⧈ 2.3.12 Multilevelness of emotional and instinctive functions.

William Tillier


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Prace Wydziału Nauk Społecznych










































Lublin 1996


Kazimierz Dąbrowski





Multilevelness of emotional and instinctive functions.



























Wydanie publikacji dofinansowane


przez Komitet Badań Naukowych


© Copyright by Eugenia Dąbrowska 1996


ISBN 83-86668-51-2


Wydawnictwo Towarzystwa Naukowego

Katolickiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego

ul. Gliniana 21, 20-616 Lublin, tel. (0-81) 525-01-93. 524-31-77, fax 524-31-77

Druk: „Petit” SC, ul. Grenadierów 13, 20-331 Lublin












Introduction (Czesław Cekiera SDS)——XI


Part 1


1. Introduction——3

The Need for a Developmental Paradigm——3

The Need to Discover Emotional Development——5

2. Multilevelness, Disintegration and Developmental Potential——8

The Concept of Multilevelness——8

Positive Disintegration——10

Integration and Disintegration——13

The Concept of Developmental Potential——13

3. Levels and Types of Development——17

Levels of Development through Positive Disintegration——17

Types of Development——20

Hierarchy of Levels as an Evolutionary Scale——23

4. General Characteristics of Developmental Evolution——24

The Role and the Nature of Conflict in Development——24

On the Non-derivability of Multilevel from Unilevel Structure——25

General Trends of Neuropsychological Evolution——26

A Scale of Functions and Level Characteristics——28

5. Dynamisms: the Shapers of Development——30

The Determination of Levels Development by Dynamisms of the Inner Psychic Milieu——30

Level I: Primary Integration——32

Level II: Unilevel Disintegration——33

Level III: Spontaneous Multilevel Disintegration——35

Level IV: Organized (Directed) Multilevel Disintegration——38

Level IV-V: The Borderline of Organized Multilevel Disintegration and Secondary Integration——42

6. The Shaping of Behavior by the Dynamisms of the Inner Psychic Milieu ——44

Observable Behavior versus Hidden Constructs——44

Four Functions: Sexual Behavior, Fear, Laughter, Reality Function——45

Differential Interlevel Diagnosis——64

Developmental Gradients——67

7. Psychic (Nervousness)——71

Forms of Overexcitability——71

Levels of Overexcitability——74

Sensual Overexcitability——75

Psychomotor Overexcitability——75

Emotional Overexcitability——76

Imaginational Overexcitability——77

Intellectual Overexcitability——79

8. Basic Emotional and Instinctive States——79











Fear and Anxiety——91

9. Emotional-Cognitive Functions——92

Reality Functions——92





Religious Attitude and Experience——96

Esthetic Attitude and Esthetic Experience——98

10. Cognitive Functions——100






11. Imaginational Functions——107

Reverie (Daydreaming)——107


12. Complex Emotional Functions——110



Affective Memory——113

Emotional Ties——114


Attitude toward Death——117


13. Self-Oriented Functions——120




Pride and Dignity——124

14. Other-Oriented Functions——





15. Social and Biological Functions ——131

Social Behavior——131


Inferiority toward Others——134



Sexual Behavior——137

16. Some So-Called Pathological Syndromes Nervousness——138




17. Disciplines——143










Part 2




1. Introduction——160

The Beginnings——160

Methods of Data Collecting——161

The Endowment for Development: Psychic Overexcitability——162

Types of Development——164

Levels of Development——164

Manner of Presentation——166

2. Selection of Subjects and Administration of Tests——168

3. Methods——171

Inquiry and Initial Assessment of Development——172


Verbal Stimuli——177




Neurological Examination——183

4. Developmental Assessment——191


Clinical Diagnosis——191


Therapy through Diagnosis——192

Social Implications——193

5. Primary Integration——194

Inquiry and Initial Assessment of Development——194


Autobiography: Summary and Conclusions——199

Verbal Stimuli——200

Verbal Stimuli: Summary and Conclusions——202


Kinds and Levels of Overexcitability——265

Neurological Examination——206

Developmental Assessment——207

6. Partial Disintegration and Partial Integration——211

Inquiry and Initial Assessment of Development——211


Autobiography: Summary and Conclusions——217

Verbal Stimuli——218

Verbal Stimuli: Summary and Conclusions——229


Kinds and Levels of Overexcitability——232

Neurological Examination——234

Developmental Assessment——236

7. Unilevel and Multilevel Disintegration——239

Inquiry and Initial Developmental Assessment——239


Autobiography: Summary and Conclusions——252

Verbal Stimuli——253

Verbal Stimuli: Summary and Conclusions——262


Kinds and Levels of Overexcitability——265

Neurological Examination——268

Developmental Assessment——269

8. Unilevel and Multilevel Disintegration Accelerated Development——272

Inquiry and Initial Assessment of Development——272


Autobiography: Summary and Conclusions——294

Verbal Stimuli——300

Verbal Stimuli: Summary and Conclusions——305


Kinds and Levels of Overexcitability——309

Neurological Examination——312

Developmental Assessment——313

9. Multilevel Disintegration: Accelerated but Discontinuous Development——317

Inquiry and Initial Assessment of Development——317


Autobiography: Summary and Conclusions——338

Verbal Stimuli——340

Verbal Stimuli: Summary and Conclusions——344


Kinds and Levels of Overexcitability——349

Neurological Examination——351

Developmental Assessment——354

10. Multilevel Disintegration, Accelerated Development——357

Inquiry and Initial Assessment of Development——357


Autobiography: Summary and Conclusions——378

Verbal Stimuli——380

Verbal Stimuli: Summary and Conclusions——386


Kinds and Levels of Overexcitability——391

Neurological Examination——392

Developmental Assessment——395

11. Organized Multilevel Disintegration, Moving to Secondary Integration——399

Antoine Marie Roger de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)——399

Biographical Fragments, Letters, and Excerpts: Summary and Conclusions——422

Kinds and Levels of Overexcitability——428

Developmental Assessment——430

12. Profiles of Development——433


Index of Subjects——437

Index of Names——445



The work of Prof. Kazimierz Dąbrowski entitled Multilevelness of Emotional and Instinctive Functions is a fruit of long-standing and revealing research carried out by the Professor on the multilevel character of the emotional functions and on the role of emotions in human development. The research was conducted within the framework of a three-year scholarship granted by Canada Council in Ottawa, at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, at the Department of Psychology, at the Chair of Professor Kazimierz Dąbrowski.

The research was made possible owing to kind support from Prof. Dr. T.M. Nelson, Head of the Department of Psychology at Edmonton University, Alberta, as well as help offered by postgraduate students from the chair of professor K. Dąbrowski. In the works of the group of Prof. Kazimierz Dąbrowski took part the following scholars: Dexter R. Amend, Sister Luz Maria Alvares-Calderon, William Hague, Marlene D. King [Rankel], Michael M. Piechowski, Maurice Taurice Turned, Leondor [Leendert] Mos, Lorne Veudall [Yeudall], and Pat Collins.

Taking a multilevel approach to the issues of emotions and their significant role in the acts of cognition, the work Multilevelness of Emotional and Instinctive Functions introduces us into the sphere of science, as well as orders the discipline which has been little studied so far, and which is highly crucial for the knowledge about man. Accordingly, the work lay a direction for methodological reflection and scientific procedure in the humanities. All this amounts to the fact that the work is ranked exceptionally high within the system of contemporary knowledge. It is a topical work, especially now at the time when aberrant, or even pathological behaviors abound, characterized by “moral callousness,” atrophy of higher emotions, syntony and empathy, by aggressive and terrorist attitudes.

The book makes up a special compendium of the humanistic knowledge on the development of emotions in relation with other dynamisms and functions of personality. Therefore it corresponds to a social and individual demand for a systematic study of the theory of the development of emotions. It should be stressed that the hitherto research has promoted rather the cognitive and intellectual theories of the development of the individual, and neglected the sphere of emotions in the forming of a mature personality.

The fact that prof. Kazimierz Dąbrowski took up emotions and studied their role in the processes of personality development is a pioneering achievement. Many contemporary authorities of contemporary science such as: Abraham Maslow, J. Aronson, H. Quellet, G.R. Dr. Grace, G. Borofsky, K. Jankowski, J. Pieter, P. Joshi, T. Nelson, M. Grzywacz-Kaczynska, O.H. Mowrer, and T. Weckowicz, who spoke about Professor’s work, acknowledge its pioneering role. Numerous comments from patients who turned to the Professor for help as well as passages from His Theory of the Development of emotions pinpoint that there is a social demand for Kazimierz Dąbrowski’s books in general, and in particular for this publication dealing with the development of emotions: Multilevelness or Emotional and Personality Functions.

K. Dąbrowski conducted his scientific and clinical activity in Poland, France, Canada, the United States, Portugal, Switzerland and in many other countries. Some of his works are well-known at home and abroad, but as a whole they were known neither to the Polish nor foreign reader. The present work, which comes to the reader’s hands, is his least known book.

I met Professor Kazimierz Dąbrowski for the first time during my studies at the Catholic University in Lublin in 1958. His lecturers on the conception of mental health, disease, pathology of the person’s development aroused vivid interest among students. Animated discussions about his classes impressed greatly not only students, but involved their participants in the current problems concerning some aspects of social life turned pathological.

The book whose content is the development of affections and emotions grasps crucial aspects and dimensions of the development of personality, things which have so far been presented by the textbooks of developmental psychology only from one point of view, which have been treated with significant simplifications. This publication may give momentum and bring forward suggestions for a new research on the role and function of emotions in the development of a mature personality. Multilevelness, types of development and the traits of development have been analyzed here.

In chapter VI the reader will find a description of the observed emotional behaviors in such dimensions as reality function, diagnosis of the differentiated interlevel behaviors as well as various degrees of the differentiation and hierarchization of emotional values which are not indifferent for the individual. The author describes the states of reflection, inhibitions, syntony and empathy. He states, among other things, that the latter dynamism is the most powerful with prominent authors.

Chapters VII-IX make up very interesting psychological analyses of emotions. The reader will find in them the description and psychical analysis of overexcitability (nervousness) and its diverse forms: a further part presents an analysis of the basic emotional states. Chapter IX discusses the emotional-cognitive functions in the aspect of the reality function, success, ideal, justice, and religious attitudes. The cognitive functions have been described in chapter X. The problem of emotional complexes and states from the borderline of pathology and norm, as well as other emotional states are the subject matter of chapters XII-XV. In chapters XIV and XV the author conducts thorough analyses of such emotions, today barely discussed in professional textbooks, as altruism, sincerity, humility, and responsibility.

The next chapter XVII displays the levels of development in the aspect of various scientific disciplines such as: psychiatry, philosophy, religion, ethics, and political sciences. We should in vain seek the problems discussed in this chapter in other works treating of emotions. Therefore this chapter is exceptionally valuable in the book.

The issuing of the book may help us to draw psychological, pedagogic and therapeutic conclusions within the sphere of forming emotions and feelings, and not only their inhibition or containment. The readers of the book may consist of a vast group of the youth, students of psychology, education, and medicine.

The book may serve professionals, psychologists, educators, priests, and the clergy as an aid in the forming of emotions. It may serve anybody who wishes to develop their own personality toward the highest individual and social ideal.

The Multilevelness of Emotional and Personality Functions is an exceptional item at the publishing market. We should wish the patient and careful reader of the book that he have some profound reflections and rich experiences, which in turn will lead to the forming of emotions and a harmonious personality. All those interested in the development of emotions should be wished courage to reach the fifth level of development, where dominates a full awareness of responsibility for the higher moral values; even if we are to lay down our lives to realize those values.

Translated by Jan Klos




Part 1





Kazimierz Dąbrowski, M.D., Ph.D.








In the last two decades the psychology of human development underwent an “explosion of knowledge” (Mussen, 1970, p. vii). Curiously, however, the concept of development as an approach to the study of human behavior does not appear on the official map of psychological systems (Marx and Hillix, 1963 and 1973) nor do the names of Gesell, Piaget, and Werner appear on the pages of a recent textbook covering the history of modern psychology (Schultz, 1969). Nevertheless, this lack of official theoretical status has not hindered the study of development as a phenomenon in its own right.

Development has many aspects. There is physical growth and physical maturation. There is motor and language development. There is social development which leads to the role and position in society assumed in adulthood. There is intellectual development and learning which may lead to the appearance of individual cognitive style. There is psychosexual development and emotional development, the two often not distinguished at all. The development ascendance is followed by decline in consequence of disease, old age deterioration of the body, loss of social function, senility and death. Not all aspects of development, and only several have been mentioned, are studied with equal vigor, while the study of some has not yet actually been attempted.

On the official map of developmental psychology (Mussen, Langer, and Covington, 1969; Mussen, 1970) we note a prominent presence of cognitive. studies and an equally prominent absence of studies on affect. That means that emotional development does not appear on the map of developmental psychology. But unlike development in general, and cognitive and moral development in particular, emotional development is not even recognized as a phenomenon in its own right.

4 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Indeed, it appears that emotional development is a blank space in developmental theory and research.

It is possible that the reason for this lies in a commonly held conception of emotions as something ephemeral, elusive, ill-defined and not researchable by other than clinical methods. But this is no longer so. The phenomenon of emotion is recognized and is the subject of a host of studies and reviews (Davitz, 1969, Arnold, 1971, Izard, 1971, Strongman, 1972, Leventhal, 1974). Feelings have been shown to be very precise phenomena of dynamic communication, perhaps more precise, than sensory perception (Clynes, 1970). But except for unsystematic psychoanalytic approaches dealing with neurotic and sexual conflicts a systematic approach to emotional development has not yet appeared.

The fact that the developmental approach in psychology is not recognized as a system of thought, or paradigm, is intriguing. The roots of this appear to be historical. For a long time development was seen as a function of age, that is as a function of time. Time, therefore, was just another parameter in the study of human behavior. Within such an approach development could not present anything distinctive.

The situation is different in biology where development for over 150 years was known as a complex process of differentiation and sequences of changes in structural and functional organization of living organisms. The development of the embryo from one cell into a complex multi-cellular organism goes through many stages characterized by different morphology and different biochemistry. In consequence, the structures and the functions of an organism at different stages of development can be so different as to be unrecognizable. Compare, for example, the tadpole and the frog, the larva and the butterfly, the human embryo in the first few weeks and the newborn infant. Similar differences can be found in the complex life cycles of fungi, mosses, ferns or higher plants. Or, take the extreme example of a virus which after infecting a cell vanishes so entirely as an entity that this stage of its development has been called the “eclipse” (Stent, 1963). In some instances the different stages of ontogenesis of a single organism were at first described as different species.

The point of the above biological invocation is first, that it is necessary to follow the sequence of developmental transformations if the phenomena of life, including human behavior, are to be understood; second, that the different stages of development can be so dissimilar that without knowing their succession they could appear unrelated; third, that there must be an underlying structure which secures the continuity and regularity of development. At the biological level this structure is the genetic material and its function is storage of information. What would correspond to that structure at the psychological level we do not know. We know, however, that the awareness of one’s identity persists through wakefulness and sleep, through grave emotional crises, or through periods of amnesia.

The application of developmental biological knowledge to human psychological development was attempted by Gesell (1946), Piaget (1967, 1967a, 1970) and

Introduction 5

Werner (1948, 1957). Their attempts focused on identifying those general principles of development established in the biological realm which could also apply to the psychological. Closely examined, those principles are essentially descriptive. They do not explain developmental phenomena because they do not point to specific processes which would account for a given transformation.

This, perhaps, is the reason why the developmental orientation in psychology, in spite of its vast membership and explosive output, has not risen to the rank of a system of thought. The function of a system is to provide an “inclusive framework which serves as a general theory of the subject” (Marx and Hillix, 1963). The function of a general theory is not only to describe and identify specific phenomena and relationships between them but also to provide means of explication (Piechowski, in press).

In this sense the developmental theories of Piaget, Werner, and the psychoanalytic theory are descriptive. They describe the course of development, identify the distinctive features of its different stages, correlate them with age, establish relationships between different structures and functions, but do not tell what specific, identifiable, unitary factors can account for the transition from one stage to another. The psychological analogs of genes and molecules are yet to be discovered.

The attempt to identify the “molecules” of psychological development is best exemplified by the work of Piaget (1970). His conceptualization of internal structures and functions which cannot be observed but which can be discerned in a child’s method of handling cognitive tasks provides us with the psychological analogs of biological structures and functions.

Nevertheless, the analogs of the genes are yet to appear.


If the first revolution in American psychology was behaviorism, the second appears to be “a kind of cognitive functionalism” (White, 1970). The study of development and the theories of development are now focused on problems of cognitive development while those of emotional development lie fallow.

The reason for this is hard to find if one is aware of the power of emotions in human experience, but if one looks at the development of the science of human behavior, it is not so hard to understand the reasons for leaving emotional development out of the picture. For several decades learning had been one of the central issues in American psychology. Consequently, the study of cognitive development finds, in a certain way, a prepared ground. On the contrary, a systematic psychology of the emotions is a recent occurrence, too young and too limited theoretically and methodologically to have prepared the ground for a study of emotional development.

Thus, a third revolution is needed. Our understanding of human behavior and human development cannot be complete without the study of emotional develop-

6 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

ment. Not only does human life lose meaning if the emotional component is taken away, but a general theory of human development is not possible if it does not include emotional factors. But we have to go even farther than that. Emotional factors, more than the acquisition of symbolic language (Pribram, 1971), are significant in the process by which man becomes human. Therefore, they not only have to be included but must be given a position of primary importance.

The various levels and complexities of human experience cannot even be approached without considering the emotions which give rise to them. Stripped of affect, human relationships become meaningless, albeit theoretically tractable (e.g. Heider, 1958). The age-old problems of universality and objectivity of human values and value judgments cannot be solved if the emotions which generated the hierarchy of values are not brought into the picture (Dąbrowski and Piechowski, 1970); similarly, when we try to penetrate the mystery of creativity and religious experience, both associated with rich affectivity, we cannot comprehend them without taking into account emotional development.

We need a general theory of human development but one which would include and account not only for cognitive but for emotional development as well, and let us hasten to add, a theory where emotional factors are not considered merely as unruly subordinates of reason but can acquire the dominant role of shapers of development. This last requirement, namely to bring emotional factors into the forefront of developmental dynamics, is not arbitrary, although it may appear emotional, but stems from a comprehensive analysis of human development.

When one studies the life histories of writers, composers, artists, scientists, one is struck by the fact that from early childhood they manifest an enhanced mode of reacting to the world around them. Furthermore, their enhanced reactivity is coupled with intensified experiencing in cognitive, imaginational, and emotional areas. One observes a similar pattern in gifted and creative children and youth (Dąbrowski, 1972). In tracing the development of such individuals it becomes quite clear that in those cases where development reaches toward universal human values, i.e. values which persist across epochs and cultures, emotional factors play a dominant role. They appear as internal conflicts, striving through anxieties and depressions for true empathy and genuine concern for others, striving for unique and exclusive bonds of love and friendship, desperate search for the meaning of human existence, or a desperate search for God not as an abstraction or institutionalized father figure, but as a personally felt living presence.

The thesis offered here is the following. The key to the understanding of complex phenomena of human behavior lies in the developmental approach as a system of thought. Just as the theory of evolution reoriented biological thinking from description of isolated phenomena as finished and unchangeable forms to viewing them as a progression of evolving patterns, so a general theory of human development may reorient psychological thinking to a view of human behavior as a progression of differently organized behavioral patterns interweaving hereditary, environmental, and conscious, self-determining factors. Analogous to the

Introduction 7

theory of evolution, a general theory of development could thus become the integrating paradigm for the numerous, disparate, and seemingly unrelated fields of psychology.

We can summarize the foregoing discussion by saying that in spite of the wide front of developmental research a general theory of development which would rise to the rank of a conceptually distinct system of thought in psychology has not yet emerged. The closest to such a general theory are the theories of cognitive development. In our view a general theory of human development must also include emotional development because emotional factors are crucial in shaping the transition from human animal to a human being.

Available theories of development appear bound to an ontogenetic approach. It is our contention that a general theory must look at development as a more general sequence of evolving patterns of organization of behavior. This leads to a discovery of developmental sequences which may occur in some ontogenetic paths but be absent from others. The comparison of these paths will then lead to a more extended overall picture of development that can occur but does not always occur.

The theory of development to be presented here rests on an evolutionary rather than ontogenetic conception of human development. Its central concept is that of multilevelness.







In 1884 John Hughlings Jackson delivered three lectures on the Evolution and Dissolution of the Nervous System. In these lectures he presented the idea that progressive impairment of neurological activity, such as observed in epileptic seizure, descends step by step down the evolutionary strata of the nervous system.

The evolution of the nervous system is a particularly striking example of development of new structures and associated functions. This development is hierarchical because the organization of the nervous system is hierarchical. The relationships between levels of this hierarchy are very intricate but here we want only to point out one general feature which was particularly significant to Jackson’s line of thought, namely, that higher levels control lower levels through inhibition. Thus, when alcohol, extreme fatigue, or epileptic seizure dim consciousness and voluntary activity, the highest level of neurological functioning is impaired, or “dissolved.” The next lower level is now functionally the highest and the controlling one. But it is more automatic. If, in turn, this level is “dissolved,” the organism’s functioning descends again to the next lower and even more automatic level.

Jackson said that automatic actions can be automatic because they are independent of other actions. In consequence, they have simple organization, even though they may be quite elaborate. Automatic action has to run its course, it can be stopped but it cannot change pattern or sequence. Functional complexity, on the other hand, requires intricate and mutually responsive mechanisms. With this in mind Jackson formulated three laws of evolution of the nervous system:

(1) Evolution is a passage from the most to the least organized; “the progress is from centers comparatively well organized at birth to those, the highest centers, which are continually organizing through life.”

Multilevelness, Disintegration and Developmental potential 9

(2) Evolution is a passage from the most simple to the most complex.

(3) Evolution is a passage from the most automatic to the most voluntary. The essence of Jacksonian thought is that the highest levels of nervous activity are the most complex and the least automatic. It is, however, hard to accept his view that they are also “least organized.” Rather, one may say that they are more flexible and because of their complexity, allow a multiplicity of operations (Dąbrowski, 1964).

The significance of Jackson’s theoretical contribution lies in associating a hierarchy of levels of functioning with evolution and suggesting its general trends. Jackson represents a multilevel and evolutionary approach to development.

Such a concept of multilevelness differs from that of Piaget. For Piaget conceptualizes development in terms of stages. Each stage represents a more complex and more efficient level of organization produced in the course of ontogenetic development. It is the process of development which produces the different levels in stage wise orderly succession. Piaget’s approach is ontogenetic, while Jackson’s approach is evolutionary (but not necessarily phylogenetic).

The studies of McGraw (1943) provide a link between these two approaches. The control of movements and reflexes develops during infancy and childhood through successive phases. The early phases are automatic, the later ones deliberate and voluntary. The transition from the early to the late ones requires inhibition, analogous to Jacksonian inhibition of lower, more automatic levels by higher, more voluntary levels. At the time of gaining voluntary control, for instance of grasping, the early automatic control is inhibited with the result that the baby’s ability to support his weight is comparatively high up to the age of 40 days, then is gradually lost, and is not regained at the same level of proficiency until the age of 5. But by then it is voluntary and deliberate. This demonstrates how a level higher in the evolution of functions is acquired in the course of ontogenesis. McGraw’s approach is both ontogenetic and evolutionary.

In the theory of positive disintegration (Dąbrowski, 1949, 1964) development is a function of the level of organization. We have argued earlier that the most significant aspect of human development is emotional development but we now have to point out that it has different character than neuromuscular or cognitive development. There is no, as yet, discernible ontogenetic pattern of stages of emotional growth. Children gradually develop their ability to recognize emotions as a function of age, while adults appear to gradually lose it (Dimitrovsky, 1962). The solution to this contradiction lies in approaching emotional development as a nonontogenetic evolutionary pattern of individual growth. This means that the level of emotional functioning is not produced automatically in the course of ontogenesis but evolves as a function of other conditions, which we shall examine later. Thus a high level of cognitive functioning in no way guarantees a high level of emotional functioning. The reverse may not be true.

10. Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Making multilevelness the central concept in the approach to development means that we have to apply it to every phenomenon under scrutiny. It means that we are using a new key, or paradigm, with which to approach human behavior and its development. It now becomes less meaningful to consider, for instance, aggression, inferiority, empathy, or sexual behavior as unitary phenomena, but it becomes more meaningful to examine different levels of these behaviors. Through this approach we may discover that there is less difference between the phenomenon of love and the phenomenon of aggression at the lowest level of development than there is between the lowest and the highest level of love, or the lowest and the highest level of aggression (at which point there is no aggression but instead empathy for the opponent).

The enormous amount of differentiation occurring across levels will show us that, in general, at the lowest level of development different behaviors have a fairly simple underlying structure. We call it primary integration. With the progress of development toward higher levels the process of differentiation becomes so extensive that the differences between levels are greater and more significant than differences between particular functions (i.e. behaviors).

The concept of multilevelness is thus the starting point for the analysis of all forms of behavior and their development. It represents the new “system of thought” which we see as necessary to represent the developmental approach on the official map of psychology and the clinical sciences as well. Nevertheless, this conceptual orientation, however fruitful for the analysis of behavior and development, requires something more which would account for the fact that not all individuals, in fact very few, reach the highest level of development. If it is not the length of time needed to complete the ‘cycle of individual evolution’ through many levels, and it is not, it must be something else. At this point a new concept is needed.

In order to account for differences in the extent of development we introduce the concept of the developmental potential (Dąbrowski, 1970, Piechowski, 1974). The developmental potential is the original endowment which determines what level of development a person may reach if the physical and environmental conditions are optimal. The concept of developmental potential is a necessary one. In a later section we shall describe the components and manifestations of the developmental potential and its interaction with three basic sets of factors affecting development.


Jackson (1884) did not specify what the processes of evolution are and by what mechanisms a transformation takes place from a lower to a higher level, from simple to complex, from automatic and unconscious to voluntary and conscious. Many mechanisms, viewed by him as “dissolution,” play a key role in evolution. We call them processes of positive disintegration.

Multilevelness, Disintegration and Developmental potential 11

There is no reason to believe, as Jackson did, that “dissolution” starts from higher and more recently evolved functions and proceeds downward to simple automatic ones. The course of life of prominent individuals, highly creative persons, and many psychoneurotics, reveals a disintegration, or even atrophy, of simple automatic functions, while the higher and more complex functions retrain fully intact. A prolonged hunger strike or self-immolation by fire as a moral protest are proof of complete control over self-preservation, hunger and pain. A recovery from mental illness—a form of “dissolution” to Jackson—can result not in a return to a previous supposedly “normal” condition but to a higher level of mental functioning and creative output (Dąbrowski, 1964). Obviously a new and higher level of functioning could not exist in a dissolved state but must have been intact, although hidden. Or, at least, whatever gives rise to it, must have been intact.

In the process of individual evolution the factor of conflict with one’s milieu and with oneself plays a decisive role in inhibiting primitive impulses. Internal conflict becomes thus a controlling factor. It is also more complex than the impulse it inhibits. Thus the impulse represents a higher level of functioning according to the rules of hierarchical organization laid out in the discussion of multilevelness.

Reflection, hesitation, and inhibition are less automatic than an immediate response to stimuli. They represent a reaction to stimuli which cannot be derived from the stimulus the way a tropism response may be derived, as for instance, in the case of positive phototropism when movement toward light appears automatically with the shining of light.

The less automatic but more voluntary responses are in conflict with the old conditions and modes of functioning. Such conflict is a necessary prelude to the gradual process of adaptation to new external and internal conditions. This results in a disequilibrium which allows the emergence and organization of new levels of control, higher than those of the previous stable period. Thus the instability, and partial, or even complete, disorganization of behavior, is necessary in the process of development from a lower to a higher level of mental functioning. Yet this does not mean that development occurs inevitably.

This view of development as a process of positive disintegration is based on several decades of clinical and psychological study of children, adolescents, and adults, talented and creative as well as retarded and psychopathic (Dąbrowski, 1949, 1964, 1967, 1970, 1972). Gradually it became apparent that within each group the individuals functioned at strikingly different levels, and that these levels had certain distinguishing characteristics. But what was most striking was the realization that those with, as Jackson would put it, partly or completely “dissolved” areas of functioning (creative psychoneurotics, some psychotics) were actually undergoing a process of transformation and reorganization in their internal psychological makeup,. And it was not so much their intellectual but their emotional structure which was being demolished. Amidst the debris a new one would emerge, often not precipitously but slowly and painfully.

12 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

This process was called positive disintegration to stress the particular nature of its developmental direction (Dąbrowski, 1949). While Jackson looking at the impaired functions of injured, intoxicated, or epileptic individuals considered only the negative aspect of functional disintegration, the theory of positive disintegration introduces the positive aspect of disintegration as a general developmental principle.

General principles, however, are not very useful if they do not spell out specific factors with which to measure their operation. Thus, for instance, we find in Piaget a mention of lack of equilibrium as a necessary aspect of development (Piaget, 1967b, p. 104). Development, according to him, proceeds through the inclusion of newly encountered aspects of reality (assimilation) and adjustment of available modes of functioning to concrete situations (accommodation). The interplay of these two processes, more and more active as development goes on, is called equilibration. Disequilibrium arises when these two processes are not balanced. Equilibration serves the organism to become more integrated and at the same time more adapted to objective reality. Nothing more is given to make possible an empirical grasp of this general principle. In Piaget’s opinion the interplay of assimilation and accommodation explains development, but for us it is only a descriptive and uncomfortably general principle.

One could review and compare the contrasting features of equilibration and of positive disintegration. But then, we would be arguing the merits and uses of different descriptive principles, similar to Werner’s discontinuity, sequentially, and differentiation.

It is not enough, therefore, to say that positive disintegration, or equilibration, or differentiation, is the process by which individual development may proceed from one level of functioning to the next. One must specify the factors involved and offer means of identifying them. One must, further, be able to show logical connections between different sets of factors. When these conditions are satisfied, a general theory can begin to emerge.

The description and analysis of the wide range of phenomena of disintegration is presented in detail elsewhere (Dąbrowski, 1937, 1967). They are discussed in relation to different types of disintegration, and in relation to certain periods of life, e.g. adolescence or climacteric, and grave events which are particularly stressful and disintegrative. Such phenomena of disintegration are triggered by events in the course of life and changing conditions of the maturational phases of the fife cycle. These events alone cannot account for the great individual differences in how they are experienced and handled. Even less can they be involved to account for those instances where a person deliberately seeks frustration and stressful conditions so that he would not stagnate in his development. Such development, propelled as it were, from within, is a function of strong developmental potential, and is not bound or determined by the phases of the life cycle.

Multilevelness, Disintegration and Developmental potential 13


Earlier we introduced multilevelness as the central concept of a developmental approach to the study of human behavior. We said that the change from a lower to a higher level of development requires major restructuring of the individual’s psychological makeup. This process was called positive disintegration.

