishes depending on the time of day or night, overwork, and motivation, as well as on the sense of well-being, the developmental stage of life, physical health, and many other factors. We cannot, therefore, regard simple inefficiency as signifying mental pathology. Moreover, some people show signs of incompetence in one area but marked efficiency in another area, on a different level and of a different scope. This observation applies particularly to psychoneurotic individuals, who often have great inner depth. Efficiency will be different in the asthenic-schizothymic, in psychocyclic, introverted, and extroverted types, and in people with increased psychic excitability. Also, during the course of development, efficiency of lower functions will be lower during periods of positive disintegration than it has been previously. However, efficiency of higher functions may be increased. Efficiency of a primitive kind thus gradually weakens, giving place to a growing efficiency on a higher level. In order to decide whether a given instance of inefficiency is healthy or pathological, a multidimensional approach is necessary.




In many psychiatric textbooks the ability to adapt to changing conditions of life is given as one of the characteristics of mental health. What is meant by this concept of adaptation? Does it mean clearly understanding various types of environmental reality and various human personality patterns, including their level of development, and on this knowledge basing appropriate behavior in accordance with one's principles? Or does it mean greater or lesser resignation of one's own point of view, principles, and modes of behavior for the sake of resolution of conflict?

The first formulation is in accordance with the demands of mental health; the second is not. The developing individual should understand reality as completely as possible. He should not react too emotionally to the difficulties emerging from it. He may even wisely involve himself in resistance's, conflicts, and the consequent life difficulties where an unavoidable situation demands nonadaptation if he is to be consistent with his moral and social points of view. Such an attitude practiced consistently contributes to the formation of moral individuality.




Experience, reflection, and the endeavor to reach a higher level of personality make a human being human. The poet.


Keats noted that it is impossible for man to develop without his sorrows as well as his joys. Sadness, depression, discontent with oneself, shame, guilt, and inferiority are essential for development, as are also the experience of feelings of joy and creativity. The sense of well-being may characterize a person who is developing, but it may also be present in some syndromes such as hypomania or accompany severe organic pathology such as general paresis and Korsakoff's syndrome. Moreover, the sense of mental ill health may often accompany the processes of accelerated personality development.

Herbert Spencer said that he would prefer to be a dissatisfied Socrates than a satisfied animal. We know that at certain stages of intensive psychic development (puberty, for example) negative moods predominate. Of course, a permanent, an unchanging mood of depression is not creative, but states of hypomania or depression, euphoria or sadness, are characteristic of certain phases of creativity.

A tendency to make global syntheses characterizes creative individuals at the height of their creativity. This is usually followed by a phase of self-criticism and distrust in one's creativity. And here again an accurate assessment of whether we are dealing with a healthy or a pathological process is not possible without a multidimensional temporospatial formulation of the individual's internal environment.

In states of psychoneurosis and in frustration a negative feeling state predominates; yet in most of these states we find creative dynamic processes. Kierkegaard's “fear and trembling” is an apt example, as are the creative developmental elements in the neurotic symptoms of Proust, Keats, and David.





The capacity to educate himself depends on the existence in an individual of the “object-subject” process, the ability to experience dissatisfaction with himself, and a sense of shame, guilt, and inferiority. The basic condition for self-education is the possession of a high level of self-awareness, namely, the ability to recognize the state of one's internal environment. This contributes to the development of self-control and self-approval, which are further elements in the process of self-education. The process of self-education also assumes the presence of a clear and dynamic personality ideal.

An individual capable of developing may be characterized by various forms of increased excitability or nervousness, and even by psychoneurosis. Mental tension, internal and external conflicts—indeed the whole process of disintegration—cause a sense of ill health. Nevertheless, such an individual possesses a sense of his own creativity, an awareness of the transformation of his character, and a knowledge of his personality ideal. These contributes to his ability to effect autopsychotherapy. Realization of the complexities of both the internal and the external environment and of one's own hierarchy of values enables one to reach a higher level of integration through autopsychotherapy, not merely to return to the previous state ( restitutio in integrun). An individual possessing these qualities usually has a great deal of knowledge about himself, his conflicts, and their role in


compensation and sublimation. His clear personality ideal allows him to determine the direction of the secondary integration.

It is not internal conflict, nervousness, or even neurosis which signifies mental disease. These symptoms, side by side with the capacity for autopsychotherapy and its participation in reaching a higher developmental level, indicate that the individual is mentally healthy. Psychic symptoms within one's structure and dynamic processes do not mean mental illness. True disturbance of mental health exists only in cases of negative disintegration. As has been made plain, syndromes of nervousness or psychoneurosis (and sometimes psychosis) may indicate not mental illness but rather developmental possibilities and unfolding mental health. In “pathological” cases of this kind the individual can determine his own fate and transformation. Such autopsychotherapy is nothing but self-education under especially difficult conditions.




The state of primary integration is a state contrary to mental health. A fairly high degree of primary integration is present in the average person; a very high degree of primary integration is present in the psychopath. The more cohesive the structure of primary integration, the less the possibility of development; the greater the strength of automatic functioning, stereotypy, and habitual activity, the lower the level of mental health. The psychopath is only slightly, if at all,


capable of development; he is deaf and blind to stimuli except those pertaining to his impulse-ridden structure, to which intelligence is subordinated. The absence of the development of personality means the absence of mental health.





During the stages of opposition and puberty, during breakdowns, depressions, and creative upsurges which violate the stabilized psychic structure, the psychiatrist may observe psychic disintegration, development of “new things,” decrease in automatic behavior, nonadjustment to the environment, and an increase in self-awareness, self-control, and psychic development. In these periods the individual develops an attitude of dissatisfaction with himself and a sense of shame, guilt, and inferiority. Also, the capacity for prospection and retrospection expands, the activity of the third factor increases, and there is a sense of reality of the personality ideal and the need to achieve it.

What is new, higher, richer, must in a large measure grow from the loosening and disruption of what is old, simple, poorer, integrated, and nondynamic. Achievement of the “new,” the “higher,” is almost always connected with a process which over a period of time must demonstrate a stronger or weaker, narrow or wide process of disintegration. Therefore, the stages of disintegration are related to creativity, general psychic development, growth of self-awareness, and mental health.


During the stage of opposition in the small child, during the stage of puberty, in states of nervousness and psychoneurosis, and under conditions of internal conflict, disharmony, and dysfunction in one's own internal environment, the third factor arises and becomes more or less pronounced. Self-awareness, self-approval, and self-disapproval play a basic role in the development of the third factor. It relates negatively and positively, and therefore selectively, to specific aspects of the external environment. This third factor always appears during periods of positive disintegration and is connected with creative, dynamic processes in prospective and retrospective attitudes and with purposeful nonadaptation. It is a basic factor for the realization of one's personality ideal. It is the primary dynamic element in the development of dissatisfaction with oneself, shame, guilt, and inferiority and in the building of one's own hierarchical internal environment. The development of personality, and consequently mental health, is clearly related to the activities of the third factor.

The process of mental disintegration in an individual leads to symptoms of multilevel disintegration. This results in disruption within the internal environment, in the rise of a sense of “object-subject,” in the growth of an awareness of higher and lower levels in the hierarchy of one's values, and in the development of an attitude of prospection and retrospection. All these contribute to the movement of the disposing and directing center to a higher level, to the emergence of the third factor, and to the development of a personality ideal. The activity of the third factor enables the individual to see more clearly his personal ideal, which, as it becomes more distinct, has greater influence on the development of the personality. Under these conditions the


individual becomes more cohesive in the area of his values and more socially sensitive and alterocentric, at the same time retaining his unique individual qualities. This situation leads to a high level of mental health.

Everyday experience and experiments of developmental psychology indicate that one-sided specialization narrows personality development. Yet specialization (as long as it is temporary or relates only to a limited range of activities) is necessary and useful in modern society. Creativity, on the other hand, is almost always allied to a broad intellectual sensitivity and to a multidimensional attitude. The developing individual cannot submit to narrow specialization except at the cost of a loss in creativity.

The increasing development of technology has become a basic element in our civilization. Technology is essential for the progress of modern society and has provided man with mass production, efficient and widespread distribution of goods and services, and thus a considerable degree of material well-being. Traditional humanism emphasizes a broader educational background, moral and social values, and the uniqueness of the individual. Both components are necessary for the development of individuals and society, but the humanistic orientation must play a dominant role in relation to technology. The reverse relationship would weaken the psychic development of the individual and consequently diminish the potentials of society. Technology increases rather than minimizes the potentiality for both individual and group psychopathology.

The concept of mental health must be based on a multi-dimensional view of personality development. Higher levels of personality are gradually reached both through adapta-


tion to exemplary values and through disadaptation to lower levels of the external and internal environments. Development proceeds through the transformation of one's type, the widening of one's interests and capabilities, and the gradual approach toward one's personality ideal through the process of positive disintegration and the activity of the third factor. Thus development moves—in partial accordance with Jackson's formulation —from what is simple to what is complex, and from what is automatic to what is spontaneous. Mental health is the development of personality toward a more elevated hierarchy of goals set by the personality ideal. In this definition, mental health means the continual striving toward further personality development.


End of text





Personality-shaping Through

Positive Disintegration







Little, Brown and Company, Boston
































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Kazimierz Dąbrowski, M.D., Ph.D.


Visiting Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry,

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada


Introduction by O. HOBART MOWRER, Ph.D. Research Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana




























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Copyright 1967 by Kazimierz Dąbrowski


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.



Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 67-16737


First Edition







Published in Great Britain by J. & A. Churchill Ltd. London


British Catalogue No. 7000 0101 8


Printed in the United States of America














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PERSONALITY IS NOT A READY GIFT but an achievement. This achievement is a very difficult, even painful, process. The aim of this book is to describe and to discuss this process.




Our personality is shaped throughout our lives; our inborn characteristics constitute the basis determining our potential for inner growth. The shaping of personality occurs under the influence of various external milieus. However, it is in the inner psychic milieu that the formative process takes place. The role of the inner psychic milieu is most significant in the accelerated development of psychically richer and more creative individuals.


This means that our personality cannot be created or shaped by some external influence or process without our inner partici-













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pation. Such involvement is most clearly seen in the development of higher levels of personality. For this to happen we have to have an enhanced awareness, a sense of autonomy and authenticity of our own self.


It will be shown in this work, on the basis of the author's clinical experience and research, that certain psychic elements, such as various forms of overexcitability, germinal elements of the inner milieu, or nuclei of creative abilities, are essential for the formative process leading to the achievement of personality and must come with hereditary endowment. It is usually emphasized that the most important period determining the shaping of personality is the period when the infant “tries his own forces” against the outer environment. However, one must realize that a period even more important than that of early infancy is the period of “awakening” that brings about the development of the inner psychic milieu and its main dynamisms.


Conflicts play an extremely important role in the development of personality. Of all types of conflicts the inner conflict is particularly significant. The same can be said about nervousness and psychoneurosis. Without the disturbance and disequilibrium brought about by nervousness and psychoneurosis, the process of personality development cannot be realized. This is because the dynamisms active in these departures from psychic equilibrium also contain the primary elements of creative development.


The author's basic thesis can be stated as follows: Personality development, especially accelerated development, cannot be realized without manifest nervousness and psychoneurosis. It is in this way that such experiences as inner conflict, sadness, anxiety, obsession, depression, and psychic tension all cooperate in the promotion of humanistic development.


Those especially trying moments of life are indispensable for the shaping of personality. An effort to overcome and transform psychoneurotic dynamisms reveals the action of self-directing and self-determining dynamisms that make autopsychotherapy possible and successful.


The difficult moments that promote personality growth generate psychic tension. We cannot, however, advise one to seek lib-








eration from psychic tension since this very tension is absolutely necessary for creative development. Neither can we advise certain forms of “treatment” of nervousness and psychoneuroses that aim at ridding the individual of the so-called pathological dynamisms. In our opinion, most of these dynamisms are not pathological but are developmental and creative. We should rather recommend a very early and repeatedly performed multidimensional diagnosis of the developmental potential of a given individual. Only in this way can one help in the development of personality—not by “treatment,” but by explanation and awareness of the inevitable stages of growth.


One must clearly understand that, for an individual and for the society he belongs to, only such development is positive which takes into account the creative aspects of the difficulties of everyday life, pain, dissatisfaction, and discontinuities in the—superficially desirable—uniform process of growing up.


In our view, personality is the ultimate goal of individual development. Such development occurs through the process of positive disintegration; it is at the same time the result of such disintegration.


Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration is intended for readers with a synthetic approach to the humanistic development of man and society. The author hopes that through this book psychologists, educators, social workers, and physicians active in the field of human development, who find around them and in themselves symptoms of positive maladjustment, will be aided in their work and personal striving toward higher values.

K. D.

Edmonton, Canada









Introduction O. HOBART MOWRER.......................................................................................... xi


1. THE DEFINITION OF PERSONALITY................................................................................. 3



INTEGRATION, AND DISINTEGRATION.............................................................................. 47


3. POSITIVE DISINTEGRATION............................................................................................... 91


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4. METHODS OF SHAPING PERSONALITY.......................................................................... 144


5. EXAMPLES OF HISTORICAL PERSONALITIES.............................................................. 200







Index................................................................................................................................................ 263




































In the letter in which the author of this remarkable volume invited me to write an introduction to it, he himself included a paragraph which might serve as a short preamble. He said:


This work is based on many years of clinical and pedagogical experience. I am sure that I commit, here, numerous errors and imprecisions. But, at the same time, I believe this book points to, and brings out, the general human tendencies involved in the difficult road to creativity, to perfection, and to mental and moral health. This process of human development is, I believe, concomitant with the progressive adjustment of the individual to “what-ought-to-be” and to positive maladjustment in regard to the inferior primitive levels of development and to all that is wrong and incorrect in the psychic inner environment and in relation to the external environment.














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At once it will be apparent, from these few sentences, that Dr. Kazimierz Dąbrowski is no ordinary psychiatrist. Although educated as a physician, he has developed a conception of man and his “existential” vagaries which radically transcends the physical and biological realms; and although later trained in Freudian psychoanalysis, he has a point of view which, instead of denigrating morality and idealism, puts them in a place of supreme importance.


Dr. Dąbrowski has certainly been a pioneer in the development of the kind of psychiatry that is set forth in this book, and he deserves great credit for his originality and courage. But, at the same time, there is nothing singular or eccentric about his particular orientation. It is, in fact, part and parcel of a widespread and growing perspective in clinical psychology and psychiatry which can only be described as revolutionary. Although Harry Stack Sullivan and certain other “neo-Freudians” may be said to have paved the way for this line of development, its most vigorous and clearest contemporary formulations are to be found in the work of Dąbrowski, and other writers such as William Glasser, Willard Mainord, Sidney Jourard, and Perry London. Here there is a shift in emphasis from biology to sociology, from illness to ignorance, from the organic to the interpersonal, and from the “treatment” model of general medicine to the teacher-pupil or educational paradigm.


It will therefore be my purpose, in this introduction, to try to “brief” the reader for a quicker understanding and deeper appreciation of this book and the general point of view it represents than might otherwise be possible, if he came to it without prior knowledge or preparation. Not only is Dąbrowski's conception of psychopathology highly unconventional and thus not likely to be immediately grasped in its true light, but it is also couched in a somewhat technical language which the author, over the years, has evolved for his own purposes; it takes a little while for the uninitiated to learn to make the necessary “translations” into more familiar terms and thought forms. Also, although Dr. Dąbrowski's command of formal English is excellent, his expressions are not always idiomatic and sometimes they fail to convey






his precise meaning if taken out of context. By the time most readers complete this book, they will have become familiar with and indeed fond of the author's style. But it is hoped that some advance familiarity with his special terms and basic concepts will make the perusal of this book both more enjoyable and more informative from the outset.




Dr. Dąbrowski's name and work first came to my attention in the form of a monograph entitled Psychological Basis of Self Mutilation which was published in 1937. But it was to be exactly a quarter of a century until I met the man himself. This came about in the following way. Early in 1962 I received a letter from Dr. Dąbrowski indicating that he contemplated a trip to this country and would plan to visit the University of Illinois. From a knowledge of my own writings he said he thought we perhaps shared some very similar views concerning the nature and correction of psychopathology, which he would like to discuss; he indicated a further desire to pay his respects, while here, to the widow of his late fellow countryman and friend, Florian Znaniecki, author (with W. I. Thomas) of the sociological classic The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. The letterhead indicated that the writer was a professor at the Polish Academy of Science and Director of the Institute of Child Psychiatry and Mental Hygiene, in Warsaw.


During our several conversations at the time of his 1962 visit, Dr. Dąbrowski piqued my curiosity with respect to what he was then calling “self-education.” By now, I too was convinced that in the condition ambiguously called “neurosis” the afflicted individual has more responsibility both for having gotten into such a state and for getting out of it than we commonly suppose. So the concept of “self-education,” or “autotherapy,” was very congenial to me. But I had not at this point read any of Dr. Dąbrowski's recent writings and my ability to grasp the full import of what he was saying was somewhat limited. Therefore, I was delighted, in 1964, to see the appearance, in English, of a book by






him entitled Positive Disintegration, with a special introduction by Dr. Jason Aronson of Boston, and under the imprint of Little, Brown and Company. I read this book with great interest and subsequently reviewed it for Contemporary Psychology (10, 538-540, 1965).


Then, a few months later, another letter arrived indicating that Dr. Dąbrowski was now in Canada on a research fellowship at a hospital in Montreal. Immediately I arranged for him to come again to Urbana and this time to deliver a number of lectures. During this visit I venture to say that our acquaintance began to ripen into friendship; but I was nevertheless surprised, and certainly much honored, to receive recently a typescript copy of this book and the author's request for some sort of introduction. Because it is my conviction that Dąbrowski's general approach, although highly unorthodox by conventional standards, is basically sound and because I would like to see it widely understood and accepted in this country, I am happy to have this opportunity to write a commentary. I may say that Dr. Dąbrowski is presently associated with the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.




Because it is my belief that this book is best read against a background of some knowledge of the earlier volume entitled Positive Disintegration, to which I have already alluded, I am taking the liberty of reproducing here my review thereof. It will afford the reader of the present volume an introduction, in some depth, to the author's central thesis and to some of the many powerful ideas and subtleties.


“In contrast to integration, which means a process of unification of oneself, disintegration means the loosening of structures, the dispersion and braking up of psychic forces. The term disintegration is used to refer to a broad range of processes, from emotional disharmony to the complete fragmentation of the personality structure, all of which are usually regarded as negative.


“The author, however, has a different point of view: he feels that






disintegration is a generally positive developmental process. Its only negative aspect is marginal, a small part of the total phenomenon and hence relatively unimportant in the evolution or development of personality” (p. 5).


Thus does Dąbrowski set forth, in general terms, his seemingly paradoxical conception of “positive disintegration” and its role in personality disturbance and growth. More specifically he says: “In relating disintegration to the field of disorder and mental disease, the author feels that the functional mental disorders are in many cases positive phenomena. That is, they contribute to personality, to social and, very often, to biological development. The present prevalent view that all mental disturbances are pathological is based on too exclusive a concern of many psychiatrists with psychopathological phenomena and an automatic transfer of this to all patients with whom they have contact” (p. 13).


And later Dąbrowski states his hypothesis even more baldly when he says: “The recovery of numerous mental patients results in not only their return to their previous state of health but also the attainment of a higher level of mental functioning. Patients often manifest a development of their creative capacities even during the climax of their illness” (p. 95).


Although this author does not always succeed in avoiding medical language, his concepts are not basically disease-centered. For example, he says: “The theory of positive disintegration places a new orientation on the interpretation of nervousness, anxiety, neurosis, hysteria, psychasthenia, depression, mania, paranoia, and schizophrenia” (p. 14). And elsewhere, in speaking of a particular patient's disturbance, he says: “It indicated deep dissatisfaction with his internal and external milieu and a tendency with very high emotional tension to resolve this on a higher level of synthesis. His symptoms could be diagnosed as `mixed depression and anxiety neurosis' or perhaps ‘borderline schizophrenia,' but such a label is merely psychiatric etiquette” (pp. 31-32)


Dr. Jason Aronson, in his very useful Introduction, says, even more explicitly: “Like Thomas Szasz, author of Myths of Mental Illness, Dąbrowski rejects the medical model of ‘illness' for psychiatric disorder” (p. xvii). Not only does he reject, at least in a general way, the medical model, but he is also anti-Freudian. Although originally trained (in Vienna, under Wilhelm Stekel) in psychoanalysis and quite restrained in his direct criticism thereof, Dąbrowski takes a position which can only be described as antithetical. Freud saw “neurosis” as caused by a superego. which is making unrealistic and too severe moral demands on the individual. “Conventional morality,” Freud asserted, “demands more sacrifices than it is worth.” And therapy, in this




frame of reference consists of trying to get the patient to “choose some intermediate course” (Sigmund Freud, General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, pp. 376-377).


On a scale of socialization or moral development, mental health, for Dąbrowski, does not lie in the middle but at the high end. Unlike Freud, he holds that normality (or “therapy”) consists of one's rising to the demands and challenges of conscience and the ideal community life it reflects, not in ignoring and trying to belittle them.


Dąbrowski thus takes very seriously the possibility that, in so-called neurosis (“identity crisis” is a much better term), we are dealing with real guilt (which has been kept carefully hidden) rather than with mere guilt feelings. The following statements typify Dąbrowski's position in this regard: “Guilt has a tendency to transform itself into a feeling of responsibility, which embraces the immediate environment and even all society. As has been mentioned, it seeks punishment and expiation. These latter factors play a major role in relieving the feeling and in beginning the ascent of the individual to higher levels of development” (p. 37, italics added). “An appraisal of the mental health of an individual must, therefore, be based on the findings of progressive development in the direction of exemplary values” (p. 113, italics added). “Mental health is accompanied by some degree of ability to transform one's psychological type in the direction of attaining one's ideal. . . . The transformation of psychological type, the deepening and broadening of personality, is directly related to symptoms of positive disintegration” (p. 116, italics added).


And what, more specifically, are “symptoms of positive disintegration”? They are “feelings of guilt, of shame, of inferiority or superiority, of the ‘object-subject' process [obsessive introspection and self-criticism], of the ‘third factor' [self-system], and of so-called psychopathological symptoms” (p. 22), “an attitude of dissatisfaction with [oneself] and a sense of shame, guilt, and inferiority” (p. 122). “Sadness, depression, discontent with oneself, shame, guilt, and inferiority are essential for development, as are also the experience of . . . joy and creativity” (p.119).


And when do these feelings, symptoms, signs of positive disintegration arise? At this point Dąbrowski's analysis begins to show some of the vagueness and ambiguity which Aronson mentions in his Introduction. At several points the author alludes to puberty, menopause, and periods of “external stress” as the common instigators of positive disintegration. Here individual responsibility is not necessarily indicated. But at other places in his book Dąbrowski takes the position that psychological stress arises from dissatisfaction “with regard to [one's] own conduct” (p. 36), “awareness of ‘infidelity' toward the





personality ideal” (p. 47), “an acknowledgment of having acted incorrectly” (p. 108), and “dishonesty” (p. 113).


Thus it is not unfair to say that for Dąbrowski “symptoms of positive disintegration” arise when one violates his own highest standards (conscience) and those of the reference group (or groups) to which he “belongs.” And the capacity to be thus disturbed, although undeniably the source of much suffering, is also the hallmark of our humanity and the wellspring of moral and social progression. The sociopath, as Dąbrowski repeatedly observes, is deficient in this capacity and is, accordingly, less “healthy,” less “normal” than are persons who are able to react to their own shortcomings (“sins”) with active discontent and self-administered “correction.” Here, incidentally, is a good place to say a word concerning the author's emphasis on what he calls “self-education” (or “autotherapy”). Whereas Freud saw conscience and guilt feelings as largely negative and something to be opposed, Dąbrowski regards them as “an indispensable factor in development” (p. 39), “the basis of the creative tension that moves [us] toward a stronger process of self-education” (p. 49), which “will admit no retreat from the road ascending to a personal and group ideal. The growing realization of a personality ideal is the secondary phase of self-education and is unique to the formed personality” (p. 63).


But not all personal dissatisfaction, guilt, or “disintegration” is “positive,” “self-educative.” Dąbrowski admits that it is sometimes “negative,” “genuinely pathological,” and conducive to personality “involution” (e.g., chronic psychosis or suicide) rather than growth. How can one “diagnose” the difference? Dąbrowski takes the (scientifically and practically not very satisfactory) position that such a differentiation is actually not possible; one can only infer retrospectively that a given instance of “disintegration” was positive or negative. “From the point of view of the theory of positive disintegration, we can make a diagnosis of mental disease only on the basis of a multidimensional diagnosis of the nature of the disintegration. The diagnosis may eventually be validated by observation of the eventual outcome” (p, 17). “Even when suspecting psychosis, the psychiatrist must refrain from judging the case to be pathological disintegration until the end of the process. The so-called psychopathological symptoms—delusions, anxiety, phobias, depression, feelings of strangeness to oneself, emotional overexcitability, etc.—should not be generally or superficially classified as symptoms of mental disorder and disease since the further development of individuals manifesting them will often prove their positive role in development” (p. 103).


It thus becomes apparent that Dąbrowski would be happy if he could avoid all reference to disease in the psychiatric context; but it is





also clear that he does not entirely succeed in this regard. The difficulty, I submit, arises from a too global interpretation of the concept of “symptom.” Two orders of phenomena are involved here, not one. The first comprises reactions of a purely emotional nature: guilt, depression, inferiority feelings, etc. The second has to do with the behavior a person manifests as a means of resolving these affects, i.e., the voluntary, deliberate, choice-mediated responses one makes in an effort to deliver himself from his emotional discomfort, disturbance of “dis-ease. “


If a person has a conscience (i.e., is well socialized) and behaves badly he has no choice but to feel bad, guilty, “sick.” His reactions, at this level of analysis, are automatic, reflexive, involuntary, “conditioned” and are neither positive nor negative, but equipotential. However, one does have a choice as to how one then responds to such emotional states, whether with “symptomatic” behavior designed to make oneself merely more comfortable or with what Dąbrowski calls autotherapeutic, self-educative actions (viz., confession and restitution), which will be temporarily painful but ultimately and profoundly stabilizing and growth-producing. Here—and only here—can we confidently and meaningfully make a distinction between positive and negative trends, decisions, “strategies.”


Thus there is no necessity to wait until “the end of the process” to determine what is positive “disintegration,” or crisis, and what is negative. It is entirely a matter of how the individual handles his automatic (autonomic) guilt reactions. And in neither case does it contribute anything to our understanding or practical control of the situation to postulate the presence of a “disease” or “pathological process,” any more than it does in any of thousands of other human situations where there is the possibility of making both good and bad choices.


Having in this way gotten the problem safely out of the realm of “disease” and into the area of decision theory, we can now take the further useful step of specifying, with considerable precision, the conditions under which one is likely to make good (wise) vs. bad (impulsive, foolish) decisions. Evidence from many sources indicates that individuals who live openly, under the judgment and with the counsel of their fellows, make, on the average, far better and better disciplined decisions than do persons who operate secretly, evasively, dishonestly. If we are committed to the practice of hiding certain of our actions and thus avoiding the consequences they would have if known, we are inevitably weak in the face of temptation, in that now impulse is easily dominant over prudential concerns. Willpower, it seems, is much more a matter of being “in community” than of haying a special faculty or strength within oneself. Hence the great virtue and effectiveness of group therapy: it provides the occasion for a “re-





turn to community” and recovery of order, stability, realism, and joy in one's life.


But what if the community, group, society is itself wrong? Isn't it then folly to submit to its values and discipline? This is not the place to explore this issue exhaustively. Suffice it to say that groups can indeed be in error—and certainly one of the worst errors—a group can make is to assume or teach that secrecy, isolation, “independence” on the part of individuals is a good thing. Today our society is commonly called “sick” and much attention is being given to “community mental health,” on the assumption that our way of life is still too demanding, strict, rigid, moralistic. This, in my judgment, is not our problem at all. Is it not rather that, as a people, we have accepted, as necessity if not an absolute good, the habit of compromise, deceit, and double-dealing? We shall, I think, vainly continue to seek “psychological integration” (or so-called “mental health”) until we recognize, once again, the central importance of personal integrity.


Dąbrowski's book Positive Disintegration usefully directs our attention away from the stultifying notion of disease and “emotional disorder” toward a way of thinking which, if not yet fully explicit and precise, is at least pointing in a new direction which we need to explore with all seriousness and dispatch.




Having considered this synopsis and critique of Dr. Dąbrowski's conception of so-called “psychopathology,” as developed in his earlier book, we are now in a position to examine, in proper context, the salient features of the present volume. For ease and compactness of exposition, I propose to list and briefly comment on these, somewhat didactically, as follows:


1. BASIC ISSUES. The reader, as he gets into the body of this work, should not be surprised if he encounters concepts which are not entirely free of ambiguity and superficial inconsistencies. The author would, I think, be the first to agree that his thought in these matters has not entirely crystalized and is still evolving. However, what is important is that he is here asking the right questions, and struggling with absolutely central issues, in an honest and creative way. Psychological stresses and disorder are recognized, the world over, as one of mankind's great unsolved problems; and it is also increasingly evident that the more con-




ventional theories and methods of treatment and prevention leave much to be desired. Therefore, originality and innovation should be applauded and actively encouraged, despite manifest imperfections and minor issues not yet fully resolved. As far as the general thrust and thesis of his argument is concerned, Dąbrowski writes with courage and conviction, tempered only by personal modesty and scientific caution and restraint.


Although he does not often use the term, it is clear that Dąbrowski is centrally concerned with what is commonly called human “socialization.” Here are some pertinent quotations from the text that follows:


The appearance of the feeling that one is committing a sin (“sin phase”) foreshadows the turning point in the moral development of man. This is a period during which one passes from a full instinctive integration to a gradual multilevel disintegration (feeling of guilt, shame, responsibility) [p. 131].


The pain and suffering of a child, his failures, his experiences of shame, and his feelings of inferiority or guilt are the fundamental dynamisms that reshape his primitive structure. They are positive dynamisms if, at the same time, they are offset by pleasant experiences: joy, satisfaction, ambitions, the feeling of superiority, the feeling of having fulfilled one's duty well, the experience of praise, and the like. This alternate action of unpleasant and pleasant stimuli is indispensable for the gradual “awakening of the inner milieu” (p. 169).


Skillfully controlled exposure of the child to the difficulties, in the environment, of his peers is one of the important sources of refashioning the child's attitude, for his equals are considerably more direct in behavior, and often considerably more objective, than older people, even parents. The environment of peers becomes, therefore, an environment creating conditions for reshaping the egocentric, egoistic, imperious, and other attitudes (p. 171).


The building of social and friendly relations in harmony with a moral responsibility for oneself and the environment, based on the one hand, on the development of social feeling, and on the other, on . the injunctions of the developing inner milieu (is essential) in the method of positive disintegration and secondary integration (p. 180).


And later the author epitomizes the forces making for human development as a “great creative tension” (p. 204).




One will at once sense here more of Alfred Adler than of Sigmund Freud. The latter took the position that psychopathology arises from oversocialization, from an educational and moral excess, from a superego or conscience which has been too highly developed and which, by virtue of its too great rigidity and strictness, “obstructs the stream of life,” that is, destructively and pathogenically blocks natural gratification of the instincts. And treatment, in this context, requires that the therapist align himself with the patient against conscience on the inside and the supporting moral and social environment on the outside.


Dąbrowski, like Adler and an increasing number of contemporary writers, takes the point of view that much of what is perceived as psychopathology is really just “growing pains” and thus healthy, normal, and inevitable. And when there is an arrest or reversal in this process of personal maturation, therapy, if properly conceived and directed, is not subtractive but positive, additive, educative, in the sense that it involves helping the individual to continue to grow up, to advance in socialization and personal integrity, rather than to reduce, undo, or scale it back. Therefore the aims of “therapy”—a term, incidentally, which Dąbrowski rarely uses—are fully congruent with those of education, and not opposed as in the conventional psychoanalytic frame of reference.


Thus, if Dąbrowski and others who are today taking a similar position are right in this contention, what they are calling for is indeed revolutionary and warrants our very thoughtful and urgent consideration.


2. THREE-FACTOR FRAMEWORK. One example of inconsistency which is more apparent than real arises from the fact that, in this book, the author seems repeatedly to shift his basic emphasis. Much of the time he stresses personal responsibility and the possibility of self-education and reeducation. But then he will write at length about hereditary determinants of personality structure and function or about important environmental influences. The key to understanding this seeming inconsistency is the fact that the author has a three-factor conception of personality; and what he calls the “third factor” or the capacity for self-




determination—Harry Stack Sullivan often spoke of “the Self-system”—is only one of three basic parameters or determinants, but one which Dąbrowski, very correctly, feels has been badly neglected in the recent past. On this score he says:


Self-education is the highest possible process of a psychological and moral character. It begins at the time when the individual undergoes changes which permit him to make himself partially independent of biological factors and of the influence of the social environment. At this stage a process, thus far not explained by psychology, takes place, as a consequence of which the individual becomes the resultant not only of inheritance, of factors acting in the womb of a mother, and of his biological and social environment, but also of one more, ever more powerful factor, namely that of defining oneself and of acting upon oneself (the so-called third factor) (p. 41).


Thus, what may at first appear to be inconsistency turns out to be comprehensiveness, a well-rounded rather than one-sided understanding of and approach to human personality and its determinants.


3. SOME ESSENTIAL DEFINITIONS. At this point I think it will be useful to look at certain of the special terms which Dąbrowski employs and make sure that their meanings are fully explicit. Throughout this work the reader will find reference to primary and secondary integration. These expressions correspond rather closely in their meanings to what Freud, in his 1911 paper entitled “Formulations Regarding Two Principles in Mental Functioning,” called the Pleasure Principle and the Reality Principle. For Dąbrowski, primary integration is a life style that is instinct dominated, pleasure-oriented, primitive. And secondary integration means a higher, more mature personality structure. Thus, primary and secondary, as here used, have nothing to do with importance or desirability. They have a purely temporal reference, implying what comes first and what comes second—but not secondarily.


The reader may also at first be puzzled by Dąbrowski's use of the terms unilevel and multilevel disintegration. First it should be noted that as this author commonly uses the term, disintegration means what is often implied by the term conflict. Thus





unilevel primary conflict would be conflict between two or more instinctual drives or impulses. Unilevel secondary conflict would be conflict between higher, socialized, moral considerations. And multilevel conflict, or “disintegration,” is conflict between levels, lower and higher. Multilevel conflict occurs first of all externally, between the child and his parents and other socializers, and then internally, between ego and superego or conscience.


As previously noted, therapy for Freud involved an attempt to get the superego (and parents) to soften their demands, modify their expectations. Dąbrowski, on the contrary, feels that the problem is not usually one of too high expectation but of helping the individual move toward greater maturity and responsibility, toward learning to meet obligations rather than abrogating them. This is a considerable part of what Dąbrowski has in mind when he refers to the “hierarchical psychological structure” (p. 26).


When one stops to think of it, one sees that much of what presently passes for therapy or treatment, psychological or otherwise, involves an attempt to lessen, arbitrarily and artificially, the pain of multilevel conflict. This is what sedation (as well as intoxication) is designed to do temporarily. It is probably a big part of the “effectiveness” of electro-convulsive shock therapy, which acts more protractedly. And it is what is more or less permanently accomplished by brain surgery, which involves an assault on the frontal lobes, where foresight and other higher mental functions are lodged. Also, this is what is attempted, functionally, in psychoanalysis, by “reducing the demands of the superego.” Dąbrowski's position is that the higher side of man is essential and cannot be repudiated except at enormous cost. And for him “therapy” consists of helping another individual fulfill his highest destiny, not escape from or compromise with it.


As one moves through the present volume, it will be apparent that the author makes more use of the term instinct than do most American writers. This tendency may arise in part from the fact that Dr. Dąbrowski is not as conversant with contemporary learning theory as he might be, and he also seems relatively unfamiliar with sociological and anthropological work on culture and culture-transmission procedures (“education,” “socialization,”




and the like). Thus, when he uses the term instinct, it is often merely an elliptical expression for phenomena or processes which can be more fully and satisfactorily interpreted in terms of learning and culture theory. But the tendency to revert to this term does not seriously detract from the over-all value of this treatise, nor does it greatly lessen the cogency of the author's main argument.


4. “POSITIVE”AND “NEGATIVE” DISINTEGRATION. We come now to what I regard as the most serious—but by no means fatal—weakness in Dąbrowski's entire approach: his distinction between positive and negative disintegration, or conflict. As indicated in my review of the earlier volume, Positive Disintegration, it seems to me that conflict, as such, is neither positive nor negative and that it only confuses matters to so regard it. Conflict, or “disintegration” in Dąbrowski's sense, is itself “neutral”—or, as I suggested earlier, “equipotential.” The positivity or negativity, goodness or badness, normality or “morbidity” lies rather, it would seem, in the nature of the response made thereto, the manner in which the conflict is resolved. Surely the essence of a “neurotic” or “morbid” solution to a conflict, of the multilevel kind, consists of one's trying to ease the pain of the conflict directly, instead of letting the pain motivate one to grow and develop as the situation demands. It now appears that much would be professional therapy has mistakenly involved essentially the same strategy, of trying to relieve the individual's suffering in some artificial rather than natural way, that is, of trying to help the individual become comfortable without making the necessary effort which the situation logically requires. (Cf. the emphasis in a self-help group known as Recovery, Inc., on what its members call the Will to Effort rather than the Will to Comfort; that is, they do not try to feel better but to be, act better.)


Dr. Dąbrowski acknowledges the difficulty which arises when one tries to distinguish between positive and negative conflict. He says:


The distinction between positive and negative disintegration seems to be most difficult to draw. We say that we are speaking of a positive disintegration when it transforms itself gradually or, in some cases,




violently into a secondary integration, or when, without passing into a clear and permanent, morbid, secondary or involutional disintegration, it remains a disintegration which enriches one's life, expands one's horizons, and produces sources of creativity [pp. 76-77].


We call a disintegration negative when it does not produce effects which are positive in relation to development or when it yields negative effects. In the first case a man returns to a primary integration, with negative tendencies of compensatory experiences, connected with a short-lived disintegration [p. 77).

And elsewhere the author speaks of a “truly morbid structure” [p. 38] and “involutional mental disease” [p. 53]. “We encounter permanent disorganizations,” he says, “principally in severe chronic mental diseases and in acute chronic somatic diseases” [p. 76]. Thus far the argument seems to be largely circular and therefore lacking in cogency.


With respect to the more specific question of whether disintegration will be positive or negative, the author says:


Whether a man disintegrates positively or negatively is indicated . . . by the more or less obvious presence of a factor which organizes such a state of slackening or of dissension, organizing it in the sense of ordering, evaluating, and purposeful utilization in building the structure of a higher level [p. 381.

This kind of theorizing is made unnecessary if one adopts the simpler hypothesis that conflict, as such, is neither positive nor negative, but that the reactions thereto necessarily are. If this position is adopted, then one can ask the highly relevant and practical question: What can one do to increase the likelihood of positive rather than negative conflict resolution? At one point [p. 83], citing Janet, Dąbrowski says that intelligence is a factor here. But I would suggest that the transcendently important consideration is whether an individual chooses to live secretly or “in community.” If a person resolves to keep his behavior hidden, he is weak in the face of temptation, since he does not now have to deal with the moral and interpersonal consequences of his irresponsible, self-indulgent behavior. Therefore, he is likely to “solve” a conflict in a shortsighted, primitive, ultimately self-defeating way; whereas, if he subjects himself to the discipline of




openness, he will have the benefit of the negative sanctions which others provide for wrong action and will thus be more likely to behave “integratively.”


Although this is not a position which Dąbrowski explicitly espouses, it is, I believe, congruent with his basic assumptions and would, if adopted, go a long way toward eliminating the problems which arise when the terms positive and negative are used to qualify conflicts as such.


5. A SPECIAL CONCEPTION OF “PERSONALITY.” What may at first escape the reader, and is quite important for full comprehension of this volume, is that the author is using the term personality in an extraordinary way. Usually we assume that everyone has, or is, a personality; but Dąbrowski rejects this view. To everyone he attributes what he calls individuality; but, personality, or full person-hood, is a state of higher evolvement of which many of us fall far short and none of us attain completely. The following quotations, taken together, give the essence of the author's position in this regard:


Such qualities and experiences, connected with the feelings and senses mentioned above, are signs that personality is developing. For this development is not possible without experiencing a feeling of veneration for the hierarchy of higher values and without the feelings of inferiority, sin, guilt, and shame. These feelings are a sign of the first step toward diminishing the evil, toward overcoming it. On the other hand, humility permits us to appraise the level at which we are, the distance which we still have to go, and the resisting forces which we will have to conquer [p. 29].


[The developing person] must leave his present level, lift himself to a new, higher one and, on the other hand, must, as we have said before, retain his unity, retain the continuity of his psychophysical life, his self-awareness, and identity.


The development of personality, therefore, takes place in most cases through disintegration of man's present, initial, primarily integrated structure, and, through a period of disintegration, reaches a secondary integration [p. 49].


The process of personality building, therefore, is characterized by a wandering “upward,” toward an ideal, of the disposing and directing centers and the gradual acquiring of a structure within which, besides




individual qualities (the main trend of interests and capabilities, lasting emotional bonds, the unique set of the emotional and psychic structure), general human traits appear—that is, the high level of intellectual development, the attitude of a Samaritan, and the moral and social and esthetic attitudes [p. 54].

The new total organization is achieved painfully [p. 65]. This drama often gives way to a state of peace and internal harmony . . . [p. 32]


In this frame of reference the normal person is one who has achieved “personality,” that is, maturity, responsibility, integrity. And the so-called neurotic, far from being one in whom these attributes are overdeveloped, is an individual who has not yet achieved them—but who has the capacity, the potential to do so. Sociopaths (“psychopath” was the older designation) are, by contrast, less fortunate. Of them Dąbrowski says:


Such people are incapable of internal conflicts, but often enter into conflicts with the environment. . . . A psychopathic individual usually does not know the feeling of internal inferiority, does not experience internal [multilevel] conflicts; he is unequivocally integrated [at the primary level] [p. 56]. They are not able to assume an attitude regarding time from a distance, nor are they able to make themselves mentally independent of it. They are constrained by the present moment, by the reality of flowing experiences, by their own type, and by the influences of the environment [p. 57].


Although the sociopath does not hurt in the way a neurotic or psychotic person does, by the same token he lacks, or is at least seriously deficient in, the capacity for full normality, real “personality.” Thus, he is the “sickest,” the most “forsaken” of men. And it is a great misfortune, on the assumption that neurotic individuals are oversocialized rather than undersocialized, that many of them have been pushed toward sociopathy, rather than toward genuine normality, by misconceived forms of therapy. As a result of this mistaken conception of neurosis and its treatment, there is in our culture today a pervasive sociopathic drift and loss of “moral fiber.” It now appears that much “therapy” has been directionally mistaken by exactly 180 degrees. And Dr. Dąbrowski is patiently and persistently calling our attention to this tragic error and trying to right it.