The next step is to uncover how the different developmental levels are related to each other. We shall speak of levels of integration and disintegration.

That type of individual development which follows the maturational stages of the life cycle without any profound psychological transformation, which for us means no change in the emotional structure, we conceptualize as an integration. In such life history an individual follows the path of environmental adaptation. He learns, works, and fits in, but he does not suffer mental breakdown or experience inner conflicts, hierarchization of values and ecstasy. In contrast, when in a life history such phenomena do take place we have disintegration.1

There are many factors involved in development. Our concern here is with the intrapsychic factors which shape development and the expression of behavior. The intrapsychic factors of positive disintegration are called dynamisms. The analysis of these dynamisms and their relative strength allows one to decide whether a given process of disintegration is positive or negative without having to await its outcome.

The levels of integration and disintegration constitute a hierarchy. At the bottom we have primary integration, then three levels of disintegration (one of unilevel, two of multilevel) and finally secondary integration.

The concept of development through positive disintegration means that development occurs when there is movement (i.e. restructuring) at least from primary integration to the first level of disintegration. Development is more extensive if it proceeds through several levels of positive disintegration. Development is most extensive when it reaches secondary integration. This is extremely rare, nevertheless not entirely beyond empirical reach.


Developmental potential is the original endowment which determines what level of development a person may reach under ideal conditions.


1 Disintegration may be positive or negative. Development is associated with positive disintegration, while chronic disintegration of mental functions is associated with negative disintegration. In is often objected that one cannot decide, prior to the outcome, whether the actual process witnessed is positive or negative. This is not so. There are many identifiable factors involved in the process of positive disintegration. Their presence and level of activity can be assessed at any time and on this basis a very clear picture can be drawn. This is reported in detail in Part 2.

14 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Developmental potential describes the relationships between individual development and three sets of factors which control development (Dąbrowski, 1970). The first set of factors embodies the genes and the permanent psychical changes in the organism’s constitution which may occur during pregnancy, birth, or soon after. For the sake of simplicity we consider only the changes in the physical makeup of the organism. The first factor thus represents innate constitutional characteristics and potentialities of the organism.

The second set of factors represents all the social environmental influences which come from other persons individually or as group pressures. One could venture to say, for example, that the theories of H. S. Sullivan and A. Adler are an elaboration of the role of the second factor in individual development.

The third set of factors represents those autonomous processes which a person brings into his development, such as inner conflict, self-awareness, choice and decision in relation to personal growth, conscious inner psychic transformation, subject-object in oneself. When the autonomous factors emerge, self-determination becomes possible, but not before. This means that an individual can transcend, at least to some degree, the sets imposed on him by his constitution and by the maturational stages of the life cycle.

The developmental potential does not necessarily include a measure of each one of these sets of factors. It can be limited to the first factor alone, or to the first and the second (Piechowski, 1974).

Piaget (1967b, p. 103) also mentions three factors of development, heredity, physical environment, social environment, and adds a fourth, equilibration. The first two of Piaget’s factors correspond to our first factor. But equilibration cannot legitimately be considered a factor in development because just like the time variable (Wohlwill, 1970) it cannot be separated from the process of development itself. One would be making the same logical error were one to consider positive disintegration a developmental factor. Positive disintegration is the process of development. Thus the difference between Piaget and the theory of positive disintegration lies primarily in the inclusion of most psychoneuroses and autonomous factors in development.

When the developmental potential is limited to the first factor we are dealing with a psychopathic or sociopathic individual indifferent to social opinion and social influence, pursuing only his own totally egocentric goals. Such individuals are incapable of reflection on their actions. Their life is a function of externals. This would correspond to Kohlberg’s (1963) stages 1 and 2. For instance when Jimmy Hoffa described to an audience the depersonalization he suffered in prison he could only describe it in terms of being deprived of the choice of haircut, clothing and unlimited use of his money.

The developmental potential can be limited to the first and the second factors only. In that case we are dealing with individuals who throughout their life remain in the grip of social opinion and their own psychological typology (e.g. social climbers, fame seekers, those who say “I was born that way” or “I am the product

Multilevelness, Disintegration and Developmental potential 15

of my past” and do not conceive of changing). External influences from groups or individuals shape their behavior but not necessarily in a stable fashion. Changing influences shift the patterns of behavior or can deprive it of any pattern altogether. Autonomous developmental factors do not appear, and if they do only briefly, they do not take hold.

The developmental potential may have its full complement of all three sets of factors. In that case the individual consciously struggles to overcome his social indoctrination and constitutional typology (e.g. a strongly introverted person works to reduce his tendency to withdraw by seeking contacts with others in a more frequent and satisfying fashion). Such a person becomes aware of his own development and his own autonomous hierarchy of values. He becomes more and more inner-directed.

There is thus an important difference between the first two factors of development and the third. The first two factors allow only for external motivation, while the third is a factor of internal motivation in behavior and development. This is another example where a question of determinants of behavior cannot be properly settled outside the context of development. Aggressiveness, enterprise, and leadership of “self-made” men may often appear to spring from an internal locus of control but more closely examined often show no evidence of autonomous developmental dynamisms. Such individuals may be driven by a great deal of energy but their motives and goals are geared to external norms of success.

The developmental potential may be particularly strong when in addition to the three components there are special talents and particular strength of self-awareness and self-determination, such as manifested in great saints and leaders of mankind. Here development is characterized by great intensity and often severe crises. It is accelerated and universal, meaning that it encompasses the whole personality structure and goes in the direction of high human values and ideals which hold across time and across cultures.

The above description of the developmental potential and its breakdown into three components does not allow one to measure it independently of the context of development. So far we have considered the three factors of development as general sets of conditions which allow only to distinguish an externally from an internally controlled type of development. We need now to identify specific factors whose presence is a condition of development through positive disintegration and whose absence would limit it to primary integration.

In the Introduction we discussed the significance of emotional development. It was mentioned that creative and gifted individuals react and experience in an intensified manner, and that this particular characteristic can be observed in intellectual, imaginational and emotional areas. We now add the psychomotor and the sensual as well. The enhanced mode of reacting in these five areas was called psychic overexcitability (Dąbrowski, 1938 and 1959).

The three forms of overexcitability mentioned first are always associated with accelerated and universal development, that is development in which autonomous

16 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

factors are particularly strong (Dąbrowski, 1970). The psychomotor and the sensual forms of overexcitability may enhance such development by giving it more energy and more numerous areas of conflict. However, the psychomotor and sensual overexcitability by themselves alone do not contribute to the autonomous factor. In the case when intellectual, imaginational and emotional overexcitability are weak, or completely absent, development remains under strong, if not total, external control.

The five forms of overexcitability are the constitutional traits which make it possible to assess the strength of the developmental potential independently of the context of development (Piechowski, in press). They can be detected in small children, already at the age of 2-3 (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 8-9). These five forms are described in a different section.

Developmental potential is strongest if all, or almost all forms of overexcitability are present. The three forms, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional, are essential if a high level of development is to be reached. The highest level of development is possible only if the emotional form is the strongest, or at least no less strong than the other forms. Great strength of the psychomotor and the sensual forms limits development to the lowest levels only.

The five forms of overexcitability undergo extensive differentiation in the course of development. One of its products are developmental dynamisms, i.e. the intrapsychic factors which shape and direct development. Emotional and imaginational overexcitability, in cooperation with the intellectual play the most significant role in their formations.

A more precise definition and resolution of the relationships between the three sets of factors and the five forms of overexcitability awaits future analysis.

The developmental potential is a conceptually necessary structure. When the human organism begins to grow and interact with its environment, this structure responds to the three groups of factors determining the course of development. If the developmental potential is limited then development is also limited although there might be no limitations on the external conditions to be the most favorable to nourish even the richest endowment. When developmental potential is present in its full complement then multilevel development becomes possible, i.e. development in which many different levels of experience become active.

Developmental potential may be negative. When enhanced psychomotor or sensual overexcitability is combined with strong ambition, tendencies toward showing off, lying, and cheating, then it constitutes a nucleus of psychopathy and characteropathy (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 11).







Even though the emergence of new structures and constellations of functions gives it a discontinuous pattern (Werner, 1957), development is a continuous process. The levels of development through positive disintegration are holistic conceptualizations serving to identify the types of processes involved.

The concept of level means here a characteristic constellation of developmental factors at work. These factors are the intrapsychic dynamisms to be described in Chapter 5.

A level is a distinct identifiable developmental structure. It is not a temporal sequence, which makes it distinct from a stage. Thus when we use the expression “a level is attained,” it means that the structure of a lower level is replaced by the structure of a higher one. Here again, the use of the expression, “transition from one level to another,” is colloquially convenient but inaccurate. In the process of development the structures of two or even three contiguous levels may exist side by side, although it must be understood that they exist in conflict. The conflict is resolved when one of the structures is eliminated, or at least comes under complete control of another structure.

Development does not occur at an even pace. There are periods of great intensity and disequilibrium (psychoneuroses, depressions, creative process), and there are periods of equilibrium. Development achieves a plateau, and this may occur at any level or “between” levels, when the developmental factors are active in shaping behavior but are not active in carrying out further transformation and restructuring. This may denote partial integration. But the more development is advanced, i.e. the higher level it reaches, the less possible it is for it to

18 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

slacken off and cease to carry on the process of psychic transformation. This is one reason why such advanced development was called accelerated (Dąbrowski, 1970). Here acceleration does not denote a rate of change toward completion but rather the greatest extent and depth of the transformation of personality structure.

Human development according to the theory of positive disintegration includes five clearly distinguishable levels:

I. Primary integration

II. Unilevel disintegration

III. Multilevel disintegration: Spontaneous

IV. Multilevel disintegration: Organized or Directed

V. Secondary integration

The following description of each level may appear loose and diffuse, i.e. too clinical in character. However, this is necessary before one can show that behind this general and inchoate pool of features there are more structured factors at work. Therefore, a more rigorous definition of each level in terms of constellations of developmental factors will be provided in Chapter 5.


Primary Integration. The characteristic of cognitive and emotional structures and functions of primary integration is that they are automatic, impulsive, and rigid. Behavior is controlled by primitive drives and by externality. Intelligence neither controls nor transforms basic drives; it serves the ends determined by primitive drives. There is no inner conflict while external conflicts are the rule. The overall picture is of little differentiation, primitive drive structure, and predominant externality.


Unilevel Disintegration. It consists of disintegrative processes occurring as if on a single structural level. There is disintegration but no differentiation of levels of emotional or intellectual control. Unilevel disintegration begins with the loosening of the cohesive and rigid structure of primary integration. There is hesitation, doubt, ambivalence, increased sensitivity to internal stimuli, fluctuations of mood, excitations and depressions, vague feelings of disquietude, various forms of mental and psychosomatic disharmony. There is ambitendency of action, either changing from one direction to another, or being unable to decide which course to take and letting the decision fall to chance, or a whim of like or dislike. Thinking has a circular character of argument for argument’s sake. Externality is still quite strong. Nuclei of hierarchization may gradually appear weakly differentiating events in the external milieu and in the internal milieu but still there is continual vacillation between “pros” and “cons” with no clear direction out of the vicious circle. Internal conflicts are unilevel and often superficial. When they are severe and engage deeper emotional structures the individual often sees himself caught in a “no exit” situation. Severe mental disorders are associated with unilevel developmental structure.

Levels and Types of Development 19

Spontaneous Multilevel Disintegration. Its characteristic is an extensive differentiation of mental life. Internal experiential factors begin to control behavior more and more, wavering is replaced by a growing sense of “what ought to be” as opposed to “what is” in one’s personality structure. Internal conflicts are numerous and reflect a hierarchical organization of cognitive and emotional life: “what is” against “what ought to be.” Behavior is guided by an emerging autonomous, emotionally discovered, hierarchy of values and aims. Self-evaluation, reflection, intense moral conflicts, perception of the uniqueness of others, and existential anxiety are characteristic phenomena at this level of development. The individual searches not only for novelty of experience, but for something higher; he searches for ideal examples and models around him and in himself as well. He starts to feel a difference between what is higher and what is lower, marking the beginning of experience and perception of many levels. Critical awareness of oneself is being formed, and of others as well. There is awareness of one’s essence as it arises from one’s existence.

Spontaneous multilevel disintegration is a crucial period for positive, i.e. developmental transformations. The loosening and disintegration of the inner psychic milieu occurs at higher and lower strata at the same time. This means that the whole personality structure is affected by this process. The developmental factors (dynamisms) characteristic for spontaneous multilevel disintegration are described in Chapter 5. They reflect the nature of multilevel conflicts crucial to the progress of development: positive maladjustment, astonishment with oneself, feelings of shame and guilt, disquietude with oneself, feeling of inferiority toward oneself, and dissatisfaction with oneself, positive maladjustment.


Organized Multilevel Disintegration. Its main characteristics are conscious shaping and synthesis. At this level a person exhibits more tranquility, systematization and conscious transformation of his personality structure. While tensions and conflicts are not as strong as at the previous level, autonomy and internal hierarchy of values and aims are much stronger and much more clearly developed. The ideal of personality becomes more distinct and closer. There is a pronounced growth of empathy as one of the dominants of behavior and development.

The developmental factors (dynamisms) characteristic for organized multilevel disintegration are: subject-object in oneself, third factor (conscious discrimination and choice), inner psychic transformation, self-awareness, self-control, education-of-oneself and autopsychotherapy. Self-perfection plays a highly significant role.


Secondary Integration. This level marks a new organization and harmonization of personality. Disintegrative activities arise only in retrospection. Personality ideal is the dominant dynamism in close union with empathy, and the activation of the ideal. The relationship of “I” and “Thou” takes on the dimension of an absolute relationship on the level of transcendental empiricism. There is a need to transcend “verifiable,” “consensual” reality (known through sensory perception)

20 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

and to reach empirically through intuition, contemplation and ecstasy toward a transcendental reality. A balance develops between the philosophical orientations of essence and existence.

The developmental dynamisms characteristic of secondary integration are: responsibility, autonomy, authentism, and personality ideal. Those who achieve the level of secondary integration epitomize universal compassion and self-sacrifice. There are no internal conflicts at this level, in the sense of opposition between “what is” and “what ought to be.” The cognitive and emotional structures and functions are fused together into a harmonious and flexible whole.


The development of instinctive, emotional and intellectual functions can be ‘normal', one-sided, or universal (Dąbrowski, 1970). Multilevelness entailing a greater complexity of the inner psychic milieu, favors a more universal development, while unilevelness and integration favor ‘normal’ or one-sided development. Only within the context of multilevel development a high level of emotional and instinctive functions is possible. Thus, for instance, multilevel development leads away from primitive reactions of self-preservation manifested as needs for only economic, social, and institutional security to moral values and principles. For such a person moral values and principles are more important than security and material self-preservation. Similarly biologically controlled sexual behavior is replaced by depth of interpersonal relationships manifested as lasting and exclusive emotional ties. On a high level of development creative instinct becomes an instinct of self-perfection which besides the media of artistic expression begins to stress more and more strongly the concern for inner perfection.

The analysis of developmental patterns makes possible the distinction of the three types of development mentioned above. ‘Normal’ and one-sided development lack universality and the more potent multilevel developmental factors, and, therefore, do not reach the highest levels, i.e. organized multilevel disintegration and secondary integration (Dąbrowski, 1970).


1. ‘Normal’ development. By this we mean a type of development which is most common and which entails the least amount of inner conflict and of psychological transformation. Development is limited to the maturational stages of human life and to the innate psychological type of the individual.

The use of the term ‘normal’ is not fortunate here. It derives from the wide-spread and pernicious use of statistical standards as a basis for “normality.” There is no statistical normality in nature. Different forms of a gene are not more or less “normal,” they are only more or less viable, where the extreme is a lethal mutation in a gene, which nevertheless can be carried in the population. Similarly different isotopes of an element, i.e. atoms of an element possessing different

Levels and Types of Development 21

numbers of neutrons in the nucleus, are not more or less normal, they are only more or less frequent.

In developmental terms normality means an undistorted, i.e. free from accident, expression of developmental potential. If the developmental potential is limited, as for instance in mental retardation, such development must be considered normal in terms of the original endowment.

In the present discussion of types of development we have retained the use of the term ‘normal’ for historical reasons only.


2. One-sided development. Individuals endowed with special talents but lacking multilevel developmental potential realize their development mainly as a function of their ability and creativity. Such creativity, however, lacks universal components. Only some emotional and intellectual potentials develop very well while the rest remains undeveloped, in fact, it appears lacking. There is often disproportionate development of certain forms of expression of emotional, sensual, or imaginational overexcitability. It may be manifested for instance as excessive identification with others to the point of losing one’s identity but which lacks the more mature and balanced aspects of relationships, or as great fascination with the whole range of the world of real life or the dream or occult world but without any sense of discrimination. This may give rise to copious creative outpourings in writing, painting, movie making or scientific endeavor but it will lack the universal context of human experience, knowledge, and objective hierarchy of values.

One-sided development may also take a totally negative turn. This occurs in psychopathy and paranoia. In this case mental processes and structures are strongly “integrated” and resistant to environmental influence. Intelligence serves to manipulate objects in the environment, including, and foremost, other human beings. Combined with good or even great intelligence such integrated structure produces criminal leaders and dictators of whom Hitler and Stalin are the most tragic examples. They were characterized by a total absence of empathy, emotional coldness, unlimited ruthlessness and craving for power (Dąbrowski, 1970, p. 30).


3. Universal or accelerated development. When all essential cognitive and emotional functions develop with relatively equal intensity and with relatively equal rate then development manifests strong multilevel character.

The individual develops his potential simultaneously in intellectual, instinctive, emotional, aesthetic and moral areas. Such development manifests strong and multiple forms of overexcitability. But above all it distinctly manifests the individual’s awareness and conscious engagement in his own development. Here the autonomous developmental factors carry out the most extensive process of psychic transformation. Development proceeds fairly uniformly although not without intense crises, on a global front encompassing all functions and all dynamisms.

22 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Comparing these three types of development we may say that both ‘normal’ and one-sided development proceed in conformity with the general maturational pattern of the human species of infancy, childhood, adolescence, maturity, aging and culminate in death. It is characterized by gradual psychobiological integration of functions. There is adjustment to external conditions of life, and conformity to a prevailing in a given culture pattern of professional, social, and sexual pursuits. Mental overexcitability and maladjustment appear only in specific phases of development, such as puberty and adolescence, or under stressful conditions, but disappear when the maturational phase or the stress pass. In this type of development we observe the prevalence of biological and social determination which gives it a fairly narrow and inflexible pattern.

In ‘normal’ development the level of intellectual functions is usually average, while emotional functions appear to some degree underdeveloped. In one-sided development intellectual functions may be superior, but emotional functions may still be underdeveloped, only a few of them are developed.

Accelerated development tends to transcend the general maturational pattern and exhibits some, or even a strong, degree of maladjustment to it. It is characterized by strong psychic overexcitability which give rise to nervousness, frequent disintegration of functions, psychoneuroses, social maladjustment. But with all this there is an accelerated global process of psychic transformation of cognitive and emotional structures and functions.

Accelerated development is an expression of developmental differentiation, certain degree of autonomy from biological laws, creativity of universal character, and transformation of the innate psychological type. Here we observe above average abilities in many areas, emotional richness and depth, and multiple and strong manifestations of psychic overexcitability. In individuals so endowed one may observe from childhood difficulties of adjustment, serious developmental crises, psychoneurotic processes, and tendency toward disintegration of lower levels of functioning and reaching toward higher levels of functioning. This however, does not occur without disturbances and disharmony with their external environment and within their internal environment. Feelings of “otherness” and strangeness are not uncommon. We find this in gifted children, creative and prominent personalities, men of genius, i.e. those who contribute new discoveries and new values, (Dąbrowski, 1970, pp. 29-30).

In summary, the description of the three types of development shows correspondence with the three general factors of development. ‘Normal’ and one-sided development are controlled primarily by the first two sets of factors, i.e. constitution and the environment. Autonomous factors, if present at all, are never strong enough to push development much beyond unilevel disintegration. Accelerated development is controlled primarily by the third, i.e. autonomous, set of factors. The stronger the autonomous factors the more resistant is development to the environment. This points to an important feature of accelerated development; it proceeds in opposition and conflict with the first and the second factor.

Levels and Types of Development 23


The overall hierarchy of levels of integration and disintegration serves as a full evolutionary scale on which individual developmental sequences may be mapped. We argued that the most significant aspect of human development is emotional development because only in the area of emotional development the most extensive psychological transformations of behavior and personality are possible. Also we argued briefly that emotional development is unlike cognitive development, since it does not appear to follow an ontogenetic sequence. Rather, the changes in the organization of emotional structures and functions depend on the developmental potential which varies from individual to individual.

A strong developmental potential will manifest multilevel components already in childhood (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 8). In consequence, the developmental sequence of a person so endowed from the start cannot be limited at any time totally to primary integration. One could say, of course, that the period of infancy is one of primary integration. However, we cannot at that time identify the developmental factors such as those we shall be concerned with here. By the time a child begins to speak in sentences we can attempt to discern developmental factors and establish whether the developmental trend is integrative or disintegrative. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to indicate that the neurological examination outlined in Part 2 does offer some suggestions for possible avenues of exploration of indicators of developmental potential in infancy.

A weak developmental potential will limit development to primary integration and unilevel disintegration. However, already, here, if potential for extensive unilevel disintegration is present it will manifest itself early, for instance in forms of psychosomatic lability (Dąbrowski, 1972). This means that if there is the potential to proceed beyond primary integration, then development can never be limited totally to primary integration because of the nuclei of disintegration which have to be present from the start.

The developmental sequences of positive disintegration are non-ontogenetic. They are measured in terms of levels attained in the course of development which has no distinct time schedule just as the process of evolution has no distinct time schedule. The levels of development are, therefore, a non-ontogenetic evolutionary scale. Any individual developmental pattern may cover part of this scale but none can cover the full extent of it (Piechowski, in press).





The richer the developmental potential the more factors are brought into play which are in conflict with each other and the more disequilibrium is produced.

That disequilibrium may be a necessary dynamic of development is gradually being recognized (Piaget, 1967, Ch. 4, Langer, 1969), but there is still a long way to recognizing the developmental power of conflict. The nature and the extent of conflict as a developmental process has not been specified except for some aspects of cognitive development.

The position presented here is that a multilevel emotional conflict, or multilevel emotional-cognitive conflict is the sine qua non condition of development. Let us take, for example, the forms of overexcitability. Strong emotional and strong intellectual overexcitability lead to a powerful conflict between a personal, feeling and relationship-oriented intuitive approach to life and a probing, analytical, and logical approach. Inevitably the two will clash many times in the course of development before a resolution of the conflict is achieved. If strong imaginational overexcitability comes into play the conflict may spread even further. When sensual overexcitability enters the picture there arise conflicts between pleasure-orientation which even in its refined esthetic form touches only the surface of experience, and the more rigorous and profound demands of empathy, self-denial, moral principle and need for self-perfection. There may be a violent and enduring conflict between lower level needs of comfort and sensual satisfaction and the higher needs of reflection, solitude and attenuation of sensual desires which are now regarded as interference.

General Characteristics of Developmental Evolution 25

Others constellations, such as a mixture of extraversion and introversion, a mixture of schizothymic and cyclothymic tendencies, the opposition of automatic against deliberate behavior, are seeds of many conflicts. But at the same time, together with different forms of overexcitability they sooner or later become multilevel conflicts, i.e. conflicts between “what is” against “what ought to be.”

The developmental transitions are from integration to disintegration and from unilevel structures to multilevel structures. It was stated that the feasibility and the extent of these transitions is a function of the developmental potential; its components, the three factors and the five forms of overexcitability, were identified. It would seem this is all that is needed. However, the developmental potential is defined as the original endowment necessary to reach a given level of development. This does not mean that it is sufficient. It appears as a logical necessity to postulate an organizing factor which can gradually bring order out of the chaos of the clashes and conflicts provided by the multivariate components of the original endowment. This organizing factor might be distinct from it. This certainly is a difficult problem and one which cannot be readily resolved. But the use of a concept of a ‘developmental instinct’ addresses to this problem.1



The structure of unilevel disintegration and the structure of multilevel disintegration are entirely different. In unilevel disintegration we have horizontal conflicts of opposing tendencies and of equal value since everything is relative, arbitrary and governed by the moment and the circumstance. In multilevel disintegration there is a vertical conflict of value between “what is” and “what ought to be”; in place of relativism and chance there is an autonomous direction of development and autonomous choice.

These two structures appear to have nothing in common. Consequently there is no way in which to produce a multilevel structure out of all the available unilevel ones. Because unilevel times unilevel is still unilevel just as unilevel imposed on


1 Previously I used the term ‘developmental instinct’ (Dąbrowski, 1964, 1967, 1970). The term ‘instinct’ was used in a very loose sense while clearly stressing at the same time that it is not understood as a rigid pattern of behavior analogous to imprinting. The point was made then that human instincts, i.e. the programs for patterns of human behavior, are subject to change in development, and that in the process of transition from a lower to a higher level the primitive instincts are gradually replaced by higher instincts. The activity of primitive instincts weakens while the activity of higher instincts, such as the cognitive, creative or self-perfection, becomes stronger. At the same time each instinct undergoes its own development and change of level (intra-instinctual development). As a result lower levels of an instinct are gradually replaced by its higher levels. This marks a transition from animal to human functions, from stimulus-response automatism to deliberate action. The higher functions are the consequence of transformations within the psyche.

26 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

unilevel remains unilevel. At the same time once a multilevel structure appears in the form of a strong multilevel conflict which means that an inner perception and experience of higher levels as determinants of behavior is strongly registered, then it cannot collapse back to a unilevel structure.

The transition from a unilevel to a multilevel phase of development is both the most crucial and the most unexpected developmental event. It can be observed in statu nascendi yet it cannot be readily explained. One can think of an integration and a disintegration as opposite poles of a continuum between maximum of structure and a total lack of structure but this gets us only as far as unilevel disintegration, which, in fact, can be temporary and can convert back to primary integration.

But unilevel and multilevel disintegration cannot be thought of as opposite poles of a continuum. This contradicts the expectations of some theoreticians that lower levels of organization logically imply the higher ones (Langer, 1969, p. 168, Piaget, 1970). Indeed, one might well ask how is a butterfly logically implied in the larva, or a complete virus in the unassembled mixture of proteins and nucleic acids. The point is that there is nothing in the unilevel structure that would suggest hierarchization because multilevelness, by definition, already is hierarchical and multilevel. Therefore, it follows logically that the potential for multilevel development must exist already in the original endowment, i.e. in the developmental potential. And it was in order that this be accounted for that the concept of developmental potential was used. The very fact that than can overcome biological control and determination demonstrates that the power of the potential for multilevel development is greater than the combined power of primitive drives and needs (Dąbrowski, 1970, p. 28).


The developmental transformations are characterized by a transition from unilevelness to multilevelness, from ahierarchic to hierarchic structures, from a narrow to a broad understanding of reality, entailing the capacity for reflecting on one’s past history (retrospection) and for envisaging future conflicts with one-self and tasks of one’s personal growth (prospection). We see also a transition from impulsive, reflexive syntony as a function of temperament and mood of the moment, to reflective syntony, that is, empathy; from subjugation of the intellect to basic drives, to its close link and balanced interaction with higher emotions.

Behavior of the individual becomes autonomous by being transformed from scarcely conscious to a highly conscious mode of acting, from egocentric to alterocentric attitudes, from reflex adjustment to existing situations to a conscious adjustment, that is, an adjustment to that “which ought to be,” in conflict with that “which is” (positive maladjustment).

General Characteristics of Developmental Evolution 27

We see further a transition from an action of will combined with primitive drives, through a phase of many “wills” (i.e. multichangeable motivating tendencies) which operate simultaneously or in succession, to a unified “will” which characterizes the formation of personality at the level of secondary integration. The individual ceases to be an object of education but begins to educate himself within his personality structure, he ceases to feel inferior toward others but begins to feel inferior in regard to himself and his unrealized potential (not to be mistaken for external success); his psychotherapeutic needs are fulfilled by authentic autopsychotherapy or enlightened empathic guidance rather than therapy; his adjustment does not follow group norms but is an adjustment to the norm of personality (secondary integration).

Kohlberg’s research (Kohlberg, 1973; Kohlberg and Turiel, 1971, 1973) on levels of moral development showing that moral reasoning is not culture-bound but follows more general developmental trends offers strong support for the ideas expressed here.

The following table summarizes and expands the above discussion. The neuropsychological correlates of man’s psychological evolution are discussed elsewhere (Dąbrowski and Piechowski, 1970).


28 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior



We cannot attempt to understand universal development of the creative and moral human being without taking into consideration the levels of mental functions. Under mental functions we mean all those expressions of behavior which are variously called instincts, cognitive functions, emotions and the like. The lowest and the highest forms of mental functions are the easiest to distinguish because they are at the extremes. Our aim here is to provide a characteristic of each mental function as it would be manifested at each level of development.

We have defined five levels of development. Human perception, experience, creativity and behavior are the function of the developmental level of a given indi-

General Characteristics of Developmental Evolution 29

vidual. Observing a number of expressions of behavior, for example, joy, sadness, anger, sexual behavior, religious attitude, notions of success, ideal, or immortality, we can assess each in terms of level characteristics. The bulk of this volume is a level by level description of 48 such functions. This list is not, and could not be, exhaustive. In addition there are level by level descriptions of the five forms of overexcitability, several psychiatric categories (for more cf. Dąbrowski, 1972), and eight disciplines, or fields of human endeavor.

Apart from the above each developmental level has a characteristic constellation of dynamisms. These are described in the next chapter. The dynamisms are the intrapsychic factors which shape development, behavior and its expression. They constitute functions of a higher order of organization. It is this organization which reveals the structure of each level.

In sum, we have several ways of recognizing a given level of development:

(1) By making observation of the level of expression of behavior (observation of emotional, cognitive, and instinctive functions);

(2) By looking for expressions of specific developmental dynamisms. This is a more direct and more powerful way of identifying the developmental level, however, it calls for more penetrating methods;

(3) By examining the nature of psychopathological processes. One can discern whether they are positive (i.e. developmental) or not.

In general, severe mental disorders, hypochondria, and psychosomatic illnesses are typical of unilevel disintegration, while psychoneurotic anxieties and depressions involving moral and existential problems are typical of multilevel disintegration. Closer examination based on a multidimensional and hierarchical classification of such symptoms gives basis for a more comprehensive assessment of developmental level.

We hope that further research will allow to refine this scale of developmental levels by differentiating levels between the five established so far. Kohlberg’s work on moral development (Kohlberg, 1963) suggests that what here is considered as primary integration may correspond to the first four levels identified by him. Ultimately one should be able to develop a quantitative index of responses characteristic for each level of emotional functioning. This would help to identify the phase of development prevalent at the time of diagnosis of a given individual. This would also make possible, at least to a certain extent, to identify earlier phases of a person’s development and establish their residual strength and manifestation as suggested by Werner’s principle of “genetic stratification” (Werner, 1957, p. 145). Thus one should also be able to discern the direction of individual development, i.e. to define what phase of development a person is approaching.






Analogous to the external environment in which he fives, man has an internal environment. The development and differentiation of this internal environment, or inner psychic milieu, is the distinctive feature of autonomous development (cf. Chapter 3, and Dąbrowski, 1963, 1968, Dąbrowski and Piechowski, 1970b). The structure of the inner psychic milieu depends on the dynamisms that constitute it. We have defined the dynamisms as the intrapsychic factors which shape development. However, we are concerned here with the means by which the previously described (Chapter 3) five levels of development can be distinguished.

At the lowest level, primary integration, there is no inner psychic milieu proper because there are no intrapsychic transformative factors at work. At the second level, unilevel disintegration, psychological factors begin to play a role, and therefore, an inner psychic milieu appears. It is, however, ahierarchic, or without structure. The intrapsychic factors are not transformative, only disintegrative in respect to the cohesive structures of primary integration. With the appearance of multilevel transformative dynamisms a hierarchically structured inner psychic milieu is formed.

Knowing the elements of the structure, or detecting their absence, is a clue to the determination of developmental level. And also, the presence or absence of dynamisms characteristic. for a given level is the differentiating factor in recognizing the developmental level of a given form of behavior (otherwise called ‘function').

The. factors involved in characterizing development at each level are depicted in Figure 1. We shall give a brief description of each one of these factors starting with level I.


32 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Figure I shows that at each level of development there is a different constellation of factors. Roman numerals refer to levels, C refers to that category of factors whose operation extends over several levels of development. Dark shading indicates tension in the operation of a given factor. Tension abates toward higher levels of development. But there is one exception—personality ideal—the highest dynamism which increases in significance and power as development advances to higher levels. The spindle shapes are, meant to indicate the incipience and disappearance of a given factor. They reflect an expected frequency of responses identifiable as expression of a given factor. Thus, for instance, when the dynamisms of level III appear and gain ground, the three dynamisms of level II should disappear.

The borderlines of levels show an interesting feature. Here the dynamisms of a lower level exist side by side with the emergent dynamisms of a higher level. In the detailed study of biographical material (Part 2) we can distinguish responses as representing one or another dynamism. We have found several instances where, for example, the unilevel factors of level II acquire a somewhat multilevel character (e.g. a multilevel ambivalence). But the important thing is that the multilevel dynamisms do not appear to be derived from the transformation of the unilevel ones. Rather, they emerge as new and distinct factors (cf. Chapter 4, Section 2). This at once illustrates Werner’s principle of differentiation in development, and the principle of discontinuity, because the new structures emerge next to the old ones or in place of the old ones, but not from the old ones as their modified extensions.



Primary integration is a rigid and narrow structure. Figuratively speaking, it corresponds most closely to Jackson’s lowest level of evolution—the level of tightly organized automatic functions.

External conflict. In conflicts with others the individual never finds fault with himself. He does not reflect on his own behavior and its consequences. He lacks consideration for others, instead tends to humiliate others, and take advantage of those who are weaker. He has respect, even abases himself, before those who are stronger than he.

Temperamental syntony. Superficial, easy, and immediately expressed feeling of commonality with others. Group feelings of doing things together, such as athletics, dances, drinking, brawls, or union strikes and wars. Temperamental syntony is governed by the mood of the moment and absence of conflict of interest. When such conflict appears feelings of kinship are replaced by aggression.

Disposing and Directing Center. The term stands for whatever factor or group of factors directly guide behavior and its expression. Primary integration

Dynamisms: the Shapers of Development 33

is a rigid tightly organized structure of primitive, i.e. least evolved, drives and instincts (cf. footnote page 23). The dominant drive or group of drives act as the DDC, and can do so with great force and unity of action. This may be represented by ambition, craving for power, craving for security or financial gain, etc. In the extreme case, this is particularly evident in criminal or political psychopathy.

Negative elements of diagnosis for primary integration are the following: absence of inner conflicts, absence of scruples and consideration for others, absence of feelings of relationship with others, absence of recognition of a common hierarchy of values but recognition only of one’s own goals (selfish egocentrism).



Unilevel disintegration is a loose ahierarchic structure. It would probably be more correct to say that it is a structure without a structure. In many ways it is the opposite of primary integration. This condition of lack of structure and sense of direction often is so distressing to the individual that he develops a nostalgia for the cohesiveness of primary integration, hence worship of psychopathic heroes and psychopathic life styles (Harrington, 1972). Authentism and existential experience are considered an aberration.

Ambivalences. Changeable or simultaneous feelings of like and dislike, approach and avoidance, inferiority and superiority, love and hatred. Fluctuations of mood, alternations of excitation and inhibition (4-157). 1

Ambitendencies. Changeable and conflicting courses of action. Indecision, wanting and not wanting, or wanting two irreconcilable things at once. Self-defeating behaviors (4-147).

Second factor. Susceptibility to social opinion and the influence of others. Behavior is guided by what people will think or say, or by the need for recognition and approval. Feelings of inferiority toward others. Values are internalized from external sources: parents, church, government, authority of the printed word. Acceptance of stereotyped ideas and values is a function of the need to conform since there is no internal structure to generate and support non-conformity. Relativism of values and ideas.

External conflict persists from primary integration although it is not as aggressive and not as consistently self-centered but more variable and triggered off more unpredictably.

Internal conflict. Beginnings of hierarchization introduce a multilevel conflict which marks the transition to multilevel disintegration. Otherwise conflicts are unilevel in the form of ambivalences and ambitendencies (q.v.).


1 In Part 2 a developmental analysis of several subjects, based on response units is given. The first number in brackets refers to subject number and the second to response unit.

34 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Temperamental syntony. Fluctuation of syntonic and asyntonic moods (mood cyclicity) with easy transition from mood of companionship to withdrawal. Sensitivity combined with irritability—a person is offended easily, is touchy. Enthusiasm and feelings of friendship may arise very quickly and may equally quickly vanish as a result of minor disappointments. In particularly emotional persons there are tendencies toward excessive (uncontrollable) reactions whether positive or negative. External conditions and influences dominate in the fluctuations of syntony.

Identification. Identification differs from syntony in that it is directed toward another person while syntony is directed both toward individuals and groups. Syntony is less differentiated than identification. Identification at this level is initial, variable and partial. ‘Partial’ means that it does not impart the intuitive knowledge of another person as given by high empathy, rather, it is an identification with one’s image of another person, while the image is not checked with the psychological and emotional reality of the other. There is also disidentification—variable states of opposition to attitudes expressed by others that on occasion, or only apparently, differ from one’s own. Identification is more lasting than syntony, sometimes can be obsessive.

The controlling factors in identification are more psychological and more internal than in syntony. There is a great deal of suggestibility in identification with others but also periodical rigidity. In the extreme case identification with another person may be excessive to the point of losing one’s identity. This occurs not only in schizophrenia and psychosis but also in an undifferentiated, and not uncommon, conception of love.

Creative instinct. Creativity is impulsive, spontaneous and isolated from personality development. This means that creative pursuits and personal growth do not interact (another indication of lack of structure in unilevel disintegration). Creativity arises from fascination with the endless variety of phenomena but lacks discrimination and evaluation, often being an art for art’s sake. There is fascination with exotic and magic phenomena. There may be fascination with evil and psychopathic heroes and psychopathic life styles. Absence of ideal and reflection. Often through distorted and broken forms, creativity expresses the distortion and chaos of unilevel disintegration. Not infrequently there is fascination with the pathology of human behavior and experience. The films of Ingmar Bergmann or Bunuel, the surrealistic art of Picasso and Salvador Dali, action painting, pop-art and op-art, are prominent examples.

Disposing and Directing Center. The paradox of unilevel structure is that there is hardly any structure. The influences directing behavior and its expression come from external sources, or desires, moods and primitive drives, all vying for dominance, but none gain it for an extended period. Hence ambitendencies or a multiplicity of “wills.”

Dynamisms: the Shapers of Development 35



The inner psychic milieu of multilevel disintegration is a hierarchic structure in which many factors are in conflict or in cooperation. The conflict is always between “what is” as opposed to “what ought to be.” Its intensity is reflected in the particular nature of multilevel dynamisms to be described below. The appearance of a split between the “lower” and the “higher” marks the emergence of a vertical direction in development which pushes from within, as it were, and is strongly felt but not entirely clear to the individual as to its nature, hence the name ‘spontaneous'.

Hierarchization of internal conflict and development opens a channel for resolution and direction of developmental tensions. When this channel is not open, as in unilevel disintegration, the tensions lead to severe psychosomatic illness, psychosis, or suicide. The power of the dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration is mainly a function of the power of emotional overexcitability.

Hierarchization. It is a recognition of higher and lower levels of experiences and phenomena. It is the beginning of sorting things out prior to the emergence of an autonomous hierarchy of values (3-24, 3-105, 3-113.1). As a developmental factor in its own right, hierarchization is probably the least specific and the least differentiated of multilevel dynamisms.

Dissatisfaction with oneself. A very powerful dynamism of discontent with one’s own behavior in relation to oneself and in relation to others. Strong dissatisfaction with oneself is one of the most highly significant indicators of accelerated development.

Inferiority toward oneself. A powerful dynamism which consists of the experience and awareness of the disparity between one’s actual level and a higher one toward which one strives. It is the shock of realization of one’s unfaithfulness to an ideal of personality even if only vaguely perceived, and to a hierarchy of values which begins to take shape but as yet is lacking in stability. Feeling of inferiority is followed by a desire and actions to bring about developmental change in oneself. Disquietude with oneself. An early dynamism of multilevel process. The feeling of uneasiness with oneself when realizing within oneself primitive behaviors, lack of control, compulsions; also serious worries about one’s sanity.

Astonishment with oneself. One of the earliest dynamisms of the multilevel process. The feeling that some of one’s mental and emotional qualities are surprising, unexpected, or strange. It is accompanied by astonishment and surprise with the world and the behavior of others. In its mild and positive aspect it is a sense of wonder. In its strong and negative aspect, but nevertheless developmentally important, it is the beginning of critical attitude toward oneself—the forerunner of subject—object in oneself.

36 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Feelings of shame. The feelings of self-conscious distress and embarrassment with usually a little more of external than internal sensitivity. Shame is often combined with a strong somatic component, some anxiety, need to withdraw, hide away. In its less conscious and more externally occasioned form shame may appear already in unilevel disintegration (this is why the spindle in Figure I is drawn a little heavier toward level II). Shame is usually associated with a feeling of inferiority toward others. However, a strong feeling of shame may arise out of inner moral conflict, and then, it would be more closely associated with disquietude with oneself.

Feelings of guilt. A sense of quilt is particularly significant if it is combined with a need for reparation and self-correction. Guilt, as meant here, arises on the basis of a relationship with another person or persons, and one’s relationship with them. Feeling of quilt is the forerunner of the higher dynamism of responsibility. Positive maladjustment. A conflict with and rejection of those standards and attitudes of one’s social environment which are incompatible with one’s growing awareness of higher values. The higher values as an autonomous and authentic hierarchy become an internal imperative. In its incipient form positive maladjustment may appear as a critical reaction and opposition to one’s environment but as yet without being accompanied by a clearly developed hierarchy of values.

Creative instinct. Hierarchization of experience and the emergence of an autonomous hierarchy of values shape creativity in many important ways. Creativity comes to express the drama and tragedy, even agony, of human existence—on the one hand the power of fate, humiliation, absence of grace (“no help from anywhere”), on the other hand longing for ideal, inspiration, and a heroic struggle. The tensions of subjective experience express themselves in a need for finding objective criteria for high human values, hence an existential opposition to and struggle with relativism of values. Characteristic examples of multilevel creativity are Greek tragedies, Shakespeare’s tragedies, Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” as a demonstration of the rift between the higher and the lower, Van Gogh’s paintings, the chimeras of Notre Dame in Paris. Another important expression is a deeply emotional experience felt in relationships such as between Desdemona and Othello, Ophelia and Hamlet, or the theme of friendship in E. M. Forster’s “Passage to India.” The formation of a hierarchy of values out of personal experience and the fear that those values may not survive is the theme of great existential poems and novels, religious dramas and tragedies extant in the history of literature and art. Multilevel creativity is a manifestation of the conjunction of emotional, imaginational and intellectual overexcitability, with emotional being clearly the strongest.

Identification. Growth of understanding and of feeling for others arises out of personal emotional experience and out of the development of a hierarchy of values in oneself. While syntony as a global, undifferentiated feeling toward others

Dynamisms: the Shapers of Development 37

disappears, multilevel identification is more selective than on level II, and at the same time it is more personal, that is, directed more toward a deeper relationship.

There are conflicts in identification followed by creative solutions of these conflicts. The identifier and the identified will share their need for novel solutions and for transcending the present level of their relationship. A growing desire to know and understand others makes identification a developmental dynamism closely related to empathy.

There is also disidentification arising from the deeply felt aversive reactions to models of lower levels.

Empathy. Syntony is transformed into empathy through growing identification with higher levels in oneself. Syntonic feelings toward others are based on reflection, self-evaluation, clear hierarchization of values, and growing readiness to bring help to others. Growing understanding of others is based on genuine acceptance of others as unique persons. There is an ability to differentiate subjective individualities. But there is also a distinct dissyntony with lower levels in oneself and in others. Nevertheless, lower emotional attitudes, though negated, are not condemned. One still observes some imbalance between an understanding acceptance and negation, there can still be present a certain emotional impatience.

In consequence of internal conflicts, increasing hierarchization and the transposition of the DDC to a higher level, grows an increasingly more conscious and reflective empathy toward oneself and toward others. This is manifested in reduced irritability but augmented sensitivity and responsiveness to the difficulties and efforts seen in others. A previously unilevel attitude of like and dislike is transformed into an understanding of others with considerable emotional investment, even a sense of closeness to other persons besides one’s intimate friends and loved ones. Impulsive and chance relationships disappear. In mature persons, although strongly emotional, tendency to falling in love and falling out of love disappears and yields instead to an attitude of appreciative distance which does not, however, reduce the depth and permanence of feeling.

Inner conflict. The hallmark of level III. The nature of multilevel conflict is in essence the opposition between “what is” against “what ought to be.” The conflict exists between higher and lower levels of an internal hierarchy, between the subject and the object within oneself, between the “lower self” and the “higher self,” between the forces of negation and the forces of affirmation. Not infrequently very intense conflicts lead to suicide or even psychosis (see Ideal). The different factors operating at this level are manifestations of the different dynamic dimensions of inner conflict.

External conflict. The transition from unilevel to multilevel disintegration is characterized by increasing role of inner conflict and gradual decrease in the frequency of external conflict. External conflict arises not from conflict of interest with other persons but from a conflict of moral principles and human ideals. Most

38 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

strongly external conflict arises out of the need to defend and protect those who are weak, oppressed, helpless and defenseless.

Disposing and Directing Center. While in unilevel disintegration there is no distinct DDC, in multilevel disintegration the DDC seeks to establish itself at a higher level. This, however, is not achieved until level IV. As a result, the DDC ascends to a higher level and then descends to a lower one. Or, another way of looking at it is that there are various disposing and directing centers, representing antagonistic levels of the inner structure: those which are closer to primitive drives against those which are closer to personality ideal.



As the structure of level III is one of opposing and conflicting vertical forces, the structure of level IV is one of synthesis and increasing order of the organization of the inner psychic milieu and its activities. Inner conflicts abate while the unifying power of personality ideal increases in intensity.

The dynamisms of level IV work much more closely together so that frequently they appear overlapping. The process of developmental synthesis leads to an increasing stabilization of the hierarchy of values and of the multilevelness of emotional and instinctive functions, which is more clearly and more consciously discovered and explored in inner conflicts.

Subject-object in oneself. A process of looking at oneself as if from outside (the self as object) and of perceiving the individuality of others (the other self as subject, i.e. an individual knower and experiencer). The activity of this dynamism consists in observing one’s mental life in an attempt to better understand oneself and to evaluate oneself critically. This process of critical self-evaluation is coupled with aims of further development, which means that this dynamism works closely with the dynamism of inner psychic transformation.

There is a strong cognitive component in the subject-object process. At a more elementary level it could be compared with Piaget’s decentration as a necessary shift from a primitive egocentric view of the world to a more differentiated non-egocentric and objective view of the world.

Subject-object in oneself may appear in a precursor form already at the borderline of levels II and III. Then it is only a process of introspection and self-observation. Only with the appearance of self-evaluation do we have a multilevel component. Self-evaluation coupled with a conscious need to develop oneself is the differentiating criterion between a precursor and a dynamism proper of subject-object in oneself.

Third factor. A dynamism of conscious choice by which one sets apart both in oneself and in one’s environment those elements which are positive, and therefore

Dynamisms: the Shapers of Development 39

considered higher, from those which are negative, and therefore considered lower. By this process a person denies and rejects inferior demands of the internal as well as of the external milieu, and accepts, affirms and selects positive elements in either milieu. This leads directly to the awareness of not being identified with one’s body, but that body and consciousness can be separated.

Third factor is a dynamism of valuation, i.e. of developing consciously an autonomous hierarchy of values. One could say that third factor decides upon what subject-object in oneself has uncovered, while inner psychic transformation is the process by which the decision is put to work. Third factor is the par excellence dynamism of self-directed development. It also coordinates the inner psychic milieu. (SE 30, 31, 45, 47, 87).

Inner psychic transformation. The process which carries out the work of developmental change in man’s personality structure, of which the changes in the emotional structure are by far the most crucial.

Where there is lack of inner psychic transformation then whatever the individual’s experience does not represent developmental changes. Death in the family, humiliations, events which uncover their deficiencies and shortcomings, do not bring about deeper and lasting psychological changes, on the contrary, they rather enhance their egocentric and aggressive tendencies. Years pass and these individuals remain insensitive, rigid, narrow and primitive. Inner psychic transformation is observed in fundamental, deep responses, sometimes even violent, which change the direction of behavior, deepen sensitivity, and bring about the transformation of psychological type. We can quote as examples the changes in Wladyslaw David after his wife’s suicide and in J. Ferguson as a result of his growing concern for his patients (Dąbrowski, 1967). David underwent a total change of his scientific interests and his development towards—unknown to him previously—mystical attitude. Ferguson gradually curbed his paranoid and litigious reactions for the sake of greater empathy and dedication in work with his patients.

These two types of reactions: adevelopmental and developmental are commonly described as: “Nothing moves him, nothing will change him,” and “He is so moved by everything, he has understanding for everything.”

There are two, although not the only, distinct manifestations of this dynamism. One is the transcending of biological life cycle. Somatic determinants of maturation, aging, or disease, are replaced by mental and emotional determinants of rich (accelerated) psychic development. The result is a continuation of creativity in spite of aging, continuation of psychic growth past maturity, expansion of emotional experience with age and deepening of love and friendship (6-126, 6-128, SE 69, SE 79, SE 80). The second manifestation is the transcending of psychological type by introducing traits of opposite type, for example an extravert becomes somewhat introverted, or an impatient and irascible person becomes patient and gentle, or a timid and anxious person turns into a confident leader. When such transformation reaches the point of irreversibility, i.e. losing the impulse to revert

40 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

to the earlier trait of form of behavior so that it does not flare up even under stress, then we consider it developmentally true. The transformation would not be true if it were only a suppression. Inner psychic transformation may be observed in precursor form at a lower level, for instance in efforts to become more self-controlled, organized, considerate of others. At level IV this process is much more distinct, engaging deep reflection and concentration as, for instance, in meditation.

Self-awareness. Awareness of one’s identity as a continuity of past with the present; awareness of one’s individual uniqueness and that certain distinctive personal qualities are significant and lasting while other qualities are secondary and transient. Awareness of one’s development and its direction (6-107, 6-148, SE-46).

Self-control. A highly conscious dynamism of bringing order and unity into one’s development. The growth of self-control takes place in proportion to increasing calmness and confidence in one’s developmental path. At the borderline of levels IV and V the dynamism of self-control becomes absorbed into DDC at a high level.

Autopsychotherapy. Psychotherapy, preventive measures, or changes in living conditions applied to oneself in order to control possible mental disequilibrium. Autopsychotherapy is the process of education-of-oneself under conditions of increased stress, as in developmental crises, in critical moments of life, in neuroses and psychoneuroses. It is an off-shoot of education-of-oneself operating at the borderline of levels III and IV. As development advances through spontaneous to organized multilevel disintegration, the conflicts, disturbances, depressions, and anxieties are handled consciously by the individual himself. Because of the great rise and differentiation of autonomous factors the individual has available to him the means not only to contain areas of conflict and tension but even more so to transform them into processes enriching and strengthening his development. Conscious self-healing is an example of this process at work; it is, however, more crucial in the mental and emotional than in the physical realm. Solitude and concentration play a very important role in this process.

Education-of-oneself. This dynamism guides the realization of personal development according to a definite program built on an autonomous hierarchy of values. It entails a conscious alertness and activity of converting one’s experiences and actions toward the stream of personal growth. It denotes a capacity for long-range programs of self-development. In the words of Saint Exupéry: “Each evening I review the truth of my day: if the day was sterile as personal education, I am malevolent for those who made me lose it.” (SE 29). System of yoga and meditation, and related systems (e.g. Schultz’s autogenic training) when taken up seriously and systematically, are good models of education-of-oneself.

Creative instinct. Creative instinct becomes more strongly united with the global process of personality development, with religious needs and self-perfection.

Dynamisms: the Shapers of Development 41

Elements of insight and sensitive understanding of human experience become the leading themes. There is an advanced differentiation of types of individual and group processes which are grasped intuitively rather than analytically. Creativity is distinguished by moral religious, existential, and transcendental elements. In consequence it deals with the problem of lasting, unchangeable, and unique emotions essential to deep relationships of love and friendship. High level of self-awareness plays a key role here.

Self-perfection. Systematization and organization of a program of personality development is called here self-perfection. The goal and the process of self-perfection become clearly defined with special emphasis on moral and empathic development. There occur states of meditation and contemplation in which the individual realizes the existence of a superior hierarchy of personality as the highest self-chosen, self-affirmed, and self-aware structure attainable in human development. Following this realization, the individual endeavors to unite himself with the highest levels discovered by him in his experience. This is the discovery of the ideal as the goal of personality development. The process described is that of the dynamization of personality ideal.

Identification. Strong and full identification with oneself as to the essence of the high levels of one’s psychic structure. Strong disidentification with the lower levels of one’s personality structure. Identification with others is replaced by empathy. There is full empathy toward others, but never full toward oneself, while identification with oneself is total, but never total with others.

Empathy. Differentiation of empathy proceeds as a function of the process subject-object in oneself. There is more discretion in respect to others but without diminishing profound sympathy, understanding, or readiness for sacrifice. There is growth of love and concern for those who suffer injustice and are oppressed. Exclusive bonds of love and friendship become deep and enduring. Empathy and self-control are mutually balanced. Empathy tends toward universal love but does not quite achieve it at this level. Nevertheless, it achieves a profound expression out of continued striving for identification with the highest level of development. Inner conflict. On the borderline of levels III and IV inner conflicts are strong. In these conflicts, doubt, depression, states of anxiety are converted into developmentally positive action. This is a period of systematic “organization of conflicts” in the service of personality. There are existential, philosophical, and transcendental conflicts. The danger of suicide or psychosis is nil. The powers of conflict are looked upon as positive; they are in the service of personality and its ideal.

Disposing and Directing Center. The DDC becomes unified and is firmly established at a higher level. The DDC is now the controlling agent of development directing its organization and systematization with personality ideal being the highest and the dominant dynamism. The third factor is its closest and most distinct component.

42 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior


Secondary integration as the highest level of development is also called here the level of personality. By personality we mean a self-aware, self-chosen, and self-affirmed structure whose one dominant factor is personality ideal. In Figure 1 the disposing and directing center is marked “unified” in level IV, on the borderline of levels IV and V the function of the DDC is carried out by third factor, while in level V the DDC becomes completely united with the personality. Through the synthesis and organization carried out in level IV, all dynamisms operate in harmony. They become more unified with the DDC established at a high level and inspired by the personality ideal. Out of all the developmental distillation, personality ideal remains as the only dynamism recognizable in the fifth level.

The chief dynamisms involved in the grand synthesis leading to secondary integration are: empathy, responsibility, authentism, autonomy, and personality ideal. Self-perfection also plays an important role.

Responsibility. Responsibility before personality (the highest level of development) and its ideal. The sources of responsibility are: the highest level of empathy and love for every human being and the need to turn this love into action. Christ’s life was the acme of responsibility for all those who suffered injustice. He expressed this at all times—“come ye all to me”—with not merely a hope but certitude of obtaining life in the kingdom which is not of this world: “Dwell in me as I in you,” “I am the way, I am the truth, and I am life; no one comes to the Father except by me.”

Authentism. When individual and common essence is attained at the level of personality, it means that central unrepeatable and experientially unique individual qualities are retained and continue to develop together with universal qualities of humanity. Authentism signifies the realization that the experience of essence, i.e. of the meaning and value of human experience, is more fundamental than the experience of existence.

Autonomy. Freedom from lower level drives and behavior and from the influence of the external environment (which does not negate responsiveness to its needs). Autonomy is a function of identification with the highest levels, in particular with personality ideal.

Personality ideal. Prior to secondary integration it is an individual standard against which one evaluates one’s actual personality structure. Personality ideal arises out of individual experience and development. It is shaped autonomously and authentically, often in conflict and struggle with the prevailing standards of society. Let us take the example of Christianity which is founded on love and

Dynamisms: the Shapers of Development 43

poverty. Every Christian who tried to five these ideals fully meets first with persuasion how unreasonable it is to attempt this, then opposition, and finally persecution in one form or another.

Personality ideal as a mental and emotional structure is first perceived intuitively in abroad outline and becomes the empirical model after which personality is shaped. As development advances, personality ideal becomes more and more distinct, and plays an increasingly significant role in the synthesis of the inner psychic milieu by guiding the activity of the DDC. This process is called the dynamization of the ideal.

At the level of secondary integration, personality ideal is the primary source of both inner life and of outwardly expressed behavior.

Empathy. Empathy achieves its highest expression in the readiness to sacrifice one’s fife for the sake of others. Empathy develops not only toward the people one is responsible for but also toward one’s highest strivings, one’s own unrepeatability harmonized with a total respect for “Thou” which exceeds the respect for oneself. The highest level of an authentic “I” in relationship with an authentic “Thou.” We encounter here the development of empathy for everything that exists, especially all living creatures. There is a profound and active empathy toward all those who are hurt and humiliated. Love is emanated equally strongly in the contemplative states of meditation as in conditions of everyday life.

Self-perfection. The program of development worked out in level IV can now be fully carried out. It is conceived as a synthesis through intuition, it is “self-evident.” The program is taken up without excitation, without inhibition, and without resistance. The reason for this comes from the attenuation and cessation of inner conflicts and tensions, and from the establishment of hierarchy of values under only one kind of tension, namely, personality ideal. The ideal becomes accessible and comprehensible. Dynamization of the ideal becomes a concrete process because the main dynamisms of personality are already unified with the personality ideal.

Moral differentiation of others is based on the deepest empathy toward them. This empathic differentiation occurs through intuitive-synthetic insights, obtained frequently during meditation and contemplation. The feeling that it is possible to step over from empirical experiences into the borderline of transcendence is based on an understanding of the differences and closeness of “I” and “Thou” in a harmonic duality of existence and essence. The individual reaches his own ideal and the ideals of others through mystical experiences and identification, thus achieving full harmony in perfecting himself and others.

Inner conflict. No inner conflicts, there is only the memory of internal struggles. The fruits of those struggles are utilized in the development of the ideal.

Disposing and Directing Center. The DDC is totally unified and identified with the personality ideal.




The problem of multilevelness of emotional and instinctive functions has two aspects. One, the expression of a function at a given level of development, and two, the influence of the dynamisms of that level on the expression of the function.

The expression of a function can be observed directly in behavior or it can be measured by appropriate tests, even if such tests still have to be constructed. This is the empirical aspect of multilevelness which consists in the collection of descriptive data. The theoretical aspect consists in uncovering the dynamisms involved in shaping the expression of behavior.

Since the dynamisms are theoretical constructs postulated to be the shapers of development and behavior, one could think that they cannot be directly observed in expression of behavior. However, they can be identified in the manner a person relates to his own experience. For example, absence or rejection of inner conflict can be stated very clearly: “I rarely think of inner conflict in relation to myself,” (1-42); “I know what I want to do and anything that conflicts with that, I get rid of', (2-72); as can be the presence and the significance of inner conflict: “I argue with myself whether or not life is worth living, or if life has any point to it,” (5-148).

This holds for all other dynamisms described in Chapter 5. Thus, a dynamism as a theoretical abstraction is within easy grasp of what is observable and analyzable, at least in verbal behavior. A qualitative and quantitative analysis of responses representative of all the dynamisms of positive disintegration has been attempted. The methods and the research material are given in their entirety in Part 2.

The Shaping of Behavior by the Dynamisms of the Inner Psychic Milieu 45


In this chapter we shall describe the expression of four functions: sexual behavior, fear, laughter, and reality function, at five levels of development. We shall attempt to indicate in turn the contribution each dynamism makes to the expression of these functions. We shall also try to identify the key factors in making a differential interlevel diagnosis, that is, we shall discuss the crucial dynamic factors which operate at the “borderline” of levels and which push the process of development forward and upward.


Sexual Behavior


Level I

Sexual behavior is undifferentiated: it is controlled entirely by biological factors. It is directed towards more or less attractive but stereotype representatives of the opposite sex. It is marked by lack of sensitivity and consideration for the needs of the partner. Sexual needs are imposed on the other without a feeling of personal relatedness; the other is an object of sexual gratification. In consequence a human relationship of love cannot be formed, equally there is no parental responsibility.

The dominance of biological factors is evident by the following traits: the lack of consideration for age, state of health, emotional condition of the partner, little inhibition in the use of force, little inhibition in sexual expression in the presence of others, sexual behavior is understood primarily in terms of its physiology and absence of retrospection and prospection in sexual fife. After the sexual act a state of depletion may follow which in some psychopathic individuals leads to violence, even murder.


Level II

Gradual loosening of the dominant biological structure of the sexual instinct takes place. This occurs through periodical states of reflection, changeable syntony with the partner, occasional retrospection and prospection, disequilibrium of sexual excitations and inhibitions. Sexual tension builds up easily, often with some inclination toward perversion but not without the consent of the partner. This indicates that sexual aggressiveness is not as strong as in primary integration. Certain sensitivity and responsibility for the partner and the family is present and may increase but because it is generally weak and unsteady it cannot be relied upon. These vacillations are a manifestation of the dynamisms of ambivalence and ambitendency.