6. SELF-EDUCATION AND THE CONCEPT OF “HELP.” The reader may be perplexed by the fact that Dąbrowski emphasizes self-education and autotherapy but also believes that there is a place for “help” from others. The more traditional medical model has put a preponderant emphasis upon “treatment,” which must be obtained from others, and a correspondingly smaller, sometimes almost negligible emphasis upon what the “neurotic” individual can do for himself. One of the truly exciting things about this book is that the author repeatedly asserts his belief that self-help is an ever-present possibility for disturbed persons and that it occurs in a highly effective and crucial way in far more individuals than we ordinarily realize.


But Dr. Dąbrowski also thinks that others may usefully enter into the therapeutic or growth process as “advisers.” The selection of this term is not, I believe, an inadvertence on the author's part. He definitely wishes to deemphasize the notion of disease which has to be “treated” by a physician; and what he stresses instead is the educational model, in which there is not only a place, but a necessity, for both a pupil (learner) and a teacher. There are many indications that the medical conception of illness and treatment is in the process of being replaced, in this total area, by the notion of ignorance—not only in the sense of one's not knowing but of ignoring certain important considerations, i.e., ignor - once—and education, counsel, advice from others.


But there is still the apparent inconsistency between the notion of self-education and education by others. If one can and should educate himself, why does he need “outside” help at all? I believe Dąbrowski fully recognizes and satisfactorily resolves this paradox. He is certainly well aware that in the beginning, that is, in the parent-child relationship, education is other—rather than self-directed; and he is also aware that in the strictest sense of the term, education never becomes self-directed. So-called self-education really involves a division of the personality into two parts—the “subject-object relationship” Dąbrowski calls it—one of which is teacher and the other pupil. The most obvious, and most logical, candidates for these two roles are what Freud called, appropriately, the superego and the ego.




That I have represented Dąbrowski's thinking in this connection correctly can be substantiated by a number of passages, two of which follow:


Self-education is the highest possible process of a psychological and moral character. It begins at the time when the individual undergoes changes which permit him to make himself partially independent of biological factors and of the influence of the social environment (i.e., the time at which external moral authority is “introjected” and conscience formation takes place] [p. 41].


In order to educate himself a man should, as it were, split himself into a subject and an object—that is, he should disintegrate [which I interpret to mean the development of a difference of opinion between superego and ego, as a result of which the latter learns a lesson] [p. 42].


Now a person (self, ego) can obviously take either of two attitudes toward this type of process: he can resent and resist it, or he can trust, welcome, seek it. And at this point Dąbrowski pertinently refers to the practice of meditation. He says: “This reaching out, through meditation and contemplation, to one's educational ideal usually contains in itself the elements of a religious attitude”[p. 42].


And then the author goes on to speak of the New Testament emphasis upon the ideal of “losing yourself to find yourself.” He says:


We have repeatedly emphasized that the “birth” of personality by which we mean a decisive turning point in one's life—is a drastic experience for an individual. He senses the advent of something “other” in himself, he feels that the hierarchy of values thus far accepted by him undergoes changes, and that he is becoming much more sensitive to certain values, and less to others [p. 45].


Self-education presupposes experiencing of the dualistic attitude by an individual, the attitude of incessant divisions of oneself into subject and object, into that which lifts and educates and into that which is lifted and educated. This is the already mentioned “subject-object in oneself” process [p. 101].




To be very literal, as we have already seen, self-education is an impossibility. But each of us has to make a choice, the choice to be open or closed to the importunings of conscience and the external community (or what Sullivan called “the significant others”) which it represents. A son cannot educate himself—that is his father's responsibility. But the son can and must choose either to accept or reject his father's tuition, and he must later exercise the same option with regard to the inner surrogate of the father and other “authority figures,” namely conscience.


Even in folk wisdom, conscience is recognized as a great educator, or at least potentially so. We commonly speak of it as “punishing” or “rewarding” us, and these are the two great “reinforcing agents” of modern learning theory. Says Dąbrowski:


It is an active conscience, as it were, of the nascent personality in its process of development, which judges what is more and what is less valuable in self-education, what is “higher” and what is “lower,” and what is or is not in accord with the personality ideal, what points to internal development and perfection, and what leads to a diminution of internal value [p. 107].


As the personality develops, punishment and reward become increasingly more introverted, internal, and become ever more independent of external sanctions. More and more often, punishment takes the form of “pangs of conscience” . . . [p.132].


Then the author asks the salient question: “Who is qualified to help in the development of personality?” Here we shall make no effort to review his answer, which is sagacious and subtle. But it is pertinent to note that the literature of another lay self-help group—Recovery (of Australia not to be confused with Recovery, Inc., which is an American institution)—also puts stress upon the use of an “adviser,” as does Alcoholics Anonymous in its sponsorship system. Although these are the purest forms of self-help groups, they see no inconsistency between this philosophy and the use of teachers. For if a teacher is to teach, he must have a pupil, and the pupil must do the pupil's work. tie must be open and he must study, meditate, listen both to the “voice” within and the voices without.





How different all this is from the distrust of conscience and of “education” generally which characterized classical Freudian psychoanalysis!


7. TWO NEGLECTED PROCESSES: CONFESSION AND MODELING. In a book which takes the moral dimension of life as seriously as this one does, it is remarkable that so little attention is given to confession as an essential measure in dealing with certain forms of guilt. At one point the author says: “With the feeling of guilt there usually rises, simultaneously, the need for self-accusation, penalty, and expiation. . . . guilt calls for penalty and expiation” [p. 97]. But reference to the factor of confession, specifically, is curiously absent. Much later the author alludes to a 6-year-old girl who, when she had engaged in some misdemeanor, usually took “many hours to confess.” However, this is the only place I can recall seeing the word, although in one other place there is reference to an individual who took part “in the process of ‘disclosure.'”


By contrast, much emphasis is put upon self-examination. To what has already been quoted on this score, I would here add the following passage:


Meditation and contemplation are forms often preparing an individual for secondary integration. Meditation makes one learn internal observation, to reflect on the essence of one's spirit, on the complexity of one's psychic structure, and on the transcendental world. Contemplation is a process of bringing oneself in touch with the transcendental values, of separating from the instinctive structure, of gathering psychic and moral strength for one's internal reshaping. In contemplation a process of knowing the higher reality, through love, sets in [p. 130].


But is it not equally important for the “neurotic” individual to work at being known, at giving up his secrecy and alienation and destructive “privacy”? Only rarely, I believe, do guilty persons deal effectively with their problems without self-revelation to the important people in their lives. Self-observation and inner “listening” are obviously of great value and should not be neglected; but they will not, I think, entirely take the place of self-disclosure and “speaking.”





There are many places in this book where the author makes statements such as the following:


The feeling of guilt, as we have already pointed out, is an indispensable developmental element for every moral individual and is strongly manifested in persons capable of accelerated development. It forms an indispensable creative tension, which lies at the root of true self-educational work [pp. 97-98].


But isn't the guilt-ridden individual usually also a person who has been in hiding? And what more appropriate action, in response to his guilt, than to bring himself back “into community,” into honest and authentic relationship with the persons he has cheated or wronged?


And this leads us to a related consideration. If a therapist or “adviser” feels that confession and social reintegration are importantly related processes, the question arises as to how he can most effectively induce estranged, secretive, “neurotic” persons to become more honest, first of all in the therapeutic relationship, and then more pervasively so? Mere explanation of the guilt theory of neurosis is sufficient to permit some persons to begin to unburden themselves. But in most instances things go much faster if the therapist, sponsor, adviser will himself exemplify the behavior which he wishes the other person to develop, namely, deep candor and truthfulness about himself. Toward the end of the present volume, the author draws extensively upon the autobiographical accounts of five famous or near-famous persons who have experienced “positive disintegration” and written in some detail about it. Should this be the procedure which all psychiatrists and psychologists follow—to report or “analyze” the case histories of other persons but to say nothing intimate or revealing about themselves? In light of recent experimental work (by Albert Bandura and others) on the great aid to learning which is provided by modeling on the part of the teacher, it seems that we professionals in the field of personality alteration may need to take a second look at our own roles. And it is perhaps not without significance, also, that in such successful lay self-help groups as Alcoholics Anonymous, modeling is of the essence. Typically





an AA speaker “qualifies” himself by giving his first name and admitting that he is an alcoholic. Perhaps the best way to help another admit who he genuinely is, is for the would-be helper to “go first” in the process.


Modeling and an increased emphasis on confession would, I think, be entirely consistent with the general point of view taken in this volume and would, I venture to say, be a very natural extension of methods already used and recommended by the author.


8. SCIENTISTS AS THE NEW MORALISTS. Not long ago I heard a remarkable lecture at a Unitarian-Universalist church, in the course of which the speaker pointed out that many liberal clergymen have today become so liberal and broad-minded that they have no strong or settled convictions about anything and thus have nothing very substantial to say to their congregations, whereas the dilemma of conservative ministers is that, although they may still have some “beliefs,” these are often couched in a language which is no longer meaningful or appealing to 20 th century men and women. And the speaker then went on to point out that, somewhat paradoxically, it is today scientists who, although they are supposed to be “ethically neutral,” are actually approaching the problem of morality from an empirical basis and thus developing some confidence in what they are saying in this area—and saying it in such a way as to make it relevant and plausible to modern audiences. The author of Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration is, I believe, such a person. If his qualifications on this score are not already evident, perhaps the following excerpts from the book will make them so:


As we have seen . . . this “normativeness” of our approach is broadly based on empirical data. We may say that these “norms” are a logical necessity because of our subject matter and the method we use for its study. They serve us in everyday life, and in our study we apply them to prominent historical personalities and to living observed or investigated individuals, ascertaining their place in the adopted scale [p. 44].


Knowing his son's capabilities and the somewhat exceptional and original character of the boy's development, he encouraged his son to





develop in himself some critical attitudes in relation to the “laws” of man's developmental cycle in the period of maturation, and not to submit himself to these laws uncritically [p. 185].


A few months ago my own teenage son and I were traveling together, and in a hotel one evening we happened to see a somewhat “primitive” revival meeting on television. There was the usual buildup of singing and high expectation, and then the evangelist himself started speaking. His topic was a familiar one, namely sin, but he approached its consequences in a new way. Not once did he allude to or threaten his audience with punishment in an afterlife. Instead, he made the connection between sin and personality disorder, and supported his thesis with “case histories” not unlike those which a psychiatrist or psychologist might use. Here is surely the heart of the matter, that sin is sin because it is personally and socially destructive, and this is something that can be empirically studied and verified and is not dependent upon myth or revelation. The fact that scientists, with their empiricism, do not now hold themselves above considering moral problems and that at least some ministers, with their moral concern, are willing to look at these matters pragmatically are developments which one can only welcome; and they point, at least tentatively, to the possibility of an era in which the present “conflict” between science and religion will be harmoniously and creatively resolved.


It has been a privilege and a challenge to read this book in manuscript and to set down here some of my thoughts concerning it. Others will, I know, also find it theoretically intriguing and practically suggestive. It will reward their careful study and I commend it to them heartily.






Personality-shaping Through

Positive Disintegration

1. The Definition of Personality







VARIOUS TERMS that denote man as a unit are used in common language, literature, philosophical and ideological studies, as well as in scientific works, dealing particularly with psychology, sociology, and economics. Thus we hear or read such expressions as human being, person, individual, individuality, personality, and self (ego).


This work does not intend to provide a systematic and comprehensive study of these concepts. The author will deal only with the problem of personality, as he views it, based on his own experiences, meditations, and ideas. As the above-mentioned conceptions obscure the problem of personality, which is in itself very complex, some, at least general, definitions are required.


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Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


The concept of self (ego) is of a metaphysical character. It is not clearly defined, has many meanings, and is used in various senses. Generally speaking, it denotes the distinctness of the existence of a human being, the source of his mental activity, and the individual substratum of his mental structure, which can be only vaguely known.


Common language frequently employs the terms person, individual, and human being. These terms do not possess any deeper psychological meaning. They are used chiefly to indicate that in a specific case we are thinking of a single man or representative of mankind, of some indefinite human creature. The general definitions of these terms are sometimes given more precise meaning by adding various adjectives, as in the expressions a noble person, a disagreeable individual, and so on.


The terms individual and human being may also have specific meaning; they may indicate some significant qualities of a given person, such as his rights, or his distinctness, coming clearly into view against the background of generally accepted customs, aspirations, and the average cultural level of the society. So conceived, individual brings us closer to two other concepts: that of individuality and of personality. Contrasting the individual with the society, we emphasize, first of all, the qualities represented by individuality and personality.


We understand the term individuality to mean a distinct human being, differing from other individuals of a given society in such aspects as mental qualities, talents, particular interests, way of behaving, ambition, and strength of pursuing his aims (regardless of moral injunctions). There may be more or less of such specific qualities present in an individual, some less, others more marked in strength, but all usually closely interlinked and possessing some tonality of their own, a feature peculiar to a given individuality. Strictly speaking, this peculiar tonality, connected in most cases with the temperament and character qualities, with the specific approach to matters at hand, with the exertion of will, and with the force of external appearance, is the gist of individuality.


A great actor who performs each of his roles in his own pecu-


The Definition of Personality


liar way, differing from all other actors in his approach to the subject, will possess this individuality in our eyes.


The concept of individuality sometimes concurs with the concept of personage. The latter term, however, is usually used to denote a person of high rank or significance in political, economic, social, or other life.


Personality, in the context of this work, is a name given to an individual fully developed, both with respect to the scope and level of the most essential positive human qualities, an individual in whom all the aspects form a coherent and harmonized whole, and who possesses, in a high degree, the capability for insight into his own self, his own structure, his aspirations and aims (self-consciousness), who is convinced that his attitude is right, that his aims are of essential and lasting value (self-affirmation), and who is conscious that his development is not yet complete and therefore is working internally on his own improvement and education (self-education).


These introductory definitions of individuality and personality will help the reader to distinguish the two concepts.


When we speak of individuality we refer to both positive and negative qualities, while personality has only positive constituents. Individuality is not necessarily involved in various general human problems, but if a person possesses personality he embraces with his intellect, sensitivity, and activity all the truly essential problems of mankind. The person possessing individuality may not possess the capability for deeper insight into his own self and consequently may lack the conscious urge for shaping and improving himself, but for the person characterized by personality the work upon himself, upon his mental and character traits, is of paramount importance. While the person possessing individuality, in enhancing his personal values, capabilities, and knowledge, usually has his own egoistic aims in view, the person characterized by personality enhances his qualities and powers in order to offer them in the service of mankind.


There are various definitions of personality, each differing in meaning and scope. Scientific psychology speaks for the most part of the empirical conception of personality, understanding by



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


it the totality of psychical and physical dispositions of an individual (Stern, Kreutz, and others). So conceived, personality is identical with the conception of a mere human being without differentiation, evaluation, or hierarchization.


When we isolate the conception of personality from that of the human being, as such, and from that of individuality, we obtain a standard conception which visualizes personality as a composition of all the qualities which an ethic or an ideology expects from a given human being (Kerschensteiner, Bradley). We see that this nonnative conception of personality is relative in character. It depends on geohistorical and religious factors, on differences in customs, morality, ideology, and so on. So conceived, personality is identical with the concept of an ideal personality. This ideal is changeable, as are the factors determining it, depending on the epoch and environment. As the change may be fundamental, this ideal personality reveals itself as relative.


Besides the empirical and normative conceptions of personality there are other definitions which regard a human being as a personality if he possesses certain peculiar characteristics. For example, there are those who equate personality with the existence of particular moral characteristics. Others feel that personality is the attainment of self-control, overcoming biological instincts, with the aim of realizing individual ideals. Both of these definitions are incomplete and one-sided; they do not include a universality of positive values.


In this work, as our definition of personality indicates, we seek to give a possibly all-inclusive conception of personality and at the same time to free it from mutable and consequently nonessential qualities. We endeavor to base our conception on standards and on human values of a lasting character, on values accepted and realized by man since the very beginning of his culture, on values regarded as absolute. They have found their expression throughout the history of mankind, coming together in varying degrees in known historical personalities.


So visualized, the problem of personality requires a comprehensive study and cannot be exhausted in a short, sketchy monograph. The task undertaken, therefore, is limited to the introduction of certain delineations and definitions, which may con-



The Definition of Personality


tribute to a fuller and clearer formulation of the problem of personality, to a general explanation of the fundamental qualities characterizing personality, and—what may be of prime importance—to a presentation of the process and methods of its shaping.




From the point of view of individual and social values human beings may be divided roughly into positive, negative, and mixed types, the latter with a predominance of positive or negative characteristics or with an unsteady balance of these characteristics.


There are very few human beings whose personal character is wholly positive. Also there are not many people of primitive, negative, expressly psychopathic character, people who are a burden for their immediate social group, such as their family, school, or place of employment, and whose influence on it is destructive and who detain and obscure its development.


The majority of human beings belong to the mixed type. They form the most interesting and “live” segment of humanity. In such individuals the positive and negative characteristics exist—various intensities—almost side by side, penetrating each other or conflicting in an incessant antagonism, the one or the other group winning temporary or permanent domination.


However, in general, positive characteristics grow in importance, strength, and domination. The fact that humanity survives and develops serves as evidence that the advantage is on the side of positive qualities. True, there are periods in the lives of individuals and epochs in the life of communities in which the domination of positive characteristics is disturbed, in which the negative traits of man awaken, mobilize, come to power, and reveal their destructive influence. This happens when an individual finds himself, or the community finds itself, in conditions liberating or even intensifying the most primitive driving forces of man,



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


such as the brute instinct of self-preservation, instincts of fighting, cruelty, primitive sexual drive, aspiration for power, and a desire to subdue other individuals or societies by force. However, the periods of downfall usually do not last long. Man's instinct for development, which in the broadest meaning of the word is a tendency to mental and moral perfection, sooner or later gains power and reinvigorates and enhances the positive values. These values, sustained, consolidated, and developed by tradition, legal order, and moral and customary standards, may undergo jolts and perturbations, may be driven back to the level of potentiality, but can never be eradicated. Even in periods of collapse they survive in us in the form of moral readiness and yearning for their revival and full realization. As they constitute the foundation and prerequisite of the cultural and moral existence of humanity, these values are indestructible; they have existed from the beginning of man's history, and are unchangeable in their essence, though revealing various degrees of development and richness.


The concept of the domination and permanence of man's positive values is associated with the problem of the perpetuation of his negative traits, of the relationship between them, and of the evolution of both kinds of characteristics. The durability of positive values and their increasing domination, although often disturbed, obviously diminishes the scope, strength, and quality of negative traits. The latter are suppressed, ousted, sublimated as a result of individual or social action. Their drastic manifestation stimulates mankind to counteraction. The society becomes ever more sensitive to primitive, brutal symptoms of evil that endanger its standards, customs, and ideals, and the society endeavors to fight these evils by destroying their very foundations. The individual and the society strive to separate themselves from the bestial elements of human nature, to put a stop to them, and to enter on a road to humanization. Brzozowski states: “Man is not a continuation of evolution but a rupture in its thread, an opposition against it. When man emerged all that preceded him became his enemy.” It seems, therefore, that the day of maximum control, of the sublimation of negative characteristics of man, will finally come, even though it may not be soon.


The lasting positive values of man may be classified into uni-



The Definition of Personality


versal and particular, the latter occurring less frequently. The universal positive values that dominate societies of different epochs and cultures sometimes form a general positive characteristic of these societies. Decisive in this area is the frequency with which they appear. Such positive universal qualities include, for example, religiosity, the sense of individual and social responsibility, training in citizen's duties, fidelity to principles and people, a sense of justice, courage, honesty, and discipline. These particular qualities, or groups of some of them, appear relatively often among human beings.


We encounter among people less often such qualities as sensitivity and subtlety (moral, intellectual, and esthetic), emotional maturity, a faculty for self-knowledge and general knowledge and, what is entailed, by it, open-mindedness, belief in the value of one's ideology, ability for unremitting work upon oneself, for constant perfecting of oneself.


The ideal of personality, conceived schematically, should embrace the fundamental positive qualities of man, not only those that are universal but also those appearing less often, such as open-mindedness, the highest possible sensitivity to human affairs, the faculty for conscious and effective working upon oneself along the direction accepted as one's own. The ideal of personality may, in the most general way, be formulated as follows Personality is a synthesis of the most essential human values embodied in an individual.


A thorough psychological analysis of great figures of history—to whom we may apply the term personality as here understood, and in whom we find the faculties of self-consciousness, self-affirmation, and self-education—reveals that the final aim of their internal struggles, abounding in breakdowns, adjustments, and attainments of ever higher levels, was to realize in themselves the above-outlined ideal of personality. This shows that it is a universal ideal, an ideal answering the most essential needs of man.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration




We shall shortly discuss some of the above-mentioned human qualities, both the universal and those encountered less often, since they may be treated as traits and attitudes constituting a human personality. In this connection we shall refer to those mental, social and religious domains of human life without which the development and perfection of man is impossible.


We shall begin with mental traits, possessed in various degree and scope by particular human beings, which are prerequisites of personality.




Multilateral knowledge


In the sciences, even those which have departed most remotely from philosophy, such as the experimental sciences with a definite scope, methods, and aims, two different attitudes of scientists are observed. Some scientists, in their efforts to achieve a deeper understanding of fundamental problems in their special fields, seek solutions not only within the narrow scope of a given branch of knowledge but also outside it. Others, desiring to keep their methods free from extraneous influences so as to avoid dissipation of attention, do not move beyond the scope of their particular fields of study. The first attitude is characterized by a tendency toward broadening the horizon of thought, and the second to its narrowing, with the hope of obtaining a deeper insight into a particular subject matter.


History records that at different periods one or the other attitude won domination and that there has been considerable fluctuation in this respect. The periods characterized by the tendency toward the isolation of exact sciences and fields of study with their peculiar points of view and special methods follow periods in which the tendency toward a universal approach has been dominant. For instance, in medicine, after a period in which physicians were concerned with the whole of medical



The Definition of Personality


knowledge there ensued a period of specialization. New specialists appeared, such as surgeons, gynecologists, specialists in internal diseases, neurologists, psychiatrists, and others. In particular divisions of medicine new special branches evolved, limiting their scope of concern to stomach, lung, heart diseases, to allergy, to endocrine glands, and even to diseases of the thyroid gland alone.


It was evident in time, however, that a broader approach to a disease is necessary, that a too narrow specialization is in fact harmful to a given field of knowledge and gives neither the proper deepening of medical knowledge nor satisfactory help to the patient, whose loss because of this excessive specialization is the greatest. For example, failure to consider infant neuropsychiatry, psychology, and pedagogics in pediatrics, or failure to consider neurology and endocrinology as well as psychopathology in psychiatry does not permit a correct assessment of pathological phenomena and a proper application of remedies. It is also a known fact that infant neuropsychiatry and mental health began to make progress and have attained their present higher level after the advent of close cooperation between the physician, psychologist, pedagogue, and even the sociologist. And pedagogics, as a science and art, appreciating the importance of social, economic, and religious influences on the development of individuals and groups, begins to depart from the attitude of half-automatic and half-conscious reactions to some partial groups of dynamisms in the development of a child. The fundamental educational requirements cannot be satisfied either by the best family, the best school, the best mental life, or by the most moral environment; they can be satisfied only by all the factors of direct and indirect education combined into an organic whole.


Scientific research in a given special field should be linked to related fields as well as to the broadest aspects of knowledge considered as a whole. Such research should be conducted at various planes and should give special attention to the hierarchy of phenomena. It should proceed from basic premises to knowledge wider in scope, to a point at which we pass from an unidimensional “I know” to a multidimensional “I understand.” Knowledge is usually unidimensional and understanding multidimen-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


sional; knowledge is based on perception and judgment, understanding involves also experience and intuition which add depth to the perception and judgment.


Independent value judgment, feeling, and action


We usually perceive only that portion of reality which the quality and organization of our receptors of external and internal stimuli, and of our transmission “stations,” permit us to perceive. The structure of our senses, natural impulses, feelings, and “mental powers” confines us usually within our volitional, emotional, and cognitive framework. We are imprisoned within a stereotype of our individual properties. For instance, we know from our own experience that one may associate with a person for years without noticing his striking and even most important character traits.


Our judgments and opinions also depend on the influence of various “constellations.” Of great significance here is the suggestive influence on the part of our environment, whatever emotional or aspirational connections we have with it, and circumstantial bonds “for life” with this or that person or social group. The diversity of forms of our relations and mental attitudes is conditioned by our general sensitivity. Our judgments, emotions, and aspirations depend also on the condition of our organism and on our disposition, on our states of depression and excitability, on whether our mind is open or closed, on the level, readiness, and extent of our faculty for the internal transformation of what comes to us from the outer world, and on other factors.


Observation of everyday life and of environments at various cultural levels leads to a conclusion that self-dependency in feelings, judgment, and action is a very rare faculty among people. There are very few people among us who are consciously independent of the external environment and of the lower layer of their internal environments. To make oneself independent of both these environments one must go through the process of disintegration, which develops the faculty of using the moral judgment by resorting to a true sense of morality, and instills in one the readiness to act accordingly. A moral judgment not backed by the sense of morality and by the ability to effect its realization



The Definition of Personality


is nothing but conformity and reveals our superficial attitude toward a given phenomenon. We can point to many cases of such a deficient moral attitude. We disapprove, for example, of this or that egoistical deed, though we ourselves are ready to act in just the same way. School pupils and students consider the practice of informing by their mates and lying by their teachers as the most immoral acts but themselves inform and lie, to a smaller or greater extent. All indiscreet persons and meddlers agree during a discussion that meddling and indiscreetness are blemishes, but they themselves will continue to be indiscreet and meddling.


Sometimes the lack of a synthesis of intellectual, emotional, and volitional elements is considered a positive quality in pronouncing an opinion. Supporters of such a view say that this is a sign of mental cautiousness, an assumption of an intellectual attitude in pronouncing opinions, a right attitude of intellectual dubiousness. It seems, however, that it is nothing less than a sign of deficiency in cognitive faculties, a sign of weakness and vacillation in intellectual and moral dynamisms.


Many persons considered independent in thought and action disclose unsteadiness in their independence; an independent attitude assumed toward a phenomenon lasts for some time, then loses its strength, giving way to hesitation. This points to a lack of internal harmony in a person, to a wavering in the balance of his various tendencies. Of course, we are not here considering a wavering caused by the fact that a case is particularly difficult to handle but a wavering arising out of the fact that one has not made himself sufficiently independent of the lower external and internal environments.


The process of making oneself independent of the superficial estimates of other people goes hand in hand with the process of making oneself gradually independent of the necessities of a lower level that are not closely connected with the uniform line of feelings and actions of a personality. In a further part of this work we shall discuss in greater detail the process of making the personality independent of these factors. This process leads to a development of the psychic structure, which becomes increasingly more sensitive to various external and internal stimuli.


Such a structure includes a great number of receptors, orga-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


nized into a harmonic, unique, individual whole. The person is sensitive to social, religious, esthetic, and scientific matters and tendencies, and has the capacity to encompass every problem in an organic, all-embracing, universal way.


After one attains the level of personality, suggestion in judgment, feeling, and action is replaced by conscious yielding only to those environmental influences which harmonize with one's distinct and firm convictions, and by a conscious rejection of those influences which act upon one's subconsciousness and uncontrolled drives (jealousy, conceit, and the like). Thus, at the level of personality, there occurs a weakening of susceptibility to various environmental influences—that is, to impulses stemming from the lower nature of man, to multidirectional, discordant stimuli, influences of public opinion, and so on. It should be clearly stressed here that the attitude of constant refashioning and of selectiveness in relation to external stimuli is opposed to instinctive and stereotyped mechanisms. Such an attitude requires the controlling of our own internal environment, and principally control of its instinctive and habitual level.


Man as a personality accepts, therefore, only such stimuli as are in harmony with his developing structure; he conditions himself to an ideal and makes himself independent of all he overcame in himself while struggling along the road of evolution, from the level of primitive and civilized man to the level of personality.


Self-knowledge and knowledge of others


The basic Socratic thought, “Know thyself,” is always actual for everyone who consciously realizes his ideal of personality. It goes hand in hand with a fundamental query: “Who am I, and where am I going?” Learning to know oneself consists in seeking an answer, through experience and meditation, to the questions: “What is it in myself that is not ‘me'? What is it that I am becoming, although it is not yet crystallized? And what should I strive, with persistent will, to make myself, although it is not yet myself, through meditation, contemplation, and continuous effort?”


Self-cognizance requires deep, hard thinking with the aim of



The Definition of Personality


arriving at the limits of self-knowledge. As the result of such thinking one develops a sense of humility as he begins to realize that wisdom is infinite. Finally, self-cognizance requires learning to know one's inner self within the structure of parallelism between somatic and psychic actions, as well as in their interaction; one should try—using all his experiences—to grasp the correlations between these actions.


In instances when self-cognizance is not a purely intellectual act but an act involving also elements of higher intellectualized emotions, then we are concerned with personality-cognizance and not only with intellectual self-cognizance. Personality-cognizance involves elements of strong internal experiences and is connected with the dynamisms of a simultaneous transformation of oneself as one reaches ever higher levels of self-knowledge.


Self-knowledge is positively correlated with the knowledge of others. For knowledge of one's self is not possible without association with other people, without orientating oneself to the content and motives of their behavior, which again implies the necessity of orientating oneself to one's own behavior, motives, and attitudes toward the environment. Self-knowledge and knowledge of others must be both analytic and synthetic in character; that is, it must embrace all the various traits and their integration.


Of course, when learning to know ourselves we must keep our awareness directed to our own and other people's ever-changing actions. We thus catch ourselves and others in fragmentary dynamisms, and also in wider and narrower integrations, remaining in the changing current of internal and external experiences. In any case the common measure of learning to know oneself and others consists in the continuous registration in consciousness of similarities and differences in our own and other people's behavior and action, within the scope of their intellectual, emotional, and volitional aspects.


Realization of personality must be based on the knowledge of various social phenomena with consideration given to their multitude and gradation. For the personality may neither judge the environment nor assume an emotional attitude toward it in an insufficiently differentiated, mood-conditioned, unidimensional



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


way. Such an attitude is detrimental because despite good motivation the results are often bad. All symptoms of group evil, of the primitive character of human needs and smallness of aims should then be known and treated as actual, factual structures, and at the same time as structures containing nuclei of smaller or greater developmental possibilities. A proper attitude in respect to reality should be shaped in accordance with the principle that knowing all is not only forgiving all but also being ready to give a hand to those struggling with difficulties on the road to perfection, and developing in oneself the attitude of syntony and cooperation.


Knowledge of others and the attitude of empathy involve limiting our demands on the reality around us, to an extent indicated by our diagnosis of the kind and level of this reality, arrived at with an unperturbed mind and emotions, when viewing reality's actual state, its kind, and possibilities of development.




Truthfulness and honesty toward oneself and other people.


Truthfulness and honesty are closely related to independence of judgment and action, to a sense of justice, to courage, and sometimes to heroism. These qualities are based on one's own convictions, founded upon a wide objective knowledge of human nature and ideals. They lead one to personality and are realized in an internal struggle between the self-preservation instinct and the instinct to propagate the species; they point to the shaping of one's moral structure, to a conviction that the chosen direction is right, and to a will determined to remain at the attained level.


We sometimes imagine the personality as a harmonic structure, within which the “lower” qualities are subordinated to “higher” ones and to the personality ideal, and are canalized and mentally controlled. In truth the personality is not a definite creation, immutable in its structure. On the contrary, although it possesses most important and fundamental features, personality is, to a great extent, a pliable set of traits, sensitive to evolutional



The Definition of Personality


crises and environmental reactions. Therefore, if one is to take up the task of shaping his personality, he must be morally vigilant at all stages of development, so as to prevent dependence upon such factors from exceeding admissible limits, even in moments of physical off-balance. One should at all times guard against self-deception, autosuggestion, the inclination for self justification, the attitude of pretense, convenience, and egoistic motivation.


Moral vigilance develops when it is based on the capacity for objective judgment, on the principle of demanding from oneself more than from other people, on an increasingly sharper examination of one's thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions. However, the most important component of such vigilance would be the faculty for decrying in oneself illusory moral progress, which expresses itself in barely noticeable transformations or in transmutations of certain conspicuous and negative character traits into camouflaged ones.


An illusory progress may, for example, express itself in curbing one's inclination to be vexatious, aggressive, and impolite when dealing with strangers at the cost of increased bad treatment of one's own flesh and blood. Such a curbing of negative inclinations is dictated by awareness that strangers would not tolerate improper demeanor, while one's next of kin may bear it and even conceal it from outsiders.


This example points to a growth in self-preservation tendencies at the cost of social feelings. Another instance of illusory moral progress is suppressing sexual drives and finding compensation in the form of increased erotic phantasies.


Similar phenomena of the compensation mechanism are observed in overcoming the tendency to torment people and in transferring it into a covert or overt tormenting of animals, sometimes under the guise of pseudoscientific aims, or in a formal attack on egoism accompanied by increased self-admiration stemming from a successful attack on this moral defect.


When we eliminate false appearances with respect to ourselves and become truthful in thought and action, we build the foundation for honest treatment of the environment. We shall be able to treat other people just as we treat ourselves, applying a



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


proper measure when estimating them, and to build up righteousness in our actions after we rid ourselves of the tendency to allow our own selfish interests to govern our judgments and behavior. The measure of stability in a moral attitude, so conceived, will be how benevolently we treat and how prudently we judge our enemies.


So understood, honesty and truthfulness toward ourselves and others reflect the principle “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” By aspiring to honesty and truthfulness we strengthen our attitude of love and raise it to a higher level; such aspiration shows that we are mature enough to become a personality or have already arrived at its threshold.




There is much controversy among thinkers about the conception of courage. One must distinguish very clearly the capacity for action, daring, aggressiveness, and speedy reaction to various stimuli, from true courage. For such traits may be the functions of primitive drives, of the fighting, possessive, or sexual instincts. Therefore we should distinguish various levels in the attitude of dynamism, energy, powerful striving, “strong character,” and so on. The lower levels of courage may be characterized by a lack of thought about the sense of one's action, a lack of apprehension that one may possibly do wrong to other people, and an improper estimation of danger, or a lack of moderation. We should clearly distinguish, therefore, pseudo coinage from true courage. Many people who fought with courage in the war and who are bold and uncompromising in dealing with people and matters in their everyday life, belong to a category of men aggressive by nature, often displaying a tendency for bursting out in anger, and sometimes even for pronounced cruelty. Their courage is one of the primitive forms of the fighting instinct or may be an indication of sexual perversion. Besides, pseudo courage may indicate an improper estimation of the situation (belief that the other side is weaker).


Only a man who, conscious of the danger threatening him and of the changeability of fortune, of the consequences which his attitude may bring him, such as the loss of esteem, position,



The Definition of Personality


fluence, decides, being true to his ideal, to take up a given action is truly courageous. True courage, and more so true heroism, have their foundations in experiences gained over a period of many years or even through one's whole life, during which has taken place a slow process of harmonization of the impulsive forces with personality dynamisms, the latter formed from one's experiences of life, in which suprapersonal, suprabiological tendencies play an increasingly more important part.


Dynamism, energy, power of striving, “strong character” may then be based on one of two centers, a primitive one attained through the processes of disintegration, or a secondary center where “vital interests” cease to be decisive with respect to dynamism, energy, and “courage” and are replaced by “vital interests” of another dimension.


Spiritual heroism is not possible without continued preparation, for it is evolved by means of the internal elaboration of experiences. The shorter or longer states of meditation and uplift which interrupt the current of our impulsive and habitual life are a prerequisite for making common-sense decisions in impersonal matters, for the ability to persist in a given position despite the greatest difficulties, and for the daily performance of assumed tasks. In such states we leave our biological self to attain higher levels of our inner feeling of self, where fear vanishes, and where interest in the present moment and the events of everyday life disappears or abates, giving way, after we are “filled up” with new energy, to a feeling that our capacity to organize matters of vital importance in accordance with the established hierarchy of aims has gained strength.


The greater our experience in life, the greater our sensitivity; the more intensive and thorough our elaboration of experiences, the clearer our ideal of personality; and the more we are apt to sacrifice, to subordinate our instinctive needs in favor of personality, the stronger is our disposition to the attitude of courage and heroism.



When we speak of love we usually have in mind the sexual drive and the feeling of sympathy for an individual belonging to



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


the other sex. There are various kinds and levels of a feeling of love so understood, from the distinctly sexual form, in which the need for having an emotional union with the other person either does not exist or is hardly noticeable, to a form which the higher emotional needs move out in front, subordinating primitive drives, and in which the emotional union survives despite a weakening or disappearance of the factors that caused the beginning and the development of the sexual drive (old age, loss of good looks, and soon). In the first case we are dealing with a scarcely differentiated drive, an uncomplex drive for lust and preservation of kind, while in the other case we are concerned with the subordination of the sexual drive, even if strong and natural, to higher feelings permeated with a finer love and finally with perfect love, at which stage the sexual drive is completely controlled and replaced by higher elements of the emotional union.


Writing of love, Bertrand Russell states that whether it lasts does not depend on us. (1) This opinion would be correct in connection with the more sexual forms of love. If, however, we consider love based not only on sexual drive, but love in which even strong sexual drives are harmonized and subordinated to the whole personality, love that makes both parties penetrate each other in a perpetual desire to improve themselves and perfect the union, then such love and whether it lasts depends on our consciously shaped personality and not exclusively on our sexual drives. The reasons why such love is a very rare phenomenon, why we can speak of it as of an ideal, are that the decision of two people to enter into a marriage contract is usually based on a semiconscious sexual drive, that in the majority of cases both parties do not know themselves deeply, that the decisive factors are material in character, that the influence of parents is not always positive, and that the parties believe it is good to get married in order to create for oneself the conditions for an “aversion-free” sexual life.


Marriage based on qualities of a personality “union” in which the sexual drive is subordinated to higher feelings permits the couple to assume a correct attitude about the question of procre-



(1) B. Russell. Education and the Modern World. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1932.



The Definition of Personality


ation. The sexual drive becomes therefore not a blind force, but a dynamism controlled by sets of sublimating tendencies. The attitude of concern, responsibility, devotion to, and esteem for the future human being probably contributes also to the child “inheriting” the positive qualities of the parents and is certainly decisive in regard to his proper education.


One of the essential qualities in the structure of personality is an attachment on the part of humans, and especially children, to the worthy points of tradition, family, region, and nation, an attachment to parents and siblings, to worthy principles and habits prevailing at home. Such attachment plays a great role in deepening the feelings and in developing the sense of moral duty. Besides, it is a foundation on which grow values of lasting character, and the attachment permits the person, in relations with people and in dealing with problems, to distinguish between lasting things and those of fluid, temporary character.


Attachment to family relies, passed from generation to generation as symbols of our lasting memory of those who once lived with us, attachment to family graves and good care of them serve to show that an individual is shaping his character positively. For such an attitude, such a desire to extend the memory of deceased close relatives points to lasting feelings and to a transcendental attitude toward our next of kin.


The eternal commandment to love one's neighbor reveals the tragic dichotomy between the ideal and the reality. When we observe more closely just ourselves, our kinsfolk, and the circle of our friends, we see only some slight reflexes of love for our fellow creatures, while the chief preoccupation of most of us is with our own personal interests. If we ever wish to sacrifice something for other people it is almost exclusively for our closest relatives, those with whom we are most tightly bound, and therefore we cannot consider our action as an expression of love toward our fellow creatures in the full sense of these words, for such “love” results from our own personal interests. We manifest our love for a neighbor only when we sacrifice in his favor something that we ourselves need.


Love of our fellow creatures should also be extended to our enemies. By looking at a man, not as someone who is our per-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


sonal enemy, but as someone who acts erroneously because of inherited inclinations; environmental influences, and low level of self-educating consciousness, we assume an impersonal attitude toward that man. Such an attitude toward an enemy is a clear sign of one's advance toward the ideal of personality.


The love of our fellow creatures cannot be the kind that ends within the bonds of our family and individual relations with our neighbors. We should embrace with it the society in which we live and the whole of humanity. This, as it were, social love of our fellow creatures finds its expression in various social, religious, and ideological organizations, whose aim is the perfection of entire groups of people through execution of specific and obviously important social tasks.


The desire to perfect ourselves and others


All educational systems recommend self-education and self-remolding before one takes on the task of the moral remolding of a society. Of course, some degree of internal preparation must be possessed by everyone who takes up social work. However, the recommendation that one should refashion himself before starting to work upon others does not appear right to us. Awareness of one's imperfection, anxiety with respect to oneself, longing for an ideal, accompanied by a perception that one must work upon his own remolding, should go hand in hand with the work of raising the level of society.


We can change and improve the group in which we live, therefore, only if we know how to develop ourselves. Otherwise we vitiate the social work, it turns into a pseudo work, a cover for attitudes and aims which often have nothing to do with real social work. Thus the reservations made with respect to the social work of individuals possessing no ability for the internal reshaping of themselves, for the realization of the ideal of personality, are fully justified. Such people become only “social servants” or “social benefactors” and never engage in real social work.


Among so-called social workers one may distinguish several groups. One group is comprised of people with small capabilities or “complete indolents,” whose inclination to social work is based on an unconscious tendency to seek care for themselves.



The Definition of Personality


Another group consists of individuals for whom social work is just an embellishment of their professional work or an opportunity for easy gratification of vanity and ambition. From this group are recruited various types of “presidents,” “chairmen,” and “members of the board,” whose activity consists mainly in venting their ambitions through make-believe actions requiring no particular exertion.


I shall not deal here with the problem of consciously and purposely organized social work that is harmful.


Whoever wants to realize social work carried on at the level of personality must internally remold his own apparent, artificial, temporary, habitual attitudes; he must acquire the capacity for recognizing the same in a given social group, so as to overcome, in his work upon and with that group, all those mechanisms in which the self-preservation instinct, or the instinct of power, the feeling of fear, or the feeling of “living in peace” are hidden behind a label of “social welfare.”




Religious attitude


Realization of the religious ideal calls for renunciation and denial of our impulsive nature, thus introducing in our everyday life an attitude of adaptation to suffering and death. Love of God dictates the love of one's neighbor, love of the truth, and readiness to do good, and vice versa. When a religious ideal is cultivated there gradually develops a proper religious atmosphere, or religious feeling, which enhances the feeling of love and ultimately leads one, through contemplation, to a union with the Infinite. Therefore a sound religious attitude includes the feeling of humility and dependence on God, which, filling us with a feeling of power and elevating us to the level of true human beings, arms us morally and permits us to attain the independence and freedom both from our lower self and from certain forms of environmental reactions. Such an attitude is based on an intuitive feeling that the meaning of life depends on higher values, and on the integration of our human qualities of the highest moral value with the hierarchy of those supreme values at the pinnacle of



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


which exists the Deity. The religious attitude is therefore understood as the attitude of cultivating these highest values.