At times the biological force of the sexual instinct diminishes due to inhibition arising from an increase of sensitivity, syntony, and consideration for the emotional needs of the partner and the family. Sexual experience is influenced at this level

46 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

by the interplay of stimuli and reactions but is not subject to clear hierarchization of values, only to occasional “moods of reflection.” Group opinion, the influence of advertising and vogues in sexual life play a big role (second factor).

In summary, sexual behavior in unilevel disintegration is governed by diverse tendencies. Occasionally they cooperate, but more often there is manifest need for a variety of sexual experiences, which may be unexpected and inharmonious. Stability and exclusivity of emotional bonds is not understood and is not sought, instead there is the facility for turnover of the objects of love. These diverse, fluctuating and alternating sexual tendencies correspond to diverse and conflicting disposing and directing centers, none of which gives direction or stability.


Level III

Reflection and valuation begin to play an increasingly significant role in the hierarchization of sexual fife. Their expression is sexual selectivity and a need for more personal and exclusive relationships. Selectivity is the result of a felt need for more meaningful emotional life; it is also the result of the ability to foresee the consequences of one’s actions. Exclusivity and stability of feelings begin to manifest strongly, as well as responsibility for the partner and the family. In sexual life emotional components prevail over physical. Sexual instinct gradually loses its character of a biological species drive and becomes an instinct with an expression individually human. The predominance of emotional over physical attachment finds its expression particularly in the need for exclusivity. Exclusive attachments lead to strong sexual inhibition, even impotence, when the partner leaves or dies. For example, in my clinical practice I met a 40 years old man, father of seven children, who became impotent after his wife left him. His impotence lasted several years until the time when his wife returned to him. This is an example of an inhibition of the lower level of an instinct (biological level of sexual drive) by a higher level of the same instinct (emotional and exclusive attachment).

Such behaviors develop as a result of the action of the dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration. These dynamisms promote the development not only of an increasing responsibility for the family but also of strong tendencies toward idealization of sexual life and seeking its fulfillment in deeply emotional relationships.

Astonishment with the phenomena of one’s own sexuality occurs when one is surprised and embarrassed by the strength of the biological level of sexual impulses arising easily and unselectively. For instance, a person experiences a wave of sexual tension but the mate is weak because of menstruation, or tiredness, seeing this he retreats and realizes with surprise that his biological urge is blind to more personal empathic consideration for the other. In consequence the urge is inhibited, looses tension, and subsides without a need of actual release.

Disquietude with oneself precipitates an experiential grasp of one’s deficiencies. To come face to face with one’s own sexual primitiveness, lack of control,

The Shaping of Behavior by the Dynamisms of the Inner Psychic Milieu 47

or compulsions, is something of a shock. In consequence one becomes aware of deficiencies in other forms of behavior as well. A negative attitude arises toward the sexual instinct in oneself. Disquietude about one’s sexual behavior subjects it to inhibition, weakening, and differentiation which leads to its greater emotional complexity.

Inferiority toward oneself plays mainly a critical role in the evaluation of one’s sexual life; it is less essential in the diagnosis of the level of sexual behavior. It results from depressive feelings as a reaction to having yielded to various still primitive sexual manifestations and tendencies in oneself. The feeling of inferiority acts as a strong emotional factor in breaking away from the lower levels of sexual life. There is a feeling of distance from what one begins to feel to be ideal in sexual life. The individual becomes sensitive to higher, i.e. emotional and more inspiring experiences of sexual life, such as sharing experiences of beauty in nature, art, and experiences of trust. Recognition of higher and lower levels in oneself and identification with the higher ones results in a sense of confidence in opposition toward the lower ones.

Feelings of shame and guilt are essential for the diagnosis of the developmental level of sexual behavior. Shame and guilt loosen the cohesive primary structure of sexual instinct; they inhibit and weaken its biological level of control by bringing it to the higher emotional level of exclusivity and responsibility. Shame and guilt are most often recognizable in the concern over harm or embarrassment caused the partner in sexual life. Shame produces an impulse to flee, to disappear from the sight of others in order to reflect and sort out the disjunctions of one’s sexual behavior. Guilt produces the experience of heightened sensitivity to one’s primitiveness, carelessness, and inconsiderateness in relation to the partner, or to the family. Guilt generates a sense of responsibility. Guilt here acquires the deeper meaning of feeling responsible for failure in loyalty towards one’s ideal: for betraying one’s ideal.

Dissatisfaction with oneself is of great significance in the diagnosis of a level of a function. It is a more global diagnostic dynamists than those previously discussed. Dissatisfaction is an expression of strong discontent with yielding often to frequently arising sexual impulses. It is thus a measure of an already occurring separation from lower levels of biological functioning. Dissatisfaction brings about inhibition of primitive behaviors in oneself and prevents their unchecked expression. As a pervasive feeling it produces a state of alertness to oppose such expression in their incipience. Dissatisfaction intensifies the need for endowing sexual life with deeper emotional meaning. It thus builds a bridge toward higher more personal levels and more individual, levels of sexual experience.

Positive maladjustment is manifested by an awareness already on a higher level of the disparity between the situation at hand and one’s own evaluation of it. It is frequently concurrent with a program of abandoning the present level of reality “what is” and adjusting oneself to a higher reality of “what ought to be.” Positive

48 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

maladjustment cooperates closely with dissatisfaction with oneself. It is, in a way an active demand to develop a hierarchy of sexual life. Positive maladjustment expresses an actively negative attitude toward primitive manifestations of the sexual instinct in one’s own life, in one’s social environment, in the exploitation of sex for effect or commercial gain, or in prescribing for others the norms of morality and individual sexual behavior. At the same time positive maladjustment is an expression of idealization of sexuality and of a need of “what ought to be” in sexual life. It may take the form of aversion to the rituals of dating, or to the competition for the favors of the opposite sex.

Creative instinct shapes sexual behavior by looking for new and more enriching expressions of sexuality. At this level of development creative instinct helps to experience the “other” and the “new” (most often also the “higher”) in sexual life. By itself the creative instinct does not enable one to develop universally toward the highest level. This is possible only in conjunction with the instinct of self-perfection. The creative instinct usually begins by a more or less extensive disintegration of the lower levels of an emotional or instinctive function, in this case of sexual behavior. This might be transiently manifested by some strong sexual primitivisms or perversions. This happens because the creative instinct by destroying sexual automatisms and stereotype sexual behaviors, acts, so to speak, upward and downward seeking new fields of expression. Nevertheless there soon arises a need for evaluation and selectivity of such expression. Emotional sensitivity accelerates this process.

Identification and Empathy introduce the emotional components of attention to the subjective needs of the partner, and of selectivity and exclusivity of relationships of love. Sexual behavior becomes a function of the more significant and more pervasive process of building a relationship.

Level IV

The organization and synthesis of the inner psychic milieu, primarily by emotional-cognitive dynamisms, such as third factor and subject-object in oneself, results in deep transformations in attitudes toward sexual fife. The ideal of exclusivity and permanence of an emotional relationship develops as a deeply reflective philosophical attitude. (By ‘philosophical’ we mean the principles a person believes in and fives by as a function of an examining and searching attitude). The loved one becomes the subject endowed with individuality and uniqueness. A program of sexual life and of its sublimation is developed through retrospection and prospection. Meditation and highly developed empathy and responsibility for the family play here a crucial role.

Self-awareness and Self-control play an important role in shaping sexual expression at this level. It is inconceivable to find a primitive manifestation of sexuality in behavior if at the same time there is a highly developed self-awareness and

The Shaping of Behavior by the Dynamisms of the Inner Psychic Milieu 49

self-control. Both dynamisms are essential to the diagnosis of this level of sexual behavior. The lower levels of sexuality are weakened and inhibited, and replaced by higher, increasingly more exclusive and more reflective components, together with an increasing responsibility for the partner and the family. Self-awareness and self-control are not to be mistaken for self-observation or just a form of introspective checking of inner events. Rather, they provide a strong active barrier against sexual behaviors of lower levels, which is maintained without effort and without tension. At the same time they augment the need to experience more often, if not solely, sexuality of a higher level, such as one offering unique, faithful, and ideal emotional relations.

Subject-object in oneself takes sexual life as an object of penetrating observations and experiences. It interrupts frequently and systematically the “habitual routine” and turns a person into a sharp observer of himself. Example: “In this moment of a sudden vision of myself I saw a dissociation—on one side my attraction toward an almost perfectly beautiful body, on the other a repelling commonness of sexual excitement, its species appeal and its common animal quality. My ‘physical’ rapture broke like a soap bubble.” Sexual instinct, as in this example, is subject to a split between its lower level, which grows weaker and is being transformed, and its higher level approaching to personality and its ideal.

Third factor works toward a high level of sexual life by separating and selecting what is to be curtailed and eliminated from what is to be accepted and developed. Third factor determines what constitutes a positive or a negative experience in relation to higher and lower levels of sexual fife. It eliminates all that is animalistic and selects all that is authentic, individual, social, and empathic. Third factor thus chooses exclusivity of emotional ties, responsibility for the partner and the family, and the unrepeatability of the union of love. In cooperation with empathy, self-control, self-awareness, prospection, retrospection, third factor creates a ‘school’ of marital and family life. Example: “I would not exchange for anything her unique ‘power’ over me. Always unity of the physical with the moral and the spiritual. Union of minds and hearts, never the physical union alone. I feel disgust toward the tyranny of the physical aspect of love, but in its spiritual aspect I feel close to something like an ‘immortality of sex'.

Inner psychic transformation acts in close cooperation with all other dynamisms of level IV. Sexual needs and their realization undergo a deep change so that their fulfillment occurs in harmony with the higher emotional and experiential aspirations of the individual. No external or internal sexual stimuli are accepted without first being screened and modified, if necessary, to harmonize with the ideal. Under the influence of this dynamism sexual behavior is characterized by exclusivity, responsibility, and uniqueness of emotional ties. It is marked by very deep care and concern for the family.

Education-of-oneself and Autopsychotherapy. Autopsychotherapy operates on the borderline of levels III and IV. In relation of sexual life autopsychotherapy

50 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

may come into action at a time of emotional and sexual conflict in a relationship, or with the lower instinctive levels in oneself. Previous experience, memory of errors, failures and previous psychoneurotic sexual conflicts (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 100) enrich the analysis of one’s sexual behavior and establish it at higher level. What remains from previous times are only traces of therapy, struggles and victories achieved in the development of the sexual instinct. In level IV, a program of systematic self-development, which results in lowering of inner tension but greater calmness and harmony, affects and smoothes out the unevennesses that may still be experienced in sexual life. This level of sexual life is clearly subordinated to the operation of empathy and ideal.

Identification and Empathy. It is hard to separate the activity of these dynamisms from all other dynamisms of organized multilevel disintegration since the emotions of empathy are now the dominant emotions in shaping a relationship. The sexual aspect of a relationship becomes sublimated. Love and friendship may flourish without much interference of demands from the biological level of the sexual instinct.

Identification and empathy shape understanding, sympathy, desire to help in various difficulties in life; they also express a distance and separation from lower manifestations of sexuality, such as the distinctly physiological, selfish aspect of sexual release, which acts outside of empathy, exclusivity, intellectual, esthetic and moral rapport. Moral emotions press for separation from such manifestations of sexuality. A person on this level of development cannot display symptoms of undifferentiated, irresponsible and nonexclusive sexual behavior. Such a person will love in an exclusive way, will long for fully individual contacts, will desire to create with his partner a “school of life together,” will need him intellectually, morally, esthetically for his own and their mutual growth, and for the sake of others as well. Such a person will value more highly mental, emotional, and physical individuality of his partner than his sexual potency. Such is the way to higher levels of sexuality.

Identification and empathy also promote an understanding for all manifestations of sexuality including such aspects as perversions or inversions, which are often considered only in the narrow context of rigid and insufficiently studied “norms” of human sexual behavior and emotional development. Such “norms” are provided either by social standards or by psychoanalytic theories. Let us discuss as an example necrophilia and homosexuality. In certain individuals necrophilia is a function of association of love with death. In others, who may be very idealistic, there might be a fear of actual sexual intercourse, but at the same time there is an attraction to the body of a dead person because it might feel less threatening. There may be no urge to undress the body or perform the sexual act, rather, it all occurs in the imagination. Masturbation may serve to release mental and sexual tension. In homosexuality again the expression of feeling and affection may be more important than the actual physical contact and sexual release. When emotional and human factors play a directive role then there is no interference

The Shaping of Behavior by the Dynamisms of the Inner Psychic Milieu 51

with individual development. Such behaviors are understood as forms of stepping out of the rigid norms of common stereotypes of sexual behavior and its procreative service to society and the nation. These two dynamisms form an attitude of affirmation of sexuality in its expression on higher levels, and at the same time the acceptance and affirmation of divergent ways of sexual experience which may lead to the higher levels.


Level V

In addition to profound responsibility for the partner and his development there is also an even greater responsibility for the development and sublimation of sexual instinct in others. There is an effort to make the hierarchization of sexuality an individual reality in human life. The means to it are envisaged to be through a subordination of sexual instinct to a highly developed hierarchy of values, moral ideals, emotional and ideological closeness with the partner and responsibility for the family—one’s own and the larger family of mankind. Friendship replaces sexual love. Spiritual union is realized through love (Kierkegaard).

Autonomy and Authentism establish the highest level of exclusivity, uniqueness, unrepeatability, and responsibility for the partner and the family. There is complete independence from the primitive (animalistic) levels of sexual instinct. Autonomy is characterized by reflection, thoughtful and idealistic, yet not naive, approach to the loved one. The physical and sensual aspect of sexuality is transcended. The power of sex is perceived and experienced as the universal power of life, to be treated with reverence and guarded against shortchanging it through moments of pleasure. However, individuality is perceived as shaped by the history of personal experience and by its aspirations.

Responsibility takes development and its direction as a whole, of which sexuality is just one of many aspects. We see an increasing attitude of responsibility for the “I-and-Thou” relationship in marriage and in friendship. No aspect of sexual aspirations and realizations at this level can be isolated from the context and experience of responsibility, as well as empathy.

Personality ideal. Under the influence of personality ideal sexuality is approached through an ideal of uniqueness, the highest exclusivity, unrepeatability, and in a certain sense, transcendence. This is expressed in the highest attitude of “I-and-Thou” in respect to the partner and the family.

Empathy together with personality ideal inspires the highest level of love that transcends separation and death.

Fear, Dread and Anxiety


Level I

Fear arises as a primitive reaction before sudden, threatening phenomena such as the forces of nature, catastrophes, physical pain, sudden death, or the authority of

52 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

power. This type of reaction shows that reflection is totally absent, or is very weak. The individual is either immobilized by his fear through a paralyzing concern with his survival, or acts only to protect himself, regardless if it means harm to others.


Level II

Fears and anxieties arise from lack of directive dynamisms. Fears are not defined but take the form of fears of closed or open spaces, or are occasioned by cyclicity of moods, feelings of helplessness, loneliness, or an indeterminate fear of death (ambivalences). Fluctuation of feelings of inferiority and superiority, or feelings of shame before others give rise to anxiety. We observe coexistence and cooperation of fear and depression. The environment has strong influence as a source and shaper of anxiety (second factor). In a different way, the presence of others may induce weak manifestation of altruistic behavior. Self-control and self-awareness are totally absent or weak. There may be alternation of fear and short-lived courage (ambitendency). With positive progress of unilevel disintegration one can observe an increase in the role of psychological factors, such as beginnings of reflection, even precursor forms of subject-object in oneself, attempts at control of fears and anxieties, also some growth of sensitivity to fears experienced by others.


Level III

Beginnings of alterocentric and altruistic anxieties. Appearance of existential fears and of fear of death. In reflection on their origins and nature we observe beginnings of control of fears of lower levels and of transforming them into fears of higher level (hierarchization). Unmotivated fears and apprehensions also appear but combined with reflection.

Astonishment works through surprise as to the origin of fear and upon reflection, surprise that one should be afraid, and at other times, clear realization that one ought to be afraid.

Disquietude is manifested as a concern about the level of states of fear, for instance, by suddenly realizing that one may fear more the loss of one’s health than of a loved person. Such disquietude, as a rule, raises the developmental level of fear. Under the influence of this dynamism fear loses its biopsychological cohesiveness. It becomes subject to criticism, self-awareness and self-control. The temperamental and egocentric component of states of fear is being reduced. One becomes anxious over the fact that fear has often a paralyzing effect suppressing existential experience.

Feelings of inferiority toward oneself introduce differentiation between lower and higher levels of fear, and lead to significant analysis, disintegration, even pushing out of primitive states of fear to the margin, and slowly working out a transition toward altruistic fears. Disquietude over primitive types of fear and

The Shaping of Behavior by the Dynamisms of the Inner Psychic Milieu 53

affective memory of such primitive fears causes a feeling of inferiority toward one-self, thereby creating the need to move to higher anxieties, such as the existential. Feelings of shame and guilt play a considerable role in overcoming fears of lower level, their primitive dynamic and primitive symptoms. As a result, the altruistic elements of fear can be more freely expressed: fear for others, the feeling and need to help others in their states of anxiety; fear is now much stronger.

Dissatisfaction with oneself establishes a line of demarcation between primitive fear resulting from instinct of self-preservation or selfishness and fears of a more alterocentric character. Primitive fears are thus transcended through strong discontent with them. Dissatisfaction leads to constant readiness to counteract the pressure of primitive fears. It acts prophylactically against being seized and controlled by a primitive state of fear.

Positive maladjustment, besides being an attitude of discontent with primitive states of fear, engenders the formation of methods by which to counteract such fears. Primitive states of fear are brought under control while alterocentric elements begin to play a bigger role. It was known to the ancient Greeks that the object of fear is fear itself (Tillich, 1967). In the experience of fear one can face it deliberately and attempt nothing to prevent its intensification. One may be tempted to consider that by getting up, going out for a walk, talking to someone in the family, or by other actions one could shake off the fear, but instead one may let it grow, develop before one’s eyes in order to face it to the end, so that fear would be overcome by looking straight at it, by a kind of passive awareness. At other times one can fight fear by the above methods of active dispersion. Another method is practice of a form of “mental indignation,” or “mental shouting,” as a kind of impatience with oneself for letting oneself yield to fear as something less human.

Creative instinct brings new contents into states of fear. The “new” can be expressed on the hand by attitudes of curiosity toward fear (introduction of elements of analysis and intuition), and on the other it may express an urge for active transformation of experienced fear to other kinds of fear, usually of higher level, as for instance, into alterocentric and existential fears, and thus gain control of primitive states of fear. The element of curiosity brings complexity into the experience of fear and leads to the discovery of its new dimensions, such as anxiety, dread, or terror, even agony. My patients expressed it in many different ways, as for instance: “I have fear of my fear, but I let it grow, I let it try me, whether it will weaken my self-awareness, whether it will be stronger than me, or whether I will know more about it when I catch it in its weakness.” Many have experienced a kind of saturation with fear which leads to an altruistic transformation. Killing fear for oneself makes room for a new kind of fear—a fear for the sake of others. The content of fear is expressed in painting (e.g. Goya), literature (e.g. Kafka), or music, especially in modern music (e.g. Penderecki). One observes

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the beginning of a positive attitude toward fear, or even its friendly acceptance (e.g. Kierkegaard).

Identification and Empathy express identification with the fears and anxieties experienced by others and an empathic willingness and readiness to help them by either attenuating or removing their fear or by helping them to see its significance in their development.

Level IV

Altruistic anxieties, including moral anxieties in respect to others, begin to develop. There are anxieties in face of one’s own imperfection or inadequacy, empathic anxieties in regard to the death of others, existential anxieties over difficulties of reaching empirically to transcendental experience.

Self-awareness and Self-control have strong alterocentric components, therefore, in states of fear they do not allow the individual to be overcome with concern for his own self-preservation, or be reduced to thinking only about his own safety. These dynamisms are responsible for the abandonment of the primitive level of fear and the development of alterocentric fear characterized by identification with others and active desire to help others in their fears and anxieties. In addition, the individual develops a friendly, accepting attitude to anxieties of a higher level, those which are alterocentric and existential.

Subject-object in oneself acts to control and weaken fears of lower level through an objective scrutiny. The state of fear, the object of fear and its source are examined with penetration. Fears and anxieties experienced by others are understood more clearly not only in terms of those one has experienced oneself but also as experiences of extreme and intriguing subjectivity of others.

Third factor affirms and selects those fears and anxieties which are altruistic, existential, or even cosmic, and rejects fears which are selfish, temperamental, or psychosomatic.

Inner psychic transformation operates closely with subject-object in oneself and with third factor in changing states of fear by clearing them of everything that is not alterocentric, social, or existential. This is achieved by repeated objective testing of fear tensions at a lower level for increase in sensitivity to concern for others and for the direction of one’s own and their development. Lower levels of fear are thereby sensitized to more evolved concerns and transformed to fears of a higher level. In consequence primitive fears are inhibited and eventually entirely eliminated.

Education-of-oneself and Autopsychotherapy supplement the transformative work carried out by all other dynamisms. The result is an intuitive readiness for action and giving of oneself to the needs of others who are burdened by fears which they cannot overcome. The problems of fear and the distress of anxiety are

The Shaping of Behavior by the Dynamisms of the Inner Psychic Milieu 55

dealt with in the context of personal development as a whole. At this level of development only in exceptional cases there may be a need to develop a systematic program of dealing with one’s anxieties and fears, because rarely do they become debilitating. This would come more readily from excess of empathic sensitivity to the fears experienced by others and their existential despair than from any other source.

Identification and Empathy. The primary element in fear is altruistic concern, care for others, for those who are weak, easily frightened and taken advantage of by others. In consequence states of fear are not subject to the instinct of self-preservation but express, instead, social concerns, understanding and readiness to help.

Level V

At this level there are anxieties over one’s own imperfections, anxieties of not knowing the absolute, anxieties arising in states of strong psychic tension connected with the search for philosophical and mystical yet empirical solutions. Anxieties arise as a result of difficulties in reaching these solutions.

Autonomy and Authentism are expressed by a total control of all primitive states of fear. Responsibility, care for others and for things of “higher order” become an all-inclusive alterocentric concern.

Responsibility acts against any elements of egocentric character which could find their way into operations on this level. Responsibility here is, in fact, a readiness to protect others, while the experience of fear is evoked only through affective memory. Responsibility is present at a sustained level of concern for all those fears and anxieties which others experience both at lower and at higher levels, but especially for the fears suffered but those who are wronged and humiliated.

Personality Ideal. finds its expression by a very direct and spontaneous readiness for sacrifice, for protecting others from fear and from any harm or evil. Example, Dr. Korczak, a Polish educator, went into the gas chamber together with the children of his orphanage telling them stories so as to spare them the fear of death (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 120).

Empathy. It is clear from the above discussion of other dynamisms that empathy is a strong all-pervading component in each one of them.



Level I

Laughter is primitive, loud, brutal, physiological. It is frequently evoked by watching someone’s misfortune or humiliation, e.g. physical handicap, brutality, injury, abuse. In other people such situations provoke sadness or shock. This type of crude and inappropriate laughter can be often observed at showings of movie dramas.

56 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

On this level smile as an expression of an inner process does not exist. Laughter has the character of a collective release of primitive emotions. It is frequently associated with brutal behavior. It contains no good will and no identification with the object of laughter.

Level II

On this level laughter is variable, on the one hand it might sound loud and brutal, on the other hand, there might be certain saturation with brutality and noise and some embarrassment because of it (ambitendencies). Laughter becomes calmer and less coarse. It is more psychological and often subdued. It becomes mole individual with the appearance of smile. There is a beginning of differentiation between primitive laughter and a cultured smile. Responsiveness to more subtle humor develops. 1 There is a marked fluctuation between syntony and dissyntony in response to stimuli evoking primitive laughter (ambivalences). There is a tendency to attenuate the brutality of laughter, or occasionally feel constraint and shame in respect to primitive expressions of laughter. A sensitivity in distinguishing situations which can, from those which should not, cause laughter begins to develop to some degree. External influence (second factor) plays often a big role either way, i.e. whether a person will join in with the crowd in a more primitive laughter, or will be embarrassed by it.


Level III

Laughter becomes more differentiated, quiet and subtle. There is a distinct kind of smile which begins to predominate over loud laughter. The smile reveals a history of grave experiences and an increasing introvertization. The differentiation and sublimation of smile arises in consequence of growing empathy toward people, and of creative tendencies which develop new and more subtle forms of smile.

Astonishment with oneself causes astonishment in regard to different levels of laughter. Suddenly one is shocked by one’s own loud, crude and uncontrolled laughter: “Is this coming out from me?” The brutal and noisy character of primitive laughter begins to disappear and the process of astonishment with oneself exerts an inhibition on all forms of laughter which do not fit to an already felt hierarchy of this function. Gradually laughter as such is eliminated and most often is replaced by smile. The forms of laughter and of smiling become differentiated, varied to fit different occasions, contents and the expression of inner process. Thus laughter and smile express, and are a function of, an increased excitability of emotions, imagination, and intellect.

Disquietude with oneself in relation to laughter is even more than other dynamisms a valuable diagnostic factor. It brings about a strong readiness for in-


1 In 1887 J. H. Jackson gave an address on levels of joking, which he considered to be, in ascending order, pun, witticism, humorous story (Jackson, 1932).

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hibition, for being ashamed of oneself and even of feeling guilty. One becomes troubled over one’s way of laughing and over what one is laughing at. Smiling, which begins to predominate, becomes a manifestation of a transition from an egocentric self-assured attitude of brutal laughter to an attitude of considerateness and lack of self-assurance (empathic anxiousness).

Inferiority toward oneself acts similarly to disquietude with oneself in shaping the expression of laughter by constraining it. There is a felt fear of possibility of inopportune and inappropriate laughter. There are repeated attempts to prevent and inhibit occurrences of improper forms of laughter which cause disquietude about one’s primitivism. As a result loud laughter is rather rare, or disappears almost entirely.

Feelings of shame and guilt eliminate noisiness from laughter and above all preclude laughing at someone. Laughter is frequently checked when it could be unpleasant or hurtful to someone. During the interview one can frequently meet evidence of experiences of shame and guilt, concern for responsibility, and desire for reparation in relation to someone who was, or could have been, harmed and hurt by the client’s abusive laughter.

Dissatisfaction with oneself determines that any form of brutal, harmful, noisy laughter is not permissible because it could bring to others sadness, humiliation, or even pain. By strong reaction of discontent toward it, primitive laughter is eliminated.

Positive maladjustment represents an attitude of independence from temperamental syntony and thus from loud collective type of laughter. There is a growing independence, even in the workings of one’s imagination, from commonly occurring occasions of insensitive laughing at others, such as scorn and sneering.

Creative instinct may enable one to produce wild, barbaric, hurting laughter. This is possible and needed in the creative process in which the creator by being involved with many different types and characters carries out a multilevel and multidimensional process of identification. But in everyday life a creative individual will not express himself in loud and noisy laughter, even less so in a laughter which is harmful or scornful. Experiencing and producing the primitive type of laughter in imagination, shows the distance separating the actual emotional life of the creative individual from the lower level which in his affective memory can still exist or can be produced through fantasy.

Identification and Empathy are instrumental in replacing laughter more frequently by smiling. Smiling becomes “embarrassed,” anxious, expressing thus a need to prevent the possibility of hurting someone. A smile can also convey an attitude of warmth, acceptance and encouragement to another person.

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Level IV

Collective laughter disappears; it is replaced by subtle individual laughter and most often by an individual smile which is moral, esthetic, a smile toward the ideal, a smile of mutual understanding in the most subtle things. The past history of suffering and agony can be clearly discerned in such empathic smile.

Self-awareness and self-control eliminate almost entirely loud, temperamental, primitive laughter. The dominant expression is a differentiated smile radiating as a total expression of the individual. Such smile is all encompassing.

Subject-object is oneself objectivizes, reduces and removes the laughter characteristic of lower levels. Instead of laughter there is a smile with very subtle traits and removed from laughter and actual laughing. Through the activity and practice of subject-object in oneself a person acquires the sensitivity and ability to recognize the quality of smile in others and decode its deeper experiential contents.

Third factor establishes the level on which laughter can be accepted by the developing personality, that means the level of senile containing sincerity, open-heartedness, understanding of others and readiness to help, in other words a smile of empathy. Third factor shapes a smile of concern which is cordial, warm, which could even be called existential or cosmic, expressing distance from transient matters, even weariness with them.

Inner psychic transformation acts toward greater subtlety of smile. The approach to smile is more intuitive. Smile becomes all encompassing, spontaneous, and self-developing. There is a continuing effort extended over longer periods of time to transform lower levels of smile to higher ones as a function of deepening inner experience and empathy.

Education-of-oneself and Autopsychotherapy maintain a constant attitude of continuing perfection and bringing greater subtlety of smile. They effect a direct or indirect inhibition of lower forms of laughter and also a tendency to choose always a smile in its sincere, direct, subtle, rich but also subdued form.

Identification and Empathy express through smile states of high differentiation such as the highest level of insight and penetration into experiential states and paths of others. These dynamisms develop in a person an ability to look on emotional life of others, and on one’s own, from a certain distance, from an attitude of being removed from small everyday affairs, yet expressed in a smile which is accepting toward these small everyday affairs. Such smile expresses the deep relationship of “I-and-Thou.” Identification and empathy develop a smile toward everything and everybody. It is a smile that radiates love and compassion.

Level V

Smile is autonomous and authentic, it is a smile of love, forgiveness, and devotion. It is a smile of the highest empathy in recognizing and appreciating the

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existential unrepeatability or “I” and the unrepeatability of “Thou.” This level of development is expressed by a smile which is both existential and transcendental.

It embodies the history of suffering and sadness, as in a smile from the cross. But it can also be a smile that radiates joy, yet not without the awareness of and compassion for human sorrow.

Autonomy and Authentism shape the most subtle level of smile which never loses its spontaneous balance of dwelling on a very high level. The smile is delicate, direct, and universal; it is close to and at the same time very distant from concrete things.

Responsibility it felt for the most subtle manifestations of smile, its stability and its unrepeatability. Smile is an expression of great sensitivity and continual striving on a very broad scale to eliminate those levels of smile which are evoked externally and which do not express the full transformation of personality.

Personality ideal shapes smile into one which is “not of this world,” a “transcendental” smile which one can see in Rembrandt’s painting “Christ on the way to Emmaus,” or in the French sculpture of the “Unknown from the Seine” (Inconnue de la Seine).

Empathy is expressed in the radiating power of a smile of infinite unconditional love.

Reality Function


Level I

Reality function at this level has two negative characteristics. One is an insufficient understanding of the horizontal dimension of human reality, that is, of different kinds and elements of human experience on the same level. The second is the lack of any understanding of the vertical aspect of human reality, that is of higher levels of human experience. It is not uncommon that highly intelligent and educated people—scholars and scientists—may lack the perception of the multilevelness of reality. Conception of reality is limited only to what is tangible, concrete, and available to sensory cognition. It is the reality of everyday life and statistically established norms. In the analysis of reality mental operations tend to be limited to handling data obtainable through measurement only and cast into a rigid system of thought, such as logic or deductive reasoning.

Level II

Reality ceases to be perceived as something fixed but its perception begins to show fluctuations (ambivalences). Reality ceases to be compact and manipulate but may begin to appear as having many dimensions, and, vaguely even many levels. Reality is usually understood as that which at the present moment gives the most varied and rich experiences. On the one hand there may be a quick

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saturation with a given dimension of reality, but on the other hand there may be a desire to bring that dimension into another kind of reality (ambitendency), for example, “I do find myself attracted by opposites, the light and the dark” (2-107). Although in emotional experience and in intellectual understanding multilevel elements may appear, they are, however, not stable or consistent. Changeable vogues and theories influence a person’s changing unstable conceptions of reality which either keep on replacing each other or boil down to paradoxical relativistic views that the subjectivity of individual realities cannot be known, but at the same time it is all molded by society and culture (second factor).

Level III

Gradual hierarchization of reality begins. The individual regards reality, objects, events, and experiential phenomena not according to commonly established interpretations and values but according to his higher emotional functions. These functions allow him to see, to evaluate and to create new forms and discover new contents for phenomena which until now were limited in their meaning. Example: “From my sorrows, despairs, disappointments, surprises, and restlessness emerges a new reality which ‘sees’ different realities: lower and higher, poorer and richer, stereotype and creative, those that passed and those that are going to come. Before, I never felt the silence and calmness of vegetation, the wisdom of some old people. I did not know that one can cry internally feeling the suffering of someone whom I have never met, feeling the suffering of an animal, even an insect. All this is a new and different reality that has opened before me.”

Astonishment with respect to oneself introduces into the reality function an important differentiating element. Reality begins to be experienced in its complexity and new dimensions and levels of reality begin to open. This leads to an irritation with common practical conceptions of reality. Someone says, “you don't have a sense of reality,” which is immediately countered by “what kind of reality are you talking about?” Imagination and creativity play an important role in discovering the great complexities of many dimensions and levels of reality. Such discoveries will surprise, astonish, and may fill a person with awe; but experiencing this repeatedly sets him on a search for realities of higher level.

Disquietude with oneself is even more effective than other dynamisms in destroying a unilevel perception of reality. A feeling appears that reality is intricate, obscure, unknown, hiding dangers (more within one’s own than in the reality of others). Disquietude with oneself, more than astonishment with oneself, precipitates a stronger dynamization of the need to understand the multilevelness of reality in a general sense, but especially the many levels of one’s own inner reality. There is a sense. of the unknown, of a risk in getting to know one’s inner reality, because there might be something unexpected, even frightening in one’s own structure. Reality becomes hierarchical, changeable, multilevel and multigeneric. Other mental functions are introduced into the reality function in order

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to provide a wider basis for understanding and evaluating reality. Intuition, imagination, even fantasy, play an especially significant role.

Inferiority toward oneself provides an emotional basis for differentiation of levels of reality. It enhances the need for understanding higher levels of reality and of moving away from its lower levels. It thus plays a role of spontaneous and emotional evaluation of different levels of reality.

Feeling of shame and guilt are particularly effective in opening dramatically new dimensions of social (shame) and emotional (guilt) reality of human interactions. These interactions are intensely experienced rather than intellectually structured. These feelings cooperate strongly with other dynamisms in expanding the discomfort with one’s adjustment to reality of lower level. As a result, the attitude of the individual in relation to the lower level of reality becomes undermined. A new hierarchy of reality emerges and with it the need to adapt to this new hierarchy. To recognize and understand this new reality, a reality of that “which ought to be” is a preparation for moving away from the actual reality of “what is.”

Dissatisfaction with oneself brings about a growing sensitization to the fact that others may not distinguish and ignore different levels of reality. There is also a growing realization that one is given a one-sided, inaccurate, and often erroneous picture of reality. One becomes further sensitized to future possibilities of such deceptions. Dissatisfaction with oneself promotes a decisive transition from a reality of a lower level to the reality of a higher level. It is an expression of an all-inclusive moving away from primitive levels of reality toward a distinct increase of sensitivity to its higher levels. We can actually interpret it as meaning that the individual has already left the lower levels of reality.

Positive maladjustment makes an all-inclusive universal evaluation of reality and promotes actions toward transformation of actual reality. It effects active moving away from lower toward higher levels of reality. It manifests an effort to carry out a hierarchization of reality. It is an expression of active choice of higher against lower realities. Positive maladjustment has thus two aspects: one, an emotional evaluation of different levels of reality resulting in moving away from its lower levels, and two, a need for changing the actual reality and, in addition, creating a basis for projections toward discovering a new and higher reality and establishing oneself in it.

Creative instinct has a fundamental influence on the transformation of reality function. How often in the development of prominent personalities, creative writers, composers, artists (e.g. Kierkegaard, Keats, Kafka, Proust, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Saint-Exupéry, Pearl Buck, W. H. Auden, Dag Hammarskjoeld, J. S. Mill, Chopin, Gustav Mahler, Michelangelo, Gabriel Marcel) the realization appears that it is better to be restless, to suffer depressions, and even to be gravely ill, if these afflictions give in return

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the possibility of finding access to the world of “higher reality,” a world of new ideas, new creative stimuli, new intense dreams, rather than remain in the world of everyday reality, full of boredom, full of trivial relations, a reality repulsive in its monotony and uneventfulness. Although the creative instinct is irregular in its disintegrative effect on the lower level of reality, nevertheless this effect is total. It destroys the lower level of reality function with great force and makes room for the expression of developmental projections in the direction of higher—even the highest—level of reality. In this way creativity provides expression for the negation of unilevel (stereotyped) reality. Creativity on this level can be an expression of a strong attempt to break away from such hierarchically undifferentiated reality.

Identification and Empathy open up the many levels and dimensions of experience of human relationship, but above all the relationship of love and friendship. Existential experiences bring on the realization that, perhaps, of all aspects of reality, lasting, unique and unrepeatable bonds with another person, or persons, is the key to the meaning of human existence as well as to its purpose.

Level IV

Dynamisms of this level together with highly developed emotional functions and cognitive activities enable one to develop a multilevel organization of reality. One of the fundamental factors operating here is intuition which functions as a process of multidimensional synthesis. Example: “Life is that which tends toward more improbable states of existence” (SE 67), “Civilization is an invisible boon; it concerns not the things we see but the unseen bonds linking these together in one special way” (SE 99).

Self-awareness and self-control are dynamisms of a developing personality. They enable a person to experientially see and analyze lower and higher levels of reality. Thus, one clearly sees, analyzes, and differentiates primitive levels of reactions, stimuli and responses as lacking inner psychic transformation and one contrasts them with the complex higher levels of emotionally rich, multilevel, autonomous and authentic behaviors of high empathy and insight into oneself.

Subject-object in oneself enhances the understanding and experience of reality as multilevel. In consequence the approach to reality is consistently multilevel. Example: “I behaved like a beast again. After many successes for the better, after victories, the humiliation of the strength of old habits, letting myself act and talk as I used to before. Revival of old automatisms, alas. Unfair gossip about others, tacit permission to let myself be flattered. And again trying to justify myself while criticizing others.” This observation and experiencing of one’s own development is an example of the action of the dynamism subject-object in oneself. A person in whom this dynamism is developed is not only sensitive to the multidimensionality of reality as he encounters it, but also to the hiatus between its highest and lowest levels. It is a sensitivity to events pointing “upwards” and “downwards.”

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In this way this dynamism is a very sensitive gauge of the “lowering” or “rising” of different aspects of inner reality. With this process a person has an already established feeling of separation from the reality of a lower level and of being established on its higher level.

Third factor establishes decisively a division between lower and higher reality and affirms its higher level, the level of creativity, self-perfection, intuition, empathy, and self-control. Thus it selects in a general way the reality of the higher level and gives the basis for a more elaborated approach to it. It develops a feeling of being at home in the reality of higher level. Third factor also helps in the direction of achieving distinct autonomy in relation to a reality of lower level, and also takes part in an emotional, though calm, reinforcement of the negative autonomous attitude towards it.

Inner psychic transformation gradually develops in a person an insight into the highest levels of reality accessible only to thrusts of intuition. This is related to contemplative, and even ecstatic experiences. Although such experiences appear to be the result of genuinely practiced mysticism, its methods, nevertheless, should be considered as empirical.

Education-of-oneself and autopsychotherapy express themselves in a readiness and an alertness to preserve, vitalize and move closer to the ideal of a reality of higher level. The action of these dynamisms results in a dynamic grasp of ever higher reality and a dynamic transition to a higher level. This may be observed as an optimistic approach and hope of reaching ever higher levels of reality, also in a certain feeling of power coming from the results of successfully self-developed programs of education-of-oneself and autopsychotherapy.

Identification and Empathy produce a level of reality in which others are treated as subjects while the individual treats himself as object, where alterocentric and altruistic attitudes are manifest on a high level, where interpersonal responsibility is very high, where one approaches oneself and others on the same level, although with more empathy toward others than toward oneself. At this level of development a subjective attitude toward reality becomes an indispensable means of structuring many levels of reality. Subjective attitude is the condition sine qua non of discovering and developing multilevel reality. Empathy develops toward such higher reality, and helps to expand it and to make it dynamic.

Level V

Reality of a higher level is expressed in philosophical conceptions of development, in existential experiences, in true mysticism, contemplation, and ecstasy. On the highest level it is not a reality of objects and psychosocial relations but a reality of the ideal. It is the threshold of transcendental reality discovered through first-hand experience.

Autonomy and authentism mean that man has reached the highest accessible to him, level of reality. The autonomous forces of self-determination in development

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are localized on the highest level of uninterrupted contact with personality ideal. Other forces and other factors are under the control of personality ideal. The capacity for responsibility and sacrifice is ever present.

Responsibility represents a very sensitive, very calm solicitude towards universally understood development, towards its history, and towards its chief dynamisms, such as autonomy, empathy and the personality ideal. Responsibility expresses a great force connected with an all encompassing attitude towards the history of each individual development and an awareness of the localization of this development, its forces and its results.

Personality ideal acts as a force of transposition to ideal reality which one achieves only by way of true empathy, mystical contemplation and ecstasy, a reality which is free from selfishness and from temperamental egocentric. actions and concerns. This is the reality of ideal, of creativity and self-perfection on the borderline of transcendence. 2 The center of gravity is transposed to the world of higher values and ideals which represent the objective and the subjective reality equally, and which endow transcendence with concreteness.

Empathy—the reality of all encompassing cosmic love which transcends death.


The five levels of development have by now been described in three different ways. First, the general characteristics of each level were given in Chapter 3, Section 1, second, the constellations of each level’s developmental factors were given in Chapter 5, and third, the expressions of behavior at each level were presented in this chapter in terms of four functions. We can now try to bring together this information by first focusing on the features differentiating contiguous levels, and then, in the next section, by tracing several developmental gradients operating along the evolutionary scale of development through positive disintegration.

Differences between lower levels of development are much sharper than differences between higher levels of development. Figure 1 shows this quite clearly. The differences between levels I and II, and between II and III, are very sharp, but between III and IV there is a great amount of overlap. In addition, different dynamisms of level IV start operating in precursor form quite early in level III. Detecting the presence of such precursors is an important fact in itself because it tells something about the direction and breadth of development. The more precursors of level IV dynamisms are found operating next to level III dynamisms the more accelerated and universal is the development and the more likely its advance. However, if we find, and this does happen, precursors of level IV dynamisms amidst some, but not all, dynamisms of level III with still strong dynamisms of


2 Transcendence is understood here as the sphere of the highest concrete and cognizable reality in contradistinction to Kant’s approach.

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level II, then the development is not accelerated and is not universal. Level IV cannot be reached directly from level II. The full phase of level III must first unfold in all its intensity, it must replace and eliminate the ahierarchy of level II, before the precursors of higher levels can become true dynamic forces of further development.

The transition from level I to level II is rare and difficult. It is possible only if there are some nuclei of disintegration already present in the developmental potential, because there must be some susceptibility to the environment and to others, or there must be some internal lability built into the system if its rigidity and cohesiveness is to yield. The environment must be particularly favorable in providing influences and models toward the development of feelings for others and toward some, even if rudimentary, evaluation of one’s behavior and its consequences. Grave life experiences and stresses may facilitate the process, but in case of very rigid integration, the disintegration which occurs under stress is temporary and is quickly followed by reintegration to the original level of primitive automatic functioning (Dąbrowski, 1967, p. 57). The difference between level I and 11 is one of a cohesive, more or less inflexible and automatic organization against a lack of cohesion and lack of organization. Instead of inflexibility we observe fluctuation rather than flexibility; we observe an instability comparable to the biblical reed in the wind. Or, to use a biological analogy level II is like a poikilothermic system, i.e. one which responds to ambient temperature. Level III is, by contrast, one of structuring the fluctuations. We observe hierarchical complexity of levels of control, although the control level is not firmly established, sometimes it is higher, sometimes it is lower. The fluctuations, however, are now internal rather than externally induced. The organization of level III can be compared to a homoiothermic biological system, i.e. one which can regulate the temperature of its inner milieu against changes in the environment.

At level III there are a number of different dynamisms at work which at different times operate separately, or together, or can overlap their spheres of activity. In fact, a complete separation of all dynamisms from each other would be an artifact.

Since level IV is also a hierarchical structure, and a further elaboration of that of level III, this accounts for the overlaps between these two levels. But the distinguishing feature of level IV is synthesis—a directed and self-determined organization of development. In consequence, there is more and more of overlap and cooperation between different dynamisms than there was at level III. Since this trend becomes more pronounced the closer development approaches secondary integration, it follows, that the difference between levels IV and V is even less sharp.

At level V the process of developmental synthesis leads to a harmonious unity represented by personality ideal as the only dynamism recognizable at this level. There is something of a paradox here. In evolutionary development we observe increasing differentiation from the simple to the complex. But the harmony and unity of functioning postulated for the level of personality resulting in an ab-

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sorption 3 of most, if not all, previously differentiated developmental factors (dynamisms) into one-the personality ideal—is, perhaps, a novel phenomenon in psychobiological evolution. It would present a case of some kind of dedifferentiation but one ensuring a greater freedom and flexibility of operation.

In more detail, the differences in expression of behavior at different levels appear as follows. In level I behavior is determined by somatism and automatism. There is a narrow concern with one’s organism in terms of its biological function. For example, in sex it is the need for release, often brutal, in conflict it is the need to settle it physically, often violently, in fear it is the need to keep the body intact, always in response to a concrete threat and disregarding what happens to others, in laughter it is the need to feel it in the belly.

Toward level II there are departures from these behaviors. Somatism prevails, but automatism loses its cohesiveness. Inner processes begin to come into play, although inconsistently and often only weakly. In sex there might be light syntony and beginning identification with the partner, and although it does not last there may be short-lived efforts to counter too much concern with one’s body. In conflict the tendency to aggression and violence declines, in fear there may be no concrete physical cause-anxieties may arise from shame or vague feelings of disquietude. In laughter its most primitive expression becomes inhibited, and occasionally a smile appears. These changes and departures from primary integration become more pronounced as disintegration becomes broader and deeper.

The contrast between level II and III is one of differentiation and hierarchization which takes many forms. In sex it appears as differentiation between the emotional and the physical level of expression, between the selective, personal, and even exclusive relationships and the unselective, temporary and frequently shifting involvements. In conflict it is the differentiation between emotional, intellectual and moral aspects and generalized, relativistic and socially influenced aspects, between protection of the weak, the sick and protection of oneself or only of those whom one likes. In fear, it is the differentiation between fear for the loved one, existential anxieties, and fears of unknown origin, often somatic or phobias of different kinds. In laughter it is the differentiation of smile expressing inner experience and an empty smile or laughter, between what one is laughing at and laughing at anything. Level III represents not only the beginning of opposition to lower levels but also the beginning of control.

The contrast between levels III and IV lies mainly in the increase of more conscious hierarchization and deliberate synthesis of development. The lower levels are well controlled and are gradually eliminated. The processes of inner psychic transformation are strongly involved in the process of organization and synthesis. In sex, empathy and identification are determinants of the formation of exclusive


3 This absorption does not concern in any way the qualitatively unchangeable, differentiated traits of individual essence and social essence (a detailed description and definition of both essences can be found in other books by the present author).

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bonds of love and friendship. In conflict, moral and altruistic concerns prevail, and the concern for one’s own safety and intactness is greatly reduced or even eliminated totally. In fear, hierarchization of all fears is carried out and new types of fears and anxieties appear, such as moral fears for others, anxieties over one’s imperfections and profound existential anxieties. Smiling replaces laughter on most occasions.

Finally, in level V the synthesis approaches completion. The inhibition of lower levels is effortless; in many functions they disappear altogether. In sex, the highest empathy of an authentic “I-and-Thou” replaces sexual relations, in conflict there is no aggression or fighting but rather cooperation with others on far-reaching universal and spiritual goals as a means of eliminating aggression. In fear, there are only altruistic, existential and transcendental anxieties. The problems of life and death become crucial. Smiling becomes all-inclusive, expressing infinite love.

Thus, at the highest level the differentiation of “what is” against “what ought to be” reaches its full fruition. The lower “what is” is replaced by the “ought” of the highest level which thus becomes the new and ultimate “what is.” The internal split disappears but without it the ultimate synthesis would not have been possible.


In this section we examine developmental gradients underlying the evolution and progressive differentiation of levels.

It must be clear by now that the view of development presented here provided both a parallel and a link between Jackson’s evolutionary principle of transition from automatic to deliberate operations and the principle of emotional development as a transition from egocentric to alterocentric operations.

We can identify several gradients in the developmental process: (A) changes in structure (hierarchization), (B) increase of inhibition, (C) increase of reflection, and (D) increase of syntony leading to empathy. Other gradients, such as increase of internal conflict, decrease of external conflict, or increase of awareness, are functions of these main gradients. These gradients reflect the general trend of development where biological determinants decrease in significance while psychological (i.e. conscious and deliberate) determinants increase in their control of behavior.

A. Gradient of Hierarchization (Changes in Structure). While level I represents the most cohesive and inflexible structure, level II represents the opposite—the greatest disconnection and instability. This ahierarchic structureless structure is thereby highly labile. As development continues in unilevel disintegration there may appear a reaction of fatigue and tedium with such perpetual chaos, inconsistency, disorganization and directionlessness. There may arise a need to differentiate what appears as “the more it changes the more it is the same thing.”

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This reaction marks the initial need for hierarchization, for replacing the repetitious and tiresome “what is” with the more promising and more organizing “what ought to be.” A multilevel process emerges and a hierarchical structure appears where previously there was no hierarchy and no structure.

The consequence of hierarchization is greater complexity of inner processes. The epitome of a hierarchical conflict is moral conflict. The more emotionally invested it is the stronger it is. A multilevel hierarchy is built by the great tension of such conflicts. They arise from an ‘intense personal experience of becoming aware of different levels of every aspect of human life: mind vs. body, emotions vs. intellect, sex vs. love, the virtue of selfishness vs. responsibility, relativism vs. autonomous values, social conformity vs. social responsibility. Thus from the inconsistency and changeability of level II emerges a consistent vertical valuative mode of functioning. This valuative process is consistent because the emotions that give rise to it are consistent in their reaction to what is higher and what is lower, though the behavior is not yet so consistent.

When the multilevel processes are active, a hierarchy begins to appear and development takes on a definite direction. But that does not mean that the organization of this hierarchy is firm or that the level of control is consistently placed on a high level. In consequence development leads to a need for organization and synthesis. The progress from level III to IV is marked by an increase in the awareness of the levels of the autonomous hierarchy and the beginning of a synthesis. This means that higher emotions, intuition, analysis and creative processes are brought together into greater unity and harmony of operation. The hierarchy becomes fully elaborated and all-encompassing. In level V the synthesis is complete, or almost complete, and the full level of personality is attained. The hierarchy operates by concentration of power in its highest level (personality ideal).

B. Gradient of Inhibition. Inhibition can have many different and quite complex patterns. Inhibition is the fundamental feature of hierarchical control exhibited by biological systems. In relation to the nervous system, Pribram (1971, p. 338) points out that “true neuronal inhibition is an organizing property of neuronal function, not just a depressant.” He also quotes Sherrington (p. 104): “Between the reflex action and mind there seems to be actual opposition. Reflex action and mind seem almost mutually exclusive—the more reflex, the less does mind accompany it,” which is another statement of Jackson’s principle that the more automatic an action the less deliberate or conscious it can be.

Behavior at level I responds only to external controls. A system operating more or less automatically does not have the faculty of deliberate flexible control, or “mind” in Sherrington’s sense. Inhibition comes about only from external pressure. There is no inhibition as an inner control system.

Internal inhibition begins to appear in level II but is partial and fluctuating (ambivalences and ambitendencies). But this departure from primary automatism brings with it already some inhibition of primitive, lowest level behaviors.

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When inhibition becomes more frequent and more consistent, when lower behaviors are inhibited more often than the higher ones, then multilevel inhibition is in operation. But the attempts to place the controls at higher levels are not always successful. This can often happen through sudden dynamic insight (“prise de conscience”) which has the effect of generating permanent developmental changes in behavior. It is the type of realization which because of its clarity and power can suddenly inhibit, or even eliminate, an undesirable form of behavior.

In level IV inhibition of lower level behaviors is carried often to the point of eliminating them. Such inhibition is conscious, consistent, and deliberate. In level V inhibition of lower levels becomes effortless because most of the lower level behaviors are now totally eliminated. The inhibition of lower levels is carried out more significantly as participation in the development of others and as the work of transforming the environment into a more positive one progresses.

C. Gradient of Reflection. At the level of primary integration there is no reflection in the sense of self-evaluation. Neither is there any ability of foresight in anticipating the consequences of one’s behavior. Political leaders at this developmental level stand out for their lack of broad long range perspective. Equally, their constructive contributions to history are minor (e.g. Hitler’s autobahns) and short-lived. They excel, however, in the destructive.

In unilevel disintegration psychological processes begin to appear. There is certain interiorization, there is a response to external influence which may cause some, even if superficial, introspection or feeling of shame.

With the increase of the spectrum and depth of reflection, multilevel inner processes become apparent. Reflection becomes combined with affective memory which serves to compare past and present experience, past and present behavior, in order to pass judgment on them. The more negative the judgment, the stronger the dissatisfaction with oneself, the stronger is the need to bring about radical changes in oneself. Curiously enough, the stronger is the negative evaluation of oneself the greater becomes the appreciation of others. This is the beginning of subject-object in oneself and the beginning of becoming more other-oriented in the sense of withdrawing judgment on others, and of greater acceptance of others if one is to accept oneself. One begins to expect more from oneself and less from others. The demands for an external “what ought to be” lessen while the demands on one’s own inner psychic transformation increase. Conflicts with oneself become more organized and are more controlled by concern for others and for being of service to others. The problem of the meaning of one’s existence begins to arise more often and with increasing force.

Thus growth of empathy, altruistic and existential concerns mark the transition in the deepening process of reflection from level III to IV. In level V this is augmented by ‘transcendental’ concerns. The process of inner psychic transformation started with the aid of meditation and contemplation is carried on in a more essential all-inclusive manner. Reflection becomes a systematic practice of

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deep calm concentration. It ceases to be an analytical argument but begins to depend more and more on the operation of intuition.

Intuition is one of the consequences of developmental synthesis where the operation of emotional and cognitive dynamisms is fused together into a multidimensional and multilevel grasp of external and internal, objective and subjective reality. Such intuition becomes a reliable process of knowing and cognizing.

D. Gradient of Syntony. Syntony in its simplest form can be described as tuning in with others. In its most evolved form it becomes reflective empathy with a wide range of multilevel concerns for others. The gradient of syntony is a very sensitive gauge of developmental level, and it is, perhaps, easier to measure than the gradient of reflection or hierarchization.

At the lowest level syntony is limited to a group feeling engendered by participation in common activities, by belonging to a certain class, team or ethnic group. Such syntony is external, superficial and temperamental, it ceases as soon as there is a conflict of interest.

In level II syntonic feelings begin to fluctuate but with the changing moods and instability of one’s own identity a psychological need for the company of other people and their opinions and feelings begins to appear. The essential difference with level I is the feeling for others extending beyond common activities. Occasionally there may arise, for a brief period, an empathic concern for another person. But it is not until the beginning of multilevel disintegration that syntony as a superficial temperamental feeling disappears to be replaced by empathy and related feelings of exclusivity of relationships, of respect and concern for others as persons, of acceptance of others in their subjectivity and individuality leading to a sense of responsibility in relations with others.

Empathy is thus possible only with the emergence of the multilevel split between “what is” and “what ought to be” because it brings about an emotional evaluation of one’s relation to others and of their role and participation in one’s development. It is now that caring (Mayeroff, 1971) enters into relations with others—a relationship with another person becomes a true relationship because a chance meeting is replaced by an encounter. Further development transforms empathy into a greater concern for others in their development, for being of help to them and for protecting those who suffer.

Growth of empathy is one of the most powerful developmental dynamics and one which most clearly shows the progressive and hard won change from narrow egocentrism to an all-encompassing universal love. Empathy grows out of the strong emotions of search for the meaning of life and finding it in concern and service to others, and out of the need for self-perfection as a human being. Self-perfection is not possible in a vacuum but grows out of a sense of relatedness with others measured in terms of an ‘ideal other’ embodied in one’s personality ideal. It grows out of conflicts with oneself which produce an increase in caring and appreciation of others, and a deeper humility within oneself.






Psychic overexcitability is a term introduced to denote a variety of types of nervousness (Dąbrowski, 1938, 1959). It appears in five forms: emotional, imaginational, intellectual, psychomotor, and sensual.

Forms of psychic overexcitability were already mentioned in discussion of developmental potential (pp. 13-14), types of development (pp. 19-20), and the sources of developmental conflict (pp. 22-23). Here we present a general description of the phenomenon including its manifestations at different levels of development.

Responses to a variety of stimuli may markedly exceed the value of an average response, they may last significantly longer (although this is not a necessary attribute of overexcitability), and they may occur with greater frequency. For instance, a child’s puzzlement with causes of events expressed in frequently asked questions, in long periods of concentrated observation and though, insistent demands for answers to his question, are manifestations of intellectual overexcitability. A child who is disturbed when a leaf is broken off a plant, who feels that the plant is hurt, and who often identifies with feelings of other living creatures manifests emotional overexcitability. In such children the anxiety over an accident or injury to their siblings or playmates is greater than over their own.

The prefix over attached to ‘excitability’ serves to indicate that the reactions of excitation are over and above average in intensity, duration and frequency. There is another essential feature characteristic for reactions of overexcitability, namely, that the response is specific for that type of overexcitability which is dominant in a given individual. For instance, a person with prevailing emotional overexcitability will always consider the emotional tone and emotional implications of intellectual questions, i.e. what do they mean for people’s feelings and experiences. Because

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of this such a person may fail to appreciate intellectual insights if they do not translate into human relationships. And controversely [conversely?], a highly intellectual person may, in the extreme case, be so caught up in the analysis of feelings and behavior, and his need to seek causal relations to everything that he may not be capable of a genuine emotional relationship with another person.

The following description of the five forms of overexcitability follows that given by Dąbrowski (1959) and Piechowski (in press).

Sensual overexcitability is a function of a heightened experiencing of sensory pleasure. It manifests itself as need for comfort, luxury, esthetics, fashions, superficial relations with others, frequent changes of lovers, etc. As with the psychomotor form it also may, but, need not be, a manifestation of a transfer of emotional tension to sensual forms of expression of which the most common examples are overeating and excessive sexual stimulation.

In children sensual overexcitability manifests itself as a need for cuddling, kissing, clinging to mother’s body, early heightened interest in sexual matters, showing off, and need to be with others all the time.

Psychomotor overexcitability is a function of an excess of energy and manifests itself, for example, in rapid talk, restlessness, violent games, sports, pressure for action, or delinquent behavior. It may either be a “pure” manifestation of the excess of energy, or it may result from the transfer of emotional tension to psychomotor forms of expression such as those mentioned above.

Imaginational overexcitability in its “pure” form manifests itself through association of images and impressions, inventiveness, use of image and metaphor in verbal expression, strong and sharp visualization. In its “impure” form emotional tension is transferred to dreams, nightmares, mixing of truth and fiction, fears of the unknown, etc. Imaginational overexcitability leads to an intense living in the world of fantasy, predilection for fairy and magic tales, poetic creations, or invention of fantastic stories.

Intellectual overexcitability in contrast to the first three does not distinctly manifest the transfer of emotional tension to intellectual activity under specific forms. This does not mean that intellectual and emotional processes of high intensity do not occur together. They do, but they do not appear to take on such distinct forms. Intellectual overexcitability is manifested as a drive to ask probing questions, avidity for knowledge, theoretical thinking, reverence for logic, preoccupation with theoretical problems, etc.

Emotional overexcitability is a function of experiencing emotional relationships. The relationships can manifest themselves as strong attachment to persons, living things, or places. From the developmental point of view presented here intensity of feelings and display of emotions alone are not developmentally significant unless the experiential aspect of relationship is present. This distinction is very

Psychic Overexcitability (Nervousness) 73

important. For example, when a child is refused candy he may throw a temper tantrum just to show his anger. Or, he may go away sad thinking he is not loved.

In the first case we have a display of emotion alone, in the second a relationship. The manifestations of emotional overexcitability include inhibition (timidity and shyness), excitation (enthusiasm), strong affective memory, concern with death, fears, anxieties, depressions, feelings of loneliness, need for security, concern for others, exclusive relationships, difficulties of adjustment in new environments, etc. Relationships of friendship and love are developed usually with very few persons, or only one person. For an “emotional” person as defined here such exclusive relationships often are the only source of meaning in life.

In children emotional overexcitability is easily observed when a child cries at the sight of a dead bird, when it becomes absorbed in thought and worry on seeing physical deformation or handicap, when it suffers insomnia or nightmares after an upsetting film, or when it is moved to be generous to others and tries to hide it.

Each of the forms of overexcitability, however, does not usually appear in isolation from the other forms. In a profile of a person who shows signs of overexcitability we will normally find a dominant form accompanied by varying strengths of the other forms. Only in the case of development limited to primary integration we may observe no overexcitability or only the psychomotor or sensual forms.

The different forms of overexcitability are not of the same significance for development. As was just mentioned, the psychomotor and the sensual forms cannot by themselves break down the cohesive structure of primary integration. Psychomotor overexcitability is characterized by restlessness, need for activity, muscular tension. None of it leads necessarily to the engagement of psychic processes. The case is similar for sensual overexcitability which is characterized by extreme extraversion, seeking pleasure, comfort, superficial beauty, high turnover of contacts with others, and is antagonistic to solitude, reflection and enriching lasting relationships.