We may distinguish several kinds of religious attitudes. One religious attitude arises from man's realization of how small, helpless, and ignorant he is. Such an attitude may be accompanied by the desire for realizing an ideal, by the desire to enter the supersensual world, in which one finds consolation, happiness, and infinite knowledge; but it may also be a label, a name, a superficial attitude, the “attitude of consent,” assumed in order to get rid of an unpleasant feeling. In the latter case it is the most convenient form of a seemingly satisfactory solution to everyday difficulties which one wants to brush aside; this is an attitude without “internal elaboration,” an attitude of pretense.


The source of another kind of religious attitude are the internal controversies-an attachment to life and an awareness of death, the feeling of love for our next of kin and the feeling caused by a threat that we may lose them or by actual loss, the need for sacrificing oneself and the strong self-preservation instinct, idealistic aspirations and strong sexual drives. Conflicts, breakdowns, suicidal inclinations, and other symptoms of psychic disintegration often lead to a secondary harmony when one creates within oneself new tendencies strong enough to win domination over other tendencies. Such harmonization is done by way of gradual transformation, “inner elaboration,” or by way of revelation; but it proceeds, almost always, in connection with a search for support in the religious life.


There exists also a constitutionally conditioned religious attitude, which knows neither struggles nor difficulties, is characterized by an internal harmony, and is based on a belief that mundane life should be devoted to perfecting oneself internally, to approaching the supersensual world, to seeking a communion with God.


Yet another religious attitude is characterized by giving priority to intellectual elements. A given individual seeks a justification of his beliefs by rational proofs, by external experiences, and by sufficiently reliable historical evidence. Such an attitude usually indicates that the intensity of one's religious life is slight. It



The Definition of Personality


may also point to the existence of contradictory tendencies such as a strong religious yearning along with a no less strong tendency to explain it by reasoned thinking; it then contains the germ of tragic internal conflicts.


The best religious attitude, as far as the shaping of personality is concerned, is the one that draws knowledge from many sources. Given this attitude, the aspiration to enter into the supersensual world and to approach the Deity is realized in a person both through emotional tenseness and contemplation and through the intellectual and volitional faculties that drive one to the realization of the dictates of the personality and social ideal. Such an attitude protects one against unilateral mysticism, against quietism, or an excessive retiring into one's internal life, and, on the other hand, against a unilateral, formalistic, and dogmatic attitude characterized often by intolerance and a lack of love; finally it guards one against an excessive dissipation of one's mental energy into pseudo asceticism and superficial social work.


A religious attitude may, in many individuals, not manifest itself externally; it may be consciously or unconsciously suppressed. It may manifest itself in a sphere having apparently nothing to do with it, but its significance for man's life and development is always of a fundamental character. The conscious religious attitude constitutes one of the most powerful means of safeguarding ethically high-standing individuals against breakdowns in the most trying moments of life. It also belongs to the qualities possessed by an individual of high moral culture.


As for the question of the religious attitude in the development of historical figures, it should be noted here that religious inspiration was for most artists and philosophers of genius one of the most important and sometimes the only factor that led to the great successes they achieved in their creative work. Even among scholars devoted to strict sciences we observe many who are deeply religious or interested in religious problems, and not only from the scientific point of view. It seems that the multidimensional attitude in every field of life, including creative work, induces and forces man to overstep the scope of his limited field of knowledge and to explore what is not only outside it, but also



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


above it. When one adopts the multidimensional attitude one begins as a rule to understand and experience religious life and all that goes with it.


The strength and universality of religious experience show that the internal attitude of man corresponds to a supersensual Being, transcendent as an object of these religious experiences and at the same time constituting a necessary condition for the very fact of the existence of this experience in our consciousness. This Being is a requirement of our hierarchical psychological structure, a requirement for its highest level, for it seems more convincing to assume that this hierarchy reaches into transcendency than to take it for granted that it ends in and with us. Furthermore, in the spiritual evolution of man, in his universal development, or universal outlook, the religious experience constitutes a domain which cannot be eluded, and its acceptance is a prerequisite of the multilaterality of development and of outlook that has just been mentioned. This fact also manifests—not only on the intellectual but also, in a way, on the existential plane—the objective existence of a transcendental object of religious experience.


In order to be able to receive and grasp the supersensual reality we may need special organs and functions, a kind of “transcendental sense,” allowing us, through inner experience, to perceive the reality of the supersensual world. It may safely be assumed that this inner sense, the experience of which would possess convincing power for the experiencing individual, arises and develops in the course of multidimensional realization of the ideal of personality.


At any rate, the fact that among psychically and culturally sound individuals heightened religious life very often enriches their creative power, increases the scope of their interest and their capability of devotion and sacrifice should lead us to a positive evaluation of religious experience, apart from the question of the real and objective existence of the supersensual world.


The feelings of reverence, inferiority, guilt, and humility


Our capability of experiencing the feelings of veneration and esteem is one of the fundamental criteria of the development of



The Definition of Personality


personality. Without the feeling of a hierarchy of values above us and without an emotional attitude of esteem for these values, there would be no yearning for an ideal and, consequently, no action of dynamisms permitting the discrimination of various levels within our inner environment. The capability of experiencing the feeling of reverence is as a rule linked with the process of disintegration. The sensing of our own inner environment, the participation of consciousness and emotions in the dynamics of inner transformations, the feeling of the frequent wandering “up and down,” associated with experiences of weakness, unsteadiness, breakdowns, difficulties in elevating ourselves to and stabilizing at a higher level—all these are causes of distinct experiences of higher values, more or less personified and transcendent; we seek help and guidance in these values and we unite with them.


The faculty of experiencing the feeling of veneration is closely related to the alterocentric attitude. Highly egocentric individuals—at the level of primary, primitive integration—are not capable of experiencing the feeling of reverence; on the other hand they easily assume the attitude of domination and tyranny toward weaker people, and that of fear and external subordination toward stronger people.


We distinguish two kinds of feelings of inferiority, one with respect to the external environment of an individual, and the other with respect to the hierarchically more valued structures of his own inner milieu. The latter kind of feeling of inferiority consists in experiencing one's own possibilities at various levels. Such experience is usually accompanied by conflicts of great dynamism, and by difficulties in attaining a distinct domination of higher values in one's inner environment, and consequently also by seeking help and support from those who, in our opinion, are standing at a higher level of development. Of course, the feeling of inferiority appears with respect to such people; there is no envy in it, however, but rather a feeling of reverence.


The sense of guilt is closely related to the feeling of veneration and sense of inferiority; it usually arises when one is dissatisfied with one's own deeds, if they prove to be contradictory to the level of personality that the individual considers he should have reached. It points to some disharmony between the appraisal of



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


one's own tendencies before and after they are set in motion, to an insufficiently elaborated prospection, to an inadequate participation of imagination in the actions with which one is faced. Pointing to shortcomings in our own education, this sense of guilt often makes us dissatisfied with ourselves and anxious about the level of our actions.


The sense of guilt develops when one is highly sensitive to moral injunctions. The awareness of a distance between the ideal and one's achievements, of the constant wrecking of the level which one deemed to have been built already, may result in a permanent sense of guilt. The sense of guilt is also nourished by a sense of responsibility—not clearly discernible, as it is inherited and usually associated with a given trend of religious education—for the evil-doings of all humanity, groups, and families.


The feeling of sin experienced by a man is a result of a more or less distinct departure from the responsibilities placed upon one by a given religious, social, or moral code, responsibilities with respect to one's own or collective aims, or with respect to transcendental values. Sin, as an internal experience, is then a more or less conscious offense committed by a given individual in conflict with the principles accepted, recognized, and affirmed by him, and a transgression for which his conscience holds him responsible. Of course, the feeling of sin is not a measure by which one can establish the extent of the evil done. The objective evil as assessed by social measures may not be great or even may not exist at all, but a man may experience his sin very deeply and that experience may even assume a dramatic character. Thus what is significant here is not an external judgment but the content of the drama taking place in the internal milieu during the process of disintegration. One's exoneration from blame may be achieved only by internal expiation and not by purely external sanction.


The sense of shame which arises after one has committed some morally questionable deed is a somewhat weaker form of the sense of sin, and it contains a strong component of sensitivity to the judgment of the environment. In its coming into existence the fundamental role is played by a sense of the moral and ethical impropriety of a discovered deed, while in the arising of the



The Definition of Personality


sense of sin the main element is the feeling of a downfall and of failure to keep oneself at the attained level of development.


Humility is awareness of one's smallness and reflects the appraisal of one's level of development, considering all one's deficiencies, such as the changing and fluctuating values of our internal life, ease in committing sins, the frailness of our knowledge and of our moral forces. The sense of humility includes also recognition of and respect for those who morally and intellectually are closer to their own educational ideal and to transcendental values.


The sense of humility reflects one's multidimensional world outlook, in which a man realizes the existence of higher values and at the same time soberly appraises his own level and possibilities of development. The indeterminism of the laws, needs, and reality of our spiritual development is encumbered here by the sense of determinism of our somatic, instinctive, and material side, the sense which assigns us a definite point in appraising ourselves, a point from which we can lift ourselves higher only through very hard internal struggle.


Such qualities and experiences, connected with the feelings and senses mentioned above, are signs that personality is developing. For this development is not possible without experiencing a feeling of veneration for the hierarchy of higher values and without the feelings of inferiority, sin, guilt, and shame. These feelings are a sign of the first step toward diminishing the evil, toward overcoming it. On the other hand, humility permits us to appraise the level at which we are, the distance which we still have to go, and the resisting forces which we will have to conquer.


A strong Christian component in the development of the feeling of humility is based, not only on the above qualities, but also on the awareness of dependence upon the Infinite Transcendental Wisdom. The experience of the sense of humility—as conceived in a Christian frame of reference—constitutes a source from which springs a sense of power when we act in accordance with moral and religious injunctions, and a sense of weakness when our deeds are not in accord with them.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


Adapting oneself to suffering and death


It is widely believed that the fundamental and strongest drive of a living being is the tendency to preserve himself and his species. To preserve oneself as a physical organism one should avoid to the extent possible all injuries and sufferings, one should keep oneself psychically balanced and widely enjoy all pleasures which are not detrimental to health.


The instinct of the preservation of the species moves, however, along other routes and is often contradictory to the self-preservation instinct. For example, excessive fertility and excessive care in bringing up her children lead to the devastation of a mother's organism. Hence the preservation of the species calls for sacrifices on the part of an individual.


We may also say that the paternal generative instinct introduces an element of opposition, struggle, and limitation with respect to the instinct of self-preservation. In opposing each other, these forces, on practically the same level, take part, among others, in forming the nuclei of conflicts of a higher order. These conflicts are conditioned by the splitting of the self-preservation instinct into biological and suprabiological levels (longing for immortality, the need for influencing the society by one's own ideas and conceptions even after one's death) and by the splitting of the generative instinct into several levels (sexual drive, the generative instinct proper, and social instincts of ever higher levels).


In the world of cultural values sacrifice plays a momentous role. Cultural injunctions are often realized despite natural tendencies. Suffering and even death may, as it were, give birth to higher values; this is a manifestation of the law of conservation of energy, of the law of the transformation of one value into other values. Hard experiences do not always dissolve psychic life, they often strengthen and improve it. Fasting, exercise in controlling oneself, and ascetism create resistance, strengthen one's moral vigilance, and increase one's readiness to enter a conscious struggle for the sake of principles one holds. Suffering, if we experience it correctly, makes us sensitive to the suffering of others, awakens in us a new awareness, and creates a breach in



The Definition of Personality


our excessively egocentric attitude toward the surrounding world.


In general, however, the reaction to suffering may vary from man to man. In some people suffering evokes the need for external projection, the desire to vent the accumulated energy in the form of vengeance or aggression. In other people, as the suffering grows, there arise states of gradually increasing weariness, of yielding to the suffering, of resignation and the sighing away of energy. In still other people there arise tendencies for reshaping themselves and for replacing the shattered forms of life by other forms. The latter reaction is, in most cases, characteristic of individuals with a fluctuating system of tendencies, lacking biopsychic stability, tending toward disintegration, and in whom cultural needs dominate the instinct of self-preservation, which finally leads to gradual harmonization of their inner life and to a development of personality.


Suffering and resignation may lead to the emergence of an attitude characterized by setting the ideal of absolute truth against the falsehood of human relations, and the temporary nature of emotional bonds against the permanence of these bonds. When one assumes such an attitude one's activity within the framework of the new system of values need not necessarily be transferred to the world of absolute truths or to the sphere of an ideal. However, when one possesses an active nature, prepared for and adapted to reformatory work in the real world, one may devote oneself to educational work in which one can gradually pass along to a social group the values gained through suffering.


With respect to death, individuals with a deeply developed process of disintegration, with a clear personality ideal, with a broad experience of life, and possessing a strong tendency for retrospection and prospection, prepare themselves for it, almost from childhood, in the world of the imagination. The thought of their own death often conditions the direction of their work, their deeds. Hence, in the actions of these individuals the foremost place is occupied by supersensual aims and by aspirations for immortality (fame, greatness, perfection). Such men are usually capable of unselfish, sacrificial, and heroic acts. Their attitude toward life includes the need to work for a better future, the tendency to create imperishable, everlasting works; it also in-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


eludes the belief that deeply felt individual bonds will outlast death; and, finally, it includes the pursuit and realization of lasting cultural goods, in which the “eternal or universal man” comes to be expressed.


In attaining the level of personality, man's attitude toward death is, as it were, the result of two attitudes, one rational, objective, and critical, and the other emotional and dramatic. The first regards death as a universal process, which affects the given individual as “one of many,” whereas the second expresses a drama, in which the negation of biological life is associated with the need and sometimes even with the necessity of supersensual life. This drama often gives way to a state of peace and internal harmony, which is connected with the supersensual Being, through meditation.


A correct attitude of humility, arising from the realization that we are infinitesimal creatures in this endless universe, from the tendency to assume an objective attitude toward reality, and from the survival of our individual spiritual beings and a sense of union with the Supreme Being, helps us to overcome the fear of our own death and to attain peace of mind.


Contemplation and mysticism


The capacity for contemplation is evidence of personality coming into existence. Contemplation is the stage of development at which a man passes from superficial judgments, from the attitude of consent, to conscious feelings and to a working out of the principles of one's action. It then implies a passage from sensual to mental life, from external to internal experiences, from reactive emotional life to deepened emotional life coupled with the intellect, and from unrelated experiences to integrated experiences. But, above all, it is a sign that a man is becoming harmonized at a higher level. The state of contemplation implies a level of development at which a man begins to appraise his own behavior, to confront it with the demands placed on himself, and at which he enters the world of higher values, from which he may draw inspiration and power, both of which are of great help in life.


Contemplation harmonizes in us the biological level—at



The Definition of Personality


which most of our everyday experiences take place—with the suprabiological level; it alleviates the drama of our experiences by enabling us to resign certain values and tendencies dinged to thus far, in favor of other, suprabiological ones.


Contemplation is also a sign of one's passing from a merely active life to a life in which action combines with moments of solitude. The capacity and need for isolation observed among normal people usually indicates progress in the development of personality. People who do not feel any need for solitude, or cannot bear it, are wholly extroverted and unprepared for psychic transformation. Dostoevsky is right in saying that solitude in the psychic sphere is as necessary as food is for the body. Moreover, the capacity for contemplation and solitude points to the spiritual independence of an individual.


Exorbitant need of continuous contact with a group may even point to certain maladies. Many individuals suffering from states of anxiety are not able to lead a solitary life; such individuals, when deprived of the possibility of living in a group, fall into depression. It is also possible that many hypomaniacal states arise with a pathological background tendency for compensation, caused by a lack of sufficiently frequent and satisfying contacts with a group.


When practiced by active individuals, full of energy, contemplation may evoke states of elevation, tension, or readiness for the greatest sacrifices. Short-lived states of elevation are experienced by the majority of people in certain exceptional circumstances (for example, in the moment when one learns that a beloved person was saved from death). These states are of a different order, however. The elevation of which we speak here is based on harmonized higher psychic sets gradually growing more independent of instinctive tendencies.


The contemplative characteristic of a universally developing individual not only does not interfere with his capacity for active social work but, on the contrary, improves and purifies it of superficial elements, of impulsive tendencies, makes a man capable of assessing himself critically, facilitates insight into his own personality, and helps him make a clear projection of the way toward an ever higher level of individuality.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


The term mysticism derives from Dionysius the Areopagite and denotes a kind of union of man's soul with the Supreme Being. This is not only a kind of cognition but also a kind of coexistence, of living together. A mystic attains the utmost degree of such cognition and coexistence in the states of ecstasy invoked by a complete detachment from the outer world. But mysticism is not limited to ecstasy alone. The mystic transposes his ecstatic experiences to everyday life and shapes it in accordance with attained knowledge. He does this by constantly improving himself, by leading an ascetic life, and by helping other people.


Ever more frequent and deeper ecstatic states fill a man with increasingly greater energy, thus enabling him to win ever stronger control over his instinctive nature.




Art in the life of personality


It appears that the higher the level of personality the greater the sensitivity to truly inspired art. One may say that the esthetic component is, to a lesser or greater extent, one of the fundamental elements in the structure of every personality.


In three historical figures whom we shall discuss in this book—St. Augustine, Michelangelo, and Dawid—the artistic structure was a dominating structure (Michelangelo) or one of the main structures (St. Augustine). A relatively weaker artistic component was possessed by J. W. Dawid and this may have been one of the reasons for his too rapid unilateral internal “burning away,” his too abrupt breakdown, and for his too strong and rapidly increasing instinct toward death.


To a personality within which the artistic component is dominant art allows the highest intellectual, religious, and even moral revelations. Beethoven said: “Music is a greater revelation than wisdom and philosophy.” (2) Through their great love of beauty Socrates and Plato imparted an individual, emotional character


(2). R. Rolland. Vie de Beethoven. (Life of Beethoven.), 18th ed. Paris: Hachette, 1913.



The Definition of Personality


to their science of impersonal general ideas, of the impersonal “essence of the thing,” and thereby broadened it by adding a more human element. The poems of St. John of the Cross, endowed with a distinct though subtle sensuality, weakened his extreme attitude of denying all human spiritual unions in life.


The history of Indian, Egyptian, Greek, and Christian art strongly speaks in favor of the thesis that the highest art is born in a temple and belongs to the domain of the initiated. When, however, it is experienced by the masses it loses its “sacredness,” its “mystic elevation,” its level. Nonetheless it is a fact that some kinds and some elements of truly great art—for example, religious hymns—stir the latent and damped personality bonds of the majority of people.


It appears, therefore, that truly inspired art contains strong intellectual, religious, and moral elements, that it pictures the drama of man's development, its process of disintegration, the dynamics of its relation to the personality ideal, its changeability and its developmental conflicts, its progress from sensualism and materialism to mysticism, from rationalism to intuitionalism, from instinctive to suprainstinctive attitudes and from the biological to suprabiological dimension. Such elements are found, in various configurations and intensities, in the works of Phidias Socrates, the great Grecian tragedians, and in the works of Michelangelo, Dante, Shakespeare, Mickiewicz, and others.



The drama of man's attitude toward life


During the period of germination of the “seeds” of personality and during the later period of its realization, there occur fundamental convulsions in the internal life of a man—spiritual crises resulting from the struggle between sets of various tendencies. In the consciousness of the individual this struggle contains in itself the basic element, namely the struggle between good and evil, with the tragedy-swollen feeling of the necessity of selecting and deciding. This is the Shakespearian “to be or not to be,” the Kierkegaardean “either/or,” or J. W. Dawid's individual striving for salvation.


Kierkegaard stated:



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


I fight for freedom, for the future, for either . . . or. One selects oneself not in one's immediacy, not as this incidental individual, but one selects oneself in his eternal silence. . . . A man possesses his own self as determined by himself, as someone selected by himself, as a free being; when he comes to possession of his own self in this way, there emerges the absolute difference between good and evil. As long as he has not vet selected himself this difference does not show up. . . . The absolute selection of my own self is my freedom . . . The moment of my own selection has remained for me as a solemn and venerable moment, though when I made my choice, I was under the influence of others. . . (3)


According to Kierkegaard man should be:


fearless in the midst of dread, passions, and temptations of life, moving forward along the path of faith, a path which is steep and dangerous but which leads one safely to the goal. Furthermore, his faith should be silent, humble, ready for sacrifices, sufferings, and hardships. Silence, fear, and trembling, these are signs which point to genuine faith. To achieve such faith, however, one must go through the wild and ghastly forest, full of thistles and thorns, following the example of Durer's knight, who knows no hesitation and places his trust in God, Whom he serves and Whom he loves.


Before one becomes a distinctly new man, before one passes to the “other side,” there ensues a period of struggle, calling not only for the pleasant freeing of oneself from the activities of former structures, but sometimes also for the breaking of the bonds with the structure, which one no longer considers one's own, as it is no longer essential. During this period in which one ceases to be a former man, but has not yet become the present and future man, one falls into a deep critical tension.


“There comes a moment,” writes Dawid, “when a feeling and thinking man says to himself: I can no longer live like this. I must find for myself a ‘new form of life and not a new form of cognizance.'”


In states of highest spiritual tension man feels that he himself must know something, decide something, do something, and that in this no one can replace him . . . Some people think that the essential thing


(3) S. Kierkegaard. In R. Bretall (Ed.), A Kierkegaard Anthology. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1946.



The Definition of Personality


in mysticism is the ardent seeking of absolute truth. They are wrong. The first, deep motive is always personal and moral, namely the salvation of life, the problem of suffering in the spiritual order of things. . . . When a man suffers, feels his guilt, and worries about his own redemption, then the problem of being and its purpose becomes a personal issue for him. (4)


The internal, gradually growing maturity of a man, or the spiritual agitations which accelerate this maturity, lead him to a negative attitude toward his thus far pursued aims and ways of living, the value of which diminishes or dwindles. Simultaneously, he begins to seek fervently for the meaning of his own existence, not by philosophizing but by a deep experiencing which involves a struggle between conflicting powers in his nature. The idea, in this seeking, is to find the new essence of existence, in another dimension, and this is accompanied by a personal drama which one must go through.




Among the majority of maturing individuals and among some “average” adults, while experiencing states of great joy, suffering, or despondency, there arises the sense of loneliness, the sense of “otherness” with respect to the common, everyday, familiar states. This “otherness” in experiencing points to the activity of something thus far unknown to one, something coming “from outside,” something unexpected, for which one lacks adjustors in his psychic structure. The less rigid this structure is, the higher the degree of its nonpathological disintegration, and while states of “otherness” are more frequent, they are also more acceptable to the person. They are the main characteristics of sensitive and more than normally excitable people.


This susceptibility to nonpathological disintegration is the main quality of a psyche capable of development. Such individuals are seemingly immature, often show psychic pseudoinfantilism, freshness, proneness to enthusiasm, tendency to idealism; they are “permanently maturing” as it were, unlike the majority


(4) J. W. Dawid. Ostatnie Mysli i Wyznania. (Last Thoughts and Confessions.) Warsaw: Nasza Ksiegarnia, 1935.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


of people who adapt themselves more quickly to a typical environment. People with such a weak coherence of their structure, provided it is not a truly morbid structure, show developmental disintegration which, in its nonpathological aspect, may be regarded as the chief diagnostic measure of development. Whether a man disintegrates positively or negatively is indicated, as we shall later show more explicitly, by the more or less obvious presence of a factor which organizes such a state of slackening or of dissension, organizing it in the sense of ordering, evaluating, and purposeful utilization in building the structure of a higher level.


What are the basic individual qualities in the structure of personality? One of these qualities is the fundamental trend of interests and capabilities. It is a capacity for grasping reality at its various levels, grasping it from a special side, or rather with a special emotional tone.


When we speak of the main trend of interests and capabilities, we mean those interests and capabilities which are distinct, self-conscious, and self-affirmed, imparting the dominant tone to one's psychic nature, interests and capabilities without which one cannot imagine a given individual as possessing certain essential traits. Various examples are the interests and capabilities of Socrates, without which, as he himself says in his “Apology,” life would mean nothing to him; musical, educational, medical, architectural capabilities; or a desire to study nature, to travel, and so on. These interests and capabilities need not necessarily be at the level of talent, but even at the germinative stage they show such a peculiar structural quality, so strongly associated with a given individual, that they must be regarded as gifts of nature, gifts brought into the world with life, and inseparable from the further actions of a man.


Another basic individual quality is represented by lasting emotional bonds of love and friendship, bonds symbolized by the Platonic myth of two halves of the same soul. The best example of such conjunction are the bonds between Christ and His Apostles, which lead to the highest degree of friendship, or the individual bonds between Christ and St. John, Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus. Such bonds are further exemplified by the spiritual



The Definition of Personality


bonds between Socrates or Pythagoras and their disciples, or by the brotherhood often entered into in religious orders (St. Francis and his three friars, the spiritual union between St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa, or that between St. Clara and St. Francis). A profoundly significant and even touching example of eternal individual union would be the love or friendship on the part of St. Augustine toward his mother, St. Monica. In common life we encounter such individual or group unions of a higher order of spiritual tension in the love between married people, in the fraternal or sisterly unions, and in the friendly unions between individuals not related who go side by side desiring the realization of a common idea.


The third basic individual trait of personality is a certain specific, unique tone of the spiritual life, specific expression or manifestation of which is observed in a man's countenance and eyes or felt in his movements, expression of voice, behavior, and personal charm, the latter being a kind of individual “magnetism.”





A man usually distinguishes consciousness of his own self from awareness of the outer world. The main characteristic of the first consciousness is the faculty for distinguishing oneself from the external world and especially from other persons, having a sense of one's own activity, one's identity in time, and a sense of singularity. (5 ) When our consciousness of ourselves is more or less filled with a distinct content, we may speak of consciousness of our own person.


Changes in the consciousness of our own person take place primarily in the period of maturation, in which we begin to sense these changes and to feel that we are becoming something else; moreover, these sensations are accompanied by states of temporary depression (something is passing away) and excitement (something new is coming to us), as well as by alternately arising feelings of inferiority and superiority, of contradiction between



(5) K. Jaspers. General Psychopathology. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1963.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


our feelings and thoughts and of the strengthening of their unity. This state is a symptom of disintegration, but of a psychic rather than a moral character. An infantile individual vanishes and gives way to an adult individual; tendencies existing up until then become weaker and wane or take on a different color; and in their place arise other tendencies, partly foreign and unpleasant, and partly attractive because of their newness.


In some so-called morbid cases (psychoneuroses, schizophrenia) we face symptoms of a similar kind, namely a sensation of something foreign in us, something uncommon and of higher value, the lack of a full sensing of oneself as something that is wholly integrated. In the process termed here the awakening of self-awareness, which arises in connection with moral crises and with efforts to transform oneself (birth of personality), there occur symptoms analogous to these but not identical with them. This is the process of becoming aware that there exists in us the higher and the lower, the spiritual and the instinctive, structures. This is the process of becoming aware of the distinctness of the new structure which emerges from the former one, wherein the active, directing part is played by the separating structure, which is conscious of being spiritual, suprainstinctive, and realizing that the evolutionally lower qualities must be subordinated to the nascent, or an already more clearly visible ideal, and reshaped to serve it.


Awakening of self-awareness is usually accompanied by an emotional component, symptoms of which are the sense that something is passing away in us, that something departs from us, and by depression, by the sense of nascency, affirmation, excitation, and, sometimes, ecstasy. There is, however, a fundamental difference between analogous symptoms occurring in the period of maturation and in morbid states, on the one hand, and those occurring during the emergence of personality, on the other. For in the latter case one's consciousness is not diminished; on the contrary, it is strengthened and shows great intensity. The everyday life of the individual is marked by consonance despite inward concentration and isolation. In the process of the awakening of self-awareness a man subordinates himself to a strong dominant, which is a supreme, prevalent, distinct idea; through retrospec-



The Definition of Personality


tion and prospection he perceives the line of his life more clearly than before. We shall call this supreme idea—this pattern of life—the personality ideal.


This state, which is characteristic of the awakening of self-awareness, disintegration, separation, and the throwing over of a part of our structure, may take a sharp form, may last for months, years, and even throughout one's entire life.


Scrutiny of one's structure in its diverse dimensions, on its various levels, and in its various conditions, brings forth, again and again, a state of feverish tension of consciousness, of continual and frequent questioning of oneself and of uncertainty and depression. Finally there ensues an act of clear awareness, connected with the factor of will, which accepts the transformation that has set in, affirms its aim and sense, affirms the newly created state and the isolation of man's own and essential set of qualities: one reaches the state of self-affirmation.


Self-education is the highest possible process of a psychological and moral character. It begins at the time when the individual undergoes changes which permit him to make himself partially independent of biological factors and of the influence of the social environment. At this stage a process, thus far not explained by psychology, takes place, as a consequence of which the individual becomes the resultant not only of inheritance, of factors acting in the womb of a mother, and of his biological and social environment, but also of one more, ever more powerful factor, namely that of defining oneself and of acting upon oneself (the so-called third factor).


In the light of introspection we see that this new structure—which consciously takes part in matters concerning its own evolution and which acts as a “third factor” in the shaping of the personality—clearly rises in conflict with the fundamental instincts of our biological “I” and in conflict with the common forms of reaction of a social group, and creates its own extrabiological and extrasocial aims. When a man rises against the most important instinctive forces, both those springing from generic and those springing from personality sources, and against social suggestions that strengthen these forces, then it is evident that he has become self-dependent.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


In order to educate himself a man should, as it were, split himself into a subject and an object—that is, he should disintegrate. He must be the one who educates and the one who is educated and he must isolate in himself the active entity and the one which is subordinated to it. The structure, or set, of the higher level must continuously react upon the structure, or set, of the lower level, and the higher feeling must react on the lower feelings. Of course, in this process a vivid picture of one's own personality ideal, made dynamic in the processes of disintegration and self-education, plays a fundamental role.


A child may possess some self-educational nuclei but their existence is only weakly manifested. Among the majority of adults, standing at a normal intellectual level, self-education is a sectional, periodic phenomenon, possessing no conscious character and not isolated from other educational methods. As a matter of fact, true self-education starts when the personality comes to life—that is, from the period in which the process of self-defining and self-cognizing becomes marked, the process in which a man begins to be strongly interested, intent, and sees the need of isolating in himself that something which constitutes his true self. He then attempts to understand the biological and extrabiological character of this self, its hierarchical values and its purpose.


The process of self-education consists in admitting to consciousness all that may stimulate and educate. In doing so we should adopt an attitude of constant differentiation and selection of these stimuli, partly or wholly rejecting some of them and admitting other. In this process there are moments of interruption of one's daily activities, moments of withdrawal from the daily routine and of breaking contact with the external world, in order to enter, with a fully relaxed body and mind, into communion with one's ideal, and to charge oneself, as it were with subtle spiritual energy. This reaching out, through meditation and contemplation, to one's educational ideal usually contains in itself the elements of a religious attitude.


The process of self-education consists in reflecting upon and controlling the impulses, derived from the grasp of one's own personality ideal, which are eventually expressed in action. The daily separation of our true self from that which does not belong



The Definition of Personality


to it but may only serve us as material for the building of our personality, separation of lasting values from fleeting values and appearance from reality, is the function of this method.


The daily routine of self-education consists in the realization of particular educational aims, stemming from one's personality ideal. It is a way of developing in oneself sublimating habits, of sane rejection of compensatory mechanisms which fade and cease to be educational methods for a personality. Furthermore, this is a method of one's own realization through devoting oneself to helping others, by remaining open to their difficulties, conflicts, shortcomings, and faults. This is a way of educating oneself within the daily experiences of life, by forgetting oneself and apparently losing one's personality in the service of the ideal of duty to one's neighbor. In the evangelical paraphrase this process finds its expression in the words of Jesus, “He that loseth his life shall find it.”




Having acquainted the reader with the definition of personality given at the outset of this work, and with its fundamental, general, and individual characteristics; and having established the fact that personality possesses a distinct hierarchical structure of values, which is attained through the dynamic development of the nuclei inherent in it, we think it proper to turn the attention of the reader, at this point, to two aspects of our approach, namely:


1. The multidimensional component, specifically, the empirical and the normative


2. The durability and immutability of certain qualities and attitudes of a personality with their permanent “quantitative” development


Let us present these two components once more, in a synthetic way.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


The empirical and normative aspects


In the practical field of mental health we broadly apply empirical methods, among others, in studies of persons possessing the nucleus of a personality or who are personalities in the making. These are, in most cases, individuals with an increased capacity for development, and in studying them empirically we come into contact again and again with the problem of the hierarchy of values and the realization of these values. When investigating such individuals, therefore, we must apply a certain scale of already existing values, and observe how these values arise and how they are developed.


We ascertain these changes, through, among others, catamnestic examination of persons who attain ever higher values in this or that accepted scale or hierarchy, who realize their program and aims and who realize, in a way, their own “personality standards.” The shaping of personality is, therefore, an empirical and normative phenomenon. Hence our studies are, on one side, of an empirical character, and, on the other, of a teleological character, or, in other words, of empirical and nonnative character.


The conclusions we obtain from empirical studies of the structure of personality we try to transfer and apply to historical personalities, which we place in certain more or less determined scales of values, according to biological, social, and individual (personality), conceptions. At this point the empirical and the nonnative points of view come together.


Both actually investigated individuals with a developing personality and historical personalities considered from the point of view of realized or attained ideals call for a construing of personality standards and consequently we conceive the personality in normative terms. As we have seen, however, this “nonnativeness” of our approach is broadly based on empirical data. We may say that these “norms” are a logical necessity because of our subject matter and the method we use for its study. They serve us in everyday life, and in our study we apply them to prominent historical personalities and to living observed or investigated individuals, ascertaining their place in the adopted scale.


In introducing the hierarchy of values in school teaching, in



The Definition of Personality


behavior, in qualifying people for various posts, in setting patterns for school youths and adults, we always make use, more or less strictly, of empirically accepted moral standards, from the average to the highest.


Of course this point of view and these methods may arouse some reservations; nonetheless they are of vital necessity in common practice and in research work.


The durability of certain qualities, and their enrichment


We have repeatedly emphasized that the “birth” of personality—by which we mean a decisive turning point in one's life—is a drastic experience for an individual. He senses the advent of something “other” in himself, he feels that the hierarchy of values thus far accepted by him undergoes changes, and that he is becoming much more sensitive to certain values, and less to others. In this period the individual changes fundamentally, and at the same time there comes to power within him a new or a higher type of driving elements, a new system of internal environment arises, and he becomes more selective in his attitude toward external contacts.


There also arises the already-mentioned feeling of “otherness,” a feeling that the meaning of life has changed. Self-awareness increases significantly and there develops the process of the segregation of values into central, marginal, less significant, or vanquished values. This transformation and the “otherness” of common and individual values find expression, or rather one expression, in a conviction that life would have no meaning without some concrete values.


There comes into view here the previously described individual traits of a personality, such as the main trend of one's interests and capabilities, lasting and exclusive emotional bonds, uniqueness of personal, impressional, and emotional elements, awareness of one's own individuality and the uniqueness of one's history of experiences and development, which are ingrained, as it were, in the common values of personality. The lasting and exclusive character of these qualities is a fundamental clement of personality.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


Of course, new values arise as the individual moves toward his goal of personality; however, these new values do not affect the central position of those thus far realized and affirmed by him. These new values may be important, they may enrich the whole personality, but they always remain marginal in relation to the central values.


So, with respect to the world of values, as shaped from the moment of birth of personality, we observe objectively and in the self-awareness of an individual “quantitative” changes of values, but we do not observe qualitative changes of those values which have already been accepted and experienced by an individual as central ones and which constitute for him a necessary condition for the meaning of existence.


The above considerations point to the need of stressing in our definition of personality this unchangeability of values, and particularly of central values.



2. The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration and Disintegration







THE ONTOGENETIC DEVELOPMENT of man possesses characteristic properties, which appear, take on intensity, come to the highest point of development, and then abate or dissolve. The fundamental state of these properties, in their positive and negative correlative system, in their dominants, growth, intensification, and abating, may be observed in the aspirational, emotional, and intellectual structure, as well as in physiological operations and body structure.


A man comes into the world, develops, matures, and acts under the influence of basic instincts. As he gets along in years most of the instincts grow feeble, the sensual and mental functions deteriorate, the value of previously pursued aims becomes


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less and less conspicuous and the dynamism of the whole organism becomes weaker and weaker.


However, there are people, not few in number, in whom, besides the schematically described cycle of life, there arises a sort of a “sidetrack,” which after some time may become the “main track.” The various sets of tendencies tear away from the common biological cycle of life. The self-preservation instinct begins to transform and exceed its proper tendencies, attaching ever more importance to preservation of a man as a spiritual being, and to moral action, even to the detriment of man's physical side. The sexual drive is sublimated into lasting, exclusive, “non-species-oriented” (1) as it were, emotional bonds. The fighting instinct shifts to the area of conflicts in the world of moral values, transforming and sublimating the conflicts into an attitude of fighting for a good cause and into an attitude of sacrifice and love.


These tendencies and their realization bring about a loosening and disintegration of the fundamental instinctive forces and lead to a loosening of psychophysical unity. This proceeds under the direction of a dynamism which we may call the developmental instinct, using a broad sense of this word, since under its influence there arises a higher, cultural personality. This instinct transcends the narrow biological aims and exceeds the primitive drives in strength. It is clearly in opposition to the limited, common life cycle.


The action that disintegrates primitive sets also disintegrates the unity of the individual's structure. The individual, therefore, develops, but at the same time loses his tenacity, his unity, which connotes the feeling of man's sense of existence. The developmental instinct, consequently, when disintegrating the present structure of an individual tends at the same time to reconstruct this unity at a higher level.


We observe then in this process three significant phenomena of a partly compulsory character:



(1) “Nonspecies orientation” consists in the individual's sexual drive being rechanneled, from an emphasis on women in general, to a concentration on an individualistic and exclusive union with a partner in marital life.



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


1. A tendency for disintegration of the present, more or less uniform, structure, set by the determined life cycle of a man, which he begins to feel as limiting his further and fuller development, as wearisome, stereotyped, repetitious, and ever more alien to him.


2. A loosening and disintegration of a man's present structure with a simultaneous loss, to a greater or smaller degree, of internal unity; this is a period of man's preparation, as it were, for new, not yet fully realized and consolidated values.


3. A clear consolidation of new values, purposeful reshaping of the structure, the regaining of a shaken or lost unity—that is, integration of an individual at a different, higher level.


When a man oversteps the normal, common life cycle there begin to act such new tendencies and aims, and such attractive values, that, without them, he sees no more meaning in his own existence. He must leave his present level, lift himself to a new, higher one and, on the other hand, must, as we have said before, retain his unity, retain the continuity of his psychophysical life, his self-awareness, and identity.





The processes of transformation and sublimation of particular instincts will be discussed in the section of this work dealing with effects of positive disintegration. Here we shall relate the most general characteristics of the phases through which the developmental instinct passes, against the background, briefly presented, of the mechanism of the development of instincts in general.


Our considerations of the developmental process (positive loosening and disintegration of the instinctive structures and functions) are based to a considerable extent on the theory of the structure and functions of instincts presented by Von Mona-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


kow (2) with considerable modifications of our own. At the root of the instinctive dynamisms Von Monakow sees the mother dynamism of all instincts, namely horme (agitation, force, internal drive). “This is a tendency,” writes Von Monakow, “for creative adaptation of oneself to conditions of life, in all its forms, in—order to ensure oneself a maximum security, not only at the present moment, but also for the long, long future.” According to Von Monakow, an instinct (of an individual possessing a nervous system) “is a latent propulsive force, a derivative of horme, which realizes the synthesis of internal excitations of protoplasm (introceptivity) and external excitations (exteroceptivity) in order to safeguard the vital interests of an individual and his species by means of adaptive activities.” As for embryonic development, Von Monakow introduces the conception of a formative instinct, which is a dynamism determining this development.


According to Von Monakow, the most primitive instincts differentiate, under the influence of external factors, into hormeters (the instincts proper) and noohormeters (instincts coupled with the intellectual function). He distinguishes these two types in any formed instinct. For example, the self-preservation instinct of a newborn child possesses a very narrow range of needs (the need of warmth and food, “firstlings” of the vegetative life), which then gradually expands. Under the influence of differentiating emotions and on account of conflicts, the self-preservation instinct reaches beyond mere interest in oneself and the child begins to bind himself successively to his mother, then to inanimate objects and animals, to the family, to the closest social group, society, humanity, and finally to the universe. This tendency toward ever more extensive needs and ever more distant aims is connected with the intellect's gnostic functions. And in tendencies such as love of the poor, of the sick, and in expression of the religious instinct Von Monakow sees manifestations of the elements of the sexual drive in its higher forms (noohormeters),



(2) C. V. Monakow and R. Mourgue. Introduction Biologique a l'Etude de la Neurologie et de la Psychopathologie. (Biological Introduction to the Study of Neurology and Pathology.) Paris: Alcan, 1938.



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


Thus, according to Von Monakow, the development of drives proceeds by way of conjugations of primitive instincts with the orientational and gnostical sphere, with the sphere of exteroception. Moreover, to facilitate understanding of the developmental dynamisms, under whose influence the drives are reshaped, Von Monakow introduces the concept of syneidesis or biological consciousness, which is a force balancing various values of instinctive dynamisms.


Of course, the mechanism presented by Von Monakow possesses an unquestionable value, owing to his keen biological and psychological analysis, his dynamic approach, his valuable attempt to determine the phases of the development of instincts, and his stressing of the importance of the role of gnostical factors in their development. However, it needs to be complemented.


For one cannot without reservation accept the statement that in ontogenesis the orientational and gnostic spheres play a decisive role in an instinct passing from the lower form of development to the higher form. Of course, this conjugation plays an important role, but of no less importance for the proper functioning of orientational and gnostic factors is the dissolution of the cognitive, affective, and motor functions. At the lower levels of the animal kingdom this conjugation occurs in integrated structures, in which no particular member can be isolated. The proper, higher development of every one of these elements cannot take place without a phase of loosening, disintegration, and periods of conflict between them and between their component elements.


In the instincts themselves, therefore, there exist transforming dynamisms, for which the conflictive experiences and participation of gnostic mechanisms are fundamental factors determining the development of a man. (3)


(3) There is however no power in us that would make us wish to break the violence of any drive, similarly we have no influence on the choice of a method and on its successful result. In this process our intellect is, most obviously, only a blind instrument of some other drive, which competes with our ‘tormentor': be it the desire for peace, the fear of disgrace, or another grievous consequence, or eventually love.” F. Nietzsche. Morgenrothe. (The Morning Star.) Stuttgart: Kroner, 1921.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


Though they undoubtedly possess great value, the concepts of horme, formative instinct, and syneidesis present some difficulty; when they are used one does not clearly see the developmental, dynamic unity in a man. It would seem to be more advantageous to group all these dynamisms under the term developmental instinct and to study the mechanisms of the advent and development of instincts and of their regulation, within the area of the developmental instinct, through the phases of loosening and conjunction, disintegration and integration.


The basic, most general dynamism of a man, embracing all other more particular mechanisms, and revealing itself at the time of fecundation and differentiating itself in a particular way in every individual during his development, is the instinct of life. In various periods of development two groups of particular instincts are manifest in a man, and take a greater or smaller part in his actions. We call these instincts—possessing an egocentric or alterocentric, autotonic or syntonic component—autotonic and syntonic instincts. The first would include the self-preservation, possessive, fighting, and other instincts; the others, the “companion-seeking” instinct, sexual drive, maternal or paternal instinct, herd, cognitive, and religious instincts. The general separation of these two groups, in a sense the contradictoriness and the overlapping of structures of particular drives in both groups, already forms a fundamental basis for conflicts between instincts, for the collision of interests of particular instincts, and for new systems arising during the life of a personality.


So far we have dealt with a decisive domination of innate and inherited biological dynamisms, the role of which is to build a separate biological entity and to perform compensatory transformations of its biological structure in embryonic life (under the influence of damaging or useful stimuli of the embryonic environment). We are dealing here with a biologically determined developmental instinct, which largely corresponds to Von Monakow's formative instinct. One could say that this is the first phase of the developmental instinct, as understood here, the phase of distinct primitive biological integration, manifesting itself in embryonic life.


When the child comes into the world his innate dynamisms



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


“measure their strength” in relation to diverse environmental conditions, and this measuring of strength causes, in the majority of cases, the so-called adaptation to the often changing external conditions encountered, and in a few cases it causes disintegration, involutional in character, of psychic structure (involutional mental diseases). In this process of “strength measuring” there may also occur the act of one subordinating, to himself, the external environment and treating it as a set of changing stimuli for the development of strong innate dynamisms.


Depending on the prepotency of the sthenic or asthenic tendencies connected with the dynamisms of temperament, on the health or weakness of the organism, on the prepotency of the autotonic or syntonic group of primitive drives, we will be dealing with the prepotency of adaptation to the changing conditions of life in the form of virtual subordination or submission, or in the form of apparent subordination or submission. All these forms of behavior will, however, be in accord with the external as well as internal environment, and will be characterized by a lack of any major conflicts with these environments.


In the next phase of the manifestation of the developmental instinct, we enter into the region of the manifestation of the creative instinct. This instinct reflects a loosening or slow disintegration of the internal milieu, and a man's obvious failure to adapt himself in certain regions to the external environment. The above-mentioned conflicts between the two fundamental groups of drives (autotonic and syntonic), as well as between particular instincts in each group, lead to the formation of more or less distinct creative attitudes or attitudes aimed at exceeding the basic adaptative “norms,” when a man becomes subtly sensitive to his own internal milieu and to the reaction of the external environment. He becomes weary of his present internal milieu, dissatisfied with himself, and often feels guilty. The monakowian klisis (movement toward objects) and ekklisis (movement away from objects) in taking an attitude toward the outer world gradually changes into klisis and ekklisis in relation to one's own internal environment.


In its further progress the developmental instinct passes into the personality “building” phase, that is, into the self-develop-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


ment or self-improvement phase. The internal environment becomes dominated by a “third factor” (a dynamism of conscious direction of one's development) which goes beyond the innate biological structure and beyond the reaction to the external environment. This phase is characterized by the expansion of the action of creative dynamisms over the entire psychic structure. The disintegration processes begin to act in a decisive way in the inner environment, the picture of one's own personality ideal becomes ever more clear, the cognitive functions are increasingly more strongly engaged in the work of realizing this ideal, which is connected with the attitude of a Samaritan sacrifice, social work, love, and with moral independence from the external environment. In the process of the loosening and disintegration of the primary integrated structure of instincts and in the process of their transformation and sublimation, there begin to appear moments of unification, which may lead the individual to a secondary integration at a higher level.


The process of personality building, therefore, is characterized by a wandering “upward,” toward an ideal, of the disposing and directing centers and the gradual acquiring of a structure within which, besides individual qualities (the main trend of interests and capabilities, lasting emotional bonds, the unique set of the emotional and psychic structure), general human traits appear that is, the high level of intellectual development, the attitude of a Samaritan, and the moral and social and esthetic attitudes. The intensive development of this phase retains the acquired essential traits, of which a man is aware, and which he fully affirms.


The various dynamisms presented here in their structure, action, and transformations we also call instincts. Our reason for including these forces among instincts is that, in our view, they are a common phenomenon at a certain level of man's development, they are basic derivatives of primitive instinctive dynamism, and their strength often exceeds the strength of the primitive maternal instinct.


The principal difference between our conception of the instinctive structure and functions and former conceptions (McDougall, Mazurkiewicz, and others is that in our view: (1) the instinct evolves in phylogenetic development as well as in man's



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


life cycle; (2) all three structures of instincts—the aspirational and emotional, gnostic, and motor structure—are subject to development; (3) the instincts of a human being are to a considerable extent subject to the principle of dynamic disintegration that is, they create collisions between and within themselves (multilevel disintegration), in order to unify within the process of development in a homogeneous personality structure; (4) man's instincts differ considerably from animal instincts, in that they are more plastic, more easily lose their individual character and independence, and are subject to changes; (5) the characteristic feature here is the duality of behavior of an instinct not only toward external objects (toward an object and away from an object activities) but also within one's own domain, where forces, negating and affirming certain levels of an instinct, arise and act.




In its early period the life of a child is enclosed within the framework of the simplest necessities of life. At this stage the development of particular functions or sets of functions in a small child is periodically, and rather positively, subjected to such dominants as the need of food, various forms of movement, a great need of sleep, and so on. The reality function, dominating in the hierarchy of needs of an adult man, is here at the service of simple, common instinctive needs or physiological functions. These are, as it were, primary integrated functions.


Such structures occur also with adult people. The most frequently occurring types of primary integrated structures are observed in individuals in whom unilateral narrow interests and unilateral driving tendencies are evident at early stages. As these tendencies dominate other tendencies, the latter gradually undergo atrophy. The reality function is here conjugated with those unilateral tendencies, and its task is to adapt itself to the environment that these dominating tendencies may, most easily and most widely, be realized. Such individuals usually do not react to stimuli other than those peculiar to their structure; they realize



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


their own type, as it were, and remain insensitive to other aspects and levels of reality. Such people are incapable of internal conflicts, but often enter into conflicts with the environment.


Integrated structures are also encountered among psychopathic individuals who, believing their morbid tendencies are hierarchically superior, subordinate to them all other dispositions and functions, adapting them more or less adroitly to the environment. A psychopathic individual usually does not know the feeling of internal inferiority, does not experience internal conflicts; he is unequivocally integrated.


The kinds of integration just mentioned might be called, in the most general sense, primary, nonevolutional forms of integration. When an individual with a tenacious structure goes through typical, general biological phases, when unilateral interests develop in him, or so-called “normal” inclinations, or when possibly his psychopathological structure is “improved,” this does not mean that he actually develops, but that he merely attains this or that kind of ability, this or that form of the “art of living.”


An individual of a permanent primary integrated structure generally acts in the name of instinctive interests in an automatic manner, revealing the moderating functions within the narrow range of habitual experiences. He usually does not possess the feeling of his psychic individuality. Such individuality exists in him as a vague conceptual creation. He is generally unaware of the identity of his present self with the “self” of past periods of his life. The feeling of his activeness is but weakly marked. True enough, the above traits may be manifested in permanently primary-integrated persons, in moments of emotional tension, or when various unpleasant experiences evoke reflection, but such manifestations are temporary and ineffective.


Thus, with persons not burdened with a negative heritage and equipped with a simple psychic structure, there occur more or less long-lasting states of deviation in adaptation to the narrow actual reality, as a consequence of such things as misfortune, physical suffering, or, much less rarely, uncontrollable joy. In these instances one's psyche transcends the most common actual reality.



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


The death of a child weakens the sharpness of a mother's self-preservation instinct. Acute suffering crushes for some time the force and range of action of a limited, narrow function of reality; there begin to appear disintegration processes, a weakening of the process of adapting oneself to the present reality, and a strengthening of the retrospective and prospective attitude. Physical suffering often causes a widening of the sphere of experience, a greater understanding of the suffering of other people, a movement beyond the sphere of the self-preservation instinct, and a loosening of the thus far existing structure. The feeling of approaching death enhances the attitude of prospection in respect to near relations and friends, for whom one executes a will.


All these are manifestations of weak, transitory forms of disintegration. If their suffering passes the individuals discussed above return relatively quickly to their former attitude of adapting to the narrow sphere of actual reality. They are not able to assume an attitude regarding time from a distance, nor are they able to make themselves mentally independent of it. They are constrained by the present moment, by the reality of flowing experiences, by their own type, and by influences of the environment.


John Galsworthy lucidly pictured the deviations of transitory disintegration among representatives of the “society of possessors,” in whom the possessive instinct ruled as the disposing and directing, superior and integrating center:


For the moment, perhaps, he understood nearly all there was to understand-understood that she [his wife] loathed him, that she had loathed him for years, that for all intents and purposes they were like people living in different worlds, that there was no hope for him, never had been; even, that she had suffered—that she was to be pitied. In that moment of emotion he betrayed the Forsyte in him—forgot himself; was lifted into the pure ether of the selfless and impractical. Such moments passed quickly. And as though, with the tears he had purged himself of weakness, he got up, locked the box, and slowly, almost trembling, carried it with him into the other room. (4)


In the excerpt cited here we see that Soames was only able to go a little beyond his own fixed sphere of aims and experiences


(4) John Galsworthy. The Forsyte Saga. (“The Works of John Galsworthy.”) London: Heinemann, 1927-1929.


Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


and beyond his own function of reality. Given his strong possessive instinct, if these experiences, so strange to his type and level, were not “flowing” experiences, if he had many similar experiences, they could have created internal conflicts, permanent dissatisfaction with himself, a tendency for transformations, for a loosening and disintegration of his type and a tendency for discord to arise.


The tenacity of a structure of a man integrated on a primary level is not always characterized by constancy and immutability; it may be disturbed not only transitionally. This is because the structure may include dispositions which, as a result of conditions and experiences, will disturb its tenacity and touch off the process of disintegration.


It should also be kept in mind that there are people, though rarely met, whose initial integration belongs to the higher level, whose rich structure, constantly improved by life's experiences and reflections, does not undergo the process of disintegration, but harmoniously and without greater shock develops into a full personality.






The terms integration and disintegration were used by Descartes, and later by Spencer, Jackson, then by Sherrington, Pavlov, and others. Since the second half of the 19th century these terms have been rather systematically applied by various philosophical schools. Jaensch uses them in his attempts to classify people typologically. They were often applied by the Gestalt school. Presently these terms are commonly used in neurology and psychiatry.


In the developmental process—from child to adult, and from primitive to cultural man—we come into contact every day with cases of disintegration of primitive, tenacious, instinctive struc-



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


ture due to obstacles being encountered and the experiences connected with them.


A child bringing various objects to his mouth meets with a contradiction between the feeling of pleasure (visual) and the feeling of unpleasantness (taste) aroused by one and the same stimulus. He is not clearly instinctively attracted to or repelled by an object. lie must differentiate his relation to it by experience. When he touches the flame of a candle, the visual picture of which evoked a pleasant desire, there arises a conflict within him. More or less similar mechanisms occur in a primitive man. Observations of something that attracts and in some respect is a source of pleasure, but turns out to be unpleasant in another respect and becomes a source of displeasure, are numerous and varied. Passage through a period of such painful experiences gives rise to an attitude of inhibition, cautiousness, and reflection. But before this comes about, there dominates for a time the attitude of unordered stimulation and inhibition, fright and irritation, together with chaotic, unbalanced, and unharmonized reactions. Beginning with instinctive conflicts through ever more psychic conflicts, with an ever greater participation of our own reflexive acts, we are subject to the developmental process by means of “positive disintegration,” attaining ever higher forms of adaptation through disintegration, unfitness, and “errors” of the lower forms of psychic acts. In the place of the former distinct uniform acts come indecisive, inconsistent acts; there appear therein instinctive acts which are deformed until new dynamisms arise, dynamisms ordered on the basis of another principle and new experiences. A long experience in new conditions of life, with the modifying system of the inner milieu, results in differentiation of stimulating and inhibiting acts. That which stimulated differentiates into that which further stimulates and that which gives rise to inhibition; that which was inhibited becomes uninhibited and may form a stimulating factor.


The primitive instinct loses its infallibility; within its structure individual and cognitive elements become isolated, both of which for some time act coordinately. There ensues a loosening or disintegration of instinctive structure into various actual struc-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


tures, less strongly conjugated than before, hierarchically independent or coordinate.


Excessive tenacity of a structure is a factor checking psychical development. One might assume that the disintegrative process, while loosening the tenacity of psychic functions, makes them to some extent independent of itself. As a result their scope of activity expands, their receptors are more likely to be activated, they acquire greater elasticity and sharpness, and in the period of synthesis they penetrate and aid each other more easily.


The process of disintegration is usually accompanied by a greater or smaller participation of self-awareness, from very weak components up to a morbid intensification of it. A man whose self-awareness is dormant and who, therefore, is incapable of observing himself, and of reflection, does not feel any contradiction either in his own behavior or in its motives. Everything appears natural to him and as a matter of course. He commits acts which contradict each other but he is unaware of their divergence and, in this situation, does not aim at harmonizing them; in short, these acts do not create in him any basis for “remorse.” Such a man succumbs passively, as it were, to his inclinations, which are not corrected by the experience which come from understanding that the results of one's behavior may be unpleasant and sometimes even injurious to the environment and to one's own development.


At the other extreme we have eases of excessive self-awareness. Such individuals deliberate at every step made. This “psychic operating” on oneself may help development, but sometimes may become an unfruitful habit, a mania, an aim in itself, which deepens the process of disintegration in an abnormal way. Of course, the fact that one is aware of his own internal disintegration does not by itself result in the tendency to remove it. An impulse in this direction usually springs from a nucleus of a newly arising, higher disposing and directing center.


The question arises as to what conditions and what dispositions facilitate the process of disintegration.


The influence of environment on a child often possesses a character of disintegrating action (bringing the child to shame,



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


prompting in him the feeling of guilt, or a showing of anxiety with respect to his behavior). However, this influence does not penetrate deeply into the mind of a child, because he quickly realizes that it is only a verbal action, the essence of which is usually only partly experienced by parents and tutors.


Inherited dispositions, puerperal traumas, diseases, reaction of the environment, an unsuitable profession, violent experiences, all influence the dissolution of the tenacity of the disposing and directing center of a man. This loosening of the structure is particularly strongly marked during the period of maturation, when new forces, new tendencies, making their way more or less violently through the present system and disturbing its thus far existing balance, begin to acquire significance. A change in the system of forces in the inner milieu slowly pushes forward new dominants, which oppose the thus far existing ones.


Excessive excitability is, among others, a sign that one's adaptability to the environment is disturbed. These disintegration processes are based on various forms of increased psychic excitability, namely on psychomotor, imaginative, affectional, sensual, and mental. hyperexcitability. Psychomotor excitability is basic in the development of functional hyperkineses, tics, and psychomotor obtrusions, as well as vagrancy. Imaginative excitability reveals itself in the form of daydreaming, in the intensification of night dreams, in illusions, in artistic ideas arising, which point to the tendency toward dissolution and disintegration of one's adaptability to the narrow actual reality. Affectional hyperexcitability produces states of agitation and depression, sympathy for or dislike of oneself and the world, dissatisfaction with oneself and the environment, strangeness in relation to oneself and the environment, and feelings of inferiority or superiority. Sensual excitability, with the cooperation of other forms of hyperexcitability, develops the complex receptors under the pressure of sensations and stimuli, making them sensitive (strengthening and refining the sensual and esthetic experiences, but leaving one with a feeling of their relative incompleteness), which, in turn, dissolves the tenacity of the structure. Finally, increased mental excitability causes the dissolution of its conjugation with the con-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


trolling set, makes itself independent, and dissociates itself from its too close relation with the aspirational and emotional structure; it discovers within itself and develops new directing tendencies, intellectualized to a great extent.


Any of the types of excitability, if too strongly developed, subordinates to itself the function of reality and often results in a limitation of other kinds of experiences. Habits and addictions occur usually, therefore, when the individual is unable to endure too excessive internal psychic tension at the existing excitability. Excessive smoking of cigarettes by people with sensual and psychomotor hyperexcitability, is symptomatic of a venting of passion in a substitutional, indirect, abortive form. This is often a palliative action where one lacks the possibility of proper action. The use of alcohol and other narcotics often signifies violation of the function of reality, whose inhibitions are too weak to control impulses aimed at splitting the individual from actual reality.


Excessive sensitivity, given its too unilateral or too weak conjugation with the disposing and directing center of a higher level and given the difficulty it has bearing tension, sometimes leads one to become uninhibited and to subordinate oneself to the center of a lower psychic level (primitive drives, such as aggressiveness, finding one's outlet in sexual life, and so on).


The self-awareness of an individual, with the accompanying process of self-education, plays an important role in the process of disintegration, as has already been mentioned. It is time and, so to speak, “space” that are connected with the dissolution and disintegration of the individual, through the discovery and singling out in oneself of that which is “more I” from that which is “less I,” that which is more a “subject” from that which is more an “object,” and through self-defining within the scope of “who am I and what am I really like?” This is a process of making dynamic one's own inner milieu, a process of humanizing oneself. Its development is connected with the general laws of evolution, perceived in the phenomena of mutation, which complicate the uniform development of organisms. In this process, with the growing participation of self-awareness, the aims of the individual expand and reshape, through the inclusion of the suprabi-



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


ological elements (moral and social, such as the superstructure of the generative instinct, and metaphysical, such as the superstructure of the self-preservation instinct) into the instinctive structure.


In what manner does such differentiation occur? Within the very biological structure of the individual inheres the necessity of the partial resignation of one drive in favor of another drive (for example, the partial resignation of the self-preservation instinct in favor of the generative instinct), the necessity of periodically passing from certain dominants in a given hierarchical system to others through shocks and attitude of resignation (for example, in the maturation and climacteric periods).


Self-awareness—developing in connection with the mentioned processes and everyday-life conflicts, inhibiting processes, reflection, recesses in vital functioning—gradually participates, to an ever greater extent, in the reshaping of the primitive instinctive structure. Experiences, lived through, point to shortcomings in our actions, make us aware of them and of the wrongs done by us to the environment, not intentionally but through lack of adequate sensitivity, adequate prospection and retrospection, and adequate knowledge of ourselves. Estimating effects leads to a better knowledge of oneself; to gradual dissolution of the tenacious instinctive structure, to the control of direct reactions to stimuli, and to the formation of more highly complicated and less direct reactions. The participation of memory and anticipation expands awareness and permits it to transcend the actual reality.


The primitive structure, dissolved by unpleasant feelings, such as awe, fear, unrest, searches for new cognitive and emotional conjugations, for new solutions, by means of making particular elements more sensitive, by means of the method of trial and error. The shattering of the narrow actual reality leads to an even greater differentiation of instincts, to emotional ambivalence, to an increasingly more keen working of the consciousness.


In the process of psychic disintegration discussed here we may single out three characteristic types: (1) unilevel disintegration, (2) multilevel disintegration, and (3) disintegration with re-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


spect to scope, length of time, and effects (initial and total, permanent and impermanent, positive and negative and eventually pathological disintegration).




Unilevel disintegration manifests itself in various forms not easy to delineate in their structure, functions, and reshapings. We shall deal here more closely with some of its forms.


Unilevel disintegration of the maturation period is marked by quite a number of distinct structural changes of the internal environment. The thus far operating dynamisms characteristic of a child in the period of infancy, such as objective interests of a total character, a friendly living together which is only vaguely selective, subordination of oneself to parents and tutors, adaptation to the environment, harmony between behavior and action, and a serene spirit, all begin to abate and to lose tenacity and harmony. Slowly they are replaced by special interests, a critical attitude toward parents and elders, a tendency to morally evaluate the environment and oneself, inadaptability, disharmony in behavior and action, uneven and depressive moods, more exclusive sentiments, and by slowly arising and increasingly more intense sexual interests and tendencies. Under the influence of new dynamisms attitudes toward friends, toward oneself, toward the other sex, and toward the so far binding standards, undergo change.


These transformations are accompanied by the advent and development of states of lighter or more serious mental unbalance. The life of the individual, during the period of maturation, remains under the influence of two controlling centers: the retiring former one and the oncoming new center. The operating dynamisms existing thus far do not retreat without fighting, without emotional shocks, and the oncoming dynamisms do not organize themselves and do not take over control too easily. Affectional conjugations from the period of infancy and conjugations arising under the influence of the pressure of new tendencies, with mutual regrouping, result in a considerable lability of moods. This state manifests itself in the attitudes of denying and affirming,



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


feelings of inferiority and superiority, moods of agitation and depression, of joy and sorrow, and, finally, in tendencies to solitude and in the periodic intensification of the need for group life.


Prospective dynamisms struggle here with retrospective dynamisms; there is no harmony, calmness, or peace. The new total organization is achieved painfully. There are periods when one feels the need for holding on to the center which is losing its psychophysiological vitality but to which one is bound by emotional memory. What dominate in this period are the asthenic attitude, depressive moods, and “partial attachment” to often apparent values, to abortive actions.


The states of disintegration and fluctuation of dominants in the structure and dynamisms of an individual are rather distinctly reflected in experiences characterizing the moods of disintegration—suspense, sorrow, a weakening of confidence in the environment and oneself, depressions, the need for solitude, and, on the other hand, in the surge of the sthenic disposition, energy, ideas, and so on. (5)


The second characteristic form of unilevel disintegration is that taking place during the climacteric period. It is also characterized by a weakening or evanescence of certain dynamisms or certain values in favor of others, and general experience tells us that almost always these new elements are of lesser value compared to the retreating ones. In this period the sexual drive weakens or transforms itself into other drives, one's vital efficiency usually weakens, the interests pursued thus far are no longer as strong and one is not so vigorous in one's attempts to realize them; one's somatic side also undergoes changes which are biologically disadvantageous to the individual, changes that are reflected in the weakening of one's efficiency in action and in growing old. The individual is trying to substitute new or strengthened dynamisms in place of the retreating dynamisms, and this is usually more difficult to accomplish than in the preceding period (tendencies toward strengthening of family life, greater thriftiness in material matters, parsimony, not paying too much at-


(5) Unilevel disintegration of the maturation period may mark the beginning of disintegration of another kind, namely, of multilevel disintegration, which shall be dealt with later.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


tention to one's dress, arbitrariness, egocentrism, and so forth). Nevertheless, the psychic state at the time of substitution is marked by the weakness of vital tension, an uncertainty in action, a feeling of inferiority, depression, retrospective tendencies and fear of the future, and a slackening of prospection.


Let us now pass to the problem of unilevel disintegration connected with external—fortuitous, as it were—events in the life of an individual.


In the first section of this chapter we quoted examples of temporary weak symptoms of the unilevel disintegration of individuals possessing uncomplicated psychic structures, who realize simple aims, strictly connected with rather primitive instinctive dynamisms. A catastrophe causes confusion in their set of main dynamisms and in their directional tendencies, or it causes an abatement and short-lived exile of the thus far existing dominants to a background position (exemplified by Soames in the quotation from the Forsyte Saga). This is, however, a temporary confusion and the weakening of one dynamism is compensated for here by the strengthening of other fundamental dynamisms, which are part of the already mentioned set (growth in the need of possession, increase in arbitrariness in relation to ones family, the need for external accentuation of these attributes, and so forth).


This kind of disintegration may be caused by the “breakups” an individual suffers such as a state of disability which does not allow the realization of his thus far pursued aims loss of the chief field of activity, derision and defamation, and some forms of impairment and injury of the fundamental individual biological tendencies.


Let us now take another example. Picture a man with narrow mental horizons, with slight psychical sensibility, a strong, tenacious instinctive structure, a man aspiring to a position of power, desiring to “get ahead.” This is a clever man, but fit only for a narrow field of operation. The “environmental” conditions cause the need for such a type of specialist to wane and our man faces the necessity of a new start. A shift to a kind of work not drastically different from the former one is possible, provided he completes his education, but this type of individual finds this



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


difficult to achieve. This situation entails a period of dissension, breakdown, uncertainty, depression, a jumping from one conception to another, from mood to mood; it entails instability between excitation and inhibition—in short, disintegration. Due to a low plasticity and a narrow range of aims, and because of small compensatory and, even more so, sublimatory reserves, such individuals go through breakdowns more seriously, adapt themselves to changed conditions with greater difficulty, and this may lead to suicidal tendencies and even to a sharp outbreak of mental illness. A positive way out of such a situation consists in a slow transposition, in fact in a transformation, of one's attitude even if within a narrow field, in a slow realization of one's capacities and consequently a return to the former way of life which is usually just slightly expanded.


Above we touched on compensatory and sublimatory difficulties. In everyday practice we sometimes encounter quite contrary examples of exorbitant adaptability to the changing conditions of life. It is manifested often in the attitude of keeping up appearances, in the attitude of deceitfulness, ensuring a good opinion of oneself, success, special favors, and so on. An example of such compensation would be a white-collar worker who, while in his office, is composed, calm, friendly, kind, industrious, and at the same time is a brutal and inconsiderate egoist in his family life. This reflects disintegration into two forms of behavior: one, which is apparent, reflects the need for adaptation and is an expression of the self-preservation instinct; the other, inherent in a given individual, is primitive and brutal. Two mechanisms may occur here. In the first case the apparent behavior is dictated by one's desire to gain material profits, a favorable opinion, and the like, without which a given individual would not be able to realize his primitive drives. This is a cynical attitude. In the other case such an individual, though having the best intentions, may not be capable of fully mastering himself on a higher level, in living together with his family the way he lives at his place of work. Both these mechanisms, independently of their moral value, reflect superficial unilevel disintegration, in which there is not a more serious disintegration of the primitive instinctive structure.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


Lying, which produces a feeling of constraint, shyness, apprehension, is also one of the forms of unilevel disintegration. In this area we are dealing alternately with appearance and reality, the desire to remain “oneself” and to appear to be someone else.


We will turn our attention for a moment to the problem of unilevel disintegration which characterizes the constitution, as it were, of a given individual or his type. It is a difficult problem. We will devote to it only several general remarks.


Individuals of the schizothymic type experience on the one hand coldness, difficulty in establishing contact, the need for solitude, and are excessively critical; on the other hand, they experience hypersensibility, even touchiness, and are refined in the reception of stimuli from the external and internal environments. These are, as it were, two separate structures, two kinds of dynamisms acting without harmony and without logical infiltration.


In cyclic-type individuals we deal with dispositions tending to intensified excitability and depression, to volatile associations and perseverations. Moreover, these cyclic states may follow each other, every now and then, in longer or shorter periods; they may produce a very frequent fluctuation of the entire psychic structure, or its particular sets so that we may have almost “simultaneous” states of intensified excitability and depression in very closely related psychic areas. It seems that in both polarized sets a third member is lacking, that tertium quid which would breach the split, synthesizing both structures, thus protecting man's mental equilibrium. This deficiency and the possibility of removing it characterize a phenomenon widely discussed in the psychology of feelings, namely the fact of experiencing, at the same time, fundamental mixed feelings—that is, the feelings of pleasure and displeasure. Dissolution and even disintegration of particular structures and sets allows the same individual to experience simultaneously various kinds of feelings in various realms. We will discuss this problem in detail in the chapter on the development of feelings in general. In the present consideration stress is laid on the typological, constitutional predisposition for the alternate, and often simultaneous, experiencing of sorrow



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


and joy, sympathy and antipathy, enthusiasm and discouragement, exaltation and tragic depression. Because they coexist and at the same time oppose each other, these experiences introduce an element of dissolution, ferment, which often results in another form of disintegration-multilevel disintegration.


The basic characteristics of unilevel disintegration may be presented schematically. (1) Unilevel disintegration is a process taking place at one structural and experiential level. (2) It is principally an automatic process, in which self-awareness weakly participates at various times. (3) In this process distinctly dissociative dynamisms dominate the transforming and restoring dynamisms (with the exception of the disintegration of the maturation period). (4) New elements appearing in this form of disintegration usually do not possess moral value greater than existing ones. (5) Remaining long in this state leads, in most cases, to reintegration at a lower level, to suicidal tendencies, or to mental illness. (6) Unilevel disintegration is often an initial, poorly differentiated setting for multilevel disintegration.




With multilevel disintegration, as with unilevel disintegration, loosening and disintegration of the internal environment occur, but they take place with respect to lower and higher layers. The course of multilevel disintegration is accessible to objective study and the experiencing individual is conscious of it. The process of evaluating one's own internal environment is essential for multilevel disintegration. The feeling of the separateness of one's own self increases and this is so not only in contradistinction to the external environment, but also, even primarily, in relation to one's own inner environment, which is evaluated, is made into a hierarchy, and becomes a subject of more precise cognition and appraising thought. A “subject-object” process takes place in one's own self. One's internal milieu is divided into higher and lower, into better and worse, and into desirable and undesirable. There appears here the feeling of “lower value” and the feeling of guilt when one “falls down” to a lower level, knowing that he





Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


actually has the capacity to raise himself up. He knows this as his memory tells him of the pleasant moments of past achievements.


Along with the feeling of the fluctuation of the disposing and directing center, “up” and “down,” there appears on the one hand the feeling of inferiority and on the other the awareness of an ideal, the feeling of superiority, an aspiration toward a power of a “higher order,” the desire for the realization of other aims of life, a prospective and retrospective attitude with a plan for perfecting oneself.


The feeling of higher and lower values in oneself is concerned on the one hand with the primitive drives, which one wants to reshape, and on the other with the structure of the ideal from which one draws creative forces for these reshapings. This is accomplished by means of acute fighting, which Ernest Hello has described in these words:


The higher man, constantly tormented, internally torn by the contrast between ideal and reality, feels better than anyone else the human greatness and more painfully than anyone else the human misery. He feels himself carried to the realms of ideal sublimity, which is our final aim, and mortally affected by the eternal failure of our miserable nature. He infects us with these contradictory feelings which he himself experiences; arouses in us a love of existence and stimulates in us an incessant awareness of our nonentity. (6)


Multilevel disintegration is accompanied by the phenomenon of self-awareness and “enhanced consciousness,” or self-cognizance. If within the structure and dynamics of consciousness we ascertain the existence of foundations such as the awareness of the unchangeability of certain elements and the changeability of other elements in the current of life, the awareness of one's present and past identity (Jaspers), then there must also arise the conscious feeling of development, a feeling of dissolution and of the shattering of old values and aims. Precisely these psychic states point to the fact that multilevel disintegration is in progress. (7)


(6) E. Hello. Studia i szkiee. (Studies and Essays.) Lwow: Ksiegarnia B. Poloniecki, 1912.


(7) The awareness, of development and of disintegration leads to one's being pitted against oneself, as illustrated by Nietzsche's words: “Alone from this moment and



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


The principal differences between unilevel and multilevel disintegration are best shown, we think, if they are examined in the same areas. Let us consider the symptoms of multilevel disintegration in the maturation period. In the forefront here is the process of evaluation, both with respect to the internal and external environments. In both these environments one sees that which is worse and that which is better, the higher and the lower, the near and the farther, and what is familiar and what is strange to us. Thus one divides one's external and internal environments into certain layers according to their values. The association between the fluctuating disposing and directing center and certain levels of both environments becomes weaker. A considerable role is played here by consciousness, which takes an active part in the process of the loosening and disintegration of these environments. The retrospective and prospective attitudes, which grow increasingly important, also assist in this process. The first examines the “lower” environments taken in time and their changes which depend on time, and the other draws its energy for the analysis and reshaping of the external and, above all, the inner environment from the growing hierarchy of aims and dynamisms of one's own personality ideal, which is increasingly more distinctly shaped.


In this process the domain of instinctive life, particularly of primitive drives, is very often clearly regarded as a lower domain from which one should make himself independent in order to be able to realize a proper plan of development. Such an attitude is sometimes accompanied by a strong sense of the fundamental differences between body and spirit. This reflects disintegration in the domain of somatopsychic interactions, which captures the attention of a given individual and makes him sensitive to these problems and to their practical manifestations.


When one is aware of the existence of differences between particular levels of one's own psychic structure and attempts to control the domains he considers to be lower, then one experi-


suspiciously mistrusting myself, I have taken, not without anger, a position which opposed my own self in all that which gave pain and hurt me. F. Nietzsche. Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None; translated by Alexander Tille. London: Unwin, 1908.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


ences feelings of shame, guilt, of the inferiority of some levels in relation to others, and these feelings lead him to erect an increasingly clearer ideal for his own development. Lack of equilibrium in the internal environment, lability and inconsistency in the association of the disposing and directing center with a given level and its fluctuations afford increasingly greater joy as a result of attainments—and a state of depression and the feeling of inferiority, mentioned above, when one experiences failures. In experiences connected with multilevel disintegration of the maturation period, that which is new becomes a subject of evaluation, weighed in reference to total development and in the scale of moral estimation, and that which is new is usually estimated as better and morally more worthy.


In the process of multilevel disintegration of the climacteric period a man estimates “that which was” as more worthy and higher in the hierarchy, and more or less intensely seeks for new values which would not only compensate for but also exceed the retreating values. An estimation of thus far attained intellectual values, wisdom, temperance, richness of experience, and so on, shows that only a remaking and reshaping may form the basis for the elaboration of a new system of values which could, more than adequately; replace the values a man loses as he grows older and older. The process of the advent of the “new” in this period, with the continued existence and vitality of the “old,” is accompanied by periods of exaltation and depression and, as multilevel disintegration correctly proceeds, an increasingly stronger feeling of peace.


Multilevel disintegration connected with external events and forced upon the individual by fate is most closely connected to the inner milieu which is sensitive to a certain type of external experience. These experiences “consolidate,” as it were, the individual's psychical resources toward their activation for internal remaking, for the estimation of errors, for the program of transformations, for obtaining a new hierarchy of values, and for the reshaping of one's own type.


A man who faces life with a considerable fund of good will, theoretical knowledge, with a desire for right solutions to problems that may confront him, and with a conviction that he will



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


actually reach a correct solution, comes, after countless experiences, to a conclusion which differs considerably from the original one, namely, that he is not prepared for proper behavior, that he is committing many errors and doing a great deal of wrong because of his shortcomings in his behavior toward people and because of a lack of knowledge or lack of anticipation of effects. These experiences and estimates lead him to the conclusion that he must enrich his mental, intuitional, and moral outlooks, along the principal course on which he is at present heading, loosen, and even disintegrate many schemes, many instinctive mechanisms and impulses, which are causes of his improper behavior. Slow adjustment to the “new” brings about the need to free oneself from undesired mechanisms, the need to widen one's horizons and to secure oneself against new errors. A man, when working to disintegrate the thus far existing stereotype, arrives at a point which allows him to draw energy from the disposing and directing center, which passes to a higher level.


Dwelling in the sphere of one's increasingly more distinct personality ideal facilitates the adoption of an alien attitude toward the abandoned levels, the separation of oneself from them, and even the act of contradicting them. Adequate intellectual and moral resources, life catastrophes, breakdowns, and personal defeats a man has experienced, may be the causes of a complete reshaping of his forms of thinking, behavior, and action (Dawid, Beers, St. Augustine, and others). In these circumstances a man often experiences mystical and religious states, states of strong psychic concentration, of creative improvisation, in which he experiences almost “tangibly” the realities of a “higher” order.


The most important characteristics of multilevel disintegration, taken schematically, would therefore be: (1) A loosening and often a disintegration of psychic structures and functions into particular more or less isolated types and levels. (2) These multilevel structures remain in more or less permanent conflict. (3) The disposing and directing center takes part in this conflict in different ways, but with a tendency to occupy a position in the highest of these levels. (4) An estimation is made by the disposing and directing center of particular levels and of one's place in the structure of the personality ideal in general—this is a



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


differentiation into lower and higher total-development values and into higher and lower moral values. (5) The functions of multilevel disintegration are to a considerable extent volitional, conscious, and refashioning functions, in relation to lower levels. (6) These functions are based on the individual's analysis of his own psychic structure, and on his hesitation in yielding, even though it progressively decreases, to the higher-level aims and one's own personality ideal. (7) Multilevel disintegration embraces sublimating mechanisms.


The chief differences between unilevel and multilevel disintegration, besides the general differences indicated by the name, are weak volition in the course of the disintegration process in the first, and marked participation of volition in the second; the weakness of the tendency to reshape the inner milieu in the first and a marked, or even a very great, tendency to do so in the second; the dominance of the feelings of inferiority, guilt, and shame in relation to the external environment in the first and the marked dominance of the feeling of inferiority in relation to one's own inner environment in the second; the tendency for the conflicts in the first to be external, and in the second internal; the tendency in the second to attain, hierarchically, increasingly higher aims, up to the personality ideal; the dominance of partial disintegration in the first form, and the dominance of global disintegration in the second form.


However, despite these differences a strict temporal and spatial delineation of both forms of disintegration cannot be made, because the first is often the initial, poorly differentiated phase of the second.




These other forms include disintegration with respect to scope, length, and effects, or partial and global, permanent and temporary, positive and negative disintegration.


Partial disintegrations are those which embrace only a part of the structure and psychic functions of an individual. Unilevel disintegration is a partial disintegration, and multilevel disintegration is usually a global disintegration. We observe partial dis-



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


integration in the form of a disturbance of the tenacity and unity of some psychic functions as a result of injurious experiences within the sphere of these functions (for example, forms of increased excitability, explosiveness, some phobias, such as agoraphobia, tics, and so on).


These partial disintegrations are observed with people who behave quaintly. Their behavior does not disturb their psychic tenacity and is evoked usually by trying experiences, which have developed in them certain stereotyped, ineffective, and abortive forms of reaction. We also come into contact with partial disintegrations in some developmental periods. In order to illustrate this let us take the example of the disintegration of the sexual drive and feelings into two levels: one revealing the highest idealization of the object of the feelings, with total moderation of the sexual life, and the second (in relation to another individual) in which, at the same time, the sexual drive glaringly reveals itself.

We often come into contact with partial disintegration in infantile neuroses, in which, with adequate innate dispositions, pathological conjugation and “denaturalization” of certain physiological functions arise under the influence of fundamental educational errors (for instance, daily vomiting reflecting resistance or unsatisfied claims).


We come into contact with global disintegration almost exclusively in cases of very intense experiences which disturb or destroy the thus far existing foundations and aims of an individual. In such circumstances there occurs the loosening, disintegration, reshaping, and rebuilding of the whole psychic structure. Such phenomena usually occur with sensitive people, possessing high cultural feelings.


We may talk of a global disintegration in some psychoses of the cyclic or schizophrenic type, sometimes affording grounds for a good prognosis and representing the nuclei of fundamental transformations, leading to new foundations in life and development, and to a new hierarchy of aims (Beers). In the maturation and climacteric periods we may also talk of global disintegration, mainly in cases in which compulsory transformations are accompanied by a more conscious effort on the part of the individual attempting to guide himself by these modifications. Such trans-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


formations are usually thorough; they dissolve and disintegrate the thus far existing structure in all its aspects, causing in these periods the advent not only of “new” but of simultaneously “higher” structures and aims.


The distinction between permanent and temporary disintegrations is rather obvious. We have already pointed to the fact that, with the majority of individuals, who are called normal, both in particular developmental periods and when under the influence of grievous experiences and sufferings, there occur periodic changes in their principal attitude. Instances of such changes may be the psychic state of a mother after her child's death, or the state of the already cited Soames in The Forsyte Saga. The persons mentioned abandon, under such conditions, their tenacious structure for varying lengths of time, go beyond the forms of their everyday behavior and make the nuclei of their higher tendencies independent of a strict conjunction with the primitive instinctive structure, in order to return to it more or less quickly. These are both partial and temporary disintegrations. Such temporary disintegrations are encountered also in cases of disturbed mental equilibrium in somatic diseases, and also in transitory states of reactive neuroses or when a man passes through some form of severe psychosis.


We encounter permanent disintegrations principally in severe chronic mental diseases and in acute chronic somatic diseases (surgical tuberculosis, progressive, degenerative nervous diseases, grave disabilities).


In the case of so-called positive disintegration—that is, disintegration signaling and producing positive transformations of the psychic structure—which is a source of creativity, we may be dealing with permanent disintegration, which is decisive for the positiveness of the individual's transformation, throughout his entire life, and is responsible for ever-vital sources of creativity (Michelangelo, Dostoevsky, Zeromski, Weininger, and others). It characterizes the path of genius and the path to moral personality.


The distinction between positive and negative disintegration seems to be most difficult to draw. We say that we are speaking of a positive disintegration when it transforms itself gradually or,



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


in some cases, violently into a secondary integration, or when, without passing into a clear and permanent, morbid, secondary or involutional disintegration, it remains a disintegration which enriches one's life, expands one's horizons, and produces sources of creativity. The first criterion is difficult to apply, since the disintegration as a positive process may last throughout the individual's entire life, without leading to a secondary integration. Sometimes we cannot ascertain whether the disintegration process is negative in the course of severe psychoses, and this is because only after they have passed and left some effects is it possible to estimate whether we were witnessing the positive or negative form of disintegration. Of course, an experienced clinician, very familiar with these problems, may, on the basis of a descriptive diagnosis and the course of the disease, not only give a good or bad prognosis for a given disintegrative disease; he may also often foresee the effects of disintegration. This is, however, not an easy task and one should be very careful with such foresight.


We call a disintegration negative when it does not produce effects which are positive in relation to development or when it yields negative effects. In the first case a man returns to a primary integration, with negative tendencies of compensatory experiences, connected with a short-lived disintegration; i.e., he merely substitutes one lower-level need for another.


Disintegrations which cause negative compensations for the life and development of an individual are observed in cases of serious disability. In these cases compensation may develop in the direction of ill will or hatred for the social environment, and the feeling of inferiority is compensated for by way of aggression or by taking the wrong approach to life.


Negative disintegrations occur in all cases of chronic psychoses leading gradually to the involution of a personality.


But, as has been already mentioned, we cannot pass a judgment that we are dealing with a negative disintegration based only on the fact that it lasts long and that we do not observe in it any sign that it will become transformed into a secondary integration.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration






For lack of space we shall not discuss here the so-called standard and its significance in the notion of mental health and disease, and we will limit ourselves to the statement that, in our conception, a mental disturbance is, in many cases, a positive phenomenon, not only in the personality and social senses, but sometimes in the biological sense. The contrary conception, now current, is based on the analysis of serious dissolutional or involutional diseases—that is, of residual forms in the great developmental process. The symptoms of educational difficulties in life, nervousness, neuroses, psychoneuroses, mark, in the majority of cases, the process of development, the process of positive disintegration (creative inadaptability). This is true also of a number of cases of untreated and treated psychoses.