The overexcitabilities of greatest developmental significance are the emotional, imaginational and intellectual. They give rise to psychic richness, the ability for a broad and expanding insight into many levels and dimensions of reality, for prospection and introspection, for control and self-control (arising from the interplay of excitation and inhibition). Thus they are essential to the development of the inner psychic milieu.

Psychic overexcitability in each of its forms is displayed either in all-inclusive or confined forms. For instance, in an all-inclusive form emotional overexcitability may seize the whole psyche in a stream of a psychoneurotic process such as general depression or anxiety. In its confined form, it is displayed, for instance, as phobias. In such reactions as neurasthenia or hypochondriasis, emotional overexcitability is also in its confined form. Psychomotor overexcitability in the all-inclusive form manifests itself as a general restlessness, sudden movements, explosions of anger or screaming. There may be psychomotor crises, which although similar in display

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to the above, reach deeper into psychic life, even to the unconscious and the sub-conscious, last longer and have a poorer prognosis. Confined forms of psychomotor overexcitability appear as ticks and hyperkineses. The all-inclusive forms of overexcitability are more conducive and receptive to developmental transformations.


At lower levels of development overexcitability is more often confined than all-inclusive, and more often it occurs in isolation from other forms. The characteristics of a low level of development as being primitive, of little consciousness (reflection) and control, ahierarchical, egocentric, selfish and non-creative, apply also to the manifestations of overexcitability. The characteristics of a high level of development are the very opposite.

For example, a person of high level of emotional overexcitability displays a great deal of inner psychic transformation, a rich hierarchical inner psychic milieu and strong control by inhibition. Such a person is sensitive. A person of low level of emotional overexcitability will be distinctly irritable and insensitive to others, egocentric, poorly reflective, of little insight and empathy. His inner psychic milieu will be ahierarchical.

A person of high level of psychomotor overexcitability will manifest great abilities toward planning, dynamic course of action and organizational abilities, while a person of low level of psychomotor overexcitability will manifest violent irritability, lack of control in outward expression of his crises such as acting out, physical fights and destruction.

The interaction between different forms of overexcitability leads to important developmental consequences. It was said earlier that the psychomotor and the sensual forms by themselves cannot promote development to a higher level. However, in combination with the other forms such as emotional, intellectual and imaginational, they can be transformed and raised to a higher level. Thus, for instance, emotional overexcitability (provided it is all-inclusive and sufficiently developed) introduces controlling, inhibiting factors to psychomotricity and sensuality. Imaginational overexcitability enriches them by elements of fantasy, humor and prospection which tends to diffuse and control the primitive drive aspect of enhanced psychomotricity and sensuality, by transferring the energy of the impulse to a different and broader territory.

Enhanced excitability, especially in its higher forms, allows for a broader, richer, multilevel, and multidimensional perception of reality. The reality of the external and of the inner world is conceived in all its multiple aspects. In consequence, overexcitability plays a fundamental role in the development of dynamisms, their tension, their seeking for channels leading “upward,” their positive maladjustment and transformation not only of the inner milieu but also of the external milieu.

Psychic Overexcitability (Nervousness) 75



Level I


Sensualism in everyday contacts—“epidermal” attitudes of like and dislike, excessive kissing, caressing and hugging (children as well as adults), excessive eating, especially sweets, frequent nibbling, capriciousness in foods, laziness, frequent masturbation at the slightest stimulation.

Level II

Periods of some reflection resulting in certain amount of attenuation of primitive sensualism and sexualism. At times, through short-lived astonishment or disquietude in relation to one’s sensuality, some inhibition. In sexual needs egocentrism begins to weaken and yields to some personal consideration for sexual partners.

Level III

Strong linkage of sensual overexcitability with emotional and imaginational. This leads to hierarchization of sensuality through inner conflicts, inhibition, greater control, critical self-evaluation and deepened syntony (i.e. greater empathy). There is growing introvertization. Inclinations toward demonstrativeness and exhibitionism become sublimated and refined.

Level IV

At this level sensuality never appears in isolated forms but is controlled and transformed by higher forms of overexcitability. This manifests itself in esthetic sensitivity, in responsiveness to the beauty of nature, in high level of dramatization such as perceiving movement and contrast in emotional attitudes and relationships—a sense of human drama, in the inclination for concreteness in relation to events, places, people and relationships. Sensual overexcitability adds to the warmth and cordiality in expressing empathy.



Level I

Violent irritability and uncontrollable temper with easy return to equilibrium, general restlessness, impulsive actions, need for frequent changes of jobs and places, primitive wanderlust (impulse to be constantly on the go), juvenile delinquency (frequent running away from home, frequent attempts of escape from detention, stealing cars, getting into fights, etc.).

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Level II

Ambivalences and ambitendencies bring about, from time to time, a suspension of the drivenness of activity and replace it instead by somewhat more controlled activity.

Level III

Psychomotor overexcitability comes into closer linkage with higher forms of overexcitability (emotional, imaginational and intellectual) and begins to be transformed and modified by them. Within the drivenness of psychomotor overexcitability appear inhibitions, multilevel conflicts, energetic search for channels “upward.” Psychomotricity plays thus a role in the formation of a new DDC at a higher level because of the person’s decisiveness.

Level IV

Psychomotor overexcitability provides the dynamics and energy for carrying out a developmental program of action. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras we find a statement: “Success in yoga comes quickly to those who are intensely energetic” (aphorism 21, Prabhavananda and Isherwood, 1953). At this level psychomotor overexcitability is totally subordinated to higher forms of overexcitability and provides theta with “executive” power.



Level I


Aggressiveness, irritability, lack of inhibition, lack of control, envy, unreflective. periods of isolation, or an incessant need for tenderness and attention, which can be observed, for instance, in mentally retarded children.

Level II

Fluctuations, sometimes extreme, between inhibition and excitation, approach and avoidance, high tension and relaxation or depression, syntony and asyntony, feelings of inferiority and superiority. These are different forms of ambivalence and ambitendency.

Level III

Interiorization of conflicts, differentiation of a hierarchy of feelings, growth of exclusivity of feelings and indissoluble relationships of friendship and love. Emotional overexcitability appears in a broader union with intellectual and imaginational overexcitability in the process of working out and organizing one’s own

Psychic Overexcitability (Nervousness) 77

emotional development. The dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration are primarily the product of emotional overexcitability.

Level IV

Emotional overexcitability in association with other forms becomes the dominant dimension of development. It gives rise to states of elevated consciousness and profound empathy, depth and exclusivity of relationships of love and friendship. There is a sense of transcending and resolving of one’s personal experiences in a more universal context.



Level I

Imagination is in the service of sensualism and impulsiveness. It is manifested in confabulation, facile mendacity, identification with such externally defined roles as for instance, the office of the president or “I am the boss.” It is also manifested in acting out such roles with theatrical gestures to enhance the effect. Mesmerism of rally and revival speakers belongs here as well.

Level II

Productive and seemingly fertile creativity, primitive suggestibility (magic, witchcraft, spiritism), success in acting on stage but not as the highest and universal art. Unselective taste for fantasy and adventure stories. Occasionally intense visions of the future, egocentric fantasy (self-delusion) and anxiety states. Frequent dreams and daydreaming, interest in dream symbolism, especially sexual.

Level III

Imaginational overexcitability becomes more closely associated with emotional and intellectual forms. There is differentiation of the “lower” from the “higher” in imagination and creativity. Dreams and symbolic contents are distinctly multilevel. Dreams and visions of the ideal. Creative instinct makes contact with the instinct of self-perfection.

Level IV

The multilevel characteristics of imaginational overexcitability described for level III become intensified at this level. They serve as tools of conscious development of personality; they become more fully engaged in the realization of transcendental needs.

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Level I

Intellectual activity consists mainly of skillful manipulation of data and information (“a brain like a computer”). Intelligence rather than intellectual overexcitability serves as an instrument subservient to the dictates of primitive drives.

Level II

The functions of intelligence become uncertain and at times suspended by greater emotional needs. Internal opposition, ambivalences and ambitendencies create a fair chance of disconnection of the linkage between intelligence and primitive drives. This creates the possibility of incipient opposition against the ruling power of primitive instincts. Such an opposition, in the course of progressing development, creates the possibility of multilevel internal conflicts.

We observe erudition which can be extensive and brilliant but without systematization and evaluation of knowledge, there is no felt necessity to penetrate into the meaning of knowledge, to analyze in order to uncover the “hidden order of things,” or to arrive at a deeper synthesis. Exceptional abilities in many fields can be, nevertheless, one-sided.

Level III

Intellectual overexcitability intensifies the tendency toward inner conflicts and intensifies the activity of all dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration. It enhances the development of awareness and of self-awareness. It develops the need for finding the meaning of knowledge and of human experience. Conflict and cooperation with emotional overexcitability. Development of intuitive intelligence.

Level IV

Intellectual overexcitability in close linkage with emotional and imaginational operates in a united harmony of drives, emotions, and volition. The DDC is more closely unified with personality (the level of secondary integration). Intellectual interests are extensive, universal, and multilevel. Great deal of interest and effort in objectivization of the hierarchy of values. Inclinations toward synthesis. Intellectual-emotional and intellectual-emotional-imaginational linkages are the basis of highly creative intelligence.




In this group of functions we describe those which are the least complex, most fundamental, and common to all human beings. We do not claim that the list is in any way complete or final. However, six of those listed here (excitation, displeasure, sadness, joy, anger and fear) can be related to most of the basic nine emotions listed by Izard (1971), such as interest, disgust, distress, joy, anger, and fear. Izard’s concern is, however, with the phenomenon of emotion, while we are concerned with the developmental differentiation of emotional functions (expressions of behavior). We have stated that the difference between levels of an emotion are greater and more significant for development and behavior than differences between particular emotions (p. 8).



Level I

Excitations are evoked by stimuli of biological needs (e.g. hunger, sex, fear) and simple primitive tendencies of approach and avoidance. There is a prevalence of excitation over inhibition, since inhibition is imposed only externally. Typical forms of excitation are aggressive reactions, fights, or jeers.

Level II

Frequent alternation of excitation and inhibition. In either process reactions are changeable and uncertain, nonetheless somewhat more differentiated and on a higher level than in primary integration. Inhibitions begin to be slightly more frequent than excitations, for instance in aggression which loses its brutal thrust and need for physical resolution.

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Level III

The differentiation of levels of excitation and inhibition develops gradually. More distinct and more dynamic excitation develops with respect to higher levels of reality, and inhibition with respect to lower levels of reality. The role of stimuli which inhibit functions and dynamisms of a lower level is taken over by excitations, functions and dynamisms of a higher level, such as: astonishment with oneself, disquietude with oneself, feeling of inferiority toward oneself, feelings of shame and guilt, etc.

In the interplay of excitation and inhibition, hierarchical inner conflicts play an important role by reducing the excitation of lower levels but increasing it toward higher levels, and, similarly, by reducing the inhibition (resistance) felt toward higher levels but increasing it toward lower levels. The following schematic representation makes this clear:

Schematic representation of multilevel excitations and inhibitions:

Stimulation of Higher Functions → Inhibition of Lower Functions

Stimulation of Lower Functions → Inhibition of Higher Functions

Inhibition of Higher Functions → Stimulation of Lower Functions

Inhibition of Lower Functions → Stimulation of Higher Functions


Level IV

Harmoniously organized cooperation of excitation of higher levels and inhibition of lower levels. Significant attenuation, often complete elimination, of purely biological excitation, or excitation coming exclusively from external environment, replaced by sensitivity to stimuli which are calm or “quiet,” and which derive from the prevalence of internal over external stimulation and from the strong activity of inner psychic transformation.

The dynamisms of inner inhibition are very strong, as is the readiness to eliminate any “excitability” from sources of lower levels. There is a program of methods and means of developing excitation on higher level with simultaneous inhibition of dynamisms of medium or low level (i.e. borderline of levels II and III, and early III). It is well known that the state of meditation brings about inner quietude, calm awareness of one’s weaknesses, calm equilibration of what has been achieved in the struggles of everyday life. This inner calm can be considered a meditative inhibition which strengthens our achievements. In rare moments one may be given the chance to reach to very high levels of reality. In such moments appear new insights which in some way stimulate us “upwards.” This stimulation as an immediate result of the experience is full of positive and serene tension. It is a calm excitation coming “from above.” We could call it a contemplative excitation.

Basic Emotional and Instinctive States 81

Level V

Hierarchy of excitations based on higher goals is worked out. Hierarchy of values operates the balance of excitation and inhibition while dynamisms of lower and medium levels are to a great degree inhibited automatically. The chief source of excitation are personality and its ideal.



Level I

Inhibitions are externally imposed. Inhibitions are primitive, physiological, deprived of the possibility for compensation or sublimation, since compensation does not become possible earlier than level II, and sublimation not earlier than level III. Fear, sudden unpleasant experiences, pressure or other external stresses produce inhibitions which paralyze the individual, leading sometimes to his total immobilization.

Level II

Inhibition is unstable, unbalanced, without the participation of sublimatory factors but with partial participation of compensatory factors (e.g. too much inhibition is compensated by aggressiveness, too much emotional involvement by disappointment or even some forms of retaliation; other forms of compensation include discharging excess of energy in sports rather than aggression or violence, too strong emotional conflicts are handled through hysterical conversion). Transient changeable reflective activities are present. These reflective activities cause inhibitions and periodical excitations manifested as aggressive courage or escapes.

Level III

Inhibition of lower levels of the inner psychic milieu is rather widespread. Inhibition toward lower forms of external reality also develops. This process causes, on the one hand, stimulation of higher emotional and intellectual functions (empathy, reflective courage, and sensitivity to higher, more evolved external stimuli), and on the other hand, it leads to the control of various instinctive reactions. One observes here the formation in awareness of something like an alert of inhibition and excitation in the service of the developing personality (see the schematic representation of excitation and inhibition on page 79).

The hierarchization of the inner psychic milieu and the hierarchization of inner conflicts lead to the prevalence of inhibition in relation to others, and to prevalence of excitation of negative emotions toward oneself, even self-aggression. Related to this is the reaction of release, or descent to a lower level, when the excitation and tension toward a higher level was too extreme thus withdrawing energy from

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control (i.e. inhibition) of the lower levels. Dostoyevsky said that when he experienced the sublime and the ideal, just then, as if through a physical fissure, leaked in the lower impulse of sex or violence (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 51 and 62).

Level IV

Development of an increasingly deeper awareness of moral evil and its dangers both internal and external. Development of conscious courage. Constant readiness to inhibit negative stimulations. Stimulation of positive processes and positive attitudes. There is something like “automation” of the excitation of higher functions which inhibit lower levels of functions. The habit of feeling and being responsible for one’s own and other’s development in the area of inhibition and excitation develops very distinctly. Characteristic for this level prevalence of inhibition over excitation is the consequence of growing inner calm and quietude achieved through meditation and contemplation.

Level V

Constant readiness for the activity of the highest forms of reflection. Inhibition of primitive drives and tendencies occurs without great effort. The individual has a highly developed ability to differentiate psychophysiological and spiritual functions. He also possesses a high level of coupling between inhibitions and excitations which take part in the dynamization of the personality ideal. The systematized inhibition of lower and medium levels developed in level IV is gradually replaced by the more pervasive and more powerful dynamization of the ideal.



Level I

Suggestibility has its source in brutality, power, or external authority. Suggestibility has an uncontrolled character, it is rigid and follows the single track of self-centered ambitions. It is excited by one’s own ideas (being impressed with oneself) which are subsequently realized. Frequently this type of suggestibility manifests itself as imitation of primitive models (political dictators, union bosses, financiers, psychopathic artists and fanatics). This may lead through autosuggestibility to attempts to surpass these models.

Level II

Suggestibility has either a hysteric or hysteric-like character typified by excessive imitation of others, such as taking on the mannerisms and traits of others. It is an excessive susceptibility to variable suggestions, hence instability and capriciousness of behavior. It is manifested by changeability of opinion and fluctuation

Basic Emotional and Instinctive States 83

of moods. Intelligence is subservient to these switches, easily leading to justification of sudden likes or dislikes, or irritations and sudden loss of faith in others.

Autosuggestibility often results in excessive self-admiration (especially in case of sensual overexcitability).

Level III

Evolution of levels of suggestibility. Distinct forms of reflection involving hierarchical perceptions appear first, together with hierarchical differentiation of the value of different stimuli and responses. Primitive influences are clearly rejected. In all aspects of life susceptibility to suggestion is oriented toward higher values. Suggestible movements have a sublime character since the individual has enthusiasm for values and turns away from suggestions of lower order. The individual gradually becomes more susceptible to suggestive influences of higher level as a result of his positive maladjustment and the operation of all other dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration.

Level IV

Suggestion is hierarchically developed and planned. The individual becomes immune to lower levels of suggestion. This growing immunity results from distinct activity of the third factor, subject-object in oneself, inner psychic transformation, self-awareness and self-control. Actions and attitudes reflect the striving for the ideal, the need to emulate it, and the need to identity with it, even if only partially. As a source of suggestion at this level, personality ideal is the dominant dynamism. It removes suggestions of lower level, such as somatopsychic and psychosomatic reactions (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 304). The individual, often quite distinctly and without much difficulty, draws on the strength of personality ideal.

Level V

Suggestibility and authenticity of the ideal. Suggestibility steins from the highest examples of heroism, self-sacrifice, ideals of goodness, beauty and truth. This level of suggestibility and of autosuggestibility, augmented by empathy and authenticity of experience, creates a harmony in the experience of the absolute “I” and the absolute “Thou.”


Level I

Pleasure comes from satisfying basic drives. Typical examples are the pleasures derived from eating, from sexual impulse, from physical strength, from money,

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from having other people subordinated to oneself. Pleasure and the satisfaction of ambitions of power are not easily distinguished at this level.

Level II

Psychologization of basic drives appears as a result of beginnings of reflection in respect to oneself. Mental and physiological needs become fluctuating and changeable, but some satisfaction in the pleasure of psychological, or even moral nature, is possible. But in most instances the source of pleasure is external and contingent upon variety and frequent turnover of social contacts, sports, or pleasant escapes into nature. In some individuals a feeling of fatigue arises from continual saturation with physiological needs.

Level III

The gradual development of needs of higher order brings more satisfaction from realizing those needs. We have here an ascendancy of pleasure in the moral category such as pleasures arising from altruistic and alterocentric actions, from fulfillment of ambitions of higher order (pleasure derived from one’s own personal growth, from the shaping of one’s own hierarchy of values), also from maladjustment to some forms of reality but adjustment to that which “ought to be.” Satisfaction is more and more derived from overcoming one’s inner conflicts, from the growing robustness of one’s upward developmental strivings, from being able to help others as a result of one’s own struggles, failures, and victories.

Level IV

Experiencing of pleasure has its source in the realization of a more developed hierarchy of values and in the work directed toward the realization of one’s personality ideal. Growth of empathy is a source of profound pleasure, as is meditation and contemplation.

Level V

Experiencing pleasure comes from the realization of ideals, from a growing autonomy and authentism, from empathy which encompasses all aspects of life. We observe here a clearly developed harmony between the need and the attempts of uniting oneself with others on the threshold of transcendence. Meditation and contemplation become powerful vital sources of the highest levels of bliss.

Basic Emotional and Instinctive States 85



Level I

Displeasure results from lack of satisfaction of basic needs, chiefly biological, such as eating, drinking, sex, shelter, and safety. Displeasure is caused by pain, by loss of physical fitness, or by being totally dependent on others. Another source of displeasure are obstacles and failures in the realization of one’s ambitions or achievement of a position of power.

Level II

Displeasure results from unsatisfied needs of somewhat higher level and more psychological in nature, such as not receiving sympathy from others, failures of social and professional ambitions (“name and fame”), etc. Characteristic for this level is marked fluctuation in the experiencing of displeasure caused by lack of opportunity to satisfy these needs and at the same time by the appearance of psychological sources of displeasure.

Level III

Displeasure results from critical evaluation of one’s own deficiencies. This is manifested by dissatisfaction with oneself and the feeling of inferiority towards oneself. These feelings are evoked by the realization that one has not fulfilled one’s duties toward others, that one has not taken full advantage of one’s skills or creative abilities and that one has not been developing them in the right direction. In the early development of this level distress may come from feeling that one is progressing slowly and that the channels leading to further and higher development are not opening readily.

Level IV

Displeasure is caused primarily by the sense of slowness of development. This comes about from comparisons made between one’s present level of development and the personality ideal, and is frequently related to a sense of difficulty and inadequacy in being of help to others in their development. Another source is the awareness of deficiencies in the growth of the inner psychic milieu such as not fully balanced activity of the third factor, of the dynamisms subject-object in oneself, of identification and empathy, and of inner psychic transformation.


Level V

Displeasure has the character of sadness evoked by the feeling that the distance from ideal is too great. It has both an existential and a transcendental character.

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Displeasure arises in face of difficulties in finding philosophical and mystical solutions, and especially in face of an inadequacy of resolving the relation between oneself and others in the sense of a lasting union, even eternal, and in the sense of the deepest empathy and respect for the distinctness of their personalities.


Level I

Joy arises from satisfaction of basic needs. It arises as a result of one’s own superiority, triumph over others, and even from injustice, persecution and suffering of others. Joy comes from possessing concrete things, from brutal victories, etc.

Level II

Joy achieves a somewhat higher level. It arises through syntony as variable joy from the joy experienced by others, or as sadness from the sadness experienced by others. Joy is brought by temporary mental support, sympathy, rest, contact with nature, kindness received from others.

Level III

Joy is brought by overcoming difficulties in development. It is a joy of discovering oneself in an objective and authentic way, of discovering one’s own negative traits and the joy of overcoming them. Joy is also brought about by a dramatization of one’s attitude towards life, the increasing depth and quality of inner experience, by the expansion of awareness, self-criticism, and the discovery of the creative power of sadness. The growth of one’s autonomous hierarchy of values is also a source of joy.

Level IV

Joy flows from growing inner strength. This is directly related to the growth of personality and to an increasing awareness and control of oneself. Unique and exclusive relationships of friendship and love are a powerful source of joy, sometimes even ecstasy. An important element contributing to joy are creative dynamisms of sadness. Very characteristic for this level is the joyous awareness of the impossibility to regress to earlier levels of development, because one has taken education-of-oneself and autopsychotherapy into one’s own hands.

Level V

Joy arises from the achievement of autonomy, authentism, and empathy. There is a joy of a clearer vision of the ideal, and joy from experiencing the concrete

Basic Emotional and Instinctive States 87

elements of transcendence, joy from the dynamization of ideal, and sometimes from possibilities of approaching transcendence. The joy of an all-encompassing love which transcends death.



Level I

An individual at the level of primary integration experiences displeasure or disappointment rather than sadness, because sadness has elements of reflection and also implies a certain amount of detachment from its immediate cause. Thus disillusionment rather than sadness operates at this level. It is short-lived and is occasioned by failure to realize externally measured success. This pseudosadness easily converts into anger and aggression.

Level II

Sadness is variable and subject to changes of mood, often without cause. Sadness is thus cyclic and related to joyous moods, to alternation of excitation and depression, to alternation of feelings of inferiority and superiority (ambivalences and ambitendencies). One observes the appearance of purposeless sadness manifested in primitive forms of reflection (e.g. being lost in thought without being aware of what one is thinking about) or vague nostalgias.

Level III

Sadness achieves a higher level. The individual may experience states of sadness not without some elements of joy. This is directly related to transformations involved in the hierarchization of values. Such a new and different way of valuation leads to sadness over one’s own imperfection, over distance from the ideal, and over lack of sufficiently active creativity. Sadness here is very clearly provoked by the dynamisms of astonishment with oneself, dissatisfaction with oneself, feelings of shame and guilt, and also positive maladjustment to lower levels and lower types of reality.

One of the most intense experiences of pain and sadness is separation from loved ones, the experience of breaking or separation of an exclusive relationship, the realization that death may come and separate forever. Sadness, grief and despair are often evoked by the realization that those we love do not return to us after death.

Level IV

Sadness is the result of a strong activity of the third factor, of subject-object in oneself, of growing self-awareness, and of the painful perception of one’s imperfect identification with others and insufficient empathy.

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Sadness has an existential character. The content of sadness arises from difficulties in helping others to distinguish what is unessential from essential. Sadness is a reaction to the suffering of others as individuals or groups. Sadness is also a result of experiencing a distance from the ideal.

One of the greatest sources of sadness is death of loved ones and the problem of death in general. Attitude toward death is more tranquil and more reflective than in level III. At the same time it penetrates all other attitudes and concerns. One of the deepest sources of sorrow is a position of not being able to help others, especially because of their lack of response or absence of awareness for the need of change. This is most piercingly expressed in many sculptures of the Sorrowful Christ who accompanies us but who cannot help because of our hardness.

Level V

Sadness results from deep solitude of thought in relation to transcendence and the absolute, in relation to one’s own death and the death of others. Sadness coves from an understanding of the unavoidability of separations and at the same time from a desire for perpetual relationships. As a result of striving for absolute empathy there is sadness in the search for an identification of “I-and-Thou.”


See pages 55-59.


Level I

As an expression of sympathy for oneself or for someone else, crying is virtually absent; neither does it arise as an expression of being moved. Crying is possible only as an expression of anger. Crying occurs in psychopathic individuals with hysterical typology.

Level II

Crying is most often evoked by self-pity, less often by sympathy toward another person. Crying is evoked easily, but one observes cyclicity of crying and laughter, sadness and joy, with a facility for switching from one to the other. There are several forms of crying at this level, for example spastic, temperamental, childish, easy crying which expresses few inner process; crying serves as a physiological release evoked by an external stimulus rather than a personal inner experience. Sometimes crying is done just “for practice.”

Basic Emotional and Instinctive States 89

Level III

Crying is distinctly interiorized, controlled, connected with an understanding and experiencing of a hierarchy of values, connected with the struggle to inhibit lower drives. Crying is a symptom of identifying with others more than with oneself; it is an expression of sympathy and of reflection.

Crying appears at the time of entering into new, unknown problems.

Crying appears during performances, concerts, reading novels, or as a reaction to observed events. Crying appears also as a result of spiritual uplifting, or at times of “sad joy” (e.g. during tragic plays or films).

Crying is mainly a function of emotional overexcitability, and to some extent also of imaginational overexcitability. It often results from the pressure of empathy. Crying occurs more often in solitude than in the presence of others.

Level IV

Internal crying is most frequent. Crying is manifested quietly, its source is the awareness of the pain and sorrow in this world, the injustice and humiliation suffered by others. Crying is evoked by affective memory (q.v.), by reaching into the world of ideals, into transcendence and absolute values. It reveals an ability for prospection and retrospection. Crying has a transcendental and existential character and is coupled with the activity of the instinct of partial death (q.v.) associated with the work carried out by the dynamisms of organized multilevel disintegration. (The instinct of partial death is the inner drive which compels the individual to let die or to actively destroy his lower levels—that which is less himself).

Level V

The highest level of empathic crying. This is an internal crying of compassion over the difficulties of the world, crying resulting from the highest level of the relationship “I-and-Thou,” a cosmic crying as a response to the pain and the suffering of being. Christ’s crying on the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”



Level I

Anger is brutal, frequently combined with aggression. It is aroused by obstacles in the realization of such needs as self-preservation, sex, ownership of property, power, etc. One frequently observes anger arising without clear reason. Such anger results from psychomotor overexcitability which has no counteracting or trans-

90 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

forming components of emotional, imaginational, or intellectual overexcitability. In situations of forced inhibition (restriction by rules or confinement) one also ob. serves anger arising without control and growing in intensity. This comes from an easy intensification of a negative reaction (a grudge, dislike, animosity) frequently converted into strong, primitive anger.

Level II

Anger is periodically inhibited and its manifestations have a less brutal character. Anger results from a disharmony of action between primitive impulses and conscious processes, between. opposing tendencies and emotions (e.g. clashes of likes and dislikes). Ambivalences and cyclic moods diminish the intensity and persistence of anger, because it also becomes subject to the fluctuations and switches of diverse and changeable moods. To a significant degree anger is also inhibited by feelings of sympathy toward others and by a tendency toward syntony with others, more of a mood and feeling kind than primitive psychomotricity.

Level III

Anger is inhibited and its outward expression is less frequent and does not take on extreme forms and does not get out of control. However, anger directed against oneself arises easily. The dynamisms of positive disintegration are an essential element in the process of inhibiting and controlling anger. Related to this is an ability to encompass new and creative aspects of reality.

Level IV

Anger is increasingly more controlled and more subtle. This is brought about chiefly by hierarchization of values as a result of a more intense work of higher developmental dynamisms. The development of personality and of the personality ideal, the growth of respect an empathy toward others cause the disappearance of previous primarily external expressions of anger, simultaneously with diminishing of internal forms of anger.

Level V

Personality reaches the highest level of development; the dynamic of love toward others becomes very strong. Empathy has an existential character with attempts to reach transcendence. Deep understanding of other psychological types and of their developmental level (yet without an approval of their negative aspects),

Basic Emotional and Instinctive States 91

feelings of friendship and a desire to help create conditions eliminating anger toward others. Anger may arise in confrontation with moral, ethical and social evil as in Christ’s confrontation with the money changers in the Temple.


See pages 51-55.





Under this heading we are grouping functions in which complex cognitive and emotional developmental factors are intertwined. Three of these functions serve as verbal stimuli for eliciting material from subjects or patients for developmental diagnosis and analysis. These functions are: Success, Ideal, and Immortality. Three functions described in the previous chapter also serve as verbal stimuli: Inhibition, joy as Great Joy, and sadness as Great Sadness. The use and analysis of verbal stimuli is described in Part 2.


See pages 59-64.



Level I

Success is measured externally for the sake of possession or attracting attention: as achievement in sports, exercise of violence, securing a position, money, material possessions. Success is seen as winning power and defeating others in ruthless competition.

Level II

Success is also measured externally, however, there is beginning of selectiveness and lessening of a drive to attain primitive forms of success. Beginning of esthetic and moral considerations in relation to success (beginning of hierarchization). Occasional renouncing of external success for the sake of others. Instances of altruistic success based on sympathy and need of help begin to appear.

Emotional-Cognitive Functions 93

Level III

Hierarchization of success: gradual turning away from external forms of success. Transfer of weight toward moral, altruistic, and creative success. “Lower” forms of success are renounced for the sake of “higher” ones. Sometimes there is a spasmodic elimination of lower kind of success as in trying to achieve the ideal by force. This can be seen in dramatic initial forms of generosity and self-sacrifice. At times this takes the greater form of asceticism and renunciation of worldly life. The meaning of success is developed in meditation and contemplation.

Level IV

The principle “My kingdom is not of this world” begins to be enacted more and more. The notion and the principle of success begin to disappear. Success is measured in terms of helpfulness in others’ personal growth, or as “success through love.” Renunciation of external, lower forms of success becomes a principle and a natural habit. Success is perceived in terms of the path of self-perfection. Success of lasting bonds of love and friendship.

Level V

The problem of success drops out naturally from life concerns. There is only the need for realizing self-perfection. The success in activating the ideal, and the attainment of universal love, are not regarded as success, because one begins to dwell in ‘other dimensions'.


Level I

There are no ideals, only goals. A person may be quite incapable of differentiating the two. There is no understanding, or almost none, of the “ideals,” or rather, goals of other people and groups. The goals of others are taken into consideration only when they interfere with the individual’s own goals. There is an unconscious, one-sided, automatic identification with models of power, wealth, authority, violence, or criminality.

Level II

In the transition states from one set of tendencies to another there may arise certain, usually short-lived, glimpses of the “ideal.” If these glimpses become more frequent then there is a greater probability of the formation of a nucleus of an ideal. These moments of recognition are, however, transitory and. changeable, and most often an ideal is understood in terms of imitation of another, or of flowing with one’s snoods and changes.

94 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Level III

Transition from an imitative to an authentic ideal. Hierarchization and multilevelness provide a structure for an understanding and for an actual experiencing of the “lower” and the “higher.” Ideal becomes something essential and concrete. The realization of ideal gives meaning to one’s existence. Thus the realization of ideal becomes comprehensible and necessary. The “collapse” of one’s ideal may lead to suicide, or even psychosis.

Level IV

Ideal is individual and is developed and discovered authentically. An authentic ideal may be a group ideal as well. Personality ideal becomes the dominant principle and directing force of development. There is no weakening or wavering of attitude toward one’s ideal. On the contrary, the dynamization of the ideal is easily brought about. The DDC, and later personality, are the exponents of the ideal.

Level V


The main principle is the striving for complete identification with one’s ideal. All dynamisms of personality are linked into unity and subordinated to the ideal. Ideal becomes the only dynamism endowed with fullness of developmental tension.


Level I

Egocentric sense of “justice” serving only one’s selfish gain and self-preservation. “Justice” is always to one’s own primitive advantage. Protection of individual rights is established by ignoring or violating the rights of others, e.g. as in lynching.

Level II

Hesitation in deciding what is just and what is unjust. Beginnings of “justice for others” as a consequence of felt syntony. Inhibition of primitive tendencies in respect to justice arises as a consequence of moods and impressions of what is just and what is unjust. This leads to beginnings of hierarchization.

Level III

Hierarchization of justice and of injustice. What is primitive is considered unjust, what is empathic and more differentiated is considered just. Gradual development of distinct moral feelings. There is a capacity to go against one’s own advantage

Emotional-Cognitive Functions 95

for the sake of justice. What is altruistic and “higher” is felt to be just, the opposite to be unjust.

Level IV

Hierarchization of just and unjust actions is experienced and systematically organized. There is a distinct identification of actions and attitudes of justice with the principle: “Love thy neighbor as thyself'. Good will and justice are more and more strongly linked together. There is also an active realization of justice.

Level V

The qualities of justice are more developed, more calm and more harmonious than those of level IV. There is a consistent tendency to put the needs of others before one’s own. Justice through self-sacrifice. Dynamization of ideal in dealing with others: all-encompassing universal love above justice.



Level I

The concept and the experience of immortality are ignored. The question of immortality is pushed aside or treated jokingly, and sometimes derisively.

Level II

Immortality is taken to be the continuity through one’s progeny and living in their memory. There may occur sudden flashes of interest in life after death accompanied by fears of nonexistence, however, most often pushed away. There are occasional and short-lived fears of separation from others. The ideas of life after death presented by different religions are most often easily accepted.

Level III

Growing interest in the question of life after death, interest in esoteric teachings and different approaches to this question. Strong anxieties in relation to passing away of others. There is a search for prophylactic solutions both theoretical and practical, such as joining and studying in esoteric schools, or serious study of psychology and philosophy on the subject of immortality. States of strong anxiety in relation to death and the after-life are frequent and may lead to psychoneurotic and existential anxieties, suicidal tendencies and actual suicide.

96 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Level IV

Considerable calming down in relation to the meaning of one’s existence and the question of immortality. There is a systematic search for viable solutions. Contemplation and ecstasy serve as a means of self-perfection and of finding an answer to the problem of life after death. There is equal or even stronger interest in the survival of others than in one’s own. The subject of survival after death is studied and given much thought, particularly the question of those essential qualities which survive. There is a balance between common essence and individual essence (cf. p. 40, Authentism). Love and friendship transcend death.

Level V

Internal quietude and self-determination. The sense of permanence of existence is embedded in the structure of the ideal. The ideal is developed through continuing practice of meditation and contemplation. Emotional bonds are inviolable. Immortality of friendship and love.


Level I

Primitive anthropomorphic conception of forces of “good” and “evil” is based partly on a magical approach and partly on unreflective tendencies of approach and avoidance. One appeals to higher forces primarily to obtain support and protection in the realization of primitive endeavors and satisfaction of biological needs. Success in such undertakings brings about a sense of power and a magic attitude toward oneself, such as conviction of possessing superhuman heroic attributes, or even of being a demi-god. Such attitudes are easily produced by self-suggestion that one is in favor with the gods because one or another of one’s undertakings has succeeded. Such religious attitude is characteristic of primitive tribes and psychopathic individuals who believe themselves to possess superhuman powers. Outstanding examples are Nero, Ivan the Terrible, pope Alexander VI, Hitler, Stalin, Charles Manson.

Level II

Ambivalences and ambitendencies manifested as belief and disbelief, as “spiritualization” of one’s approach to a divinity, as periods of fear or disregard of a divinity. Symbolization of personal fears and inner conflicting impulses as different gods is characteristic here as a personification of human opposites. Or, there may be a feeling of an exclusive contact with the divinity symbolized by a ritual of betrothal to a divine personage, often followed by a feeling of letdown, or lack of

Emotional-Cognitive Functions 97

favor (grace). Also characteristic at this level are periodical attitudes of atheism alternating with search for contact with a deity and its protective power.

Level III

Under the influence of multilevel dynamisms develops a hierarchy of religious values. This is followed by a need to spiritualize and differentiate the conception of divinity. The image and conception of divinity grow out of one’s developmental tendencies and strivings. The concreteness of immanence is linked with the concreteness of transcendence. In religious immanence one creates an idea of God through one’s subjective needs, in transcendence one sees God independently of one’s subjectivity. Concrete transcendental realities correspond with strong emotional realities of a high level of development. Immanence and transcendence may appear as an antimony, yet at the same time they constitute a two-part harmony. The search for grace it is experienced as coming from two directions at once: from the subject and from higher reality. Sometimes one observes deviant forms of devotion of the divinity characterized by artificiality, excessive self-criticism and self-abasement or spiritual narcissism.

Level IV

With the development of a high level of alterocentrism one observes gradual development of existential attitudes, of delving into essence of valuing divinity as an embodiment of love together with a deepening need of faith in the uniqueness of God and his personal attributes. As a result of experiences gained through systematic meditation and contemplation and the effort at self-perfection a tendency develops toward making one’s subjective religious needs more objective, and toward making transcendence a concrete reality. Religious attitude is manifested as a search for objective supernatural realms in transcendence.

Level V

Development of the relationship “I-and-Thou” in the sense of development of absolute religious values of faith together with all-encompassing empathy and universal love. The search for transcendental hierarchy in religious attitude finds expression in authentism and in idealization of personality. Such an attitude develops through an intuitive synthesis of one’s personal relationship with the divinity. In this level religious attitude is marked by clarity and simplicity which is nourished by great depth and complexity of religious experience. It is also characterized by an effort to make the relation between immanence and transcendence understandable, to make God a concrete experience, to carry with him a dialog in place of his monolog. There may occur breaks and interruptions in such a dialog leading to the “dark night of the soul,” but the need and the search for the dialog remains intact and unassailable. The search is calm though intense.

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These few sketches cannot be considered in any way an adequate treatment of this complex and difficult subject. Their purpose is to indicate a few markers differentiating higher and lower levels of esthetic attitude.

Level I

Sensitivity to distinct, strong and lively rhythms of dance, to strength and vitality of voice, to strong colors, to distinct and primitive symbolism in painting and sculpture; primitive realism of gigantic forms, huge figures, rigid definiteness of features. Sensitivity to primitive “holy” pictures, kitsch, ostentatious splendor, utilitarian “beauty”-the esthetics of basic needs and the conditions necessary for their satisfaction (e.g. the importance of possessing new things, where the new is automatically taken to be beautiful).

Level II

Fairly strong but partial sensitivities in response to colors, dance, music, sculpture, handicraft, decorations, etc. There is a tendency for seeking saturation with some esthetic stimuli. Absence of response to the expression of personality (i.e. the highest developmental level) in esthetic forms, absence of recognition and of connection between esthetic sensitivity and self-perfection. Creative instinct operates in a developmentally narrow range without connection with inner psychic transformation (whose even initial activity is rare at this level). One observes a variety of interests, sensitivities and talents. Esthetic experiences do not tend to be mutually related within a larger context of development and search for the “new” and “higher.” They are not a means of transformation and hierarchical differentiation of esthetic experience as a part of emotional and cognitive growth. They are not linked with the inner psychic milieu, which is weak anyway. Frequent attitude of “art for art’s sake” (Oscar Wilde), although “human” experiences begin to act as stimuli for esthetic experience and esthetic expression, thus leading to beginnings of psychological content in art.

Hierarchical experiencing is manifested in search for “disintegration and decay” in art: breakdown of harmony without hierarchization; expression of pathological breakdown depicting special pathological symptoms and syndromes. This can be seen in that type of modern art which is preoccupied with fragmentation of faces, figures displacement of limbs and features, visual disorientation; as pathological anatomy and physiology depicted in art or film; as the art of the negative, delimited by typology and biological constitution (no transcending of one’s type). Rebellion against norms and harmony with concentration on abnormality. Contrasts of the positive and the negative of equal strength and equal attraction (ambitendencies); equipotential of good and evil (“heaven and hell burn with the same fire”).

Emotional-Cognitive Functions 99

Level III

Beginnings of giving esthetic expression to the life experiences of others and one’s own. Understanding of one’s own drama and that of others in esthetic creativity: painting, sculpture, sound arid writing. Unharmonized reaches into the depth of human experience. Search and demonstration of elements other than those characteristic for a given form of art, such as literary and musical elements expressed in sculpture, elements of drama expressed in music, etc. Moral and religious strivings appear in artistic expression. Need for finding and expressing philosophical elements in art. Need to relate to such creators as Dante, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Chopin, Bach. Need to introduce and comprehend pathology in art—not as a source of fascination (level II) but in a larger hierarchical context of human experience. This implies an understanding that suffering and illness lead to the clearing of difficult obstacles in the hard path of individual development. Increasingly more distinct hierarchization of values in art. Problems of positive disintegration expressed in art: contrasts of higher and lower, sublimity and degradation, search for hierarchies other than good and evil, introduction of empathy as one of the highest values.

Level IV

Attitude in art expressed as “nothing human is alien to me.” Multilevel and authentic synthesis of many different kinds of art. Close relationship with Michelangelo, J. S. Bach, Mozart, Franck, Faure, Gregorian chants. Elaboration and resolution of pathology in art in the sense of capturing positive aspects of certain “pathological” or thought to be pathological processes. Responsiveness to drama and tragedy in life generates the need to give them expression in art, in fact, to infuse art with the sublimity of tragic human experience. Understanding of and need for religious drama. Identification with others and individual authentism in art. Work on solving the problem of an artist and an observer in oneself. “I” and “not-I” (e.g. “I am not proud of what I think and nothing interferes between what I see and what I write,” SE 47). Experiencing and expressing in art the absolute “I-and-Thou.” Art as a function of growing calmness, concentration, meditation and contemplation. The highest art—synthesis of many levels of art into one integrated whole.

Level V

High level of empathy in art. Need to express in art a synthesis of science and philosophy, goodness and wisdom. Beauty of moral actions of Saint Francis of Assisi. Religious and moral contents clearly expressed in art forms. Continuing development of great art embracing all levels of sensitivity, e.g. the Polish hymn “Swigty Boze,” Gregorian chants, mystery plays and rites of initiation through art, and contemplation of nature in art.




The functions of cognition are related to but different from the concept of intelligence. High intelligence can be totally divorced from other aspects of behavior. It is possible that this would apply only to convergent thinking but not to divergent thinking (Guilford, 1967), but it is also possible that divergent thinking may draw its strength from confined forms of imaginational overexcitability but none from higher emotions may be found to operate without contact with personality development. Intellectual overexcitability (p. 71 and 76) is a special endowment for development of active, penetrating, and creative cognition.

One of the functions listed here, Criticism, is used as a verbal stimulus (cf. p. 92). Criticism may have strong emotional components, while intuition in its true highly developed form is the synthesis of cognitive and emotional factors.



Level I

Cognitive activities and intelligence are in the service of basic needs (self-preservation, feeding, aggression, sex, etc.). Intelligence is directed exclusively toward the external world in order to find means and methods necessary to satisfy the primitive needs of the individual and the group he belongs to. Cognition may operate in complete isolation from other forms of behavior, which most often are quite primitive. For instance, scientific and scholarly specialization (usually, though not always, narrow) can reach high level of achievement without concurrent development of essential emotional and instinctive functions, i.e. there may be no consideration for others, no sense of relationship with others, but primitive sexuality, self-enhancement, or need for power.

Cognitive functions 101

Level II

Gradual loosening of the total subjugation of intelligence to primitive drives. Increase of an ability to reflect. Characteristic for this level is a one-sided and brief directing of intelligence to the individual himself, to his motives of cognition, to a primitive “knowledge of oneself” which requires certain capacity for retrospection, prospection and analysis. The beginnings of thinking for the sake of thinking, (in contrast to thinking serving only primitive drives or special abilities whether in science, philosophy or business), is a signal of a developing intellectual activity. In this level intellectual and emotional functions are separate but begin to interact. In level I they are separate and do not interact at all.

Level III

Gradual process of relating cognitive activities and methods to a developing hierarchy of values. Cognition comes under the influence and eventually control of higher emotions. Intellectual functions are more and more clearly subordinated and combined with the activity of multilevel dynamisms. This is the basis for developing consciousness and self-awareness. Creative processes begin to appear. In this level the pressure of experiencing is so great that it is no longer possible to save one’s “independence” and “stability” of thinking (or, rather an inflexibility of thought patterns frequently confused with “objectivity” of thought) from the revolution created by the forces of multilevel disintegration. This inner revolution introduces intuitive processes into thinking. This may manifest itself as in the following example: “It did not happen to me until recently that I had to try over and over again a once established line of thought. In recent years I have lost the feeling that I can establish the position of my thinking; I begin to experience gaps in my thoughts. Thinking appears to me to be one-sided; it has lost somewhere its logical certainty. I am more uncertain and more hesitant, yet at the same time I find myself richer in my thoughts and feelings. Perhaps loss of certainty in thinking and its closer interdependence with feelings is really tied together with a greater complexity and depth of thinking as a way of knowing.”

Level IV

The individual under the influence of such dynamisms as the third factor, subject-object in oneself, and inner psychic transformation begins to develop a hierarchy of value levels in relation to different problems. He approaches in similar manner cognitive methods directed to these problems. The interests of knowing are universal and at the same time with a clearly elaborated multilevel hierarchy. Cognitive activities are entirely in the service of the developing personality. Through meditation and contemplation they reach empirical forms of mystical cognition. The fink between cognitive functions and higher emotional dynamisms is here

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very distinct and very strong. For example, it may be expressed thus: “There was a time when I was sure of the independence of thought. I believed that when one passes from the experiential sphere of emotions to the discursive sphere of thought then the whole of human life is raised to a higher level. Today I know that these were just speculations based on unfounded presuppositions. Events and experiences in my life, especially when I felt isolated, sad, in mental pain, broken down, convinced me that my intellectual interests underwent fundamental changes. My thinking has lost its clearly delineated boundaries of thinking for its own sake. It became an instrument of something higher, something you could call a synthesis of intuition and ideal. Isolated thinking has lost its appeal for me, but such thinking which is geared to “higher functions” gives me at times the feeling of reaching to others, to an ideal, and may be to something even higher, like the reality of transcendental experience.”


Intuition is the capacity to perceive non-sensory gestalts, i.e. those that are cognitive, conceptual, or emotional. Intuitive processes are essential to creativity as shown by MacKinnon’s research (1962). The activities of intuition at a higher level are the product of the experiential transformative process of development. Intuition is, therefore, the capacity for synthesis derived from small amount of significant information. A person capable of such synthetic intuition invariably seeks to verify his intuitive perceptions and almost always succeeds.

Level I

No intuition. Intuition is replaced by shrewdness and usually by extensive experience in observing well-established schematic patterns of behavior. The individual relies upon his sensory perceptions without being capable of individual differentiation.

Level II

Beginnings of primitive intuition. Intuitive feelings are most often a matter of chance. One encounters apparent intuitions, intuitions of primitive suggestions and of self-suggestion, such as for instance guessing the thoughts of people with whom one has an emotional contact, superstitions and charms associated with cats or non-living objects, the moon, numerology, etc. Relationships with other people are often based on such, usually untested, hunches and “intuitions,” which are followed and half the time rewarded with failure. On the substratum of such apparent intuitions develops primitive magic.

Cognitive Functions 103

Level III

Beginnings of intuition based on development of a hierarchy of sensations. Development of intuitive insight as an ability to grasp the core of a problem without having to approach it by trial and error. Beginnings of differentiating intuitions of lower and higher level. Beginning of attempts at concentration and meditation. Intuition is the product of hierarchization of values and of gradual detachment from ongoing involvements and preferences. The individual begins to pay attention to the needs of others, begins to discover new relationships and principles guiding one’s search for the “new” and the “higher.” Intuition ceases to be concerned with the manifestations of external reality, such as telepathy, ESP, and the like, but begins to outline the shapes of truths yet unknown to the individual.

Level IV

Development and deepening of intuition is closely related to the increasing distance from lower levels of reality and closer approach to its higher levels. The framework of reference for intuitive processes is much broader, because it is taken, so to speak, from a much higher altitude. Knowledge is easily applied to particular phenomena, because perception is multilevel and multidimensional having its source in the highest level which organizes in an all-encompassing and yet precise manner all the lower levels of reality. Intuition is thus developed through detachment from the needs of a lower level and through closer binding with the personality ideal. Meditation and contemplation contribute to the growth of intuition.

Level V

The highest level of intuition has its source in personality as a structure and as a developmental ideal. Intuition as a means of knowing and cognizing denotes a multidimensional and multilevel grasp of external and internal reality. Such intuition is contemplative and mystical; it comes from reaching the absolute “I” and the absolute “Thou.”



Level I

Criticism frequently takes on brutal, aggressive forms with tendencies to humiliate and ridicule others, even to destroy them should they oppose the critic. In its extreme form criticism is psychopathological being based on primitive (even paranoid) understanding of the principle “who is not with me is against me.”

104 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Level II

Ambivalences and ambitendencies create a fluctuating, dependent on the moment, understanding of differences in attitudes and judgments carried by other people. That others can also be critical towards us is not always accepted. The understanding of some value of being criticized, although dependent on a given state of mind of the individual, marks the beginning of self-criticism.

Level III

The dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration increase moral awareness and hierarchization of values. In consequence criticism develops as an ability for objective judgments, ability to see one’s own negative side. Gradually one develops more severe and more penetrating evaluation of oneself together with greater empathy for others.

Level IV

Mental activities of criticism and discrimination are being organized. The positive and negative elements of critical attitude are ordered into a hierarchy. On this level of development the individual is not only receptive to criticisms but also promotes situations in which exposure to criticism serves him as an aid to a higher level of his own development.

Level V

Realization in criticism of increasingly fuller understanding, identification, and help in relation to others and rejection of forms of criticism which arise from self-interest. Criticism is always at the service of personality development of others, it is therefore constructive and fully positive. The necessary condition of such development is predominance of critical self-evaluation since it is of fundamental importance in self-development. Criticism, then, is ultimately developed as a relation of the ideal, absolute, or even transcendental “I” in respect to oneself, and above all, in respect to others.



Level I

Uncertainty is evoked by feelings of weakness, dependence, or inferiority toward a stronger opponent. Uncertainty may be felt as a consequence of lying, cheating, etc.

Cognitive Functions 105

Level II

Uncertainty is evoked by opposing and conflicting drives and emotions (ambivalences and ambitendencies). Uncertainty in relation to the external world is based on the lack of recognition of one’s own developmental potential and mental capacities. Uncertainty arises in relation to the feeling of inferiority toward others. There is also the uncertainty of mental illness and severe psychoneurosis.

Level III

Uncertainty arises in relation to oneself and the external world. It marks the beginning of development of the inner psychic milieu and of gearing one’s behavior to its promptings. Uncertainty stems from the absence of a strong disposing and directing center (early level III). Uncertainty and internal torment as a consequence of strong tensions may lead to suicide or mental breakdown. Uncertainty is also evoked by a sense of vulnerability and distrust of the external world.

Level IV

Uncertainty is transmuted into humility. There is more of a sense of one’s weakness and unimportance and less of an uncertainty in relation to the external. Uncertainty of being capable of adequate understanding of oneself and of others. Uncertainty yields more and more to searching and seeking and to the growing strength of moral sense. Uncertainty is overcome by the power of the ideal and by increasing faith in the transcendental good.

Level V

The union of personality and its ideal makes uncertainty absent from thought and experience. Uncertainty is removed by empathy and by works of love for the sake of others, and by one’s own development. Uncertainty is overcome by contemplation and ecstasy.



Level I

Awareness is limited to the narrow range of the external world. This awareness is, like intelligence, in the service of basic drives. Intelligence is used in an instrumental, manipulative manner.

Level II

Broader awareness results from uncertainty and lability of mental states. Awareness becomes detached from manipulative operations and shifts to perception of

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the changeability of moods, emotional states, etc. Awareness of one’s inner disjunction and instability. The power of rigid drive controls lessens: the drives lose their primary unity and to some extent become less the instruments of biological constitution.

Level III

External and internal awareness expands through hierarchization: awareness of authentic values, awareness of one’s inner psychic milieu. Development of awareness of one’s own internal growth (not to be confused with the popular conception of individual growth as “doing my own thing”). The perception of the external world changes as a function of a new multilevel conception of reality. Perception and experience of many strata of awareness. Exploration of the borderline of subjectivity and objectivity.

Level IV

Awareness and self-awareness are the function of the activity of the dynamisms subject-object in oneself and an increasingly stronger multilevel internal structure. Awareness is in the service of development and ideal. Growing awareness of the uniqueness and independence of individuality and at the same time of sharing in the community of mankind. States of heightened awareness or transcendental awareness occur. Awareness and self-awareness develop through meditation and contemplation.

Level V

Strong increase of awareness through systematic meditation and contemplation. Resolution of the distinctness of one’s awareness and of one’s unity with others. Self-awareness and awareness are in the service of highest empathy as well as one’s independence, i.e. one’s individual essence.




Humor, fantasy, visualization, metaphor, or animism are all functions of heightened imagination. We give only two examples: reverie, or daydreaming, and magic in human thought and behavior.


Level I

No actual daydreaming. Thinking and planning is concrete, prospections are mostly realistic, frequently dynamic but without factors that would loosen and enrich the primarily integrated mental structure of the “dreamer.”

Level II

Although the understanding of reality is already different from primary integration, the fantasies and reveries are still very primitive. Sensuality plays a great role in shaping the content of fantasy. Waking dreams occur as a function of strong emotional states and certain psychoneurotic disorders (e.g. hysteria, psychoneurotic infantilism). One of the characteristic features of unilevel reverie is the variability in shifting from tangible reality to ill-defined magical dreams. This is very much like child’s daydreams with their typical shifting of themes and directions.

Level III

Daydreams are partially planned and conjoined with a hierarchy of values, prospection, and multilevelness of reality. Daydreams, together with inner longings, go in the direction of knowing oneself and of developing oneself. They can extend

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to perfecting oneself and to perfecting the world. The individual shows a hierarchy of daydreams and anxieties in respect to everyday reality. The dynamisms of multilevel disintegration shape the multilevelness of dreams, and at the same time of desires and feelings.

Level IV

Clearly organized hierarchy of values in daydreams. Longings and daydreams are to a large extent “programmed” or “limited” and pertain to complex creative efforts. The dynamisms of organized multilevel disintegration direct daydreaming to contents which are abstract or ideal.

Level V

Clarity of the ideal becomes a necessary element of daydreaming. Dreams are realized through the instinct of self-perfection. These are dreams concerned with transcendence which becomes an experientially attainable reality; dreams of reaching the level of the absolute.



Level I

Primitive magic of thought, voice, words, gestures, and drawings or figures; most frequent among primitive tribes and people on a low level of development. This type of magical thinking is manifested as experience of one’s physical prowess and magic strength generated by self-suggestion of one’s physique, gestures, speech, ambition, etc. Magic of ritualistic forms.

Level II

Partial inhibition of primitive magic. Breakdown of physical magic and partially of the magic of external ritual. Clearly observable struggle and vacillation of magic forces of higher and lower levels. Interests and suggestibility associated with telepathy, ESP, palmistry, and other psychic phenomena without differentiating their value and significance for personal development, hence dependence on uncertain and unverified authorities. Ambivalences and ambitendencies with respect to previous, magical attitudes cause periodical diminution of attraction to primitive forms of magic. Manifestations of magical thinking similar to that of children: fairy tales, fantasy, animism.

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Level III

Magic undergoes hierarchization. Magic forces gradually shift upwards (to higher levels of the inner psychic milieu) according to the principle of hierarchization of functions. Clear disorganization of magic of lower level. Higher emotional factors (unconscious and conscious) begin to act and collaborate together with discursive factors. In consequence the level of magical activity is raised. The attitude of ritual, gesture, or suggestion is, as a rule, coupled with the action of higher dynamisms such as empathy and inner psychic transformation. Certain elements of magic are accepted and respected but the individual demands their elaboration, verification and integration with the whole process of development. The magic of word and gesture ceases to be of any significance if it is isolated and not connected with the higher levels of the developing personality. A clear example of the action of positive maladjustment is reaction against primitive forms of magic. Thus, for instance, prayer limited to external form, or a blessing not having its source in authentic contemplative spirit, are not acceptable anymore.

Level IV

Magic ceases to apply as such, instead, it is replaced by the cooperation of spiritual forces which integrate elements of an ecstatic state, prayer, a sense of spiritual power, and sometimes also a high level of artistic expression. This blending of high level processes suggests the notion of an inner mystery play. Magical suggestibility works no longer at this level. “Magic” of higher levels is elaborated through self-awareness and self-control. There is a total separation from magic of physical character, and in consequence, total rejection of magic on a low or medium level. The individual strives to reduce his egocentrism and to put magic to the service of meditation and contemplation. Magic becomes a function of a mystical attitude and of ecstasy. No magical elements work in isolation from the dynamics of higher spiritual reality.

Level V

“Magic” becomes autonomous and authentic. Magic is a part of an existential attitude bordering on transcendental, it is in the service of empirical mysticism, empathy and the ideal. Magic, is clearly purified, controlled and totally free from any egocentrism: magic of the mystery of transcendence.




The functions described in this chapter are, at higher levels of development, derivatives of emotional overexcitability. This is particularly true of high capacity for enthusiasm, emotional ties, low threshold of frustration, loneliness, awareness of death and of its interpersonal consequences.

Intensified experiencing of exclusive relationships of love and friendship is the quintessence of highly developed emotional overexcitability. Feelings of loneliness, suicidal thoughts, existential anxieties, and anxieties over death of others are its frequent manifestations along with the joy and love generated in intimate relationships.

Two of the functions described here serve as verbal stimuli: Solitude and Loneliness, and Suicide (see p. 92).



Level I

Total lack of enthusiasm of alterocentric character. Sometimes one does observe as in self-adulation, a form of enthusiasm for oneself, for one’s own success, physical prowess, achievements in athletics, external recognition.

Level II

Fluctuating moods of enthusiasm caused by ambivalent attitudes toward physical, emotional and mental phenomena. Enthusiasm for strength, and for primitive models of primary integration wavers at times, in consequence of which the individual may become depressed about his previous enthusiasm for such “integrity.” This leads to a slow increase of sensitivity to hierarchical values. Such a change marks the beginning of enthusiasm for moral values.

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Level III

Growing enthusiasm for moral, esthetic, and emotional values, attitude of respect for eminent people. Enthusiasm may be manifested through strong emotional reactions, sometimes as “laughing through tears.” The increase of idealization develops a greater consonance between beliefs and actions, as well as a distinct hierarchization and control of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for real people or heroes of novels, drama, film who personify conflicts, developmental strivings, breakdowns, suffering, tragedy, is an expression of one’s own experiences. These experiences expose the relationship between development and the inevitability of suffering’ and failure. There is admiration for persons who are destroyed by fate but who, nevertheless, remain faithful to moral values, and who are capable of heroism in the most difficult, or quite hopeless, situations.

Level IV

Clear and conscious separation from lower levels of enthusiasm. The individual discovers in his development qualities which are immutable (individual essence). The difference with level III lies in recognizing that enthusiasm has value only when it had been detached from responding to lower level stimuli and come fully under the dominance and control of individual essence and personality ideal. Enthusiasm becomes an attitude, or manner of responding, which is stable, quiet and decisive in the realization of personality ideal.

Level V

Fully developed differentiation between essential values and pseudovalues. The expression of enthusiasm is calm and directed chiefly toward high levels of moral and emotional values. It is an enthusiasm of silence, meditation, contemplation, and ecstasy. It appears in the realization of ideals. The only difference in its expression with that of level IV is that here enthusiasm is much more strongly allied with transcendental values.


Frustration is highly significant for development. It is often combined with increased tolerance for a low level of frustration. An individual with strong developmental potential, in absence of challenging conditions in his immediate environment, will deliberately seek frustration in an alien environment, or will take on tasks which will either “make him or break hire,” thereby increasing his developmental tension. The lower the level of development or the earlier the phase of a given level the less there is possibility for inner psychic transformation. In consequence, difficult life situations appear at lower levels of development more

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readily as frustrating or without possible solution. The higher the level of development the more active is inner psychic transformation (which becomes a fully active dynamism in level IV).

Level I

Primitive feelings of frustration are caused by severe stress and physical pain. Frustration arises in connection with ambition, jealousy, financial difficulties. There is also frustration with ambiguity. The reaction characteristically produced by frustration is aggressiveness, hatred, feelings of inferiority and fear.