We shall discuss briefly the problems of disintegration in relation to general psychopathological symptoms and the problem of disintegration as related to isolated states of mental disturbances and diseases.


Let us consider first of all disturbances in the intellectual functions, primarily disturbances in the experiencing, perception, and comprehension of sensations. Hyperesthesia and hyperalgesia, occurring in many mental diseases, may reflect general sensitivity or periodic hypersensitivity, which, like depression, may play a positive role in development (objective, critical attitude). A feeling of estrangement and freshness of sensations in relation to various types of stimuli may have creative significance and is often observed among poets. Illusions are characteristic not only of the mentally sick but also of the majority of writers, painters, and people with highly developed emotions and capacity for phantasy. Furthermore, simple and conjugated hallucinations have often been observed in prominent people in the period of their mental diseases (Beers, Mayer, Kandinsky) and in other outstanding people who were not suspected of such disease (Wag-



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


ner, Wladislaw Dawid). Many kinds of hallucinations reveal a mechanism similar to that of dreams. Regardless of the organic ground of hallucinations, we observe them in individuals inclined to eidetism, in people with a highly excitable imagination, in maladjusted individuals, in people with a high sensitivity to external stimuli and with a capacity for plastic memory.


The same holds true for disturbances in thinking and association. For example, the wild flight of thoughts occurring in maniacal states also characterizes the states of creative tension, with the difference that in the former states the associations are superficial, changing, subject to incidental influences, while in the latter states the associations are precise and ordered and profound. In the period of creative tensions we find three elements of the maniacal state, namely increased feeling of one's own value, an accelerated flow of thoughts, and motor excitation. The opposite state, inhibition, which is somewhat short of the melancholy state, is observed with creative people after their creative periods.

Perseveration of associations may reflect narrow-mindedness, the processes of thinking slowing down, becoming dull and stereotyped. It may reflect weariness, but it may also be a symptom of monoideism and lasting emotional attitudes (the perseverations and ideas Beers had during his illness gave rise, after his recovery, to a great social reform).


States similar to those of delusion as to one's greatness or to persecution mania, which point to the lack of harmony between the individual and the environment, and to the lack of a proper estimation of oneself, are not always morbid states. The so-called delusions of wisdom, reformatory tendencies, often characterize prominent people who, as history tells us, were not always estimated properly (during his stay at a hospital for the mentally ill, Mayer had ideas that led to the discovery of the great law of the conservation of energy).


It is difficult to speak of memory—for instance, of hyperamnesia—as a pathological symptom, for it can also be a symptom of development. A permanent weakening of memory is, of course, a pathological symptom and in most cases connected with organic disturbances. On the other hand, a periodic weakening of the memory, or gaps in the memory, is often a sign of self-defense on



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


the part of the patient's organism and personality, or evidence of the liquidation of trauma.


Disturbances of consciousness and orientation, besides various mental diseases, are encountered in states of ecstasy and deep meditation. The main characteristics of the latter are the spontaneous, volitive surrendering of oneself to these states and the lack of injurious repercussions from them in the totality of one's life.


Taking the view that emotional life is a controlling structure in the personality, we now pass to disturbances in the emotional life. An intensified sad mood (hypothymia) or gay mood (hyperthymia) and the length of time they are experienced do not provide evidence that these experiences are morbid in character. Such moods are often connected with a strong experiencing of internal conflicts, with the shift of the disposing and directing center to an ever higher level, or they are, in other ways, of a protective, developmental character. Apathy, both in its conscious form (in psychoneuroses) and in its unconscious form (in schizophrenia), does not necessarily reflect indifference. In psychoneuroses, indifference is related to only some areas of reality and some internal structures; in schizophrenia apathy is caused mainly by the impossibility of expressing one's feelings in the period of a negative attitude toward the injuring environment and daily stimuli. In reality such individuals are excessively sensitive and crave love, warmth, and kindness. “Injury,” failure in the gratification of these needs, results in negativity and in the mask of callousness. We meet with an essential lack of affectual sensitivity in moral insanity, which is characterized by psychic integration at a low level.


The changes of personality observed in hysteria (loss of the feeling of one's own personality, and so on) cannot be considered solely from the pathological point of view. Many changes of personality, many forms of its loosening and disintegration, are symptoms of developmental disintegration, which is most strongly manifested on the border line between normality and abnormality, as found in the states of nervousness, neuroses, psychoneuroses, and in states of intensive and accelerated development.



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


The conception of a pathological weakening of volition is also very difficult to grasp. Decisions and action should be grasped multidimensionally. Individuals susceptible to inhibitions in daily life may be able to make a decision and to act energetically in difficult circumstances. The same may be said about excessive volition. One should also beware of the simplification of treating as exclusively pathological parafunctions or the so-called deformations of manifestations of will. Stereotypy (mental and moral) is often developmental in character.


Importunate drives and their realization may be manifested on various levels—from vulgar and aggressive attitudes and reactions, contradicting moral principles, to acts of the highest level, to inspirations. Distorted instinctive tendencies are not always rightly interpreted.


These short remarks tend to show that the classification of and generalization about symptoms of psychic disturbances are not an easy matter. “Pathological” disturbances of personality, mental functions, desires, or drives may on one hand be retrogressive symptoms, injurious to the individual and the society, and on the other hand they may be useful, improving symptoms, raising the individual to a higher cultural level.


We shall now give a short interpretation of some sets of mental disturbances and diseases, nervousness, and some neuroses and psychoses, from the point of view of the theory of positive disintegration.


The essential characteristic of nervousness is an increased excitability, symptomatized in the forms of sensual, psychomotor, affectional, imaginational, and mental hyperexcitability. It consists in an unproportional reaction to a stimulus, an extended, long-lasting, accelerated reaction, and a peculiar reaction to a neutral stimulus. This hyperexcitability is therefore a strong, uncommon sensitivity to external and internal stimuli; it is virtually a positive trait. Talented people, capable of controlling their own actions and fighting against social injustice, are characterized by a sensitivity to esthetic, moral, and social stimuli, to various psychic processes in their own internal environment. Each of the forms of psychic hyperexcitability mentioned is characterized by valuable, actual or prospective, properties. Sensual hyperexcita-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


bility is an attitude of being sensitive to external stimuli, such as the sense of color, form, and tone. Psychomotor hyperexcitability gives sharpness, speed, and an immediacy of reaction and capacity for action; it is a “permanent” psychomotor readiness. Affectional hyperexcitability is evidence of the development of a property which is the controlling dynamism of the psyche. Imaginational hyperexcitability gives prospective and creative capabilities, as well as those of projecting and foreseeing. Finally, mental hyperexcitability results in easier and stronger conjugations of particular forms of increased sensibility, which facilitates their developmental work and is a factor that controls and enriches the mentioned dynamism (creativity, psychomotor readiness, etc.). None of the forms of hyperexcitability mentioned above develops in isolation. As a rule these are mixed forms with predominance of this or that form. They are disintegrating factors and, in conjugation with mental hyperexcitability, permit preparation for higher forms of disintegration and secondary integration.


As for neuroses and psychoneuroses, we accept the view of such scholars as R. Brun, M. Bleuler, and others, who do not consider the terms neurosis and psychoneuroses to be synonymous, though they consider them closely related. There are certain differences between the two, such as the psychic dominant in psychoneuroses and the vegetative in neuroses, a wider range of the domain of the “pathological” in psychoneuroses and a narrower range in neuroses, and finally the fact that neurosis is so often located in just one organ.


Let us now pass to some psychoneuroses and neuroses. The many forms of hysterical syndromes present great difficulties in classification and in our attempt to set up a group unity. According to Kretschmer hysteria arises out of the difficulties in realizing the self-preservation and sexual instincts. Hysterical reactions, according to this author, are instinctive reactions with the selection of lower instinctive “old ways” (higher “new ways” are always mental in character). The actions of an hysteric are subordinated to impulses, and accompanied by hypobulia, dissolution of the will, and weakness and contradictoriness of purposes. According to Janet, hysteria is a form of mental depression char-



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


acterized by the narrowing of the field of consciousness, a lowering of the level of mental activities, susceptibility to suggestion, and dissociation of personality. (8) The most important characteristics—according to the majority of authors—are vegetative stigmatization and infantilism. A great difficulty with the points of view of the authors just cited is presented by the fact of the existence of many “hysterics” of intellectual and moral prominence (religious leaders, diviners) who stand out with respect to strength of decision and persistency (anorexia, asceticism). Therefore the reduction of hysterical mechanisms to the lowering of mental and volitional activities does not always agree with the facts. In our opinion, the so-called “hysterics” are characterized, not by a lower but by another kind of mental and volitive activities, not by a lower but by different kind of moral ideals. Strong emotionalism and dissociation, stressed by Janet as morbid characteristics (symptomatic of an arrest in development), are, in our opinion, often positive properties. However, in cases where there is a lack of sufficiently developed intellectual traits, many hysterics do not arrive at secondary integration as do “hysteric” geniuses and saints. Individuals strongly emotional and susceptible to dissociation, with insufficient mental resources, remain at the level of various forms of disintegration, which make adaptation difficult and reflect uneven, often abortive, forms of syntony, with an external accentuation of the self-preservation or sexual instincts, although these instincts are in most cases weakened. The results of studies confirming the opinion that all emotional life has its neurological counterpart in the extensions of the vegetative nervous system of the frontocortical area which govern all psychophysical life will give, we think, the proper foundation for an estimation of the role of emotionality and its positive disintegration in the development of man.


Psychasthenia is, true to its name, characterized by psychic asthenia. It should be noted at the start, that besides the psychasthenics under treatment in clinics, sanatoria, and hospitals, there are many more psychasthenics who handle their difficulties by themselves. The asthenia of the first group of people is more psychic, and the asthenia of the second group is more physical (a



(8) P. Janet. The Major Symptoms of Hysteria. New York: Macmillan, 1920



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


weak organism). The latter group yields writers, thinkers, and artists capable of doing at times very hard mental work. In general physical asthenics are creative, sensitive, and psychically rich. Who knows whether a certain involution of physical efficiency does not possess a subcortical character? Physical exhaustion is most probably connected with undue intracortical work, which compensates the work of subcortical centers. Therefore psychasthenics display undue inhibition, an inclination to hesitancy, reluctance to finish work started, interest in the realization of ideas, a lack of weakening of the function of reality, which is understood by them in dimensions other than normal. The feeling of the “blankness” and “otherness” of the internal and external world encountered in psychasthenics arises as a consequence of sensitivity to, as it were, his “own” subtle stimuli, and great reluctance and even a negative feeling toward alien stimuli flowing from the environment. This mechanism is partly explained by Pavlov's paradoxal and ultraparadoxal phases.


We will now comment on manic-depressive psychosis. Its inheritance points to the importance of those factors which are summed up in the experience of generations and to the explosion of cyclicity of maniacal or melancholic moods. These states are released often by psychic injuries. The melancholic image of inhibition, difficulty in action, timidity, suicidal thoughts is the picture of the disintegration of the inner milieu. In the conflicting attitude, therefore, the upper hand is gained by such inhibitory cortical factors as the analysis and criticism of one's own affectional attitudes, and the feelings of guilt and inferiority. The “laughing melancholies” are evidence of high tension in the conflict between depression, suicidal tendencies, and the disposing and directing center, which cause internal introspection and even the attitude of being an observer of one's own drama (the “subject-object” process). The developmental character of the melancholy phase is shown to some extent by the fact that these individuals frequently regain their health, after they satiate themselves with depressing matter, and by the partial participation of reshaping mental activities of the analytical type. The maniacal image consists of an increased feeling of one's own value, an accelerated flow of thought, motor and affectional ex-



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


citation, and enhanced attention. Individuals in this state make decisions easily, easily carry them into effect, display a weakening of inhibition, and they may attain very good results in their work because of their increased and indefatigable energy. Depending on the cultural level of a maniacal individual, lie may be dominantly either quarrelsome, aggressive, inclined to vexatiousness or syntony, to undue alterocentrism, to social activeness, or have a tendency to help others and show empathy in relation to them. The capacity for differentiated syntony may lead to an actor perfecting his performance, to increased creativity, or to a drive to reform. In mixed states we come into contact with experiences of unpleasant tension, with angry and depressive moods, and with manifestations of mixed feelings (pleasant and unpleasant). In manic-depressive psychosis the material for reshaping is supplied by the changeability of states (in maniacal states, depression; in depressive states, mania; and in both states, the state of unrest).


Paranoia is often characterized by both an increased feeling of one's own value and an accelerated flow of thoughts and psychomotor excitability. The basic difference between paranoia and the maniacal phase of manic-depressive psychosis consists not so much in delusions of one's own greatness or in persecution delusions as in their systematization. It is evidence of disintegration at a rather low level. This is an attitude of a narrowed synthesis, which does not let the stimuli have their say that would widen the sensations to allow a proper synthesis. A paranoiac may be keenly attentive, may have great dynamism, may make fortunate but primarily strong and violent decisions in his work, but his structure is not developmentally integrated and does not subject itself to disintegration. He falls into external conflicts but not into internal conflicts; he suffers delusions of persecution, yet he does not display feelings of inferiority and guilt in the face of these delusions and his intelligence is clearly at the service of his emotions and delusions. A paranoiac is highly critical, but not self-critical, and he displays self-feeling without the feeling of inferiority and humility. The paranoiac structure is related to psychopathy, as conceived by us; it is a structure integrated at a low instinctive level, with intelligence at its service.


As for schizophrenia, the majority of psychiatrists recognize in



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


its etiology the basic role of psychogenesis. The psychogenetic point of view is now clearly taken by newer movements-existential psychiatry and the modified psychoanalytic method of so called “symbolic realization.” For a description of “schizophrenic worlds” one uses philosophical terms. The schizophrenic ceases to be exclusively the classical pathological case and becomes, in the first place, a man who suffers and feels as all other humans. The basic difference consists in the schizophrenic's constitutional difficulty in adapting himself to the world. It is, in the last analysis, a specific psychic constitution, consisting of excessive sensitivity (susceptibility to psyche injury) leading, in connection with it, to injuries and conflicts, frustrations, serious traumata, which, being often repeated, change the functioning of neurons, just as toxic factors or mechanical excitations do. According to Sechahaye, schizophrenics, when going through painful, profound experiences, guard themselves against contact with people in various ways, principally by way of external unconcern and negativity, and by way of impulsiveness and violence, evoked by the internal struggle between the need for contact and the dread of it; they guard themselves by passivity and the catatonic attitude, by running away from the environment, and especially from the doctor, and by absurd and grotesque behavior, if they have no other ways of covering themselves up. They avoid contact with the environment because of dread of emotivity, for fear of disturbing the psychotic equilibrium, of rousing one's own aggressiveness, of humiliation at the hands of other people, and in the internal injunction connected with the feelings of guilt and regret due to departure from the autistic attitude. This avoiding of contact may be overcome, according to this author, by convincing the patient that we wish to satisfy his essential needs. There are two ways of finding the patient's basic needs: an affectional approach to him during his “bright spells” and better periods of feeling, and the analysis of expressions. Here the external world should adapt itself to the patient, and since the world of symbols and magic is the only world that the patient may tolerate, one should organize this world for him in the least injurious way and permit its gradual reshaping into worlds more closely resembling reality. Schizophrenics are deeply



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


traumatic people and therefore need more feeling and protection than other people.


In our opinion this “special constitution” in schizophrenia seems to possess two fundamental characteristics: (1) markedly increased psychic excitability and (2) a psychic immaturity, in the attitude taken toward the normal, and even more so in the improper reaction to the environment. These are, in essence, positive characteristics (high sensitivity, subtlety, and, not rarely, a considerable fund of capabilities), requiring, however, longer periods of development. In contradistinction to neuroses, we observe in schizophrenia a considerably lower resistance to external stimuli, higher fragility, greater infantilism, and a weaker instinctive structure.


It should be noted that light dissociative processes characterize, as a rule, hypersensitive individuals, and also individuals with a tendency for extended periods of development. Feelings of guilt, difficulties in contacts and in adaptability, an inclination to mysticism, mania, artificiality, and animism are observed in poets, painters, philosophers, and artists in general. Pursuit of an ideal, affirmation and negation of various values in oneself, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, the need for solitude, all these are traits of positively developing individuals. Schizophrenics are people possessing tendencies to accelerated development; they are hypersensitive, predisposed to disintegration. When the influence of the environment is abnormal, when instead of long periods, short periods of development are imposed, then, if we are dealing with a special constitution, the patient may not withstand the developmental tensions and fail into negation, with its pathological forms of dissolution. In the practice of criminal psychiatry one may often observe that in the course of observation the suspected schizophrenia transforms itself into reactive psychosis, with symptoms strongly similar to that of actual schizophrenia. This is evidence of the existence of tendencies toward adaptation to the conditions of life.


From the point of view, therefore, of the theory of positive disintegration we speak of mental disease on the basis of the exclusion from its description and mechanisms of those characteristics which are evidence of a marked participation of the process



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


of positive disintegration (see chapter on positive disintegration) and on the basis of its final effect. We base our estimates of all the sets of “psychic disturbances” and diseases on ascertained, more or less distinct, signs of evolution or dissolution. The chief criterion for the estimation of a mental disease would therefore, be a lack or loss of the ability for positive psychic development, and, conversely, the existence of such ability would provide evidence of mental health.




Somatic disease causes disturbances in normal, everyday relations with the external world, as well as disturbances in the psychic milieu. It causes short or long, more or less global interruption in vital activities, disintegration of more or less integrated relations of one's own organism and psyche with its thus far existing world. Depending on the seriousness of the disease, it amounts to a characteristic intensification of the negative attitude to one's own state, to a feeling of some impediment, of some encumbrance, and of being imposed upon by something unexpected and unwanted. Many everyday matters lose their importance, the integrated conditions of life are shattered, there is a shift in the existing dominant in psychic life, and a compulsory process ensues “time must stop.” Longer-lasting or chronic diseases (tuberculosis, tuberculous osteomyelitis, articular disease, serious chronic heart disease, and the like) require reshaping of the relations with the external world and changes become ever more “astereotypic.” There results the feeling of impotency, excitement, depression, discord, concentration on the functioning of internal organs, on the difficulties of adapting oneself to life. This results in superfluous deliberation, prospection and retrospection, analyzing, and then, with the psychic energy accumulated by the summing up of particular inhibitions, in affectional outbursts.


Serious chronic disease, manifested in its dramatic stages when death approaches, and in the slow decomposition of tissues while one is still mentally efficient, undoubtedly constitutes a medium for the advent and development of the “subject-object” process



The Developmental Instinct, Primary Integration, and Disintegration


in oneself. One's self-awareness ascertains that decay of the somatic side is taking place, while psychic functions are retained. In the same consciousness knowledge that disintegration of the “soma” is unavoidable produces a rejection of the body as an object of interest and integration concerns only the creation of a new, suprabiological whole.




Cortical impulses strengthen or weaken the course of unconditional reflexes (Orbeli); that is, they loosen and disintegrate primary reactions, subordinating them to the activity of the cortex. The fundamental element of the new structure of disposition is the factor of inhibition, permitting one's adaptation to the new reality.


Sleep and the richness of dreams reflect processes which disintegrate the narrow actual attitude and actual adaptation (keeping the personality from “real” and “vital” experiences). These processes are accompanied by changes in the area of the vegetative nervous system. We deal here with the ascendancy of parasympathetic nervous system activity (a slowing down of heart action and breathing, a decreased body warmth, a contraction of pupils, convergence of eyeballs, and an assumption of a motionless position). On the other hand, excitation, lively interest in the external world, and contact with the environment cause excitation of the sympathetic nervous system, with quite contrary symptoms. These systems, acting antagonistically at lower nervous stages and in the area of particular organs, and synergistically at the highest cortical stages, reflect one and the same law of development, which, through disintegration at a lower level, prepares a man for integration at a higher level. Dystonia and amphotonia of the nervous system reveal themselves in a similar way in the psychic area, in the form of ambivalence and ambitendency (excitation and depression, sorrow and joy, inclination to solitude and to contact with the world), up to the synergy at a higher level (secondary integration).


As for the disturbances in the synergy of the endocrine glands



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


characteristic of certain developmental periods, arduous situations in life, and conflicting experiences and neurotic states, these depend on, inter alia, the dynamic state of the cortex on its carious levels, the relation of the cortex to the subcortex, the state of the centers of interests and the disposing and directing centers, and the capacity for psychic reshaping. An interesting pact is that the compulsory castration of a man results in deeper psychic and mental changes than voluntary castration. These facts and the phenomenon of anorexia nervosa point to the fundamental importance of psychic factors in the regulation of the activity of the endocrine glands. The activities of vegetative and endocrinological integration and disintegration (global, partial, periodic, and permanent) depend on many factors and the dispositional stage at which they take place (marrow, subcortex, cortex).


Of significance are operational experiments in lobotomy (prefrontal leucotomy) giving no positive results and even deteriorating the psychic state in cases where there is no interstage conflict or layer conflict (psychopathy, paranoia). On the other hand, they result in an improvement or remove the symptoms of depressions, obsessions, suicidal tendencies, changing the personality in the direction of extroversion, better adaptability to oneself and to the environment, but at the same time diminish the creative tendencies, the faculty of anticipation and of insight into oneself. A lobotomy operation changes a morbid disintegration, which is often developmental, into integration with a general hindrance of the psychic faculties.


The cerebral cortex also acts disintegratively on the subcortical centers. Typical cortices often display lower efficiency and even disturbances of psychomotor efficiency.



3. Positive Disintegration






OUR CONSIDERATIONS SO far have led to the isolation of so called positive disintegration from the various kinds of disintegrations. The positivity of certain forms of disintegration is manifested by the fact that a child, a developing being, reveals in certain periods of his development many more disintegrative properties than a normally developing adult—traits of animism, magical thinking, an unwarranted flightiness of attention and difficulties in concentration, emotionalism, and capriciousness. In periods of intensive development, such as the period of contradictoriness and primarily the period of maturation, we come into contact with a particular intensification of disintegrative symptoms, which points to a close, positive correlation between


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Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


susceptibility to development and certain forms of disintegration. The process of positive disintegration often manifests itself in the phenomenon of Rorschach's ambiequal types, in the period of contradictoriness and primarily in the period of maturation. Furthermore, we realize here the striking fact that these types, which, as Rorschach sees them, are the most harmonious, occur most frequently in periods characteristic of disintegrative processes.


With normal people we observe the symptoms of positive disintegration in moments of arduous experiences, or, less often, in moments of great joy, in moments of increased reflection, meditation, unrest, and dissatisfaction with oneself. The intensity of these symptoms is evidence that such individuals possess more or less marked resources for accelerated psychic development. With such persons we usually observe an above-average psychic sensitivity, and superior syntony—though not always displayed externally—and a greater subtlety of feelings.


On the other hand, enhanced psychic excitability is characterized by marked psychic frangibility, disharmony in the internal milieu of nervous individuals, and often by inadaptability to the social environment. The same phenomena are observed in a considerable number of neuroses and psychoneuroses, which are usually not treated, since individuals affected by them do not normally present themselves for treatment in a sanatorium or clinic.


Even in certain psychotic processes we may observe processes of positive disintegration, not only on the basis of the positive result of the final resolution of the psychosis, in the form of the shaping of a richer personality, revealing intellectual, moral, and social values higher than those before the disease, but also on the basis of an analysis of the clinical “picture,” which, even at the stage of symptoms of dissolution, is characterized by such peculiarities as periodic tendencies to autopsychotherapy, manifestations of creativity, and the nuclei of secondary integration.


Positive disintegration is, therefore, a process, which, in our opinion, is the fundamental process in the development of an individual. In order to leave the lower developmental level and pass to a higher one, the individual must go through a greater or lesser disorganization of primitive structures and activities.


Positive Disintegration


The normal disintegrative activities, which characterize certain developmental periods, such as the period of contradictoriness, maturation, and climacteric, enter as something basic to all phases of an individual's life, if he possesses dispositions for the development of a moral personality and for creative development, more or less universal in character.


The process of disintegration starts often with unilevel disintegration, which is characterized by weak participation of consciousness and volition, by a rather marked automaticity of these processes, by lack of evaluation—that is, by lack of “multilevelness” or “multilayerness.” When it lasts longer such disintegration often passes, into (positive) multilevel disintegration, in which fundamental changes take place in the organization and hierarchy of the psychic inner milieu.


What then would be the most important characteristics of positive disintegration? We shall limit ourselves to the description of only some of them.


The positive disintegration process is characterized in the first place by a predominance of its multilevel form over the unilevel form. Even if we deal with a marked predominance of symptoms of unilevel disintegration, still positiveness is manifested by the presence of self-awareness and coexisting symptoms of the creation of new values.


Positive properties of disintegration are manifested also by the predominance of global forms over narrowed forms—that is, with the disintegration process embracing the whole of personality. This process is also characterized by a lack of weakness, of automatisms, and stereotypes, and on the other hand, by the presence of plasticity and the capability for psychic reshaping.


The presence of retrospective and prospective tendencies and activities, with a simultaneous equilibrium of these dynamisms, would also be evidence that the process is positive. This attitude would be connected with abilities helpful in reaching a clear shaping of the personality ideal. The ability for consonance with the social environment would also be a determining factor as to the positiveness of the disintegration process.


In cases of nervousness, neuroses, and psychoneuroses, and sometimes also psychoses, positive disintegration would be reflected in the capacity for autopsychotherapy.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


Another fundamental property of the positive disintegration process is the ability for a gradual realization of an ever higher level of personality. However, this usually can only be ascertained after long observation of a disintegrating individual.


The areas of the manifestation of positive disintegration given above and measures of ascertaining it nowhere near exhaust the whole complexity of its forms and areas.




In the process of positive disintegration there come into play such experiences and dynamisms as anxiety over oneself, the feeling of shame and dissatisfaction with oneself, the feeling of guilt, the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself, and the experiencing of the process of “subject-object” in oneself. These reshapings are connected with the advent and development of the so called “third factor,” which consists in a conscious affirmation or negation of certain qualities in one's own inner milieu and of certain influences from the external environment. This process is connected with the upward moving disposing and directing center, and with an increasingly more clearly seen personality ideal and the dynamization of this ideal.


We will now briefly analyze these fundamental experiential sets and dynamisms, which are characteristic of positive disintegration.





Anxiety over oneself differs essentially from anxiety about oneself. The latter reflects the irritability of the primitive self-preservation instinct, and the first reflects the experiencing of consciousness (with participation of moral dynamisms) connected with the exposure of the self-preservation instinct to primitive activity, or of other instincts of an already attained higher level of personality. Anxiety over oneself reflects an en-



Positive Disintegration


hanced sensitivity of the feeling of one's responsibility for one's own development, as a result of coming to the conclusion that the participation of “reshaping” factors in concrete instinctive activities and affectional experiences is inadequate. Anxiety over oneself is, for emotional development, an element similar to that of astonishment in the area of intellectual activities. Both these dynamisms are creative, preparatory dynamisms, the first in intellectual development and the second in emotional development. Such anxiety indicates that something inappropriate is going on in the action of our psyche, in its reactions to stimuli of the external environment; all this inappropriateness is indicated, not from the side of low-level instinctive structures, but from the side of the disposing and directing center, which forms during the process of positive disintegration, and moves to the higher level. Anxiety is a sign of more or less marked fluidity and disorganization of the inner milieu, as a consequence of clashes between that which is primitive, instinctive, and integrated with that which is developmental, arbitrary, and still not stabilized. This is the first phase of the division into the “lower” and the “higher,” that which is close to the instinctive level and that which is close to the personality ideal.


Dissatisfaction with oneself reflects an increasingly greater advancement in the process of positive multilevel disintegration, which is manifested, among other ways, in this feeling. It concerns the area of multilevel structures, of which some are subject, and others object, to the dissatisfaction, of which some “disappoint” the expectations of our disposing and directing center at a higher level and others “experience” this disappointment, of which some are “lower” and some “higher” in the inner milieu. Dissatisfaction with oneself is a frequent experience, based on affectional memory of many such “divisions” into subject and object in the inner environment. Dissatisfaction with oneself, therefore, is based to a great extent on the “subject-object” process in the inner milieu, of which we shall speak later.


Dissatisfaction with oneself reflects a loss of uniformity in behavior, a loss of the assurance which characterizes primitive instinctive action—it is a clear symptom of the process of positive multilevel disintegration. This reflects the advent and develop-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


ment of the process “I” and “not I” in the inner milieu, the process which participates in the upward movement of the disposing and directing center.




The feeling of shame reflects a marked stirring in the inner milieu of the sensitive, “unsteady” structure, on which the internal stimuli act, expressing dissatisfaction with their behavior as revealed to the external environment. This type of experience consists in realizing that one's behavior and action in relation to other people, and particularly in relation to those with whom one is closely affiliated, is inappropriate, and at the same time the character of these experiences usually entails a stronger opinionative” than moral component.


Thus the experience of shame is concerned on the one side with whether our behavior and action does or does not offend moral principles, and on the other, and this to a higher degree, with the “face” of our action—that is, how it appears to a given environment.


In the content and form of the experience of shame we observe at times that we startle ourselves and others by the “awkwardness” and the “unexpectedness” of our behavior. We are dealing here with a content and form of experiencing other than that in the feeling of guilt and sin. This is primarily a reflection of an attitude which is sensitive to the judgment of the external world. Shame reflects, in a way, one's readiness to feel concerned about the harmony between one's own moral resources and their external manifestations. This is one of the first stages in the loosening and disintegration of the primitive instinctive structure in the process of multilevel disintegration, which is, however, not yet far advanced.


The conversion of experiences of shame into the vegetative nervous system is rather marked and reflects the predominance of sympathicotonic reactions and sensitivity to the environment, manifested by such symptoms as flushing, a quickening of the pulse, and, psychically, by the need for hiding oneself.



Positive Disintegration


The feeling of guilt reflects a considerably deeper engagement of oneself, with respect to oneself and to one's behavior, than does the feeling of disappointment with oneself. The experiential element is here much stronger, it more fully embraces the whole personality, binding itself more strongly with the affectional memory and with the retrospective attitude. In the feeling of guilt both dissatisfaction with oneself and, to a somewhat lesser extent, shame are strongly represented, but the feeling of evil or vice committed in relation to one's own development and to the human environment occupies the prime place. With the feeling of guilt there usually arises, simultaneously, the need for self-accusation, penalty, and expiation. The feeling of guilt is a poignant experience, and is connected with the experience of “fear and trembling.” As we have shown, it has a considerably greater influence on the whole of personality than does simple dissatisfaction with oneself, or the feeling of shame. When this experience is accompanied by the process of consciousness, it reaches deeper into the subconsciousness than other experiences. On the one hand, it reaches with its roots into heredity and often into the phase of early-childhood injuries, and on the other, it is transposed into the feeling of responsibility for the immediate or more distant environments, or for the whole society.


As we have already mentioned, the feeling of guilt calls for penalty and expiation. At the same time, both the penalty and expiation become fundamental elements in the elimination or weakening of the feeling of guilt and in the preparation of the individual for a gradual passage to a higher level of development. The feeling of guilt is at the root of the process of multilevel disintegration, for it reflects a failure in meeting the demands placed on oneself, a failure in fulfilling the indication flowing from our disposing and directing center, which steers toward a realization of the personality ideal.


This feeling is, therefore, based on distinguishing between the higher and lower level of our structure, and at the same time the higher structure becomes responsible for the activities of the lower level. The feeling of guilt, as we have already pointed out, is an indispensable developmental element for every moral indi-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


vidual and is strongly manifested in persons capable of accelerated development. It forms an indispensable creative tension, which lies at the root of true self-educational work.




In general there is no mention in literature about the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself. Consideration is given to the feeling of inferiority as a reflection of a specific relation between the individual and the social environment. The essence of the problem of the feeling of inferiority in relation to the environment, the development of this feeling, its causes, its antisocial consequences, and sublimations, has been worked out by Alfred Adler.


According to Adler, a child, a weak and fragile being, has the feeling of inferiority in relation to adults, who are strong, “all-powerful,” and “omniscient.” The feeling of this weakness and inferiority is very early compensated by the child through the “will to power” attitude, through the feeling of fear, irritation, anger, and excessive subordination of himself.


Such facts as special feebleness, disability, ugliness help to form the feeling of inferiority. Uneven and unjust treatment of a child, doing wrong to him and humiliating him, the situation of orphancy or misery, all distinctly cooperate in the development of this feeling. On the other hand, the fact of being an only child, pampered by parents, develops in a child a feeling of his exceptional situation in life, with a consequent growth of his demands, which cause difficulties in adaptation to those environments which do not tolerate these extra demands. A passage from these pampering conditions to an environment such as a school may cause the advent and development of the feeling of inferiority.


According to Adler, the feeling of inferiority may be compensated by social attitudes—phenomena of positive compensations—or we may be dealing with antisocial attitudes—negative compensations. The first attitude is most widely observed in persons inclined to self-criticism on the one hand, and on the other be-



Positive Disintegration


stowed with a strong developmental instinct and strong dynamisms, guiding them to an educational ideal. Many scholars agree with the following opinion of C. Macfie Campbell (1933) “None of the great human works appeared without a participation of this feeling.” (1) It seems that general mental development, and also development of moral personality, would not be possible without participation of the feeling of inferiority, and particularly without this feeling in relation to oneself.


The theory of positive disintegration, which engaged in the explication of the dynamisms of the global development of man, through the forms of psychic loosening, and even the periodic disintegration of a structure, introduces the concept of the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself; it is one of the signs of the process of disintegration.


It should be noted here that in order to understand this conception we must distinguish, in the individual's internal psychic milieu, such elements as “lower” impulsive dynamisms, which furnish the individual with proof of the feeling of inferiority in relation to himself, and higher dynamisms, which provide a basis for comparison with the first dynamisms and are a source of hierarchical estimation.


The development of the internal milieu is connected with the working of consciousness, which distinguishes in this environment the levels of value, that is, a scale of values and the awareness that one possesses developmental dynamisms. The feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself reflects on estimation and internal experience of the relation one has with one's own personality ideal, and the feeling of “infidelity” in relating to this ideal, arising from the tendency toward, and the fact of, the deterioration of higher values.


The ideal of personality, the feeling of its place in the individual's structure, is, therefore, very often a source of the feeling of inferiority in the developing personality, and particularly in the periods of the slackening of one's moral behavior and dissatisfaction with oneself, in the periods of “descendance” to a lower level in relation to already attained achievements. An individual



(1) C. M. Campbell. Towards Mental Health: The Schizophrenic Problem. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1933


Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


moving on the road to development feels in a sense a betrayal of himself in contradicting a value which has already been acquired.


A developing individual cannot always remain at the “peak” of development. Tiredness, nervous exhaustion, some states of anxiety and fear often bring about the “descent” to a lower, more primitive, level of one's personality. However, an individual clearly moving along the road of development cannot remain for a long time at this level, and the fact of the former and repeated “stay” of his activities and internal experiences at a higher level, incites the states of dissatisfaction with himself and the feelings of guilt and inferiority in relation to his own personality ideal. Kierkegaardean “fear and trembling” accompany the states of affectional memory and are associated with a conviction that one's level has been lowered. The formation of the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself cannot take place without this dynamism, of which we shall later speak.


What are the chief differences between the feeling of inferiority in relation to the external environment and the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself? In the first place the fundamental difference is reflected in the very term relation to the environment and relation to oneself. The feeling of inferiority in relation to the external environment is a phenomenon of constant or transient characteristics with all people—with psychopaths, people with neuroses and psychoneuroses, and those with other mental disturbances. The feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself is manifested, as a rule, by individuals with the capacity for distinct, accelerated development, in neuroses, psychoneuroses, and sometimes in psychoses, but it is never observed in psychopathy and with persons offering no promise for the development of personality.


The feeling of inferiority in relation to other persons is usually connected with conflicts with these persons. The feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself, if it is not a pathological phenomenon, is a prophylactic factor in relation to external conflicts (an anti-conflict factor).


The feeling of, inferiority in relation to oneself reflects a process of intensive moral and cultural development; on the



Positive Disintegration


other hand, the feeling of inferiority in relation to the external environment is a rather general and primitive phenomenon.


The feeling of inferiority in relation to the external environment does not associate itself with the loosening and disintegration of the internal environment, but is usually connected with the structure's integration at a low level.


As for the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself and the process of self-education, it should be stressed that self-education is not at all possible without this feeling. In the process of self-education there must exist an awareness of one's own personality ideal, the feeling of the necessity of a closer approach to this ideal, through the assignment of the disposing and directing center to a higher level, through the activation of the third factor with its opposition to lower levels, both in the internal life and in external activity. Directing of the activity “upward” and “downward” and activation of the ideal are connected with an increasingly stronger self-awareness and with an affirmation of oneself, which leads to a very strong experiencing of the feeling of inferiority and to an increasingly more intensive activation in the reshaping of the inner milieu—that is, in the process of self-education. The feeling of distance between realizations, their shortcomings and breakdowns, and the level of the ideal, which is more and more recognizable, becomes a ground for creative tensions, directing one to the development of increasingly intensive self-educational activities.


Self-education presupposes experiencing of the dualistic attitude by an individual, the attitude of incessant divisions of oneself into subject and object, into that which lifts and educates and into that which is lifted and educated. This is the already mentioned “subject-object in oneself” process.


The great majority of creative individuals, prominent persons in moral, artistic, and even scientific worlds, have manifested the feeling of inferiority in relation to themselves in their developmental dynamisms. With such men as Michelangelo, Dostoevsky, Gandhi, St. Augustine, and many, many others, the feeling of inferiority was a fundamental dynamism. Furthermore, with the majority of prominent psychasthenics (Proust, Kafka, Zerom-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


ski), the feeling of inferiority constituted one of the basic dynamisms in their psychic life. Beers and Ferguson, who represent the American psychiatry and mental health movement, have themselves passed through mental diseases and have demonstrated the feeling of inferiority and of superiority in relation to themselves.


The above remarks clearly show that without the feeling of inferiority no process of positive disintegration can take place, that there is no possibility for the effective realization of the personality ideal, and that there is no possibility for attaining increasingly higher levels of this ideal.




Disclosure and observation of oneself passes from such primitive forms as seeing one's image in a mirror, to an intense and all-embracing examination of oneself, one's structure, tendencies and aspirations, one's internal life in general. Taking an interest in one's own “internal environment” and observing it sometimes becomes a permanent habit of internal self-observation. From this habit there is but a step to intervention in one's own psychic life—this is, however, a matter belonging to the problems of another order.


We call this taking of interest by an individual in his own psychic life, and the ability for an ever wider and deeper penetration of it, the dynamism of “subject-object in oneself,” that is, in the psychic structure of one and the same person. The advent of this dynamism means that interest in the internal environment begins to prevail over interest in the external world. This dynamism is a key that permits the individual to open his own psyche for observation by himself. Thanks to this dynamism the subject “objectifies,” as it were, its contents, grasping them almost as external phenomena, which permits a fuller, matter-of-fact, less subjective knowledge and treatment of them. The mechanisms of this dynamism, combined with the progressing development of a personality, become for the person an ever more subtle and ever more universal instrument in self-cognition, in discovering



Positive Disintegration


in oneself and becoming aware of the subliminal contents thus far unknown to oneself.


Progressive self-cognizance, realized by means of the “subject-object in oneself” dynamism, permits one to utilize this cognizance in a more purposeful, more effective, and accelerated shaping of personality in oneself and facilitates the work of other developmental dynamisms.


This dynamism should not be identified with the conception of introspection accepted in psychology. Psychological introspection is used by us, in the observation of our own psychological processes, exclusively to determine the form of their course, their correctness, associations, and so on. The significance and the tasks of the “subject-object in the psyche of one and the same individual” dynamisms are considerably further-reaching: with its help the individual knows himself in the sense of knowing the motives and aims of his own actions, his own moral, social, and cultural self. In other words, this dynamism serves the aims that are connected primarily with one's higher development, with the development of one's own personality, and not only those connected with cognition as such, or cognition for purposes of scientific research. The character and the very genesis of this dynamism, therefore, show that there are essential differences between it and the introspective method in psychology.


The advent of the “subject-object” dynamism is determined by the developmental instinct in its higher phase, in the phase of breaking away from the mediocre life cycle of a man. This dynamism is, therefore, a dynamism of the period of disintegration, which is an instrument, as it were, of this instinct. An individual developing toward personality is subject to positive disintegration which, by way of conflicts, contradictions, and collisions, leads to an internal loosening or even disintegration of the thus far more or less uniform structure of the individual. This disintegration causes the internal life of an individual, his inner psychic milieu, to develop and enrich itself and, at the same time, to lose its tenacity. This loss of tenacity, this disintegration of the internal structure, is reflected by just this “subject-object in oneself” dynamism, this division into a cognizing subject and the object



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


of the cognizance, which lies at the root of self-knowledge in general.


The already emphasized internal difficulties, conflicts, and contradictions experienced by a man developing into a personality generate, among others, such dynamisms and processes as the already discussed anxiety over oneself and dissatisfaction with oneself, the feeling of guilt and the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself. In just these processes is outlined, though in a vague way, the “subject-object in oneself” dynamism.


As the psychic development of an individual in the process of positive disintegration deepens, the dynamism in question begins to take shape and mature gradually and increasingly. However, besides such gradual nascency and maturation, it may manifest itself suddenly, unprepared, or rather prepared unconsciously, in the form of a synthetic act, succinctly expressed in French: prise de conscience de soi-même. It is an act of illumination, as it were, an act of a sudden understanding of the sense, causes, and purposes of one's own behavior. As a consequence of repeated acts of prise de conscience de soi-même arises the “subject-object” dynamism. It is, therefore, a permanent continuation of these acts and as a consequence of this continuation the division into subject and object becomes something stabilized, something enabling the individual to possess a permanent insight into himself, not by way of unforeseen, surprising flashes on the mind; but by conscious insight into himself.




The direction, quality, and intensity of a man's development depends, not only on the influences of the environment and inherited or innate properties, but also on the “third factor.” This dynamism approves or disapproves of the tendencies of the inner milieu and the reaction to the external environment, and cooperates in the shaping of an ever higher level of the developing personality. As a result of this dynamism the individual begins to realize what is essential, lasting, and advantageous for his development, and what is secondary and temporary or incidental in his own development and behavior and also in his reaction to the



Positive Disintegration


external environment; he tries to cooperate with those forces which favor the development of his personality, and to eliminate all that hinders this development.


The conception of the “third factor” is, therefore, a new and fundamental element in the chain of factors that decide the development of a man (besides heredity and environmental influences), and is a reflection of a new force, which determines a new direction of development than that followed thus far.


The chief periods in which the third factor comes forward are the periods of pubescence and mature age. During the period of maturation the attitude of affirmation and negation, which was vaguely present in childhood, becomes dynamic. This process is favored by enhanced affectional, psychomotor, imaginational, sensual, and mental excitability. In this connection the phenomenon of evaluation, as one of the fundamental characters of pubescence, becomes distinctly marked. A young man, experiencing a loosening in his own internal and external environments observes both these environments more or less attentively and manifests the mental and emotional attitude of “subject-object in oneself.” He then assumes a critical attitude toward himself and the environment, attempts to check his opinion with reality and to transpose his own moral experiences to other persons, and his observations of the external environment to his own experiences, and places on himself and on the environment clear-cut demands of a moral character. The awareness of ambivalence calls forth in him, by turns, the feelings of superiority and inferiority, and also the feeling of guilt, dissatisfaction with himself, and a more or less strong foresight into the unknown future or reflection into the experienced past. During the period of pubescence there arises and develops in young people the need for a realization of the meaning of life and often of the purpose of education and of the educational ideal. Posing these problems, philosophizing in this respect, with the participation of a strong experimental component, is a characteristic sign of the intensification of the developmental instinct and of the passing of a given individual to a higher level of development.


The third factor assumes, therefore, in the period of maturation, a more conscious form than in the period of childhood,



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


made more dynamic through the uncertain attitude of affirmation and negation, in the service of the new disposing and directing center at a higher level, which emerges in a shadowy and unsteady form.


The period of maturation slowly passes into the period of psychic harmony within oneself, in which there ensues a greater internal equilibrium and greater rapport with the environment, and gradually there forms a structure, integrated at a level higher than the former. At this stage the need for being noted by people, the need for possession, and consequently the need for winning a position, for establishing a family and so on, become the disposing and directing center. As the integration of the psychic structure advances, the activity of the third factor weakens and even dies away.


This factor usually continues to exist, and even develops, however, with people showing enhanced psychic excitability and sometimes the weaker forms of neuroses and psychoneuroses. With such individuals the process of disintegration extends, the developmental and moral ideals continue to play a considerable role, there is manifested a psychic lability, and undue sensibility, a “freshness” of feeling, and that which one might call a continuance of certain infantile traits. The disposing and directing center is, furthermore, in a vacillating, uncertain, “ascending” and “descending” position. This psychic unbalance and certain tendencies to nonmorbid disintegration, a lack of quick approach to the determination of psychic structure, usually is evidence of the freshness and strength of the third factor, and of the capacity for the development of the personality along the lines of the realization of its ideal.


It must be said, therefore, that with adults the continuance and intensification of the third factor occurs parallel to the process of the extension in them of the period of maturation, with all its positive and some negative aspects. One may add, here, that this extension of the period of maturation is clearly connected with the developmental instinct, with greater creative abilities, with the tendencies to perfect oneself, with the advent and development of the tendencies that point to the most profound self-awareness, self-affirmation, and self-education.



Positive Disintegration


The third factor, in its germinal state, has appeared already in unilevel disintegration, but its main domain is multilevel disintegration. The disintegrative activities are correlated with the activity of the third factor, which judges, denies, selects, and affirms certain external and internal values. It is, therefore, an internal and fundamental part of multilevel disintegration. It is an active conscience, as it were, of the nascent personality in its process of development, which judges what is more and what is less valuable in self-education, what is “higher” and what is “lower,” and what is or is not in accord with the personality ideal, what points to internal development and perfection, and what leads to a diminution of internal value.


A human being at the level of a developing personality controls his instinctive life. This process consists in separating that which, in every instinct or group of instincts, may be considered distinctly human from that which is distinctly animalistic. With respect, for example, to the self-preservation instinct, this will consist in the separation and a negative estimation of that which is egocentric, in the sense of aspiring for the realization of one's own egoistic aims, regardless of the interests of, and wrong done to other people. In the sexual drive, what will be negated will be only its somatic, uncontrolled, nonindividualized level, possessing no tendencies to exclusive affectional bonds.


The role of the third factor in controlling sexual life by personality is not limited to the activities of selecting and denying. This factor, through its above-mentioned qualifying actions, actively assists the development of higher drives, the creative drive and the drive for self-perfection.


During the period of the advent and development of the third factor, the individual changes slowly, but fundamentally, his attitude toward the social environment. He passes, increasingly more distinctly, from the attitude of “dodging about,” of apparent subordination of himself, of a partially conscious but affirmed compulsion, to distinct and decided attitudes toward the social group, attitudes of which one becomes conscious and which one affirms during a long process of development—that is, in accordance with the developing personality. In his external activity, therefore, different forms of inadaptability and conflicts



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


may occur. These conflicts and inadaptability reflect external disapproval of the direction and level of the group's demands, which do not correlate with the personality ideal. In many cases such an individual is estimated as being hardly sociable, not adapted, quaint, and difficult. This estimation is unjust, because a man in the period of intensive action of the third factor manifests, besides the attitude of disapproval, opposition, and negation—which concerns only the temporary “constellatory” conditions and the pressure calling for absolute subordination of oneself to the group, or for adaptation to instinctive tendencies of a lower level—syntony and cooperation with the needs of social life. Such an individual is usually characterized by alterocentric introversion, or as Rorschach puts it, by contact introversion. (2)


The beginning of self-education coincides in general with the beginning of the process of positive disintegration, and this is also the time at which the third factor appears. At this time the activities of developmental autodetermination begin to oust the thus far existing heterodetermination, and the adaptational difficulties and developmental disturbances are removed by means of autopsychotherapy. From this moment the moral evaluation and attitude of a given individual toward the environment begins anew, as it were, and the past is in a sense isolated from the present and the future. This process is represented by the following opinion, expressed by Brzozowski in The Legend of Young Poland: “Man is not a continuation of evolution but a rupture in its thread; when he [man] comes to being, all that preceded him becomes his enemy.” (3)


A person in the primary phase of self-education is suspended, as it were, between the reflection of distinctly lower instinctive tendencies, which gradually lose their strength, and the reaction of personality dynamisms, such as the personality ideal. and the disposing and directing center at a higher level, which only gradually form and confirm themselves. This phase is the period of the Kierkegaardean “fear and trembling,” in which the individ-



(2) H. Rorschach. Psychodiagnostics: A Diagnostic Test Based on Perception. Translated by P. Lernkau and B. Kronberg. New York: Grune & Stratton, 1951,


(3) S. Brzozowski. Lengenda Mlodej Polski. (Legend of Young Poland.) Lwow: Makl. Ksieg. Poskiej, B. Polonieckiego, 1910.



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ual cannot find support in the thus far existing primitive instinctive dynamisms and the “normal” forces of the social environment, nor in the personality dynamisms. One might call this phase a period of moral or personality maturation.


The period of true and essential moral maturation is often a period of psychic vacuum, isolation, solitude, and misunderstanding. This is the period of the “night of the soul” in which the former meaning of life and the forms of bonds with this life lose their former value and attractive force. This period ends, however, in the elaboration of an ideal and in the advent of a new disposing and directing center, as well as in the appearance of negating forces, which close off the way back to the original level. In this way personality arises, and at the same time the primary phase of self-education comes to the end. The third factor, which is clearly heard, does not permit one's withdrawal from the road to the personality ideal.




We may call the disposing and directing center the dynamism which, taken most generally, decides on the kind and direction of a given individual's activities. At its roots would thus be found different driving forces, from lower to higher, unconscious and conscious, morbid and nonmorbid tendencies, which arise and develop in a tenacious or disintegrated structure. In a narrower sense, which interests us here, we denote by this term a tenacious dynamism, existing both at a lower as well as at a higher level of the individual's development and embracing either only a certain “psychic area” or the whole psyche of a given individual.


This center is a governing, volitional, and realizing factor, which takes up and executes decisions based on the direction determined by the fundamental instincts or on the developmental process which steers toward personality development. In the latter case the disposing and directing center strictly cooperates with other dynamisms of the developing personality.


With primarily integrated people the disposing and directing center usually embraces all functions. A newborn child may serve here as an example, in that with such a child all activities are



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


subordinated to the fundamental biological instinct, or a psychopath with whom the disposing and directing center is represented by twisted primitive instincts.


In the phase of positive disintegration the disposing and directing centers are represented by various tendencies which, not rarely, contrast with each other and differ in intensity. This plurality of centers and variability of their domination results in ambivalences and ambitendencies, alternate feelings of inferiority and superiority, often aversion to oneself and maladjustment to the external world, criticism and self-criticism, prospection and retrospection.


If the disintegration is positive in character, there gradually comes to the fore a new and stronger disposing and directing center at a higher level than that of the former one.


The period of maturation presents particularly favorable circumstances for, and at the same time a good example of, disintegration. This period is for a young man, as E. Croner (4) expresses it, exactly what a revolution is for the body politic of a state. “It shakes the foundations of the body and soul; demolishes, with elemental force, all that which thus far was considered as orthodox; new thoughts and ideals violently push their way and point to new objectives; old values collapse; the childish dream is over; after a period of naiveté there comes an awakening to a ‘conscious' life and to self-determination.” This particular revolution ends with the birth of a new man. This, in our words, would be a man integrated anew, with a new and clearly dominating disposing and directing center.


The material of which is formed the disposing and directing center at a higher level marking the developing personality consists of, initially, only vaguely realized positive disintegrative contents and tendencies for transcending present moral standards and habits, the actual level of instincts, and actual environmental influences, moral judgments, and feelings.


(4) E. Croner. Psychika Mlodziezy Zenskiej. (The Psychical Structure of Female Youth.) Lwow: Ksiaznica Atlas, 1932.



Positive Disintegration




The aim pursued by an individual through positive disintegration is, generally speaking, the fullness of manhood. This aim is common to many men, but its realization runs in a different way with particular men. For every individual is a different, unique type with a specific psychic structure, with different inherited, innate, and acquired dispositions, with different, with respect to kind and degree, “weak” and “strong” sides, with different courses of developmental crises. With respect to autogenesis, therefore, every developing individual has to accomplish tasks which are peculiar only to him. If he perceives them more or less adequately for his needs and developmental possibilities, and experiences them correspondingly, they become his personality ideal.(5)


This ideal embraces, synthetizes in itself, as it were, all the most essential positive, more or less general, and also individual traits. It is usually embodied in reality in an idealized character (father, mother, tutor, prominent contemporary or historical personality), but it may also be only a conceptual “sum” of character and type traits, made more or less particular. In both cases the personality ideal plays the role of a model, or pattern, it is strongly experienced and made particular by the individual's needs to complement and modify his own properties. It is, therefore, an internal dynamism and a source of energy for the development of all the actual and potential psychic qualities of the individual and for the inhibition of his primitive instinctive dynamisms.


The ideal of personality is thus a distant pattern, which we realize, and at the same time it is a reservoir of organizing active


(5) S. Szuman states: ‘The ideal seems . . . to be, not only the highest intensity of some property or function, but also the harmonic conjunction of many positive traits, so that each of them complements others and thus raises the values of the whole to a maximum.” (Quoted in J. Pieter and H. Werynski. Psychologia Striatogogladu Mlodziezy. Warsaw: Ksiaznica Atlas, 1933.) F. Znaniecki characterized the personality ideal as “projected into the future an excellent complex of activities as an object of human aspirations.” (Wstep do Sociologii. Warsaw: Ksiaznica Atlas, 1926.) In other words as “an idea of some new form of life, evoking and organizing these activities that are required for its realization.”



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


forces which is formed in the phase of multilevel positive disintegration and secondary integration. We ascertain the existence of the personality ideal, and its continuously increasing role in the formation of personality, by way of intuition and a simple judgment by every individual realizing self-education, but we cannot seize it other than in a “global” outline.


Two periods may be distinguished in the shaping of the personality ideal. In the first it has a completely distinct form and is a hierarchically changeable value, which depends on age, the developmental period, work upon oneself, cultural level, and on other factors. In the second period it becomes an ever more distinct and ever more stable structure. The line of demarcation between both periods is the “birth of personality.” The forming personality not only becomes ever more clearly aware of and experiences the contents of his ideal, but he also takes part in its building and development. The dynamization of the personality ideal is also achieved through profound reflection upon this ideal in moments of detachment from everyday life activities and moments of internal calm.




After this very summary discussion of the main dynamism which form themselves and are active in the internal environment, or psychic inner milieu, of an individual in positive disintegration, let us now give some thought to relations and dependencies between these dynamisms, in order that these dynamisms may be more precisely understood.


Let us reflect first on the so-called third factor, which is the estimating, active self-awareness, as it were, of the developing personality, an active qualifier of this personality's actions. This dynamism in order to be able to appraise, accept, correct, or reject certain values and tendencies which are manifested and collide in the inner milieu of the forming personality, must avail itself of the cognitive material supplied to it by the subject-object dynamism acting in this environment. In other words, only an individual who is aware of his own self, and fairly familiar with the motives and aims of his own behavior, is capable of



Positive Disintegration


correcting himself, of selective action which corresponds best to the actual phase and direction of his development.


On the other hand, the ability to qualify one's own examined and known tendencies and behavior must be based on some criteria—the individual must have foundations, criteria, or patterns to go by in his estimates. These kinds of foundations are supplied to the developing individual by another dynamism, namely his personality ideal. It is this idea, this force, this pattern, according to which the individual, using the third-factor dynamism, qualifies, accepts, or rejects certain contents, tendencies, and mechanisms of his actual internal environment.


Cognizing and qualifying the motives of his behavior, his tendencies, and actions does not necessarily mark the individual as developing in the direction of personality. This is because one may acquire the knowledge of oneself to a greater or smaller degree, know how to qualify one's actions and their motives, mentally see the ideal to which one would like to come closer, and . . . not budge. This is the state of the individuals who stay, impotently, in permanent disintegration and who are unable to do more than make short-lived attempts to extricate themselves from it.


The factor which coordinates the results of the action of other dynamisms, which links them together, organizes them, and, based on them, realizes the personality ideal, is the dynamism, which we have called the disposing and directing center. The disposing and directing center at a higher level is, therefore, a central dynamism of the forming personality, other dynamisms being its tools (with the exception of the inspirational dynamism the personality ideal).


Of course, the action of all more important dynamisms of the forming personality here discussed is conjugational, responsive, mutually penetrative, and complementary in character. All these factors together form, strictly speaking, an organic set, whose various characteristic functions have been in fact abstracted from the whole, in the form of particular dynamisms, in order to acquire an easy orientation, an easy approach to the complex inner milieu of the forming personality. This we should keep in mind when approaching a study of personality.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration






In this section we shall deal with the developmental dynamisms of particular instincts.


THE SELF-PRESERVATION INSTINCT. This passes in its rudimentary development through phases of rather automatically acting dynamisms, namely through the phase of the biological behavior of an individual, through the phase of retaining certain structures and the weakening and waning of others (period of maturation), through the phase of preserving oneself by propagation, with consequent preservation of memory about oneself. Finally, through the self-preservation instinct, a man aims to preserve his psychic individuality or personality, in this or that form. The higher phases of the development of the self-preservation instinct are connected with a more or less conscious resignation, sacrifice, usually after the struggle between the “lower” and “higher” structures and with a tendency to divorce oneself from the former. At this point a negation drive, as it were, arises in the primitive dynamism and reflects itself in an attitude diametrically opposed to the instinct of life; this drive becomes especially marked during intensive development.


In these circumstances the instinct of life passes through an imaginary or real attenuation, or even suppression, of one structure to preserve another. We recall the saying that it is necessary to lose one's life in order to gain it. This is a truth expressed symbolically. The sacrificing of oneself in work for others, developing in oneself the faculty of looking at oneself as an object, leads to the transformation of one's egocentrism into alterocentric individualism, a factor of great importance in the structure of personality.


As an aftereffect of the development of the self-preservation instinct (through a weakening or destruction of its original lower structure) there arises an instinct of a higher form, namely the individuality instinct or, in other words, the personality instinct.



Positive Disintegration


THE POSSESSIVE INSTINCT. In its most primitive forms, the possessive instinct reveals itself in the tendency to possess those objects needed to satisfy the self-preservation instinct. In the lower, animal world, this instinct aims at obtaining food, shelter, warmth, and, so on. In the human world, the possessive instinct, distinctly coupled with the self-preservation instinct, reveals itself in the need to accumulate reserves, to obtain for oneself suitable lodging, clothing, and the like. In this world one may also observe a transformation toward seeking goods which are of less direct import for the preservation of life. The possessive instinct begins to express itself in the need for the possession of estates, or other material goods and servants or subordinated employees. The tendency to possess also reveals itself in the paternal and sexual instinct. At the higher developmental stages the possessive instinct reveals itself in the need for authority, superiority in this or that respect, in impressing and in “shining” due to the possession of various objects or virtues. The possession of something as one's own is closely related with the possession of certain properties of social value.


At yet a higher level we come into contact with the tendency to gain fame, renown, moral authority, to be remembered by posterity, and even with such sublimated needs as the possession of a hidden subtle moral and intellectual influence, without renown, without deriving any personal profit from it, and without recognition on the part of one's contemporaries (Lao-tse) .


In the process of the elevation of the possessive instinct, from a lower to a higher level, one may sometimes observe automatic, and also conscious, resignation from the need for lower forms of the possessive instinct in favor of higher forms. Lao-tse, Kierkegaard, Dawid, and other personalities distinctly passed through the process of the loosening and then the dissolution of tendencies to primitive possession, for the sake of winning higher forms. Resignation from more material goods, and the annihilation of needs connected with them is a sublimating process, without which no real spiritual development is possible.


THE FIGHTING INSTINCT. Like all other instincts, the fighting instinct passes through many developmental phases. Among animals we deal principally with the physical fighting instinct. This



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


form of instinct is encountered most often with the culturally primitive and “average man”; it is revealed in physical fighting, in wars, in forcing others to meet one's demands if one is stronger, and so on. However, in addition to fighting in all its stages, man uses such primitive means as strategy, cunning, blackmail, deceit, and the like. All these means of fighting lead to such aims as conquering the weaker, or the weakening of an equal in force, all this in order to win material success or a higher standard of living for an individual, social group, or nation.


The conflict of the material interests of individuals and groups in the world of organized communities leads in general to the use of more or less camouflaged threats, various systems of propaganda, and different forms of ideological fighting. At a considerably higher level there occurs a clash of opinions, convictions, and views. However, we usually also contact at this stage subjective arguments of the opponents, which are based on material and personal interests involving prestige. The fighting individuals or parties look for the weak points of their adversaries, direct the “spears” of their arguments, not to the essence of the matter, but to points which are in fact secondary, and whose importance for the problem is only apparent. Socratic irony used in such cases does not aim at bringing to light essential truth, but only such “truth” as a fighting individual or party wants to prove.


At a higher level of cultural development we find tendencies to fight objectively against an adversary; here one's own interest, ambitions, and prestige are put aside. This is fighting for ideas, by way of proving them objectively, fighting for social welfare and for unselfish truth. At the highest point of this level, one may find an attitude such as was assumed by President Lincoln who, in his debating, endeavored to represent the attitude of his adversary, considerably more clearly and better than the adversary himself could do it, and then, in an objective and a matter-of fact way, assailed his erroneous view.



Fighting is most often conducted with a view to the realization of actual tasks. However, it also happens that the fighting parties have in view matters which extend in time far beyond their personal life, such as moral or ethical reforms or fundamental changes in a nation or state. In such cases the realization of aims



Positive Disintegration


is always given high priority over personal material, the mental or moral needs of a fighting individual.


In the transformation processes of the self-preservation instinct, as well as of the possessive and fighting instincts conjugated with it, there appears a mechanism for the disintegration of lower levels, for a loosening of the link between the higher disposing and directing center and the lower structure. A particular role is played here by such factors as a high sensibility to the internal and external environments of the individual, a weariness brought on by monotony, by the automatic and stereotypic character of instinctive activities, the capability of prospection, and a sensitivity to the “new.” These factors cause a gradual loosening of affectional and mental attitudes to instinctive activities. One finds oneself in opposition to them and disintegrates, and as a result the individual with developing sensitivity to stimuli of the higher order and an increased indifference to stimuli of the lower order, begins to reshape himself and steer toward the new ideal.


Here, fundamental mechanisms of multilevel disintegration are active, just as in the case of every other instinct—the already often-mentioned feeling of dissatisfaction, the desire to free oneself from that which is now considered as worse and lower, the tendencies to prospection and to changes in one's own internal milieu.


SEXUAL INSTINCT. Disintegration of this instinct, with particular individuals, may be manifested by abstinence for a long time from all kinds of sexual intercourse, by some disturbances in the sexual drive, or by the weakness of this drive with infantile types. It appears that the infantilism of the disintegrative stage would signal the development of a human being in which the somatic sexual bond would lose its strength in favor of the “spiritualistic” form. On the other hand, and in our opinion, which differs from that of Von Monakow, the integration of individual sexual experiences (idealistic, Platonic experiences in relation to the object of affection, and a brutal venting of the sexual drive in relation to other persons) would not be a reflection of development. Sexual exclusiveness marks a certain “nonspecies orientation” of the sexual drive.


Control over the sexual instinct, emphasis on nonsexual



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


bonds, and partial advancement in the process toward a nonspecies-oriented sexual instinct, with respect to the self-preservation instinct, reflects itself in the personality instinct.


SOCIAL INSTINCT. The development of the social instinct proceeds from the receptive phase, the phase of the need for contact in order to gain food, care, the tenderness a child needs, through the phase of various forms of living together in a family, the maternal and paternal phase, in which parents are the givers. As Von Monakow rightly states, the social instinct is linked in its advent and development with the self-preservation and sexual instincts. A proper development of the social instinct does not impair the development of an individual or his drive toward the perfection of his personality. A reasonable devotion to a child, on the part of a mother or father, connected with respect for him and the ideal of his development, should not interfere with the realization of one's own development. Even the greatest sacrifice and renunciation allows for the preservation of the right of one's own development.


While rising to increasingly higher levels, the social instinct passes from the phase of vital social interest, from the phase of sociability, of social adaptability, to the phase of consonance with the various different environments, without an accentuation of social needs. This consonance is always realized through disintegration. This is because one cannot learn to know, understand, and “feel” other people in their individual types, in the scale of their development, in the variety of their affectional attitudes, without the ability to observe one's own reactions, experiences, affectional states, tensions, and conflicts. Only the appraisal and structuring of one's own inner milieu and one's behavior, connected therewith, gives the necessary empirical measure of feeling and understanding of others. The love of one's neighbor is based on the ability to “equorize” the whole history of one's experiences, the whole vast area of introspection; it is the ability for consonance, with a continuously increasing participation of consciousness.


THE RELIGIOUS INSTINCT. This instinct reflects various phases of its development which accompany, as it were, levels of the self-preservation and social instincts. We have here egocen-



Positive Disintegration


trism, religious egoism (quietism, narcissistic mysticism), an enhanced feeling of exclusiveness and jealousy in relation to the—Deity, an attitude of conviction that one is granted by the Deity exclusive rights over a more or less wide area, the bigoted, external, ceremonious attitude, the attitude of losing oneself in the church, as an exterior organization, with a simultaneous absence of the need for contact with the transcendental world. We observe eventually the Kierkegaardean attitude of “fear and trembling,” longing and hopelessness, awe and love, humility and supplication, growing objectivism and consonance, a losing of oneself in love and a “building” of good, with a simultaneous weakening of compassion for oneself and a continually animated compassion for others. We observe harmony between the feelings of our own dignity and smallness, between humility and pride, which is often connected with the phase of development of the intuitive, meditative, and contemplative faculties, which introduce the feeling of the reality of our bond with the transcendental world, of a psychic bond with the Absolute Being.


Consequently the development of the religious instinct must also overcome, in itself, the attitude of appearance, the external attitude, and reach the attitude of conflict, of dissociation, of the subject-object process in itself, of the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself and others, of the feeling of guilt and sin, and of the feeling that one has to go a long way to reach one's ideal. In this way the road to secondary integration is paved.





According to Mazurkiewicz (6) the cerebral cortex stores, by way of its selective functions, only those sets of sensations which awaken interest solely because they are pleasant or unpleasant. The emotions participate in the development of function, from the initial protopathic forms, which are localized in the thalamus and hypothalamus, to the higher forms, which have their center in the cerebral cortex.


(6) l. Mazurkiewicz. Dwoista funkcia ukadn nerwowege. (Dual function of the nervous system.) Rocznik Psychiatryczny, 1949



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


The observations of the affectional behavior of persons subjected to lobotomy are interesting. It has been confirmed that in instances of pains of a central type and of obsessions connected with them the operation does not abolish pain and does not even appease it, but destroys the emotional reactions to pain stimuli.


What light is cast by these two kinds of observations on the development of feelings? They seem to point primarily to the fact that the narrower the development of the animal hierarchy, the more enhanced are reactions to the pleasant and the unpleasant, to the painful and the pleasurable.


However, our observations also show that the level and quality of these reactions vary at different levels of culture. We may state, with certain reservations, that an individual with a highly developed personality is more sensitive to moral than to physical pain. We know that in torturing people this point of view was accepted, and two kinds of tortures were applied, depending on the cultural level of the tortured individual. There occurs, so to speak, a diminution of physiological sensitivity, and rather a transference of sensitivity and of the affective attitude associated with it, from a union with physical pain to a union with moral pain. At a higher level of development the role of the volitional factor in the endurance of pain increases.


What phenomena occur in the disintegrative processes in the area of fundamental feelings? We know that the processes of unilevel and multilevel disintegration coincide aril cannot be distinctly separated in their temporal development. In the case of the disintegration of feelings, these two fundamental mechanisms act almost simultaneously. As for integration in cases of hysteria, we deal with anesthetic areas; it is, therefore, easy to suggest the nonexistence of pain in cases where it is felt, and vice versa. There occurs here, therefore, a narrowing or widening of the pain-feeling area, and there is present a “changeability”—a transference of the pain-feeling area, depending on the suggestion.


There appears, furthermore, a phenomenon of another kind. Both in psychoneurotics and in many normal individuals we see in disintegrative phenomena an experiencing of fundamentally op-



Positive Disintegration


posite feelings, of pleasantness and unpleasantness, as mixed feelings, experienced at the same time.


In the case of multilevel disintegration, which is usually a long-lasting process, we are concerned with the passage of the affectional tone from one level to another, with a temporary linking together of disposing and directing centers of various levels. This passage may take place in the attitudes of mixed feelings, in the nearly simultaneous experiencing of unpleasantness and satisfaction, connected with one's awareness of stronger or weaker association with a given area or level. The resistance of “lower” stages, their strength—despite certain links they have with the center of a higher level—may result in states of aversion to and abomination for oneself, and thus in the experiencing of the feeling of pleasure or moral satisfaction, because, for example, of one's material misery and difficult situation, or in states of ecstasy in physical suffering. Ascetism, self-abomination, or suicide often reflect a lack of equilibrium in multilevel development. This process is seized by Sweboda in his writing about Weininger: “One likes the resistances which one overcomes, and dislikes those to which one succumbs.” Aversion, abomination, and negation in relation to one's “first self” and affirmation in relation to one's “second self” are the foundations for a variety of mixed emotions at various levels.(7)


Consequently, the concepts and experience of job satisfaction and happiness are, so to speak, multilevel, and they cannot be the only goals of life. They must be combined with other goals which taken together and considered on a high level of develop-



(7) The way in which the process occurs, and it occurs even with small children, may be illustrated by the example of a 3-year-old girl, P—. The child, who was emotionally very strongly attached to her father, from time to time screamed, and her screaming was detested by her fattier. When castigated by her father, she responded by saying, “Mommy is good”—this was because her mother did not react in the same way to her screaming. However, she immediately added, “Daddy is good.” This second remark was an obvious result of a confrontation of the deeply rooted feelings she had for her father with her temporarily hurt feelings and astonishment due to the unexpected severity of her father. A clear separation followed into two “selves,” one that was loved by her father and the one whose screaming he detested. When she wanted to cry she covered her mouth with her hand or she attempted, in her imagination, to “send” her screams to the sea, so as not to violate her feelings toward her father.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


ment can be expressed in personality and its ideal. In other words, satisfaction and happiness as goals of life must be viewed within the framework of a whole set of developmental goals, whose empirically accessible ideal is personality.


Therefore, the experiences of satisfaction of a multilevel nature must be the outcome of the process of disintegration. The necessity of accepting and experiencing the fact that often the factors which supply us with the most intensive feelings of satisfaction and joy become the source of most painful experiences transfers our expectations of “pure,” ultimate joy to the sphere of ideals. In reality, we assume complex emotional experiences, which are partly pleasant and partly unpleasant as something real and decisive for our development.


Therefore, a confusion of the unpleasant with the pleasant, an easy transmutation of the unpleasant into the pleasant, and vice versa, a simultaneous experiencing of unpleasantness and pleasantness in various areas of one's own disintegrated structure, introduces confusion and affectional tension. The primitive feelings lose their sharpness, undergo disintegration, pass into other, higher, structures, and this leads to their losing their self-dependence and character. We are dealing here, not only with the isolation of various levels of pleasantness and unpleasantness, but also with a gradual arising of other “subliminated” feelings, connected with the advent of new guiding values.


These guiding factors are represented b, a sense of the proper path of development, by one's ever greater participation in one's fate, by the feeling of a widening and deepening of one's consciousness and learning to know, increasingly more broadly, the internal and external reality. As we have already pointed out, this is the experiencing of a personal drama, of a tragedy, in which the elevated dominates the desperate, and the developmental dominates that which is being annihilated.




We come into contact with volition in all cases where two or more contradictory tendencies or acts come into collision. In the



Positive Disintegration


preparatory process of the act of volition imaginative acts, hesitations, resistances, the presentation of pros and cons of varying appeal, and finally the decision to perform a given act play a part. The acts of will are stronger, exertion when making the decision is greater as the contradictory tendencies become more equal in .strength. The intelligence then organizes, on both sides, its pros and cons, which are the instruments of emotional sets, arranged in various combinations in the changing, fluctuating current of the increasing struggle between tendencies. Where there is no struggle between tendencies, there is no act of volition. The purely intellectual choice, with the lack of a strong experiential component, not associated with the struggle and exertion to overcome the resistances, does not in fact concern the act of volition.


What is the actually arising act of volition? Does it only reflect the actually arisen set of incompatible intentions, without the background of many conflicts and struggles? Are the struggling tendencies just the actual reflection of the history of one's experiences engraved upon the memory of the human species, and before all of the history of experiences in a man's life cycle? We think that, as a rule, the act of volition is a serial, chain operation, connected with many conflicts, many resistances, many overcomings on the road to phylogenetic and ontogenetic development, with affectional memory accompanying this operation. This act reflects the emotional attitude connected with the psychophysical type of a given individual.


The act of volition arises, therefore, in the area in which other various acts of volition preceded it. It implies the division, loosening, and disintegration of two or more tendencies, some of which, with their anticipations, weaken or even vanish, and others consolidate, grow, and gather strength. The volitional act is, thus, one of the advanced hierarchical acts in a given area and in a given sphere, possessing a rich history in a smaller or larger sector of a given individual's life cycle.


The volitional act may concern external acts and internal resistances; its essence, however, is internal conflict. As we have already pointed out, the exertion of will increases when contradic-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


tory tendencies are almost equal in strength. In the pursuit of personality this exertion of will is a result of a struggle between the lower and the higher dynamisms. The exertion of volition may also reflect a very high tension, even when the lower levels are indeed clearly controlled, but the endeavor for the ideal, the need for binding oneself to and for unification with the higher hierarchy of values, is so great that the tension does not abate; instead the individual is “consumed” by the need for a “full” and complete denial of the lower levels of his personality. This tendency, which at its highly developed level could be called an instinct of death, aims periodically at the destruction of the individual's biological life, or at evoking sufferings in him, which would intensify his aspiration for the union with higher values. Such a state is characteristic of individuals who aim at perfection (St. Theresa). Such a state is described by Kierkegaard in Fear and Trembling (8) as obligatory for the man who would be “fearless amidst terror, passions and temptations of life, who should move forward along the path of faith, which, though steep and dangerous, will lead him to the goal. The faith must be calm, humble ready for sacrifices, sufferings and hardships. Silence, fear and trembling—this is how it is reflected. However, to attain such faith one must go through the wild and ghastly forest full of thistles and thorns, in which one must struggle along, after the fashion of Durer's knight, who is self-confident and trusting in God, whom he serves and whom he loves.” Such a state was experienced by St. Paul when he said that he was no more acting himself but was an instrument of God.


On the road to personality, volition will identify itself with an increasingly higher-rising disposing and directing center, just as it identified itself, at a lower level, with the self-preservation, fighting, power, and other instincts. The volitional acts in everyday life are particular reflections of these great forces.


At the lower levels of human life volition is not free, but it forms a whole with a drive which manifests itself as such with greater or lesser intensity in a wider or narrower area of individual or group life. Nietzsche sees this problem as follows:



(8) S. Kierkegaard. Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death. Translated by W. Lowrie. Garden City, N.J.: Doubleday, 1954.



Positive Disintegration


One man is dominated by a need in the form of a passion, another by the habit of obedience, a third by his logical conscience, and a fourth by a whim and licentious satisfaction, because of his deflection from the way. All of them, however, will seek freedom of their volition just where each of them is most strongly tied: this is as if the silkworm sought the freedom of its volition in the spinning of silk. Where does it come from? Obviously from the fact that everyone of us considers himself most free just where his feeling of life is the greatest, that is, as has been said, in passion, or in duty, or in cognition, or in licentiousness. (9)


At a higher level of development it is not the volition, but the personality that is free. In the first case “volition” reflects an integrated instinct or instincts. When these instincts lose their integrality, they begin to demonstrate clearly the action of volition. In the second case it reflects a psyche integrated at a higher level. In the period of disintegration it manifests itself in distractions and collisions and it is a function of disintegrated dynamisms, which tend to secondary integration, to personality; volition then becomes a function which ever more identifies itself with the very personality, and thereby becomes increasingly less “free.”




Experiences, observations, and self-observations lead us to a better consonance with various points of view, with various attitudes, methods of work, and with various types of mentality. We begin to develop, in ourselves, new receptivities, new attitudes, and new structures of mental activities. We begin to look retrospectively and prospectively on our own mental structure, on the history of our development, on our “black periods” which are not sensitive to certain mental stimuli, on our excessively developed unilateral structures. Through emotional tensions and analysis we begin to disintegrate solidified structures, and to make them sensitive multilaterally. We no more place confidence in our own judgments, in our own opinions. As Nietzsche puts it: “Never conceal from yourself and never pass over in silence in yourself


(9) F. Nietzsche. Bd. Der Wanderer and sein Sehatten. (Wanderer and His Shadow.) Stuttgart: Kroner, 1921.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


that which could be thought against your thoughts. Swear it to yourself. This is the primal honesty in thinking. Every day you must struggle with yourself. Every victory and every rampart captured no longer concerns you, but the truth concerns you, and also all your setbacks no longer concern you.” (10)


Then we have a certain hierarchy of needs which we expand, increase, analyze, disintegrate, subordinating anew one to the others, while we ever more surely seize the principal lines of our development. We may, therefore, say that our needs change with the development of personality. The needs connected with our aspirational and affectional structure, integrated at a low level, begin to weaken in favor of broader, more universal needs based on retrospection and prospection.


New needs reshape the former ones and dissolve their tenacity. The needs for biological preservation are transformed into self-preservation needs in the suprabiological sense; sexual needs succumb to the domination of factors of friendship and exclusive bond; and the social needs pass from the phase of distinguishing oneself and dominating in the social group into needs of adapting oneself to the group. The needs of societal life are transformed into a deep syntony with an ability to sacrifice oneself. It results in the development of the attitude of understanding and love.


In connection with these processes the intelligence ceases to be coupled with protopathic emotionality, with primitive subcortical emotionality but, after the dissolution of conjugations with the forms mentioned and after the phase of disintegration, it conjugates gradually with higher forms of the aspirational and affectional structures and remains at their services. This is a transition from the phase of intelligence at the service of instincts to the phase of intelligence at the service of personality. This new conjugation of intelligence weakens the tendency to commit errors arising from reasoning corrupted by instincts, weakens the subjective attitude in judgments, removes egocentrism and the tendency to bring forth those arguments in polemics which,



(10) F. Nietzsche. Morgenrothe. (The Morning Star.) Stuttgart: Kroner, 1921.



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through an unskillful grouping, give the appearances of truth, throwing light only on part of it.


The intelligence, when acting in the service of personality, and when coupled with understanding and love, provides a basis for objectivity, broadens one's horizons of thought, increases the capacity for knowing people, and removes obscurity caused by the instincts. This approach is in conformity with the content of the chapter on love from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians: “Love does not do anything indecent, does not look for its own gain, is not quick-tempered, does not think evil, does not enjoy seeing injustice but enjoys seeking truth.” In contradistinction to the conjugations of intelligence with instincts, where, as a rule, one does not seek the objective right but one's “own” right, the new conjugation of intelligence consequently leads to objectivity in thinking.


This frequency of conjugations of the instinctive attitude with intelligence, or the personality attitude with intelligence, and the effects of the conjugations, are responsible for the opinion of many persons that logic is of little value, either in research or in practical matters—logic which is, as it were, cut off, abstracted from the multilevel aspirational and affectional factors.


On the basis of the above considerations we may say that, on the way from a primitive structure to the cultural personality, we pass, in the domain of thinking, through the manifestations of a loosening and disintegration of mental_ structures. We pass from thinking entirely united with the primitive forms of instinctive activities, to thinking fluctuating in gnostic forms, such as magic, to prelogical thinking, to logically conjugated thinking, and then to the loosening of each of these forms of thinking. As the higher structure develops, these loosened forms combine into a whole, into a higher synthesis, into a uniform creative resultant of particular forms of thinking at their highest level. The very “operation of thinking,” as defined by Dewey, “begins from a situation, which we may call a crossroad, from a vague position which presents a dilemma and shows different alternatives” (11)—that is, it represents certain processes of disintegration.



(11) J. Dewey. How We Think. Boston: D. C. Heath & Co., 1933.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


We have already pointed out that the activities of intelligence, the activities of thinking, are instrumental activities of the aspirational and affectional dynamisms. Disintegration of these dynamisms disintegrates also the thinking activities connected with them. Love, unselfishness, conscious ability to sacrifice oneself, contemplative ability, all purify, elevate, and broaden our thinking, introducing it to a more objective area; they widen our horizons of thinking, weaken the factor of the lower passions and cunning, which are associated with the basic instinctive dynamisms.


Should one infer from these considerations that an individual who does not pass through disintegration and is at the level of primitive integration cannot be a good mathematician, physicist, technician, and so forth? Such a statement would not be sufficiently justified. We may say that he will be a scholar with a narrow mind, that he will possess much more restricted creative possibilities than a person who has passed through the phase of disintegration, that his conceptions, his general assumptions will be insufficient, built too closely into his life's interests, without the possibility of separating them from their primitive structure, the level which will be reflected in the area of his scientific work.


Let us now stop to think for a moment about the problem of creative intelligence. Let us pose a question: what is creative, the intelligence or the whole personality of the creator? What is the process of development of creativity, at what moments is it evoked, and what are the conditions accompanying the advent of ideas? Of course, here we can make only some sketchy remarks. To the first question we can answer that, in general, the share of the creator's whole personality is proportional to the depth and extent of the creative processes. The advent of a creative idea, the development of a creative process, contains in itself several fundamental elements: an intensification of attention, the workings of thought within the scope of a given problem, the unrest that accompanies the advent of ideas and the lack of sufficient elements for their development, states of general mental and psychic disequilibrium, and states of irritation and enhanced excitability.(12) Very often after this period there ensues a phase, as



(12) Dewey, op. cit., p. 201.



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it were, of separation from the spontaneity of the creative process; there comes a period of calming down, of “rest,” not infrequently of meditation and contemplation, sometimes a period of turning one's back, for a certain time, on a given area of one's interests. The creative idea usually arises in the first period, and develops in the second, though this is not always the case. There are creators with such wide interest, with such creative passion, that the above-outlined process goes on almost permanently. In many other cases we come into contact with longer or shorter intervals, with “nights of the soul” in creativity, analogous to such intervals in general psychic development. (13) We often observe the ebb and tide of creativity. A great flow of creativity, changing direction, reach, subject, and level of the creativity, often follows after great defeats in life. Freshness of creativity, frequency and originality of ideas are often found in the essence of such psychic structures as certain types of infantile structure, with an enhanced excitability of various kinds, with fluctuating feelings of inferiority and superiority, excitement and depression, and internal conflicts (Sowacki). In any case, the process of disintegration seems to be at the root of great “inflorescences” of creativity, in which the struggle of contradictory sets of tendencies, an inadaptability to reality, a disposition to prospection and retrospection, dynamisms of one's ideal, all play a fundamental role, particularly when it comes to poetic, literary, plastic, and philosophical creativity, to say nothing of reformatory creativity in the realm of religion and education.


It appears that the developmentally positive process of disintegration entails rather essential changes in mental structure and operations, which are reflected in (1) a more creative character of mental operations; (2) a weakening of exclusively formal thinking, and a weakening of tendencies to coarctation; (3) a stronger conjunction of mental operations with the whole personality of an individual; and (4) the equilibrium of analytical and synthetic attitudes in thinking.



(12) “When a mind is penetrated by the feeling of a real anxiety (no matter how this feeling is produced), such a mind livens up and becomes penetrating, for it is excited internally.” Dewey, op. cit., p. 201.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration




Within the process of religious perfection take place such disintegrative manifestations as asceticism, meditation, contemplation, religious syntony, and other metaphysical and religious experiences (the problem of good and evil, sin, conscience, free will, reward and punishment, and grace).


Asceticism in the present meaning of the term consists in the dampening of natural instincts with a view to attaining a higher goal, usually of a religious and moral character. We see in ascetic practices a clearly conscious introduction of multilevel disintegration into the process of self-perfection, through a multilevel struggle between soul and body, between instincts and higher aspirations. In the Eleusinian mysteries the role of ecstasy was to purify a man of lower elements. Greek asceticism was connected with philosophical inquiry and a conviction that two elements exist in man (changeable matter and unchangeable form). Christian asceticism was a resultant of Jewish practices in abstinence, Eastern and Greek influences, and chiefly, of the principles taught by Christ, supported by His life and death. Individuals practicing ascetism manifested, on one side, enormous sensitivity to the ideal and its realization, and on the other, very strong sensual experiences, and affectional and sensual excitability. The ability to reshape oneself through positive disintegration was characterized by developmental “compulsion,” by the necessity of overpassing the thus far attained level, and by the insufficiency of “real” experiences. Ascetic exercises and struggles with the instincts made one capable of separating oneself from one's lower level.


Meditation and contemplation are forms often preparing an individual for secondary integration. Meditation makes one learn internal observation, to reflect on the essence of one's spirit, on the complexity of one's psychic structure, and on the transcendental world. Contemplation is a process of bringing oneself in touch with the transcendental values, of separating from the instinctive structure, of gathering psychic and moral strength for one's internal reshaping. In contemplation a process of knowing the higher reality, through love, sets in.



Positive Disintegration


Through the growth in strength of various forms of sensitivity to the effects of one's own instinctive acts which injure others, E through the overcoming of interest in oneself, and through the development of keenness in relation to the needs of others, an attitude of syntony which fundamentally differs from the attitude of adaptability is born and developed. Adaptability is an “as if” attitude, an attitude falsifying the resistances of instinctive structures in the name of “interest.” Syntony is a capacity for coexistence and reflects an easy and liberal dispensing of love.


Finally, let us investigate the participation of developmental disintegration in the shaping of such metaphysical and religious concepts and attitudes as the concept of good and evil, sin, conscience, free will, reward and punishment, and grace.


In the concept of good and evil we distinguish that which is actually good or evil, temporarily, from that which is apparently evil or good at a higher level. Denial of actual “goods” and “evils” leads to confusion in the protopathic feelings of pleasures and unpleasantness. Under these circumstances one is convinced, not that this is good because it is pleasant, but that what is evolutional and what one approves in his structure is good. Evil is that which is involutional, what we do not want in us, though it is pleasant.


The appearance of the feeling that one is committing a sin (“sin phase”) foreshadows the turning point in the moral development of man. This is a period during which one passes from a full instinctive integration to a gradual multilevel disintegration (feeling of guilt, shame, responsibility). Hesitations, decisions to retire, and inhibition of pressure on the part of instincts develop one's self-awareness and are accompanied by the feeling of internal collision, by the feeling that one descends to a level lower than that which one thinks most proper for himself—that is, with the experiencing of sin. We may say that at the level of primitive instinctive integration there is no sin, but only offenses and evil. At the level of positive disintegration we experience the feeling of sin and misdemeanor. On the other hand, at the level of secondary integration there is no evil or misdemeanor, but a strong feeling of sin.


Conscience reflects the disintegration of “pro” and “con” tendencies. This is Socrates's daimonion, considerably modified by



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


Freud's censure, reflecting the conflict between “I” and “not I,” between “more I” and “less I”; this is the voice of appreciation of what is evil and what is good, what is sin and what is not sin, and what is evolutional and what is involutional. This is a developing dynamism of negation, confirmation, and anticipation of development.


In the psychophysiological structure of man, the problem of “free will” arises only at the level of disintegrative, introspective activities. One can hardly speak of free will in almost automatic instinctive attitudes. In man's cycle of development we may speak rather of the process of “growing richer” in freedom. The development of man proceeds from biological determination to psychological indeterminacy (the phase of developmental disintegration) and then to secondary moral “determination” (the secondary phase). We may, therefore, say that in the middle phase we have an unsteady will, and in both extreme phases free will experientially does not exist.


As the personality develops, punishment and reward become increasingly more introverted, internal, and become ever more independent of external sanctions. More and more often, punishment takes the form of “pangs of conscience,” a coupling of volition with low aspirations, a feeling of going away from the ideal. On the contrary, reward takes the form of the feeling of leaving the instinctive couplings, of an ever better anticipation of the effects of one's action, and ever stronger unity with the ideal.


In the drama of development, in the phase of disintegration, in the phase of struggle and internal conflicts, in descents and ascents, in negations and confirmations, the glimmer of calm, of harmony, of a union with the higher disposing and directing center, are described as the action of grace. This may reveal itself in a sudden understanding of a certain truth by way of illumination or intuitive insight, by an impulse to such a deed, behavior, or saying as would not be effected when one exerts consciously his intellect or volition, or retrospective action when the coincidence of events actually not understood, difficult, or painful, is positively estimated from the perspective of time.



Positive Disintegration






As we know from previous chapters the term integration denotes an integrated structure and activities more or less well organized and subordinated to the disposing and directing center.


We may be dealing with global integrations, embracing the whole psychic structure of an individual, or with partial integrations, concerning structures and activities in a narrower area, embracing a certain sphere of instinctive dynamisms. In the psychic structure we may have one or more integrating sets performing integrative activities in a given man. Such partial integrations, within a sphere of a given set of qualities and dynamisms, usually points to a simultaneous disintegration of a wider area, sometimes embracing almost the whole structure of a given individual.


From the temporal point of view we may come into contact with integrating stabilization, global or partial, or with periodic integration, which, after some time, undergoes anew a loosening or dissolution. This form of integration takes place, in most cases, with the fundamental, wider process of disintegration, embracing usually the structural and experiential area in which take place prospective projections, partial and global reshaping actions of the personality ideal, longer or shorter “pauses” of the disposing and directing center in a higher or lower area, or a temporary return to the level of primary integration, during which the organization or shaping of the attained phase takes place. When the “pauses” at the primitive level are too long, there occurs a strong affectional shock, which compensates for this “stopping” by the feeling of guilt, sin, dissatisfaction with oneself, shame. Such temporary integration is, therefore, unsteady and usually reflects a more or less short-lived process in the wider area of the positive disintegration process.


Pathological integration concerns structures in which the disposing and directing center is formed by a strong and usually narrow set of instincts, the action of which makes an individual



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


“deaf” and “blind” to other impulses, other forms of reaction, and to dynamisms other than the narrow and usually strong disposing and directing center just mentioned. Such integrations may be exemplified, in the first place, by psychopathic integration, which represents an integrated aspirational and affectional structure, within which a given individual does not possess sufficient impulses for inhibiting his own strong instinctive dynamisms, and, secondly, by integration of paranoidal or similar dynamisms, in which the disposing and directing center is formed a by a set of delusions of superiority and persecution, with a strongly enhanced feeling of one's own value, which does not permit one to control his own behavior because of nonadmittance of the controlling influence of the external environment.




Let us consider so-called secondary integration. Such integration, in its fundamental form, is a new, tenacious system of structures and activities, which arises after a long or short, more or less global loosening or disintegration of a former structure in a given individual.


Secondary integration as a recurrence to primary integration in perfected forms


As we have already repeatedly mentioned, individuals with a narrow scope of interests, with a narrow and a rather simple sensitivity, individuals with “narrow horizons” in thinking and in aspirational and affectional activities may undergo disintegrative processes of a rather special character. An individual of a similar type may realize a clearly laid out line of life in a consequent, continuous, and strong way; he may advance in the direction of the attainment of this or that hierarchy of aims, such as attaining a position, a professional, social, material, or personal rank, which would give him satisfaction, would enhance his self-esteem and would satisfy the tension of the fundamental instinctive needs. In view of weak plasticity or its total absence, in view of the weakness or absence or sublimating nuclei and mechanisms, in view of the absence of sufficient capabilities for internal re-



Positive Disintegration


shapings, serious injuries, disappointments, a loss of fundamental possibilities of development in a fairly clearly determined direction may bring about a breakdown of a given individual's line of life, a breakdown in the possibilities of realizing his aims. There may then arise a serious reactive state which sometimes leads to suicide or to mental disease (due to a lack of other psychic possibilities for getting out of the situation).


In rare cases, an individual of the type just mentioned can experience and reflect upon the developed situation and, after much effort, he may effect certain, usually not too far-reaching modifications of his own line of life, as, for example, a completion of studies, a move to a profession closely resembling the one in which he was engaged, a change of environment, and so forth. These will be, as we have said, rather superficial modifications, or reshapings which in fact will not change the fundamental form of his line of life. We are dealing here with a process of secondary integration in more or less perfected forms, but without a substantial reshaping of the fundamental instinctive and intellectual structure or of the main directions and aims of activity. This is to a large extent an apparent secondary integration, and, strictly speaking, a recurrence to primary integration with not very essential modifications.


Secondary integration in the form of a new, but not a higher hierarchy of aims


We come into contact with this type of secondary integration in a great majority of cases of psychophysical reshapings, connected with developmental periods, and primarily with the maturation and climacteric periods.


A considerable majority of changes in the period of maturation consist of psychophysical changes in which a fundamental component, a “new thing” in the psychic life, becomes important, namely the sexual instinct. These new forces reorganize the whole psyche of an individual and form new disposing and directing centers. They organize new needs, a new hierarchy of aims, new sensitivities. However, in the majority of cases, the psychic richness, after the maturation period, decreases considerably as compared with the richness of that period. The nuclear



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


inclinations to self-criticism, to dissatisfaction with oneself, very often vanish, and the sensitivity to values and needs of other people weakens. It results in a gradual stiffening of psychic structures and dynamisms around the new disposing and directing centers. The individual engaged in social and professional life finds his place, so to speak, brings into play “ripe” forms of the self-preservation instinct, of the fighting and aggression instincts, and similar ones, and realizes them, more or less strongly, in participation with the newly arisen and developing driving forces. With respect to moral value, value of ideals, internal refashioning, and the extent of sensitivity in relation to the external and internal environments, there are, in fact, no essential changes. The new instincts which arise and act are really new, but their level, their capacity for reshaping, and their richness does not differ greatly from the former genotypic driving forces.


The changes of dominants in the climacteric period has a somewhat different character. This is usually an unpleasant period of adaptation to new demands made on a man by society and family. A gradually increasing handicapping of the strength of professional social, and intellectual capacities, a weakening of the sexual instinct, are often compensated for by an increase in tutelary tendencies. The self-preservation instinct adopts, in fact, the attitude of ekklisis, of retreat, of subordination, and of soliciting favors from stronger people. Components of the weakening of the psychophysical forces, in the form of regression to the period lived through, arise or are accentuated; rumination appears, new self-indulgencies arise or gain strength, and a stereotyped pattern reveals itself. One's vigor weakens, and the awareness of the necessity of one's retreat from dominating positions may bring about a psychic and psychophysical breakdown which causes or deepens the inclination to general sickness. Psychic disturbances are often the result, and sometimes, though not as frequently as in the maturation period, this process may result in suicide.


A frequently observed solution to the difficulties under such circumstances is secondary integration, effected to some extent in the form of usually primitive compensations, virtually pressed upon one, necessarily new, but not higher in the hierarchy of



Positive Disintegration


aims. Also a frequently observed solution is psychophysiological retreating and withdrawing, with or without the participation of morbid disintegration.


The way out of the situation that is least often observed is secondary integration following a full, conscious reshaping of one's aspirational and affectional structure, of one's thus far existing hierarchy of aims, and of one's attitude toward the environment. The latter form of solving the difficulties is, however, not brought about simply by a reaction to changes, which are characteristic of the climacteric period, but is based on distinct developmental nuclei, distinct personality nuclei, which existed and made themselves dynamic before that period, and for which the climacteric period comprised only one of the determinants.


Secondary integration in the form of a new structure with a new hierarchy of values


This kind of secondary integration belongs to processes which are usually the effects of a more or less strong, or of a more or less long-lasting, all-embracing multilevel disintegration. We have repeatedly shown that this integration consists in fundamental changes in one's own internal milieu, in one's own attitude toward the environment, and in the working of one's consciousness. This form of secondary integration is based, on the one hand, on the attainment of independence by the psyche, which oscillates around a clearly realized and dynamic personality ideal, and on the other hand, on experiential conquests obtained in the process of multilevel disintegration.


In factual changes and in the experiential processes accompanying them, one level of reality is distinctly disapproved, denied, and abandoned, while the other becomes strong, essential, and cardinal. The “new” arises partly by way of distinguishing in the “old” that which is essential, permanent, and valuable from that which is apparent, impermanent, and possessing no value. Eventually, that which is of little value is gradually repudiated, and that which is new and valuable is gradually brought from the background to the foreground.


In its global form, the process of secondary integration occurs



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


rather rarely. It takes place with persons who are “prepared” for it, universally sensitive, and who possess a distinct developmental readiness. This process is often shaped by poignant experiences, suffering, and failures in life. It is shaped from the personality nuclei, by way of the realization of a program of internal perfection set by oneself which is continually made dynamic by one's feeling of the multilevel character of reality, and by the feeling of reality of a higher dimension. This process is most often observed with outstanding persons, the moral leaders of societies.




Reshaping of the unordered disintegrative process into an ordered and ever more consciously controlled process


The development of a man proceeds from instincts in their primitive forms to the globally conceived instinct of development, through a more or less partial, more or less strong disintegration of the preceding structural form. Unpleasant experiences which one has while realizing primitive instinctive needs cause a loosening of this primitive structure, the advent of inhibition, fear, reflection, deliberation; of course, this is so when the nuclei of development in the direction of secondary integration also exist. The gnostic structure gradually liberates itself from the primary whole; the feelings often diverge from the instincts; there arise and develop new instincts, new dynamisms, superstructures of the former, opposing their mother dynamisms.


New experiences are accompanied by the attitude of caution by fully examining new situations to prevent reacting on a lower level as one might have in a similar past experience. Other, usually disagreeable experiences felt on one's way to the realization of the primitive instinct enhance this state and lead to a kind of “emergency corps” being brought into play, in the service of new experiences; on the other hand, the experiences cause the advent and development of a prospective attitude, an attitude that anticipates difficulties, an attitude of considering the situation, and of



Positive Disintegration


checking under what circumstances one could realize his tendencies at a later time, without now going through unpleasant experiences. But, one's realization that there are unpleasant things which cannot be omitted, that experiencing them is necessary for the realization of one's aims, reflects the appearance of the factor of awareness in the process of disintegration. This conscious factor causes, therefore, the creation of a certain hierarchy in the process of those experiences which occur in the realization of instinctive needs. It also leads an instinct to a further disintegration through a strengthening of the gnostic factor and through the introduction of an ambivalent factor into the scope of affectional reactions—that is, through the introduction of complications into the structure and dynamisms of feelings (namely, the factor of mixed feelings). Important here is the participation of increasingly more distinct dynamisms of the personality ideal, which accentuates the developmental interest of an individual to the detriment of his actual and usually narrow aims. The person in times of unanticipated difficulty or stress will utilize dynamisms such as self-sufficiency, introspection, memory of similar difficulties that were surmounted, and the like in order to handle new threatening developments.


The factors of unrest, fighting, and conflict are no longer regarded as negative, but are accepted in many cases as positive; often they are even deepened in order to beset and reject more fully the primitive structure. The feelings of guilt; sin; inferiority are often deepened; one does not look for the causes of feelings of inferiority and injury in others, but primarily in oneself. In relation to suffering one does not adopt an exclusively negative attitude, but begins to accept it as something that has meaning, as essential for cultural development, and as a necessary element of one's psychic enrichment. There arises a conviction that it is better to have had difficult biosocial conditions than to resign, by way of improper compromise, from moral and world-outlook values. The venting of one's instincts in the form of affectional outbursts, or the strong, conscious stifling of these instincts, is now considered permissible and necessary. The feeling of void and “otherness” is not considered simply a symptom of a sickness, but each set of symptoms is differentiated by virtue of its



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


meaning, causes, and aims, and one comes to the conclusion that the set is often positive.


In states of depression a man does not always aim at removing the conditions that brought it about, but at a deeper association with them (in contrast to the stereotyped advice that one should change his conditions of living immediately after the death of a close relative). In relation to phantasy, dream, exorbitant prospections, there is a tendency, not to diminish their strength and scope, but to mentally elaborate and deepen them. In relation to dreams during sleep one does not come to a belief that they reflect suppressed wishes or are manifestations of an archaic structure, but one asks the question whether they are not a reflection of a widened consciousness, beyond the actual sphere, and of the moral reshapings of personality. This is an attitude of frequent seizure by the consciousness of the developmental inner life, which overruns the framework of actual reality, a reality consisting of a narrow system of stimuli and receptors, and of the framework of biological causality.


The appearance of the integrating factor and conditions for its consolidation


The phase of the entry of a conscious factor into the process of disintegration characterized above is not limited to the strengthening of disintegrative processes taking place thus far by the conscious work of an individual. Simultaneously, there arises and develops an integration process, which might be called the process of secondary integration, and this because it is integrative and not reparative; its work is not restitutory, but one which reshapes and integrates one at a higher level. This integrating factor is represented by the developmental instinct which, in its fundamental reshaping positions, manifests the strength of an instinct, in the sense of a force that increasingly overcomes the personality. We have already pointed out that the primitive instincts, when possessing a proper disposition, and after the periods of disintegration, reshape into higher instincts, or superinstincts; the reshaping, of course, takes place through the primitive instincts' being complicated by the impact of gnostic, affectional factors, self-awareness, and the self-affirmed and self-educating



Positive Disintegration


unity of fundamental psychic properties—that is, by the impact of personality.


In the opinion of Mazurkiewicz (14) the factors that perform this work of reshaping a man, leading him from the primitive instincts to higher levels of development, are the feelings that lead “ to the shaping of character. As Mazurkiewicz puts it: “The longest developmental stage (lasting about 2 decades) of the ‘upward' wandering of the cortical processes of a man is this last stage of the cortical engraphia of the individual in the process of shaping his character. The exceptionally long duration of the process is understood when we consider the hard work which must be done at this stage and which consists in a loosening of those immensely strong ties found in the instinctive subcortical mechanisms.”


This loosening and breaking of strong instinctive ties is, of course, considerably stronger, more thorough, and firm with persons developing their character, and later their personality, through disintegration.


In what does the process of the secondary integration of tendencies which are in disintegration consist? This secondary integration consists of a reshaping, the primitive instincts being elevated to a higher hierarchical level through the multidimensional process of disintegration, through the self-preservation instinct receptors' being made sensitive to supraspecies stimuli, through the complication of the affectional structures and activities (mixed feelings), and through the participation and extension of the cognitive elements in inhibitory actions.


The nuclei of secondary integration may have already been manifested during the entire process of disintegration and may have taken part in it by a preparation of the future form, integrated at a higher level. These nuclei are the feeling of dissatisfaction, discouragement, of protest in connection with external and internal conditions, which comes as a “surprise” to a given individual in his mental work and affectional experiences. On the other hand, these nuclei are formed by the need for and the feeling of something “new” which comes from the higher hierarchy



(14) J. Mazurkiewicz. Zarys fizjologiczny terorii uczuc. (Physiological outline of the theory of feelings.) Rocznik Psychiatryczny, 1927.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


of values and which becomes a part of the gradually created personality ideal, and is anticipated and seized by the individual. These nuclear structures and states create or enhance the sensitivity of a man to his external and internal environments, cause changes in the structure of the primitive instincts and slowly accentuate their higher levels. The attitude of negation arises in relation to the lower levels of the external and internal environments; frequent selective acts appear and the attitude of the confirmation of values forming new tenacious structures arises. States of high tension in life and development crises which take place in the process mentioned usually cause a strong need for removing oneself from this situation by the remolding of one's structure.


With the intensification of secondary integration, the inner psychic tensions, the process of the “ascent” and “descent” of the disposing and directing center in one's own inner milieu, the conflicts, all weaken, but there develops in one, on the other hand, an alertness to dangers based on a strong engraphia, a strong affective memory, connected with dramatic moments in the history of the individual's development or experiences.


An example of secondary integration in the full meaning of this term is the psychic integrative process in the developmental drama of Wladislaw Dawid, an outstanding Polish psychologist, who, after a personal tragedy, after a period of disintegrative confusion, developed in himself a new structure with a new disposing and directing center regrouping his principal interests, his methods of work, his world outlook, in what he himself and his closest friends estimated to be a reflection of a higher form of development. The process entailed the mobilization of considerably greater moral forces, a strengthened and developed alterocentrism, and it tied his personal life and his new world outlook into an inseparable whole.


Michelangelo, genius that he was, is an example of an unfinished process of disintegration and secondary integration which reflect the process of negation in relation to actual reality, and the gradual formation of the attitude of affirmation in relation to the arising reality of a higher dimension, with participation of the



Positive Disintegration


negation and death instincts, as well as the self-affirmation and perfection instincts.


What then, in conclusion, is the process of secondary integration? As we have already shown, the nuclei of secondary integration transform themselves into a fully developed new structure, into a new function of reality, drawing its strength from an increasingly more distinct personality ideal and from a realized personality. In the further phase of the disintegration process, an increasingly more conscious factor takes part and orders the thus far automatic and chaotic course of the phenomena. Ambivalences, struggles, conflicts, states of depression and elevation, feelings of inferiority and superiority expand and deepen one's psyche, remold the nuclei of a half-conscious personality, which is still dependent upon the “owner” of the processes taking place in it, upon the directing force. A sublimated affectional structure, superinstincts, a growing self-awareness bind the precedent attitude with the succeeding one through the actual attitude, form a new structure with a new hierarchy of aims, and allow a new multidimensional method of enriching the personality—self-education.


The process of secondary integration, therefore, leads the psyche to the level of a secondary, superinstinctive structure, the feelings, intelligence, and volition of which act in unison, with a large degree of instinct like infallibility but at a considerably higher hierarchical level.



4. Methods of Shaping Personality






IT MAY BE SEEN from our former considerations that personality, conceived dynamically and teleologically, is an aim and, at the same time, an effect of the process of positive disintegration. In other words, positive disintegration, when developing correctly, leads to the building of personality and to the realization of its ideal.


The main task in the shaping of a concrete personality is understanding, by proper persons, in the environment, of the individual's “personality” by its indicators (e.g., tendencies for introversion, creativity, sensitivity, etc.), that is, in its not yet shaped characteristics which are, however, susceptible to development, and in its disintegrative dynamisms revealed in the initial phase


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Methods of Shaping Personality


(e.g., feelings of inferiority, guilt, disquietude). At the same time both the person desiring to shape a different personality and, to a lesser extent, the object of his educational efforts must, though not in the same measure, set individual programs of personality shaping.


For this purpose it is necessary to distinguish with the individual possessing personality indicators:


1. The characteristics which are to be shaped


2. The nuclei of disintegrative dynamisms, that is, the fundamental instruments of the shaping process


3. The internal and external conditions for this shaping, such as age, sex, developmental period, type, the level of intelligence and its individual structure, family, school, and other factors which may distinctly influence the development of personality.


We have already pointed out above that in the elementary period of the development of personality the brunt of its shaping is borne by the educator, but always with the participation of the individual, at least in the beginning of self-educational work, the scope and level of which should be rather strictly measured by the educator.


Seizure of the above-mentioned personality indicators by the individual, by an educational team, in their peculiar form, in their mutual arrangement in connection with the individual's period of development, is fundamental, not only for the development of the individual himself, but also for the whole society, since the possession of the greatest possible number of matured personalities by a society is decisive for its proper development, for its place in the family of societies, for its future.


Every individual with personality indicators should be shaped accordingly. An opinion, frequently expressed, is that individuals possessing personality indicators “discover” themselves after some time and, possessing as a rule creative capacities, can cope with their own development. We have, however, observed very many cases of vitiated development, one-sided development, and serious mental diseases which arose when an individual with personality indicators was not given proper help in his development.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


Therefore, although self-education is the main method of the development of personality, aid in this development by a competent person is advisable, and often necessary.






The fundamental method for the development of personality is self-education. This is so because it is only when an individual attempts to understand and experience, even in a way that is incomplete and intuitional, the main problems of individual and social life, that he reveals a deepened attitude toward more important realities in his environment. Only then may he actively assume an attitude toward himself and his environment.


Of course, the process of self-education may be more one-sided or more full, more or less conscious, more or less deepened. It is clear that with children and young people, and even with persons possessing a distinct disposition for self-education, the self-educational process is weak and fluctuates in intensity and depth, in various periods, and is clearly a partial process. As the personality develops this process becomes increasingly more stable and more conscious and it is deepened. Nevertheless, during the whole development of the personality, unconscious, changing factors which depend on various compositions of the internal and external environments take part in this process.


Slowly, as the process of positive disintegration correctly develops, the individual attempts, on the one hand through deliberation, and on the other through the participation of strong emotional and volitional dynamisms, to introduce a more or less changeful progress and plans for his own development; he tries to grasp the importance of the need for becoming conscious of the hierarchy in his own inner milieu, of making it dynamic, and of starting work on his development.


Self-education must, therefore, be based on the seizure of mul-



Methods of Shaping Personality


tilevel values in oneself and on the previously described dynamisms of multilevel disintegration. The diagnosis of the internal hierarchy of values in oneself and of the hierarchical dynamization of one's own structure is, therefore, the basis for self-education. It is based on an ever fuller, an ever broader, and consequently on an increasingly more conscious seizure of that which is “lower” and “higher” in us, of that which is more valuable and less valuable, of that which should be eliminated and of that which should be retained and developed. Consequently, self-education implies a certain structural and dynamic dualism—that is, it entails the dynamism of the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself, the “subject-object in oneself” dynamism, many other dynamisms being brought into play.


These precise dynamisms decide the question of one's passage from the state of “being educated” to the state of self-education.


The development of personality, as we see it, is usually a slow process (although there are exceptional cases of sudden “jumps” in development, and “revelation,” as it were, of the personality), in which it comes to self-awareness, self-affirmation and self-education, slowly and partially.


This ripe phase, as it were, is preceded, as we have said, by innumerable experiences, seemingly of little importance, which disappear into the subconscious, wait for new experiences and a new summation of them, and then, in moments most suitable for the development of personality, appear in a more mature form, “consolidate,” and are consciously included in a more or less distinct program of self-education.


Beginning from the unconscious dynamic attitudes of a small child, expressed by the attitude “I by myself,” through the more conscious but poorly calculated attitudes of a young man, expressed by the saying, “Although this is very difficult, I shall get through it myself,” we pass to a clearly developing personality, in which the main dynamisms are realized and affirmed, difficulties better calculated, and one incessantly makes determined efforts to develop oneself. The process of self-education is a trying process of humanizing oneself through positive disintegration.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration




We will present here, in a very concise form, the conditions for self-education, placing great stress on some of the necessary internal conditions. As for the question of age, we must bear in mind that, with very few exceptions, we cannot speak of a distinct process of the shaping of personality in the period before maturation.


Nevertheless it is of paramount importance to seize even faint traces of personality indicators with a small child or with a child of preschool or school age. We have already pointed to the period of contradictoriness.


The period of maturation is most suitable for the shaping of personality, but it also presents a great danger of the weakening or destruction of disintegrative processes.


With respect to the problem of which psychological types are most prone to development, our observations point to a more frequent appearance of personality indicators with schizothymic, introverted types than with the opposite types.(1) Among the types of increased psychic excitability, the most susceptible to positive disintegration processes and consequently to the development of personality are types with increased affectional and imaginative excitability.


One cannot think about the proper shaping of personality without considering the above-mentioned typological structure and without watching the positive possibilities of acting upon it. It should be stressed here that for the development of personality psychic “plasticity,” within the framework of a given type, is of a greater importance than the concrete typological traits. In any event the determination of the type of an individual (and acting upon reshaping of a type) constitutes a very important condition for educational work.


Internal conditions of the development of personality would



(1) Schizothymic is Kretschmer's term. It refers to an asthenic bodily type having such psychic characteristics as theoretical rather than practical abilities, difficulties in contact with people, and some tendency for internal conflict.



Methods of Shaping Personality


include certain intellectual equipment, namely, various kinds of qualities and intellectual difficulties, connected functionally with the oscillation of the disposing and directing center “upward,” that is, to a higher level. Our most recent extensive investigations of the correlation between outstanding capabilities and psychoneurotic Symptoms show that a higher level of Intellectual and artistic interests and capabilities correlate positively to about 80 per cent of subjects with light psychoneurotic sets. We shall not consider more intensely at this point the matter of sex; according to our observations sex is not an essential problem' in the development of personality, although the direction, rate, and scope of the development are in some measure dependent on this factor.


In the first part of this work we have pointed to the importance of external factors, “constellatory” factors and environmental influences, which facilitate or hamper the development of personality. We shall not further discuss these problems at this point. We shall only recall the fact that excessively bad material conditions of living or, on the other hand, too good material conditions, weaken the possibilities of the development of personality in its early phase. Furthermore, in a child's life too rigid educational conditions or those not liberal enough, in the surrounding reality, are considered negative phenomena in the development of personality. They constitute a great obstacle in the initial period of development, and cease to present an obstacle when this development is well advanced.


The fundamental conditions for the shaping of an individual's personality are what fate brings to him, what injuries befall him, what errors are made in his education, the presence and influence of somebody from the environment who is qualified to help him in the development of personality. Various kinds of frustrations, separations, complexes, and “lost complexes” usually constitute very important elements in the development of psychoneuroses in children and adults, and particularly neuroses characterized by anxiety or obsession. On the other hand, in the presence of reactions that help in the “correct” experiencing of such injuries, they may constitute a positive element in the development of personality.


We will speak in the next chapter of the importance of an



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


adviser who can, in proper moments, help one in the elaboration of injuries and difficulties.


Let us now pass to a short discussion of aids facilitating the development of personality. These will include, among others, access to libraries, museums, theaters, and scientific institutions. All these institutions, when properly used, decide the richness of the stimuli, the application of which may constitute, in this or that system, the selective and specific factors assisting in the development of personality. At times a book presenting a story of a hero which, in its psychological and ideological aspects, makes the nuclear dynamism sensitive to the development of personality may be an important factor in stimulating this development. The same is true of theater plays and many works of plastic art. A proper scientific, social, or artistic environment which stimulates one to creative work, presence at a discussion, taking part in an excursion in the company of proper people may constitute a positive factor and consequently an auxiliary medium stimulating the personality.


How many of us continue under the impression of a feeling of the greatness of creative “flights” when contemplating the works of Michelangelo, how many of us experience entanglement and depth as a result of the diseased creative genius of Van Gogh, and how many of us experience ineffaceable moments when we recall reading the works of Camus or Faulkner? How deeply one is influenced by reading Gandhi's autobiography! We recall a conversation with one of our acquaintances who told us that he often reverts in these experiences to the epigraph on the monument of A. de Musset in Paris, the words of which concern the indissoluble link of greatness with suffering: “Great poetry is often the product of weeping, depression, distress and even agony.” (2)


If the candidate for personality is in the period of great creative tension, if he is advanced in development, and consequently if he reveals the sharp tenseness of multilevel disintegrative dynamisms, then of great help at this stage may be an isolation in peaceful conditions, which helps one to order one's sensations by



(2) A. de Musset. “La nuit de mai.” (“The May Night.”) In Les nuits. (The Nights.) Paris: L. Conard, 1905.



Methods of Shaping Personality


an interruption of actual sensations and by a deepening of certain elements of the inner milieu. The conditions of “satiating oneself” in such an internal “constellation” with plastic sensations, music, and primarily with calmness would be compatible with the impressions and opinions of Aldous Huxley as to the importance of these sensations for the spiritual life of man.






We shall not return at this point to the problem of phases in the development of personality. We must, however, lay stress on the fact that in every phase, and particularly in the initial and following phases—that is, in the period of great conflictive and creative tensions, the period of a very real possibility of a breakdown—the adviser plays a fundamental role in the development of personality.


Whereas in the first phase the main role rests with the adviser—that is, with the tutor, teacher, parent, or physician—in the second phase of development the main role passes to the developing individual himself. Nevertheless, this does not mean that help in the development of personality is more difficult to give in the first phase or that it is easier or superfluous in the second phase. On the contrary, the passage from a rather passive sensitization to the phase of the mobilization of one's own forces, to the phase of a strong actuation of one's internal milieu, to the period of disintegration, requires greater responsibility and vigilance on the part of the adviser. The help of an adviser must be increasingly more imperceptible, ever more subtle, ever more “helpful,” so as not to interfere finally, injudiciously, and too distinctly in the developmental process of an individual.


This help is also needed in the last phase, in instances where the development of personality goes on automatically, as it were, and is determined by the individual's own psychic forces. This



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


help is usually based on the developing personality “requisitioning” it, on unlimited confidence in the adviser, and on a tradition of cooperation. Under these circumstances there arises a bond of cooperation aimed at the mutual development of personalities, of whom one is more, and the other less, experienced and mature.




The qualities of an adviser would include two groups: the extent and traits of the development of the adviser's own personality, and special qualities and capabilities permitting him to fulfill his role.


Regarding the first group of properties it is, of course, obvious that the fundamental characteristic trait of the adviser is that he himself should be a “rounded” personality or a personality-in-the making, with a high level of achievement. Of course, one should not expect an adviser to be, as a rule, a full or nearly full personality. However, he would have to have behind him, more or less complete, at least two of the above-mentioned phases in the development of personality. He would have to have behind him the passage, in its fundamental lines, through the process of positive multilevel disintegration in its sharp phase; he would have to have a developed and conscious internal milieu, a developed third factor, a distinct hierarchy of aims and a clear ideal of his development as a personality.


Moreover, he should realize sufficiently his shortcomings in the area of some of the structures and dynamisms of the development of his own personality and should also fully understand the necessity for asking the cooperation of others.


Besides the qualities most closely connected with the structure and level of development of the adviser's personality he should also possess the inborn and acquired capabilities needed for very difficult work in the realm of education and psychotherapy. Before we pass, however, to a short characterization of these capabilities, we must mention one important quality which is at the border of the qualities arising naturally from the development of personality and the qualities which are acquired and unproved



Methods of Shafting Personality


through studies and experience. This is good will (coupled with psychological intuition), without which the work of an adviser is unthinkable. This trait is connected with an “openness” to the specific character of the individual's structure, a devotion to it, and, based on studies and attainments in one's own development, an adaptation of the methods of proceeding to the needs of a given individual (to his personality development phase, psychological type, period of development, special capabilities, and soon).


The adviser must also be well prepared, in the areas of psychology, psychopathology, and pedagogy, and must know how to use the most modern methods of these branches of science. One should not, of course, expect the adviser to have completed graduate studies in all these disciplines. The adviser should, however, have completed graduate study in one of these disciplines and he should possess a good theoretical and practical knowledge of the realms bordering his discipline. He should have, primarily, a deep knowledge of developmental psychology, psychopathology, individual education, self-education, psychotherapy, and autopsychotherapy.


We still have to mention one more fundamental quality of an adviser. This quality is philosophical development and preparation-that is, a knowledge of the fundamental directions and achievements of philosophic thought which link themselves to the essential needs and experiences of a man moving along on the road to the development of his personality.




Advisers in the above-mentioned sense may be parents, tutors, teachers, physicians, and others, provided they are thoroughly acquainted with the laws and processes of the development of personality, with the main dynamisms of this development, and provided they themselves are advanced in the development of their own personality.


We stress once more that one cannot expect to find a sufficient number of ideal advisers who themselves represent a matured personality or are near such maturity. Such advisers can be found



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


only rarely. We are talking of individuals who, as we have indicated, realize personality in themselves, possess a knowledge of its development, and understand the need for help in the development of personality. They would be exceedingly useful in all eases where there arises, with children and young people, a concrete hint of a problem of personality, although present in an embryonic form.


An adviser with high inner qualifications is necessary in those cases where we are concerned with essential and deep changes in the structure of an individual moving along the road to personality, with intensified internal conflicts, or with difficulties in overcoming them. In a family, in a school, in an educational institution, problems arise that require counsel from various special advisers, and require not only the mastery of knowledge from the borders of psychology, education, teaching, self-education, autopsychotherapy, and vocational guidance, but also greater knowledge and experience in order to help in solving certain special, individual problems in the development of personality. There also comes into play, therefore, one of the most fundamental requisites for mental health, the “team” requisite, or, more precisely, the group work of many specialists, every one of whom, besides his own specialty, the knowledge of which he has in hand as a starting point, would have a knowledge of, and achievements in, the development of personality (the child, young people, adults, the level and scope of the development of personality). This would be a personality development team adviser.


It is a matter of course that the postulate of the possession by a society of matured, “all-round” advisers in the development of personality, and even the postulate of advisers with partial preparation for the fulfillment of their duties, has little possibility of being realized at present. Therefore, in the present phase of the development of societies it may be realized in some families, in some educational and mental health centers, or in some special experimental centers. Nevertheless the positing of this postulate clearly and in a good form, and realizing it, even within a narrow scope, may have great educational influence, through the suggestive influence of the results obtained in the development of per-



Methods of Shaping Personality


sonality, this most difficult and most important social and moral field of human development.


With these assumptions the role of an adviser in the development of personality, and consequently the role of at least some parents, tutors, teachers, and physicians, becomes fundamental. This role should not be forced into the background by the seemingly “realistic” policy of superficial education of society, without the participation in the policy of those tendencies and methods which serve the recognition of personality indicators and their intense and proper development.




The educational process concerns in the first place children and young people as unshaped beings—that is, those with whom it is possible to modify both the positive and negative traits qualitatively and quantitatively or, in other words, those with whom it is possible, in the majority of cases, to bring about a smaller or greater predominance of positive developmental traits in their structure.


The process of self-education usually does not express itself with children and young people in steady self-educational needs, but in more or less distinct emotional and intellectual projections in this direction. The proper seizure of these projections, therefore, requires help from an adviser, requires his keenness and vigilance with respect to the indicators of personality development demonstrated in these projections.


Such intervention is not easy. It requires clear apprehension of the psychic structure with which development of personality is concerned, of the phase in which the development occurs, of how the educational process appears here—what its intensity is, to what degree the individual is conscious of it, in what area this intensity is weak and in what area it is strong, what shortcomings and what positive sides in disintegrative activity this process represents, and, finally, what critical states are revealed in the development, that is, states which on the one side show its acceleration and, on the other, are often almost pathological.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


This interference of an adviser in the self-educational process calls sometimes for haste and sometimes for expectation, for temporary, improvised help, or for preparation of a long-term program.


An adviser who intervenes in the self-educational process must have the best possible, all-embracing diagnosis of the individual with whom he is to deal; he must be fully aware of the type that the individual in question represents, of what qualities are present and what advancements have been made in the process of positive disintegration, of its dangers, of what the state and degree of development of the particular dynamisms of the developmental process are, of what the actual needs for intervention in the self-educational process are, in order to accelerate it in certain sections, to deepen, diminish, intensify it, and even to bring about a strengthening of integration at a lower level, for some time, with the aim of counteracting a too feverish and too tense disintegration “projection,” which takes place frequently, as indicated above, on the border of pathological manifestations.







In previous chapters of the present work we have discussed in detail the main dynamisms of multilevel disintegration and of secondary integration. We shall now consider some methods of developing these dynamisms. We will deal here with the following dynamisms: shame, anxiety over oneself, the feeling of guilt, the “subject-object in oneself” process, the development of the third factor, making the personality ideal concrete and dynamic, the ascension of the disposing and directing center—all within the framework of the general development of the inner milieu and its relation to the external environment.


It must be emphasized here that the discussion of the methods of development with respect to particular dynamisms of multi-


Methods of Shaping Personality


level disintegration is greatly artificial, since the method of developing any one of the dynamisms automatically becomes the method of developing several or a whole series of other dynamisms of multilevel disintegration. For example, the development of the feeling of anxiety over oneself represents, at the same time, a method of development for the feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself, the feeling of guilt, the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself, the development of the third factor, and so on. Similarly, the development of the “subject-object in oneself” dynamism constitutes a more or less distinct method for the development of the third factor and the development and ascension of the disposing and directing center.


In order to partly remove ourselves from these difficulties we shall try to distinguish, roughly and for methodological purposes, certain groups of these dynamisms and briefly discuss the methods of their development. This division is as follows:


1. Disintegrative dynamisms: anxiety over oneself, dissatisfaction with oneself, the feelings of shame and guilt, and the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself.


2. Dynamisms consciously organizing the disintegrative process: the “subject-object in oneself” dynamism, and the third factor dynamism.


3. Secondary integration dynamisms: the personality ideal, and the disposing and directing center at a higher level.






Disintegrative dynamisms


The disintegrative dynamisms usually arise, along with the proper rudiments of personality, in a man's early life. These rudiments of personality and beginnings of disintegrative dynamisms may be brought to light and effectively shaped by a competent guardian or adviser. Because these matters arc of importance we shall give, though in a general and schematic way, the adviser's procedure in discovering the beginnings of these dynamisms and in their shaping.



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


1. To be able to help in the development of personality the adviser must, in the first place, try to get acquainted with a given individual most thoroughly and in all respects, and orient himself to the specific character of his psychological structure, his tendencies, interests, and so forth.


We have already referred to the methods of getting acquainted with an individual. The commonly known methods are observation of behavior, the creation of proper situations, a conversation with a young man, hearing the opinions of people from his environment, properly selected and differentiated tests, analysis of night dreams, and medical examination.


2. Having acquired general orientation within the structure of the individual and within its specific properties, the adviser endeavors to determine and isolate those traits of the structure, those tendencies and interests, which may constitute conditions for the development of personality, in which “personality indicators” inhere potentially, as it were. Eventually, the adviser ascertains that those germs of personality have left the potential stage and begin to be outlined sufficiently clearly.


The interpretation and synthesizing by the adviser of the results of his investigation and observation, completed as the need arises, should go, speaking most generally, in the following directions:


a. The determination of the positive and strong sides of the given individual's structure

b. The determination of his natural egoistic, pleasure-seeking tendencies, his desire to dominate, and so on

c. The clearly negative sides of his character

d. The strong tenacity of the structure which is revealed in more or less impulsive behavior, the contradictory character of which the individual himself does not note

e. The individual's sensitivity, its kinds and degree of intensity

f. Difficulties, conflicts, nervousness, neuroses, and psychoneuroses

g. Plastic structure, susceptibility to loosening

h. The shadowy outlines of disintegrative dynamisms (anxiety over oneself, dissatisfaction with oneself, sense of guilt, shame,



Methods of Shaping Personality


and inferiority), or the lack of same, the possibility of “waking up” the same


3. Having ascertained the personality nuclei (positive qualities such as the desire “to be better,” sensitivity, susceptibility to `loosening,” and so on), the adviser proceeds to a gradual awakening or proper shaping of already faintly outlined disintegrative dynamisms, trying at the same time to work out methods and ways of adapting them to the structure of the individual.


In this connection the adviser should proceed along the following lines:


a. On one hand, he should do all he can to make the individual conscious of the fact that his tendencies and behavior often contradict each other, that he sometimes departs from the principal positive tendencies and does so without perceiving this himself. These contradictions are caused by the primitive egoism of the individual, by the difficulty of projecting oneself into someone else's situation, by a too impulsive yielding to pleasure stimuli, by the desire to distinguish oneself, and so forth.


This awakening of the individual to the contradictions existing in himself, based on examples and situations from his life, leads at the same time to a loosening of his primitive, tenacious structure. Self insight facilitates the increasingly clearer division of one's often masked qualities into positive and negative. It also helps to “purify” and strengthen the positive qualities, and to trace the proper line of the individual's behavior.


In the period of the more distinct crystallization of this process even a temporary departure from the line of one's behavior will cause the disintegrative dynamisms to be brought into play: anxiety over oneself, dissatisfaction with oneself, shame and guilt and the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself.


b. On the other hand, when the adviser comes across already faintly outlined or active disintegrative dynamisms in an individual, he should familiarize himself with their genesis, structure, and intensity, mold them, and properly inhibit, strengthen, and change them, and set them on the right course. There are various ways in which an adviser may help, usually indirectly, to build



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


the germs of disintegrative dynamisms and to shape the faintly outlined dynamisms. At this point we will note some of the ways in which the adviser should act upon an individual.


One is to observe more thoroughly the phenomena taking place in the individual's environment and in his life. Another is the attempt to interpret these phenomena both from the psychological and moral points of view (by way of discussion of important events, of theater and film shows, of books read, as well as of the experiences and behavior of the individual).


He may also help develop sensitivity and aversion to automatic approaches, attitudes, and acts, to the attitudes of external authority, to ritualistic ceremony, and to routine and superficial judgment. He may also teach criticism and self-criticism, independence in thinking and behaving. He may help the individual to fight egocentrism, to attempt to disintegrate it, through training him in the “art” of entering into the situations and experiences of other persons, “taking to heart” their concerns and experiencing their experiences.


Cooperation with the individual in the disintegration of his theoretical attitudes and opinions which do not agree with his own behavior, the developing and deepening (in judgments and experiences) of the sense of responsibility for one's own attitudes and deeds (growth of the sense of guilt for not discharging one's duties, for not being true to one's conviction) are other ways in which the adviser may aid. He may also help the individual to become increasingly more aware of the reasons for his behavior, his conscious or half-conscious aspirations and mental processes—reasons lying at the roots of the disintegrative dynamisms (anxiety, the feeling of shame, and so on).


Dynamisms which organize the process of positive disintegration


In this group of dynamisms belong the “subject-object in one self” dynamism and the third factor. The first dynamism, as is known, facilitates insight into oneself and into the motives of one's behavior, the second, using this acquired capacity, aims, within the perspective of an increasingly more clearly outlined



Methods of Shaping Personality


personality ideal, at clearing the individual's way to this ideal through the condemnation and rejection of those of its traits and primitive tendencies which hinder the approach to it and through the affirmation and strengthening of those which promote this approach. The adviser helps the individual in the development of these dynamisms of conscious organization of positive disintegration by acting upon him and cooperating with him in the following respects:


1. By developing in the individual the capacity to observe himself, to discover his “true” self, and by training him to look at himself objectively (experiencing himself as an object)


2. By training the individual to fight with the tendencies to affirm and justify, rashly, his own interests, to develop a mistrust of “certainties” in his own behavior, to fight back the tendencies to subordinate intelligence to instincts, treating the former as a tool of the latter


3. By developing the individual's capacity for the conscious organization of his own internal milieu, for localizing and placing into a hierarchy the values of this environment, and for checking and controlling its level of development.


Secondary integration dynamisms


In the development of the personality of an individual, dynamism of the personality ideal and the dynamism of the disposing and directing center at a higher level play the main, though at first poorly defined and only partially conscious, role. Both dynamisms have already begun to appear at the time of the advent of the rudiments of personality, and the personality ideal appears to be at the root of personality. It constitutes an “idea-force,” as it were, which may dynamize the whole inner life of the individual and enlist him in its service. These dynamisms are nothing less than the fundamental and integrating forces which give their stamp to the process of disintegration and constitute the essence of secondary integration.


The role of the adviser in the birth of both these dynamisms and in their development may be great; however, as the personality matures and when these dynamisms begin to dominate and



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


fix their position in the entire inner environment of the individual, this role decreases and fades. As a result of the “drawing” force emanating from them (the nearness of the realization of the ideal, the actualized high level of the disposing and directing center, which one does not want to lower), these dynamisms begin to act automatically, as it were—that is, they no longer need great help from the outside.


These dynamisms cause the advent and the bringing into play of all the disintegrative dynamisms, freeing the indicators of personality from the encumbering, primitive, and negative traits of the individual. The disintegrative dynamisms are a kind of separating tool, that helps to “clean” and develop the individual's personality ideal and the disposing and directing center. The advisor, therefore, who helps the individual in the development and shaping of his disintegrative dynamisms helps at the same time in the shaping of integrative dynamisms. Methods used by him in forming both kinds of dynamisms do not differ greatly.


As for the direct development and formation of integrative dynamisms, the adviser should seek to gain familiarity with and then to act upon and cooperate with the individual in, among others, the areas discussed below.


He must learn to know the individual's structure, his psychological type, temperament, and the essential traits of his character. With that aim in view, the adviser should use the results of the investigations mentioned in the earlier section on “Disintegrative Dynamisms” (pp. 158-159) and should try to familiarize himself with the persons distinguished by the individual from the environment, history, literature, films, and the like, and with the extent to which he identifies himself with these persons.


He must watch the psychic process, the affectional maturation of the individual, his evolution which reveals itself, in one way, in a change of interest in particular persons, and in a simultaneous faithfulness to some qualities which they have in common. He must aim at a clear understanding of and cooperation with the individual in his striving for a complete image of his own ideal, and in his endeavors to actualize it in everyday life.


He must be orientated to the shortcomings, gaps and dangers of repression encountered by the individual's disposing and di-



Methods of Shaping Personality


recting center in its rising to an ever higher level of development; he must intervene in difficult, complicated situations, and help in maintaining the center at the already attained level.


The following is an example illustrating the majority of positive disintegrative dynamisms taken from the autobiography of a 36-year-old patient, N-, suffering from psychasthenia, and at the same time clearly developing his personality (the author considers autobiography and biography as one of the important research methods):


Much is said about knowledge of oneself. However, these words are understood only by great men or by those who feel an inner compulsion for seeking the answer to the most important questions of being. I think that in order to win knowledge of oneself one should aim at reshaping himself, for the state of stabilization hinders the acquisition of knowledge, makes all automatic, and makes self-cognizing a mental game. Are there many people who experience the fact that they have teeth if not using them for chewing and crunching, that they have sexual organs and glands which periodically demand their activity and that, therefore, so-called sexual love is only the way of facilitating the activity of these glands? Does one know much about entire systems devised to mask the brutal interest of individuals or groups, in order that they may be more easily realized? How many Germans have taken, or now take, to heart the fact and methods of mass extermination of people in death camps? Do we differ much from cats which, while jumping charmingly, murder singing birds, or do we differ much from birds, wonderfully colorful birds, which murder insects with lightning speed? Do many of us think, while chewing savory meat, about the methods of murdering animals in great municipal slaughterhouses? Do many of us know and experience the fact that ideological declarations, opinions, and treatises are in most cases tools for placing oneself in more convenient circumstances, of getting the upper hand in a fight with the interest of others? Do many people feel ashamed of their primitive instincts and their manifestations; do many people feel sorrow because of having caught themselves nourishing low, egoistic tendencies, and how many of us would accept and realize the conviction that “yes” is “yes” and “no” is “no”? The battle with others is easy, but the battle with oneself is much more difficult. There is no courage without courage in relation to one's lower “I”; there is no justice without justice in relation to oneself.


There is no realization of perfection without pain, experienced in disappointments about oneself, about one's own littleness, about the frailty of one's own moral attitude . . .



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


Such thought and experiences tormented me for years—no, I have become sensitive to others and to myself; this paralyzes, at least for the time being, my activity, and inhibits me in my judgments. Sometimes, however, it seems to me that something is being born of these distractions and inner struggles, something that will give me more light, a greater possibility of knowing, and deeper awareness of who I am and how I should behave.




We have repeatedly mentioned the “indicators of personality,” which are a condition, as it were, for a good development and shaping of personality. As we have also pointed out, these indicators reveal themselves, on the one hand, fully equipped with elementary, though fairly distinct, positive qualities, about which we wrote in the first part of this work, and on the other, as the indicators of positive disintegration dynamisms.


We may say that, as a rule, the initial and the latter indicators develop simultaneously and cooperate with each other, and that the development of the first entails development of the second and vice versa.


For example, the ability to know oneself and others is not possible without the development of the dynamism of dissatisfaction with oneself, of the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself, without the development of the subject-object dynamism, and of the third factor. This is because these dynamisms incessantly develop capabilities for objective acts in one's own inner milieu. Moreover, they develop this milieu, as knowledge of oneself always implies the division into subject and object in oneself, implies the ability to place into a hierarchy the values in oneself, and, finally, implies inner differentiation. Development of these dynamisms considerably facilitates one's understanding of others, and facilitates the transposition of the experiences of others to one's own and vice versa by freeing the intelligence from dependence on the instincts and by coupling it with the dynamisms of personality, which puts an end to the “blinker attitude” which brings about narrowness of attitudes, stiffness and egotism, and egoism in judgment and behavior.



Methods of Shaping Personality


When proper indicators exist, the acquisition of “all-round” knowledge by means of one's studies is deepened by these dynamisms. General psychic sensitivity and the “holding off” of the instinctive egocentric attitude ensure that nothing that is human is strange to a man.


Independence of feelings, appraisals, and behavior is based again on the development of twofold indicators (positive qualities and dynamisms of the internal environment). Independence from the functions of the lower instincts and from the suggestions of the external environment which favor these instinctive needs, the dissolution of these tenacious structures, and the structuring in the internal milieu make this environment sensitive to the higher dynamisms, increase the suggestive force of the personality ideal and the disposing and directing center. Objectivity in relation to oneself and others increases, therefore, and also the independence of the feelings, appraisals, and behavior from the lower instinctive structures and primitive reactions.


Moral and social qualities, courage, and truthfulness increase under the influence of an example, by communion with positive heroes in art and in everyday life. Conscious courage and conscious truthfulness shape themselves only when we become independent of our primitive instincts, of the judgments of the environment and of cliques. It is shaped with the cooperation of many dynamisms of positive disintegration and secondary integration.


The capacity for unselfish love and friendship, for exclusiveness and faithfulness, for taking responsibility for persons closely and remotely associated with us is shaped on the one hand by the elaboration of experiences of everyday life, by trial and error, by an example, and on the other by the shaping of the hierarchy of values in one's own internal milieu, by reaching for the ideal of personality, by the development of the higher dynamisms of the internal milieu and by their transposition to the external environment, to other people.


We will speak briefly about one of the qualities of personality which is connected with one's attitude toward the world of existential needs and tendencies, namely, the adaptation of oneself to suffering and death. The development in oneself of retrospec-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


tive and prospective attitudes, a “running ahead” of the present moment, experiencing the transiency of our life, with a simultaneous development of the main dynamisms of disintegration, weakens the primitive traits in relation to suffering and death and leads not only to acceptance, but also to experiencing the universality of this phenomenon. On the other hand, it increases the need for finding the answer to the chief enigma of being, consequently also to the sense of suffering and death, to the sense of separation from one's near relations and friends with whom the bond has become deeper as a result of the development of the dynamism of multilevel disintegration.


We therefore have the need to transfer these experiences to a higher level, feel the pressure of tendencies to approach transcendental problems, and experience the need for meditation. One thus increases one's sensitivity to the suffering of others, and resistance to one's own sufferings; there increases the awareness of death, “familiarization” with it, although simultaneously transcendental unrest increases.


The process of positive disintegration also shapes the “dramatic attitude toward life.” Life becomes “thought,” experienced and not instinctive. On the stage, in art, and in one's own life, the problems of life, death, love, creativity, and development come to the foreground. As expressed by Wyspianski, the individual is conscious of the entire drama of life. He is actor and stage manager in the internal and external play of changes, disappointments, and development.


The fundamental quality shaped by the everyday effort of the individual aiming at personality is the ability to meditate. We have referred to it repeatedly. It has its origin in a form of reflection, a predisposition for deep meditation, the ability to interrupt one's daily activity, and the need for frank “philosophizing.” The individual may avail himself of the many works of various schools dealing with spiritual life in order to deepen this capacity for meditation. Retrospection and prospection and periodic isolation of oneself give definite results here. They clearly promote all those activities which develop the inner environment and its hierarchy of values—that is, they promote all the dynamisms of multilevel disintegration.



Methods of Shaping Personality


We will now briefly comment on the shaping of individual qualities of personality such as chief interests and capabilities, the ability to form exclusive bonds, and the feeling of one's “oneness” and identity. They develop from the indicators of personality and are shaped by many factors, such as the propagation of these qualities in the family and at school, the example of close relatives and friends, and vital experiences. The deepening, through positive disintegration, of self-awareness, the development of knowledge in all directions, the raising of the level of affectional experiences, the shaping of adaptability to suffering and death, and meditation, exert a fundamental influence.


Through these phenomena, taking place in the individual and shaped by him, there results the “denudation” of many thus far accepted values and the development and shaping of those general and individual qualities which become, for the individual, the condition absolutely essential for his unique being.








Children and young people are the most proper group in which to seize the indicators of personality and to act upon them. This is due to the plasticity of a child's psyche—that is, its susceptibility to the reception of positive stimuli to act upon those indicators—and to the psychical freshness of children and young people, the richness of their imagination and prospection.


During his whole development the child is susceptible to developmental stimuli. However, these stimuli must be adapted to his phenotypic and genotypic aspect and to his particular period of development. These periods of development, however, should not be considered as too distinctly separated from the complex development of children's and young people's psyches.


Through diagnosis of the childish forms of attitudes to one's



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


own internal environment, through help in the proper shaping of the main dynamisms of this environment, through an awakening of the initial tendencies towards autopsychotherapy, one introduces a certain order into the perturbed internal environment characteristic of the process of positive disintegration and particularly of its elementary forms, and one excites a certain directional disposition.


It is clear from the above that the most advantageous area in which to gain knowledge of the personality nuclei, together with the manifestations of disintegration connected with them, are the periods of childhood and adolescence. In these periods one may observe not only the more distinct, but also even the weakest personality nuclei, which later, in mature age, grow weak and vanish, submitting themselves to the integrating functions of the fundamental instinctive dynamisms in a man's life cycle.


The seizure, therefore, not only of distinct personality manifestations, but also of their very weak manifestations is always of value for education, and an increasingly deeper understanding of these matters should constitute one of the basic tasks of educational circles. As already stated above, this is the main task of different specialists who are united by common features, namely, the understanding of what the personality is, what its indicators are, and how important correct guidance is in the development of personality.




It is a fact, known from everyday life, that making man's psychic structure sensitive is connected with a certain loosening, and even with a disintegration of his primitive instinctive dynamisms, with the halting and reshaping of many primitive attitudes. The Freudian mechanism of the libido's collision with reality and pronounced resignation from the principle of pleasure in favor of the principle of reality represents, in certain respects and on a certain level, a reshaping dynamism.


The disintegration of primitive structures raises us from the egocentric sphere, permits us to free ourselves from the sphere of


Methods of Shafting Personality


stimuli and reactions allotted us by the regular experiences connected with man's life cycle.


Education consists in developing the possibility of resignation from primitive needs; it consists in partial frustration, in experiencing the feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself, in developing self-control, inhibition, retrospection, and prospection. These phenomena display certain mild forms of disintegration without which the education process would be unthinkable. The pain and suffering of a child, his failures, his experiences of shame, and his feelings of inferiority or guilt are the fundamental dynamisms that reshape his primitive structure. They are positive dynamisms if, at the same time, they are offset by pleasant experiences—joy, satisfaction, ambitions, the feeling of superiority, the feeling of having fulfilled one's duty well, the experience of praise, and the like. This alternate action of unpleasant and pleasant stimuli is indispensable for the gradual “awakening of the inner milieu,” for its structuring, for differentiation, and for elevation of the level of sensations, for moral estimates and deeds; it is an indispensable factor for the proper arrangement of one's relations to the social environment; it is necessary for the advent and development of positive conflicts both in the internal and external environments.


If one possesses the appropriate dispositions to direct these dynamisms, then their proper weakening or strengthening, their grouping in certain most advantageous sets become, in the hands of a good educator, fundamental tools for the development of a child's personality.


The passage from the egocentric to alterocentric structure, from the introverted attitude to the complex extravertive attitude, and vice versa, from excessive sociability to an adequate social attitude, from undue excitation to the complicated inhibition of lower dynamisms and awakening of higher dynamisms, is not possible without the positive disintegration process.


At a level proper for the level of the child's sensitivity, for his type, and for his period of development, one may activate all the fundamental dynamisms of multilevel disintegration. The point here is to observe two principles: the principle already mentioned, of the adaptation of the method of disintegration to the



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


requirements of the concrete psychic structure of the child, and the application of this method, not in verbal, explicative, interpretive, or persuasive form, but in association with concrete situations, experienced by the child and causing the advent of a concrete set of problems, problems that are a matter of keen concern to the child.


The explicative method may, in a plastic way, be applied only when the child, irrespective of the concrete situation of experiencing his own difficulties, may accept and fix certain disintegrative stimuli as a consequence of further experiences connected with his having read a book, with his presence at a theatrical spectacle, cinema show, concert, or in situations in which he observes interesting, delightful, or shocking phenomena.


All the situations in which the child perceives the suffering of an animal or a man, someone's injury, lameness, or sickness, someone's humiliation or aggressiveness, someone's injustice or exceptional goodness, may be used for the application of the method of the disintegration of primitive attitudes, because such situations, when one is interested in them or experiences them, produce natural sensitivity to given stimuli—that is, they produce a state of susceptibility to loosening, and consequently to disintegration also.


We have already drawn the reader's attention to the problems of individual adaptation, by prepared parents, teachers, and tutors, of positive disintegrative techniques for particular periods and developmental difficulties. The main requirement, thus, in applying the positive disintegrative technique would be a thorough acquaintance with child psychopathology.


When applying the disintegrative method one should not, as a rule, intensify tensions, unrest, fear, and the feeling of guilt with an individual possessing indicators of personality. On the other hand, it is advisable that certain forms of loosening or even disintegration of tenacious instinctive structures should ensue in a positive way—that is, through the strengthening of the individual's positive traits, his interests, and capabilities, by falling back upon his closest patterns. On the basis of these patterns and through unification with them, the egocentric tendencies become weaker and the too tenacious instinctive structure loosens.



Methods of Shaping Personality


Sometimes a discreet and subtle application of the method may give satisfactory results.


The world of children's ideals is most accessible to the child through fairy tales and fables, by way of phantastic content, through introducing him to the world of nature invigorated by phantasy. This is but only natural, for on the one hand, this world expresses the imaginative and phantastic needs of the child, his magical and animistic needs, and on the other the child seeks compensation, in this world, for his feeling of weakness and for his need of care, which is more enhanced by the presence of the narrator who combines protectiveness, nearness, and the strength that revives the child's phantasy. By linking the child with the world of heroes and magicians who readily bring help to the weak and injured, one develops in the child the tendency to transfer to himself the characteristic qualities of these heroes.


One should always take into account that a child, as a developing being, usually possesses a sensitive imagination and capacity for phantasy and that he “completes” the stimuli acting on him, with his own creative contents.


If in their relations with children the parents combine warmth with authority, and make proper demands on the children, they have the best possible chance for loosening, and even disintegrating, the tenacious instinctive drives of the children. Skillfully controlled exposure of the child to the difficulties in the environment of his peers is one of the important sources of refashioning the child's attitude, for his equals are considerably more direct in behavior, and often considerably more objective, than older people, even parents. The environment of peers becomes, therefore, an environment creating conditions for reshaping the egocentric, egoistic, imperious, and other attitudes.




Early manifestations of personality indicators


An early grasping of personality indicators by educators (a parent, teacher, physician, educational therapist) depends, of course, on the structure and level of the educator, on his ability



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


to discern psychological factors, on his understanding of what the personality is, and on his ability to seize the various manifestations of the early phases of the development of personality. These “indicators” may, as we have said above, be manifested in various degrees and in varying strength. They may be certain positive qualities which become marked, such as courage, ambition, truthfulness, sensitivity to the injury of others, and so on. They may be the early manifestations of contradictoriness and stubbornness in a more or less hidden sense. They may be more or less marked, already present in the first years of the child's life, in attitudes of being dissatisfied with himself, masked by excitement and depression.


A 6-year-old girl, L,—, gifted, greatly egocentric, and introverted, revealed a strong irritability or childish depression, lasting sometimes for several hours. Although she had great confidence in her father and mother, it usually took many hours for her to confess, during a sincere evening talk, often accompanied by sobbing, that she was impossible, for she knew that she behaved badly with respect to one of her parents, but she could not come out and say it. When she was asked to explain why she could not speak about it, she answered that something kept her from doing so, that she had to wait until she felt “easier in her mind.”


In the period of maturation, and even before that period, there may appear strong tendencies to evaluate within one's own internal environment and in relation to the external environment. These may be weak or strong signs of anxiety over oneself, dissatisfaction with oneself, the feeling of inferiority in relation to oneself, the sense of guilt; these may be strong tendencies to idealize the outer environment, to place moral cases in a clear light based on principles, and with the tendency to harmonize moral principles and one's behavior.


These “indicators” may reveal themselves in the form of philosophizing “seriously,” in the form of a too inconsiderate, too straightforward, and even aggressive fight against meanness, in the form of an undue adaptation of oneself, and so on, which may cover the states of dissatisfaction with oneself, states of inferiority, and also other states. Finally, they may reveal themselves



Methods of Shaping Personality


in the form of difficulties in adapting to the environment, in too individualistic attitudes, and the like.


Twelve-year-old M-, of outstanding intelligence, schizothymic in character, very early experienced the difference between what is “true” and what is “appearance.” One day she had a long, emotionally hot conversation with her father about lasting affectional “serious” bonds, which to her were the only worthy bonds and the only ones having meaning. This conversation took place after the girl had for many months experienced these problems. She could not accept and explain to herself the ease with which her so-called friendly relations with her girl friends changed. It was difficult for her to make such contacts because she realized their changeability and temporariness. She did not know that with the “demands” she was making, it was not easy to have good friends.


Manifestations of personality “indicators” may also consist in excessive psychic sensitivity in relation to the environment and to one's own behavior, as well as in remarkably vivid, creative, and broad interests in various realms, and finally in various forms of increased psychic excitability and in various forms of psychic disequilibrium and light psychoneurotic symptoms (for example, obsession connected with moral problems in relation to people and to oneself, unrest, depression, and a feeling of strangeness in relation to the environment, the feeling of one's “otherness,” that one is being difficult, that one is not as good in making contact with people as others are, and so on).


If the child experiences and is conscious, even if only vaguely, of these states, we may see in the child the possibility of personality nuclei. We observe, again and again, in children and young people in the period of maturation, and not so rarely even with six-to seven-year-old children, plans for work upon oneself in order to overcome the phenomena which appear as negative to the child.


Seven-year-old S—, who was gifted, inhibited, timid, had worked out for herself a plan for fighting back uncertainty and inhibitions, through exercises in overcoming the difficulties she had when dealing with new problems. She knew that she too



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


greatly exaggerated the difficulty of the problem when she encountered it for the first time. In this connection she had worked out a “table of mistakes” made during a given month, judging certain exercises as difficult. In this childish way she had worked out the percentage of negative estimates; on this basis she could increase her certainty in new trials and improve the objectivity of her own estimates.


All these phenomena, normal in a child's life, or all the abovementioned sets of symptoms from the border of the norm to psychoneurosis, should draw the attention of those from the environment who are prepared to help the given individual. Both the above-mentioned phenomena, those within the norm as well as those bordering the norm, may constitute indicators of personality development and may also be the sign of more serious psychoneurotic disorders if not observed in time and, still worse, if not treated properly and in all aspects.


These various forms of increased psychic excitability and psychic unbalance, these various forms of “in adaptability” to oneself and to the environment, these various forms of accentuation of “otherness” and the individuality of a person's structure should be observed with the utmost alertness, “disclosed” with equal alertness, and properly diagnosed.


One final point—we have pointed out above that an individual, possessing personality indicators often takes part in this process of “disclosure.” This participation should be realized, controlled, shaped, and directed, very subtly, by those entitled to work on the development of personality indicators.


The period of contradictoriness and maturation. We will now deal in greater detail with the application of the method of positive disintegration in particular periods.


The specific feature of developmental periods is that they constitute more or less automatic, more or less temporary, more or less creative natural signs of disintegrative processes. They constitute, therefore, the natural biopsychic ground for applying, in eases where the individual is susceptible, a worked-out, conscious, and individual method.


Among the periods most favorable for the application of disin-



Methods of Shaping Personality


tegrative methods are the period of contradictoriness and the period of maturation. Somewhat less susceptible are the boyhood and maidenhood periods and the climacteric period.


With many individuals we observe “permanent maturation,” as it were. This phenomenon is observed in individuals possessing increased psychic excitability, and in many psychoneurotic individuals who show some signs of psychic infantilism.


Let us briefly characterize these periods and give some methodological hints as to the shaping of the personality indicators.


THE PERIOD OF CONTRADICTORINESS. In this period an attitude of independence from the environment awakens in the child. This is a period in which the child does not agree with the environment in this or that respect, opposes its injunctions, and protests against the power imposed by elders. This is a period of opposition; moreover, this opposition is manifested many times without apparent reason. It develops, as it were, and may have deeply hidden reasons. It is frequently manifested in the child's exasperation and protest. Depending on the level of development, on the richness of the psychic resources of the child, or on the type of his nervousness, such a period may last from several months to several years; moreover, certain qualities of this period may last for a considerable part of the child's life.


A sensitive child, possessing rich personality indicators and protesting against the environment, may experience at the same time a certain, usually half-conscious, dissatisfaction with himself, the feeling of inferiority, and even the feeling of guilt. In the manifestations of contradictoriness and opposition he is simultaneously accentuating his individuality and independence.


Of course, these nuclear experiences from the region of multilevel disintegration should under no circumstances be deepened; they should be leveled and utilized for the positive development of the child, realizing that in the next period, that of greater harmonization of the child, these dynamisms may be enlivened and developed and added to the developmental forces of the child.


A 6-year-old girl, S-, with whom there was a pronounced continuance of strong symptoms of contradictoriness and obstinacy, displayed a passionate need for seeing, on television and at the cinema, formidable, phantastic pictures, abounding in ad-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


venture, ambushes, raids, battles, and so on. For several months the child had strong and alarming nightmares. The parents forbade her to see such films. Most probably in response to this, the nightmares increased and, at the same time, the symptoms of obstinacy increased.


The child was of outstanding intelligence, and of the type displaying affectional and imaginational excitability. She had an early and pronounced attitude of ambition; she accepted no interdictions and she reacted well to persuasion. When her father explained to her, in a way understandable to the child, why her parents had forbidden her to see such films, S—said: “Father, I must know all that and manage to get through it.” After several longer talks on the matter, the parents made an agreement with the girl that she would be allowed to see the films as before, provided that she would cover her eyes with her hand or turn her head away when the dreadful scenes she feared were about to take place. With the girl's consent the agreement also provided that in case she failed to perceive such scenes early enough, one of the parents would give her a sign by touching her hand. This agreement took effect and was observed rather strictly. When similar methods were applied in other areas of the girl's sensibility, the nightmares completely disappeared.


The method of weakening this tenseness, not by opposing the resistances and obstinacies but rather by discharging them by way of natural rechanneling and persuasion, as well as by agreements with the child, permitted the child to preserve and increase her ambition, her independence, and introduced elements of psychotherapy and autopsychotherapy into her inner life, thus raising the process of positive disintegration to a higher level.


PREMATURATION AND MATURATION PERIODS. The maturation period is most appropriate for the application of the positive disintegration method. It constitutes the most normal area, as it were, for the application of this method, since it reflects the periodic disintegration in man's life cycle. It is to this phase of natural biopsychic disintegration that one may most easily introduce the shaping, straightening, and sublimating method of disintegration. Ambivalence, symptoms of excitation and depression, the feelings of superiority and inferiority, the feeling of agitation



Methods of Shaping Personality


in one's own internal environment, and half-conscious attempts to structure it, should be slowly leveled, while one gradually deepens the nuclei of multilevel disintegration, which exists, in most cases, in the form of the inclination to evaluate oneself and others, the feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself, and the unconscious drive to make oneself “excel.” These are good conditions for the sober and individual promotion of the process of making unconscious disintegration more conscious, of making the unordered more ordered, the automatic more voluntary, and they lead from unilevel to multilevel disintegration.


Children or young people seek, at this time, a proper external and internal footing. The external footing may become one of the parents, a tutor, a teacher, or even an elder friend, provided they possess certain more developed traits of personality in relation to those who seek such a footing. Such footing may be found in the positive qualities of young people, such as courage, truthfulness, love of people, creative capabilities, and the birth of new attitudes toward oneself and the environment, which, seized and strengthened in this period, may cause great positive “developmental jumps.” This is so because their discovery, affirmation, and strengthening is subjectively most needed by children and young people, and they allow for a more healthy, faster building of a new disposing and directing center.


We now turn to a case of a I7-year-old girl, W-, with a belated maturation period, infantile emotional traits, and high intelligence, and with whom introverted qualities predominated. W passed with some difficulty through changes in her attitude toward her parents and particularly toward her mother whom she trusted fully and idealized. This process differentiated itself and moved in three directions: (1) periodic aversion and aggressiveness in relation to her parents and particularly to her mother; (2) depression, aversion to life, and the existence of maidenly attitudes; (3) the feeling of guilt in relation to her parents, experienced and interpreted, alternately, in the direction of dissatisfaction with herself, the feeling of her own worthlessness, suicidal thoughts, and so on.


The method of working upon the girl carried out by the wise parents, with the aid of a competent medical adviser, proceeded



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


primarily in three directions: (1) convincing the daughter of the identity of the parents' moral attitudes with stress laid on the disclosure of faults and deficiencies; (2) convincing her of the value of the changes she was undergoing; (3) lifting her experiences to a higher level through her deeper participation in her own reshaping.


The first point was impressed upon and experienced by the girl by means of several serious talks with her mother, which were held at the proper time and in the right atmosphere. As for the second point, the parents, in connection with the adviser, made an attempt, based on examples from life and literature, and on proper emotional stimulation of the daughter, to bring her to see the positive side of the disintegrative process. Treatment in the third area was based, in the first place, on activating, or rather on strengthening, the girl's creative attitudes. After some time the parents were successful in convincing her that the psychic development of a person should not consist in passive subordination of oneself to the automatic developmental cycle, but rather in the increasingly more conscious participation in this process. She was encouraged to think about the problem of whether the knowledge of all the deficiencies of a person, and his efforts in the direction of humanizing himself, was not a much more valuable attitude than idealization based only on imaginative function.


It was suggested to the girl that she should develop the need for the transformation of the passive experiencing of the feeling of guilt into an active attitude of helping others in all cases where it was needed. It was also suggested to her that she should augment her attempt at existential philosophizing by linking it with the elements of good will and helping others, by being more sensitive to the affairs of the “other.”


In many other cases it has been possible in educational and psychotherapeutic work to intensify the structuring and evaluating dynamisms to the detriment of symptoms of unilevel disharmonies, and it has often been possible, in the shaping of personality, to accentuate strongly the integrative elements (the formation of a new disposing and directing center).


This was so in the case of a 16-year-old boy, G-, with



Methods of Shaping Personality


whom it was possible to sublimate suicidal tendencies and to direct him to the act of negating and eliminating some of his deficiencies and to the creation of distinct nuclei of a positively acting disposing and directing center, the main elements of which were the elimination of certain traits and development of others. This, among other things, increased his courage, psychological keenness, and his work in making his educational ideal concrete.


As is known, the periods of boyhood and maidenhood, in a sense, terminate the period of maturation. In this period the youth stabilizes, increasingly more distinctly, around new disposing and directing centers, which shape themselves under the influence of various tendencies, such as the tendency to make oneself notable in social life, or, with marriage partners, the tendency to realize the sexual, parental, and cognitive instincts.


Depending on whether the young people possessing “indicators of personality” display certain positive traits of the extension of the maturation period, and on whether they are under the care of appropriate advisers, they will be more plastic in development, they will have more or less developed resistance to the “stiffening” of maturation and they will be susceptible to the further development of the internal environment. The main tasks of the educational environment are counteracting the stiffening stabilization and development of the above dynamisms.


Wherever possibly harmoniously developed disintegrative factors exist, it is advisable to use the essential tendencies in this period for an increase of activity, for the organization of personal life, for placing emphasis on “organic” work, in order to increase the tendencies of ambition and attainment, and in order to utilize these tendencies by laying great importance on the development of positive qualities such as courage, veracity in relation to oneself and others, broad interests, and knowledge of oneself. The reading of well-selected biographies, examples from life, and keeping a diary with stress laid on the realization of one's decisions and noting one's achievements within a given sphere may be of considerable help here.


It is also greatly advisable to introduce the realization of certain dynamisms of disintegration and secondary integration in the area of the tendency for affectional bonds of friendship and



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


love, which is strong in this period, by supplying the individual with intellectual and affectional materials in the way of exclusiveness, faithfulness, and responsibility for one's near relatives and friends. These individual qualities of personality, as a complement to general or universal qualities, should be understood and accepted as essential traits of humanization of the individual's aspirations.


Briefly, it seems to us that, in the method of positive disintegration and secondary integration, the following functions should dominate:


1. The counteraction of the tendencies for automatic development in man's life cycle, which are displayed in developmental “stiffening”


2. The utilization of the natural tendencies of this period, as mentioned above, for the development of positive general and individual qualities of the individual


3. The retention and further slow development of the dynamisms which build the psychic inner milieu


4. The building of social and friendly relations in harmony with a moral responsibility for oneself and the environment, based, on the one hand, on the development of social feeling, and, on the other, on the injunctions of the developing inner milieu


We shall quote here several sentences from the diary of S-, in which importance is attached to certain methodological questions of educational work in this respect.


. . . I have difficulties which I cannot solve. I am very sociable; I like to have friends; 1 like to win as many hearts as I can, and, on the other hand, there are many things in the “friendly” life which shock and repel me. I feel myself responsible for what I see and experience. My classmates like me in general. But my interventions in matters of friendship, responsibility, and moral behavior alienate my classmates, and are the cause of various epithets being directed to my quarter, which cause me sorrow. I often do not know what to do or how to act.


We see from the above that a proper adviser would have a great deal of work here.



Methods of Shaping Personality


The climacteric period is susceptible to positive disintegration of man's life cycle, although to a lesser extent than the maturation period. Because of the character and scope of our work this problem will not be developed here in great detail. We will just mention that the proper adviser in this respect would be a physician specializing in neuroses, psychoneuroses, and psychotherapy, and generally sharp in psychological affairs. Such an adviser could do a great deal here (in the compensation and sublimation of depressive states, of the feeling of inferiority and uselessness), for persons with indicators of the development of personality, with respect to some processes periodically weakened by the pressure of somatopsychic difficulties of the climacteric period.


The method of positive disintegration as applied to difficult and nervous children


When attempting to apply the method of positive disintegration to cases of educational difficulties, nervousness, neuroses, and psychoneuroses, one should be aware of the scheme for shaping these disorders according to the theory of positive disintegration. In general, educational difficulties consist in various forms of social inadaptability which are a result of mistakes made with respect to the child and of the application of improper attitudes and educational methods (sociogenetic causes). Nervousness is characterized by increased psychic excitability (psychomotor, affective, imaginational, sensual, and mental) and intact cognitive powers. Nervousness or increased psychic excitability is based on innate dispositions.


The main causal factors in educational difficulties, therefore, are environmental factors, and in nervousness they are innate factors. In both disorders, however, besides the main causal factor, which dominates, there acts also a secondary factor (in educational difficulties, innate susceptibility, and in nervousness, the influence of the environment). In both groups of disorders there occur, on the one hand, difficulties with proper and correct development (the lack of a sufficiently developed internal environment), and on the other hand, a great susceptibility to development because of the lack of stiffening and the presence of plasticity and increased psychic excitability. Inadaptability in ed-



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


ucational difficulties causes opposition, aggression, states of fear, social distortions, and moral depravations; and increased psychic excitability (nervousness) causes, in inadequate educational conditions, an increasingly greater increase of tension, social inadaptability, and eventually a nervous state.


In educational difficulties, as well as in the nervousness of children and young people in the period of maturation and after it, one should develop the internal environment by placing stress on moral sensitivity and responsibility, self-educational and autopsychotherapeutic tendencies. As we have shown, one should apply the following as important additional methods in the developmental periods, and in other periods as chief methods, usually prophylactic in character: the development of interests and capabilities, creating (usually outside the consciousness of the person being educated), from the disposing and directing center, conditions for the affirmation of the individual's positive qualities, with a negation of the negative qualities in conditions of concrete experience.


Of importance here is the method of praise and the method of trial and error, introduced into the area of experiences of the “friendly” life, the suggestion method, and finally the example method. The application of the method of discharging tension in the world of nature and sport is also of marked importance.


The following is an example of the application of these methods in the case of a difficult and nervous child.


MC was a 9-year-old girl, gifted and impulsive, with an inclination to rapid reactions, and with great affective and imaginational excitability. From the time she was 18 months old, M—displayed an inclination to obstinacy. The parents tried to eliminate these symptoms by using the method of not yielding to the child's obstinacy (she was very well liked and rationally educated). This method gave no results, and, at the same time, nightmares were noted. Obstinacy and symptoms of an “affectional wrecking” increased considerably.


After many discussions, the parents decided not to apply, for a long time, any prohibitions or injunctions with respect to any of the symptoms of the child's obstinacy, but displayed (though very slightly) their dissatisfaction by pretending to be careworn



Methods of Shaping Personality


or afflicted, and by a discreet withdrawal from the area of the child's psychic tensions. They also became more careful in not letting fear-creating stimuli enter the child's imagination. Simultaneously, a whole system of education for the child was created and her relaxation through play and through contact with nature, animals, and so on, was provided for. After this program was applied carefully for a year, nightmares disappeared, and a childish control of her own behavior, of her impulsiveness, increased, and gradually led to the beginnings of the psychic development of the child's internal environment in the most proper way (the advent of the dynamisms of dissatisfaction with oneself, of “subject-object in oneself,” and of the third factor).


As for neuroses and psychoneuroses, particularly with children and young people, we have called attention in other works (3) to their main etiological and pathological factors, and to their developmental dynamisms. Lighter neuroses and psychoneuroses, occurring much more frequently than the more serious ones, reflect various disorders of a different strength and level of the psychic dynamisms, both in the internal and external environments. Symptomatic of neurotic and psychoneurotic individuals are increased psychic excitability, accelerated developmental possibilities, and, most frequently, an “incorrect,” discordant development of various dynamisms. In my opinion this discordant development is not rightly appraised when called incorrect in comparison to the control group of “normals,” as it should be appraised according to principles worked out for development through psychoneuroses, which points to the peculiar correctness of this way (the way of accelerated development).


We consider fundamental the following elements of positive disintegration as applied to psychoneuroses:


1. Help in the acceleration and crystallization of the maturing dynamisms of the internal environment (for instance, the feeling of guilt, making the ideal concrete, the third factor, the disposing and directing center on a higher level)


2. Help in the multilevel localization of some of the imma-



(3) K. Dąbrowski. Positive Disintegration. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1964; Inner Psychic Milieu (in preparation).



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


ture, instinctive tendencies and dynamisms of the internal environment


3. Help in the transformation of certain psychoneurotic forms, when expressions of a single neurosis, into more advantageous ones, from the point of view of development


4. When symptoms of several neuroses are observed, help in the accentuation of a psychoneurotic set, the presence of which points to a higher level of development of a given individual (for example, the coexistence of psychasthenic as well as neurasthenic and hysterical symptoms, with accentuation placed on the former)


5. Help in the development of partial disintegrations and integrations


6. Help in the development and consolidation of full secondary integration


Because of the exigencies of space, we have to omit detailed description and examples of the application of all these methods. Only a few examples and their interpretation will be given.


L—-, a 16-year-old boy of introvertive type with a markedly increased affectional and imaginational excitability, very gifted, experienced a strong and inappropriate dislike of his father (characteristic of the maturation period of such individuals), arising from the weakening of the parent's authority and from his severe criticism of him. Up to that time the father was for him always an authority and a highest example; the boy was simultaneously very much attached to his mother. In this period many features of the father, his movements, gestures, attitudes, ways of doing things, became annoying and even repellent. These states were so strong that there developed a strong feeling of guilt and a state of collision between this feeling of guilt and the boy's growing critical attitude toward the father which was accompanied by a weakening of the father's authority. At that time L—, transferred his ideal opinions and feelings from his father to one of his acquaintances, who stood much lower than his father with respect to type, interests, and capabilities.


The father, with the help of an adviser, carried on educational work in the following way:



Methods of Shaping Personality


1. In a confidential talk with the son, held in an appropriate atmosphere, he explained to him certain correct and incorrect aspects of such an attitude and encouraged the son to read, with him, a number of short books on the subject.


2. Knowing his son's capabilities and the somewhat exceptional and original character of the boy's development, he encouraged his son to develop in himself some critical attitudes in relation to the “laws” of man's developmental cycle in the period of maturation, and not to submit himself to these laws uncritically.


3. It was agreed that the son, with the help of the father, would check his attitude of dislike for his father and the attitude of undue enthusiasm with respect to the above-mentioned acquaintance, in whom he saw his new ideal.


4. The father promised the son to discuss with him the positive and negative elements of the feeling of guilt after he (the son) realized the tasks set out for him in the last point.


5. It was agreed that both would return to their first (basic) talk after six months, and until this time the father would try to give technical advice concerning the son's work upon himself however, only on his request.


This method of working upon the boy gave the desired results—that is, a return to the son's former attitude toward the father, but on a more mature level—the affectional tensions of the boy were weakened generally, as well as in this area, and there occurred a weakening and in fact a reshaping and deepening of the boy's relation to guilt-feeling mechanisms, and an acceleration and strengthening of the “correct” development of the boy. In this way the father helped the boy to deepen some dynamisms of his internal environment (the “subject-object in oneself” dynamism, the feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself, the feeling of guilt); he excited and enhanced self-educational and psychotherapeutic tendencies; he deepened the understanding of developmental dynamisms in the sphere of the partial process of positive disintegration. This influenced the whole psychic development of the boy.


In another case we came into contact with a student from a



Personality-shaping Through Positive Disintegration


polytechnical institute, F-, who was characterized by great affectional and imaginational excitability and by considerable originality in literary ideas. F displayed distinct asthenic and hypochondriacal traits, accompanied by tendencies for conflicts with the environment, phantastic attitudes toward life, a weak function of reality, timidity, fearfulness, and literary existential interests. The method applied here was the sublimation of symptoms, in the sense of “advancing to a higher rank” some of the psychoneurotic symptoms. The development of the boy's creativity was acted upon, the publication of his first works was brought about, and when he was about to finish his Polish-language studies he was urged to enter the faculty of psychology, with the aim of bringing about a deepening of his creative analysis of literary characters and analysis of external observations needed for creativity, and in order to keep the patient's mind off superficial analysis of his own symptoms and excessive, though superficial, philosophizing on existential matters.


An attempt was made to weaken his daily conflictive contacts with the environment and to deepen his creative imagination. The purpose of this effort was to accentuate some symptoms to the detriment of others, to shift to the foreground the psychasthenic symptoms, to develop the beginnings of secondary integration (strengthening of interests and creative work), and to make the imagination extravertive. At the same time Schultz's method of relaxation was applied.


The author ascertained here a distinct accentuation of the process of positive disintegration and a “catching on” of the elements of secondary integration (deepening of the disposing and directing center and the personality ideal becoming concrete).


We will refer to one more case which exemplifies both the methods of helping in the development of, and strengthening of the process of, secondary integration and the methods of the accentuation of certain advantageous psychoneurotic symp