Level II

Frustrations arise in connection with primitive feelings and behaviors such as aggression, financial difficulties, jealousy and envy. These are, however, more psychological and more complex than those of level I. Frustrations can be strong though usually short-lived. Their intensity increases and decreases fairly easily. Subconscious frustrations may arise in consequence of tensions, irritations of un-specified origin, or from external causes such as low points of biorhythm cycles. These conditions lead to seemingly inexplicable depressions, anxieties, and feelings of frustration. Grave and chronic frustrations are possible as a function of a potential for severe psychoneurosis and psychosis. Inner psychic transformation of frustration is very weak, or nonexistent, hence the difficulties and severe mental disorders associated with unilevel disintegration.

Level III

The individual understands and values more positively situations of inner conflict, suffering and frustration. One writer (Zeroinski) put it this way: “One has to tear the wounds so that they would not overgrow with the membrane of vileness.” In multilevel disintegration frustration becomes consciously and gradually differentiated as a hierarchy of levels of frustration. The individual recognizes both the negative and the positive aspects of frustration when he cannot satisfy his needs. Levels of frustration are developed as an integral part of the process of positive disintegration. Frustration may lead to multilevel ambivalences and ambitendencies. Being able to perceive the positive aspects of frustration leads to activation of creative tendencies.

Level IV

Deep understanding of the positive significance of frustration for emotional and moral growth leads to its calm acceptance, or even deliberate augmentation, such as taking on very grave responsibility, working under conditions hazardous to health or life (e.g. working with lepers or those on skidrow), or accepting conditions of humiliation. Under such conditions the satisfaction of basic needs is denied deliberately.

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Level V

Frustration operates in the service of a fully autonomous and authentic hierarchy of values. Frustration arises in relation to the ideal of self-perfection and to the ideal of personality. Voluntary fasting or death are in the service of others and the ideal. The same applies to the instinct of partial death, i.e. deliberate and voluntary frustration of oneself and one’s needs. In some cases, if there is no other way of helping others, a person may undertake deliberate fast until death. Gandhi’s prolonged fasts, the fasts of Buddhist monks, or their self-immolation as a moral protest, have this character. Such self-sacrifice is carried out with calm and decisiveness, without a trace of impulsivity.



Level I

Memory of offense, humiliation, ridicule, being proven wrong, stupid, or brutal. Memory of opposition and rebellion. Need for vengeance and retaliation. Sensual memory fails to differentiate “happy” experiences of sensory nature; such as remembering sexual experiences, big drinking and eating binges, places of great luxury and fame. Other memories include psychopathic actions, such as satisfaction from having humiliated someone, fulfillment of ambitions of superiority, achievement of power, winning in competition with others.

Level II

Ambivalent memories: memory of pleasant experiences, of contact with others and dislike for them (love and hate). Beginnings of some hierarchization of memory; the individual at times retreats to the past of lower level (seeking support in the more secure primitive behavior) and at times, reaches, although vaguely, to a hierarchy. Affective memory plays a role of trying things out: there is advance and retreat as if to find out, somewhat unconsciously, what will feel better (“unconscious groping”). At times of grave experiences the action of affective memory can be overpowering and manifested as intense longing for maternal care, or as a recourse to magic, animism, dreams. An escape from depressing reality to the carefree world of emotional warmth and fantasy is a means of self-protection and also a means of looking for a way out of actual difficulties.

Level III

Very sharp memory of internal agony, of suicidal thoughts, of the hurt of others and one’s own. Search at all costs for channels leading “upward.” Experiences are engraved in memory and very much alive. All the dynamisms of spontaneous

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multilevel disintegration are linked with affective memory. If there had been mystical experiences they are never forgotten. Their memory is of high tension and recurs constantly. Since emotional experiencing is very intense for anyone who reaches fully this level of development, the memory of exclusive bonds of friend ship and love is extremely strong—all subtleties and nuances of these experiences are clearly perceived. This enhances the development of exclusivity even further. If in his actual emotional experience a person encounters something concretely ideal then, by capturing the essence of experiences and persons, memory opens a way of creating a personality ideal.

There may also be a saturation with global as well as narrow hierarchical experiences by focusing on small events or by blowing one’s experiences out of proportion. This is accompanied by great inner disquietude and emotional restlessness,

Level IV

Gradual quieting down but very strong and vivid memory of experiences from earlier, grave and tragic, periods of development (level III). Very clear working through memory of positive and negative experiences. Besides retrospective memory there is also prospective memory: an elaborated plan of development of actions lying ahead (i.e. inner psychic transformation) which is vividly remembered and is never abandoned. Memory of exclusive emotional ties of friendship and love is systematized and is forever active. Symbolic dreams may play a significant role in this. Constant awareness and memory of those who are harmed, oppressed, humiliated. Indelible memory of good and evil. Memory of duty (vocation) and responsibility is always present and alive.

Level V

Processes of affective memory described for level IV are further intensified but most dominant is the memory of the stages and dynamisms of one’s development. This memory is used with strong emotional impact for understanding and helping others in their development. Affective memory of errors and omissions in one’s own developmental history is also utilized in helping others in their development. Strong affective memory of symbolic dreams and mystical experiences is combined with differentiation of individual and common elements. Memory of concrete tangible experiences of ideal. Dynamization of ideal can come into effect through affective memory of its distinct activity.



Level I

Absence of emotional ties in the sense of emotional intimacy and relationship with another person. Instead, one observes possessiveness manifested as a belief

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that one owns another person as a mate, a slave, a child. Suspicion, hatred and aggression arise against those who may approach more humanely, or threaten to induce independence in the persons one thinks one owns. In other situations the games of mate swapping are indulged in freely and show that instead of personal relations there are only object relations.

Level II

Temporary, usually not fully conscious, initial relationships of an exclusive character. Attachment, rather than love, is predominant, not infrequently of physiological character. Attachment is more selfish, temperamental, dependent and tactual than an exclusive relationship which is more conscious and more autonomous (level III). Emotional ambivalences and ambitendencies are characteristic, although there is some need for preserving emotional ties. There is a significant increase of understanding of others and of personal attachment with some initial elements of self-awareness.

Level III

Emotional ties become more exclusive. There is a distinct need for stability which is realized according to some general developmental program of the individual. The relationships of love, friendship, family are exclusive or almost exclusive. We see here beginnings of hierarchization of values and gradual understanding of such principles as a “school of friendship,” or a “school of marriage and family life.” The individual shows more and more an attitude of maladjustment to commonly accepted categories in the conception of love and friendship.

Level IV

Love and friendship take on a spiritual character and are based on working together in the context of a common goal of self-perfection. The action of the dynamisms of organized multilevel disintegration, in particular the dynamisms of identification and empathy, constitute the basis of conscious design of a developmental program in relation to the exclusiveness of emotions. Emotional ties are more deeply than ever before understood as unique and unrepeatable.

Level V

The individual experiences and realizes eternal relationships. For example, Kierkegaard in order to preserve the absolute and the ideal aspect of his relationship with Regina made her believe that he was a scoundrel and was merely playing with her emotions. In this manner he made her free of her attachment to him. Kierkegaard believed that their union, impossible on earth, was possible in the absolute. The highest level of emotional relationships is represented in Christ’s love for Saint John the Evangelist and the apostles, or in the love shared by

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Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare. At this level of love and friendship there is a constant search for absolute relation between “I” and “Thou” and there is persistence in the effort to safeguard transcendental attitudes.



Level I

Low tolerance of solitude and an antagonistic attitude toward solitude. Absence of any introvertiveness, rejection of introspection.

Level II

Usually a distaste for solitude; need of being attached to a group and consequently considerable dependence on the group. In psychotic states isolation, rather than solitude, is based on resentment, suspicion, or fear. There is flight into sickness and into isolation but still there remain various forms of dependence on the environment. Compensation for suppressed extraversion appears as suspicions, quarrels aggressive behavior.

Level III

Solitude appears as a need. Isolation is sought as a means of understanding oneself and others (development of the inner psychic milieu). Increasing need for reflection, meditation and contemplation augments the need for solitude as a necessary condition of developing the dynamisms of multilevel disintegration. The search for true friendship and true love often leads to isolation from a group. There is also a need for solitary contemplation of nature and art.

Level IV

“Organized” solitude. All external functions and responsibilities are worked out in the context of solitude, meditation and contemplation. Solitude becomes the necessary condition for developing the higher and the highest dynamisms of the inner psychic milieu, particularly the DDC and inner psychic transformation. The programming of these dynamisms is carried out in solitude.

Level V

Solitude is attained at will even under conditions of contact with a group. Solitude is a necessary condition of recognizing personality ideal and endowing it with power. Relationships with loved ones are deepened in solitude, and contact with them is created and developed by means other than ordinary perception (intuitive and transcendental perception).

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Level I

There is no understanding of the problem of death. The individual does not conceive the possibility of his own death. When faced with it he is completely incapable of controlled behavior. Death of others may evoke a superficial, impersonal form of reflection. In case of an immediate danger to life, attempts are made to escape it, but there is panic and terror, or violent defensive reactions.

Level II

Attitudes toward death are ambivalent, ranging from uncontrolled fear, phobias and suicidal tendencies, to mental rigidity and indifference. Awareness of death is limited revealing absence of hierarchical conception of death. Death is thought of as something external to the normal order of fife, consequently there is no significant effort to integrate the problem of death into one’s personal growth.


Level III

Slow integration and hierarchization of the problem of death in one’s own development occurs through states of anxiety, heroism, and repeated reflection. Death is placed in the context of all human dilemmas as one of them main existential questions. The sense and meaning of fife is evaluated in relation to death. The attitude toward death may be manifested in dramatic, at times tragic form which enters into all problems of personal development. Suicidal thoughts are dealt with in reflection, but actual suicide is possible.

Level IV

The problem of death is placed within one’s authentic hierarchy of values. It is clearly interiorized and incorporated into one’s personality structure. The problem of death is placed in the context of other values such as responsibility for others, universal love, permanence and unrepeatability of one’s spiritual values and one’s bonds of love and friendship. Relating the problem of death to other human problems and values does not make it less important or less dramatic in the way it is experienced. As a factor in development we observe the activity of an instinct of partial death. It is a conscious and deliberate program of eradication of the lower personality structures. In order to accomplish this the disintegrative activity of some dynamisms (e.g. the rejection aspect of third factor, the critical aspect of subject-object in oneself, or the containing aspect of self-control) may be increased in order to destroy the residual structures of primitive levels of the inner psychic milieu. This can take the form of asceticism, of resignation from personal ambitions, for the sake of serving others, or deliberate and voluntary frustration of one’s basic needs.

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Level V

The definition of one’s attitude toward death becomes even more precisely developed. The death of others and their attitude toward death become an important concern. The problem of death is not only placed in respect to other human problems and values but enriches them in turn. When the individual has become responsible for the totality of his own development and for the development of his external environment as well, he takes the problem of death as one of the main questions in the universal process of inner development. Death as the door of transcendence.




Level I


Suicide occurs when no other means of escape are possible. Suicide can also occur on orders from others, or as a consequence of primitive cowardice of a criminal who was caught. Suicide is an attempt to escape liability and punishment.

Level II

Suicide occurs in consequence of extreme imbalance of strong drives such as loss of control in drug addiction, alcoholism or nervous illness. Suicide occurs as a result of pathological conditions, or of extreme tension when there is no possible way of channeling the tension. Suicide as a means of flight from grave difficulties, analogous to flight into sickness. Suicide as a consequence of a narrowed field of awareness to fixed ideas (monoideism) such as narrow obsessions and perseverations if accompanied by extreme tension. Suicide in children as a consequence of feeling extremely hurt or as a means of drawing attention. Suicide as a means of revenge, retaliation or in order to evoke the concern or admiration of others.

Level III

Suicide as a consequence of empathic identification with one’s own difficulties or with those of others, or with the inner pain of others, or the “pain of the world” (existential despair). Suicide as a consequence of being met with betrayal, cruelty, injustice. Suicide as a consequence of periodical loss of hierarchization and feeling of being unable to reach a higher level, loss of sense of the meaning of fife. Suicide as a consequence of loneliness, lack of understanding and excessive traumas, such as severe disappointments in realizing exclusive relationships with others, or being unable to continue a relationship due to forced separation (moving away or death).

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Level IV

Reflective-experiential suicide after having fulfilled one’s duty may be carried out in consequence of experienced loneliness and the desire to join those departed ones with whom one was most closely associated. Suicide as a consequence of an incurable and repulsive to oneself and to others disease. Preventive political suicide when one fears that one will not endure the tortures and might reveal the names of others.

Level V

Calm heroic suicide such as surrender to executioners in lieu of another (Father Kolbe in Auschwitz took the place of a man who bad a family), or submission to law (Socrates). Suicide as a consequence of acceptance of death in which case critical health conditions (e.g. a cardiac ailment) are not treated but used to facilitate conscious departure to “other dimensions.”


The grouping of functions as “self-oriented” is more an excuse to provide a category than can be justified since with the advance of development almost all functions undergo the change from self-orientation to other-orientation.



Level I

Selfishness is exhibited in the struggle to save or increase material values, external recognition or to satisfy personal ambitions. It is characteristic for mental retardates, psychopaths and some mentally ill. It is particularly strong in relation to sex, security, priority, position, fame etc. Frequently one observes manifestations of open and brutal selfishness toward children. Primitive selfishness precludes even the most elementary aspects of identification and empathy. In such individuals only a one-sided identification of others with oneself is possible (but never of oneself with others), as would be the case with members of one’s family, or someone blindly loyal.

Level II

Variable inclinations oscillating between sympathy and selfish concerns. Alterocentric and selfish attitudes are always subject to constantly operating ambivalences and ambitendencies. It is not uncommon to encounter attempts of covering up one’s selfish tendencies by apparent altruistic concerns. There is a need for recognition and for obtaining external evidence of one’s distinction in the form of rewards, position, title. Certain elements of identification with others and empathy do appear, nevertheless, they are unstable.

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Level III

Appearance of distinct elements of reflection combined with the activity of multilevel dynamisms splits the primitive structure of the inner psychic milieu into higher and lower levels. The individual becomes dissatisfied with his lower urges. He begins to be alarmed by his selfishness. His selfish attitudes and actions evoke shame and guilt. This is the beginning of erecting a hierarchy of values in which selfishness occupies a low level. The hierarchical disintegration of selfishness is related to the beginning process of sublimating selfishness in the direction of authentism and individual essence.

Level IV

The attenuation of selfishness continues as a result of development through level III. The hierarchy of values is already clearly structured, empathy is more developed, the control of oneself and insight with systematic labor of personal transformation are much stronger. These gains in inner growth are incompatible with selfishness. On the basis of active retrospection and prospection, and of affective memory of one’s own selfish experiences, arises an alertness against even the smallest manifestations of selfishness. With time this alertness grows in strength. This alertness is a function of education-of-oneself and of autopsychotherapy. In the process of systematic organization of one’s inner psychic milieu the elements of self-centeredness are transformed and sublimated to become components of a developing individual essence (dominant interests, vocation, exclusive emotional ties, and identification with oneself and one’s developmental history).

Level V

Identification with personality and its ideal together with the very highest value of the relation between “I-and-Thou” form an objective attitude towards oneself and an attitude of always approaching others as subjective beings. In this way one arrives at authentic and autonomous attitudes which are beyond selfishness. Preservation of the authentic self is accomplished through growing empathy toward others. The level of secondary integration is characterized by dual functions of the highest level, the first, affirmation of oneself and one’s individual essence, the second, affirmation of others through the highest empathy.




Level I

Primitive, biological manifestations of the instinct of self-preservation take the form either of aggression or escape. The instinct is directed primarily toward the


preservation of the individual himself. It comes into action at times of threat to health or material existence (with periodical need of protecting the nearest family). In case of hunger the need for food is realized brutally, without any feeling for justice or fellowship. In the extreme case eating flesh of a human corpse is possible; this may occur also on the borderline of levels I and II, but never in level III. (Descriptions of this kind of behavior are common in the literature concerning German concentration camps.) On a slightly higher level the instinct of self-preservation shows a tendency for protective actions, but only into the near future, like selection of shelter or accumulation of food supply. These actions frequently involve deceit and may cause harm to others.

Level II

Self-preservation instinct is “psychologized” to a certain extent. This is manifested in a concern for the preservation of good name and honor, or for the preservation of one’s line and tradition through subsequent generations. One observes hesitations in the realization of self-preservation needs, weakening of brutality, socio-moral inhibitions, temporary inhibition of aggressive tendencies, uncertainty of action, sympathy colliding with aggressive tendencies, temporary manifestations of concern for others.

Level III

Under the influence of multilevel dynamisms the change in the operation of self-preservation becomes quite marked. Mental determinants begin to act. One observes growing care for the preservation of moral, cultural, emotional, and creative values, frequently with a neglect, for instance, of the necessary care for health. This stage of growing above the instinctive drive for self-preservation plays an enormously significant role in education. Its most frequent expression is the fact that parents and educators strive to develop in children moral values on a higher level than their own. This is an example of subjugation of the instinct of self-preservation to moral values. Suicidal tendencies, various forms of aggression directed against oneself, various forms of the instinct of partial death are expressions of an inner manifestation of higher and lower levels of self-preservation. Reflection and meditation on death are frequent. In this level the self-preservation instinct undergoes a necessary and inevitable disintegration without which further development would not be possible.

Level IV

On this level there is a clear hierarchical organization of values in which the lower levels of the self-preservation instinct are subordinated to its higher levels.

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This is manifested in a capacity for sacrifice for the sake of ideals, in a need to preserve and to develop these ideals. One of the strongest growing concerns is the preservation of spiritual values and individual essence.

Level V

Identification with personality and its ideal is total, as is striving for a balance between preservation of central immutable traits of one’s personality (individual essence) and the preservation of the central qualities of other persons, (common essence) in other words, it is an attempt to maintain a balance between the preservation of an absolute self and the preservation of others as absolute subjective selves. The highest level of self-preservation that man has ever ascended to was given by Christ in his suffering.


Level I

A primitive expression of physical strength. Brutal courage is the trait of a psychopath, of a naive uninformed child, or of a mental retardate. Such courage is without developmental value and without the ability to foresee and take into account the possible negative outcome of one’s “deeds of courage.”

Level II

Variableness of courage as a result of the fluctuation of excitation and depression. Frequent readiness for aggressive action minimally controlled by reflection, or by the consciousness of one’s tendencies of approach and avoidance. As a function of enhanced psychomotor overexcitability courage may be impulsive and aggressive since inhibition is not strong and only periodical.

Level III

Courage is more under control. It results from inhibition of lower dynamisms and excitation of higher dynamisms. Such courage is based on reflection related to the formation of a hierarchy of values. Some patients have expressed it as in the following example: “When it comes to be courageous I find myself much less impulsive than I used to be; I feel more determined, more aware, and more balanced in my expression of courage. I begin to experience a difference in being courageous, as if courage separated itself into two kinds. One, which is bold, quick and impulsive, really not thinking much, another, which grows quietly under the surface, free from the noise of impulsiveness, and becomes very strong and lasting. There is a sense of quiet power and awareness to this new kind of courage.”


Such courage, in spite of great excitability and intensity of conflicts, is controlled, reflective, and decisive.

Level IV

Courage is always connected with the feeling of responsibility for oneself and for others and with the development of autonomy and authentism. The role of a hierarchy of values in courage is brought about by the linking of inhibition of lower functions with the dominant excitation of higher functions. Courage ceases to be controlled by two distinct disposing and directing centers, one, the need for physical intactness and safety (lower level DDC), the other, the need to protect others and to safeguard higher values (higher level DDC), since in this level only the higher DDC is in control. Thus courage is stabilized and supported by a strong feeling of inner calm and control.

Level V

Full awareness in carrying out the responsibility for the highest moral values, even to giving up one’s life for their sake. The courage in face of death exhibited by Socrates, Christ, Sir Thomas Moore, Mahatma Ghandi is based on the principle “my kingdom is not of this world.”



Level I

Pride is barbaric, autocratic, egotistical, cruel, displayed through domination, oppression, humiliation of others. Pride can be based on wealth, power, or a sense of “unlimited” power (“nothing will stand in my way or I'll annihilate it”).

Level II

Pride is at times similar to the primitive, self-centered pride of level I yet less strong and less sure of itself and also more accessible to the feeling of sympathy. Certain inhibitions and critical attitudes toward pride operate periodically. Beginnings of shame in regard to one’s pride. Beginnings of humility but arising only periodically. Recurrence of a primitive sense of self-importance.

Level III

Certain “pride” is derived from developmental attainment, from spiritual progress, from the awareness of one’s inner life and hierarchy. Pride may arise from having unusual but genuine spiritual experiences. Manifestations of “pride in humility” alternating with genuine humility (multilevel ambivalence of pride and humility). Struggle with pride of lower level.

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Level IV

A sense of the “sons of God.” A sense of strength and value of responsibility. Pride derived from helping others and from lack of pride. Dignity manifested in humility. Dignity and pride expressed as independence and authentism. Dignity of love.

Level V

Characteristics similar to level IV. Pride and dignity are replaced by an all-encompassing love, responsibility, ideal, and ever present readiness to help. Full and all-inclusive union with personality.




The functions described here are implicated specifically in interactions with other people. This interaction, however, is directed more toward individuals than toward a group, as is the case for functions of social interaction.



Level I

There is no genuine altruism. There are only pseudoaltruistic attitudes in regard to the established leading group. There is subordination to its needs as demanded by the group’s rules and commands, but a frequent goal is to subvert the group to become an instrument of one’s own primitive urges. Caring for the group’s welfare appears on the surface as a concern for others. The attitude toward the individual’s family is based primarily on selfishness. For instance, we observe solicitude over the health of those who provide for the family. These attitudes are subject to sudden change if the selfish needs are not satisfied.

Level II

Attitude toward others is variable and largely dependent on mood. Selfishness and altruism of a low level take turns, frequently the altruistic behavior being a camouflage of selfish goals. Rarely does one observe instances of genuine altruism that would be without personal gain in sight. Genuine altruism can be sometimes encountered in severe psychoneurosis or psychosis as unstable yet strong thrusts, of concern for others or devotion to others.

Other-Oriented Functions 127

Level III

Distinct hierarchization of altruistic feelings is based on an increasing awareness of one’s own attitude and on significant sensitivity in evaluating oneself or others. This leads to increasing identification with others and greater sensitivity and empathy toward others. The important sources of these feelings are astonishment with oneself, disquietude with oneself, and feelings of shame and quilt. Strong inner conflicts generated by emotional and imaginational overexcitability provide the basis for multilevel and multidimensional development of one’s relations with others leading to growth of empathy, compassion, self-sacrifice, etc.

Level IV

Growing control and dissatisfaction with one’s own selfishness and superficial altruism lead to tendencies for genuine sacrifice, for going beyond the limited range of personal concerns in order to be able to understand others and to more truly r respond to other people’s feelings and needs. One begins to differentiate the ethical values of the external world and to form altruistic attitudes according to one’s own hierarchy of values. Readiness for self-sacrifice as a consequence of deep empathy is equally strong as the need to preserve one’s own unrepeatable values. Empathy is not possible without the affirmation of one’s highest values and without empathy one cannot affirm one’s highest values (individual essence).

Level V

Altruism is truly autonomous and authentic. It becomes an ideal standing against the actual selfishness of human nature. This ideal is developed through previous (level IV) education-of-oneself and autopsychotherapy. It is expressed in serene readiness for self- sacrifice for the sake of others. The relationship of “I” and “Thou” takes on transcendental character together with profound and intense multilevel empathy. States of meditation, contemplation, or ecstasy bring about the synthesis of an altruism encompassing all human values.



Level I

Brutal, aggressive “sincerity” based on uncontrolled needs of self-preservation, sex, ambition, etc. Total lack of inhibition and reflection. It can also be a naive sincerity of a child, or a “psychopathological sincerity” of children, adolescents or adults. This type of sincerity is possible at the borderline of levels I and II, particularly in some mental disorders such as manic states, paranoia, or paranoid schizophrenia.

128 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Level II

Sincerity is variable, unbalanced. In outbursts of uncontrolled, even brutal sincerity, one does observe beginnings of inhibition and sensitivity to others, which somewhat check the expression of sincerity. One observes the straightforward sincerity of psychotics, schizophrenics, who because of being labelled insane are given “carte blanche” to speak openly. Such sincerity is the result of breakdown of external inhibitions but lacking the reflective thought of taking others into consideration and the appropriateness of the situation.

Level III

Reflection causes significant inhibition of sincerity harmful to others. There is differentiation and hierarchization of sincere and insincere attitudes as a result of deepening empathy and progressing multilevel disintegration. Superficial and unauthentic forms of sincerity gradually fall off. There is growing introvertization and refinement of sincerity. One develops the need of always speaking the truth, and of exercising agreement between belief, word, and action.

Level IV

Sincerity becomes more evolved. Characteristically it is restricted to saying what is needed and useful and not saying (and not doing) what could be harmful to others. Even more strongly than in level III we are dealing here with autonomy from the external environment and social pressure even when it means danger and personal loss.

Level V

Sincerity involves a highly developed sense of keeping silent or to offer constructive input as education of personal value to others. Such sincerity is limited by the level on which it can be received. Sincerity here is the courage to speak the truth but combined with strong reflection guarding against hurting others in their development. It must thus be guided by intuition. Socrates delivered his Apologia to the judges in Athens knowing that his sincerity will not win their favor. In our times Solzhenitsyn was faced with the charge of treason punishable by death, but was exiled instead.



Level I

Total lack of humility. Instead there may be false respect, cunning and sycophancy, often with deep envy.

Other-Oriented Functions 129

Level II

Fluctuation of feelings of inferiority and superiority, of inhibition and excitation, of self-confidence and its lack generates transient feelings of humility. Periodical feelings of dependence on others and a sense of weakness induce temporary feelings of humility.

Level III

The individual begins to experience the levels of his development as values differentiated into “what is” and “what ought to be.” He identifies with persons and heroes who embody his ideals but at the same time feels that the distance between his actual level and theirs is distressingly great. This induces a feeling of deep humility stemming from the activity of inferiority toward oneself, dissatisfaction with oneself and the feelings of shame an guilt.

Level IV

Humility has its source in the awareness of one’s inner growth, and at the same time of the vastness of human misery, falsity, suffering and sorrow against which one is helpless in spite of feeling ready to work against it. Intellectual and emotional understanding of being distant from the ideal, yet strongly striving toward it. At times of reflection and meditation on the ideal, the feeling of humility and respect for that which is higher in the hierarchy of universal human values grows.

Level V

All mental forces are directed to the realization of personality ideal. The evolving feelings of humility and respect for essential and existential values, for a hierarchy of absolute values, are directly connected with the yearning to reach the ideal and transcendence. Humility is experienced in meditation and at time of inner uplifting, which generates calm but poignant encounter with one’s deficiencies.



Level I

Lack of responsibility toward others. Selfish interests govern the individual’s behavior. There is a total lack of understanding and sensitivity toward others and of responsibility towards them, including the family and closest associates. Responsibility for others arises only when they are used to fulfil primitive instinctive needs of the individual.

130 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Level II

Beginnings of sensitivity toward others induce initial development of responsibility for others. The understanding of responsibility is short-term, however, because of a tendency to delimit the range of responsibility “from—to.” The individual feels afraid to extend his accountability to wider range of matters which would require him to step out of the secure frame of external formality. Actually responsibility does not grow or develop significantly in this level. Instead it is replaced by various emotional attitudes of concern for others. Such attitudes are temperamental and rather unstable in comparison with the ones of actual conscious commitment. Ambivalences produce fluctuations between occasional altruistic and the more frequent selfish concerns.

Level III

Distinct growth of responsibility for others. In relation to others and in relation to oneself one experiences uneasiness of conscience. Syntony decreases to a significant degree while altruism and responsibility increase. The two functions differ in that altruism represents a more general attitudes (e.g. resignation from one’s needs, actions of generosity) while responsibility is more elaborated, more concrete, and more directly involved. For example, the responsibility for raising children is undertaken as a program entailing preparation and education and also an active concern for being able to guide the development of one’s children. As a consequence of the action of multilevel dynamisms the individual develops sensitivity and insight in regard to matters for which he did not previously feel responsible. There is a distinct development of a hierarchy of levels of responsibility.

Level IV

Responsibility is not only more broadly elaborated but is also more systematized. The action of the higher dynamisms of multilevel disintegration demands compensation even for apparent evasions of responsibility. Responsibility is completely free of a formal conception but finds its source in responsiveness to the suffering and developmental needs of others. The growth and expansion of responsibility make it resemble a program of altruistic action such as exemplified by Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Dag Hammarskjold and so many others. Such men are incapable of being satisfied with a discussion of evil, they must actively engage in action against it.

Level V

Responsibility becomes a dynamism of secondary integration. See page 42.




The behaviors described here are more directly involved in the interaction of the individual and his social environment. Aggression and sexual behavior represent functions with stronger measure of biological input than most of the other functions would appear to have, except for self-preservation and excitation.



Level I

Primitive syntony on a low level appears typically in an attitude of “we” expressed in entertainment, dance, fight, strike, etc. If personal interest is threatened then aggression against members of the group, so far acting in solidarity, arises easily. Flattery, adulation in respect to those who are stronger and ruthlessness towards those who are weaker, are characteristic in interpersonal and group relations. There is no identification with others (even in the sense of cooperation), however, there is subordination to a stronger group and ruthlessness toward a weaker group. Personal aims and ambitions are realized through deceit and lies.

Level II

Loosening of primitive attitudes towards another and toward a group. The individual may at times put forth the interest of others before his own more as a function of his mood than as a deliberate commitment. The understanding of a necessity to cooperate, even beginnings of self-sacrifice for other’s sake, develop gradually but are unstable. In this way identification and syntony develop, and even some reflective syntony toward others, but alternating with periods of return to primitive attitudes.

132 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Level III

Beginnings of understanding and of recognizing a hierarchy of social values. This recognition is followed by a clear attitude of accepting this hierarchy both in its theoretical and in its practical sense. Increasing understanding of the needs of others and of the needs of a group is caused by dynamisms of shame and guilt. Actions undertaken by the individual begin to show creative thinking in relation to others. There is an increase of sensitivity, sympathy, understanding and a desire to help. The individual becomes increasingly more sociocentric. There is a growing concern for one’s family, for contact with other social groups. A need to cooperate with others develops as a function of growing appreciation of others.

Level IV

Growth of social concern and social responsibility is based on active empathy. The need to engage oneself in social or political action for the sake of others is exemplified by Nansen, Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther King, Margaret Mead, and so many others. There is a considerable predominance of alterocentrism over egocentrism. There is high empathy toward individuals and groups on different levels of development, with a constant tendency for understanding and help, though without the approval of attitudes regarded to be negative. In this level one develops the understanding of always being a responsible contributing member of a social group.

Level V

Systematization and mastery of alterocentric attitudes (self-sacrifice). Not only a full harmony develops between social views and the capacity to put them to practice, but they are supported by the ability to cooperate with different levels of philosophical attitudes in respect to oneself and to the environment. Most important here is an existential respect for the absolute “Thou” and the absolute “I.”



Level I

There is a need and an ability to adjust to the dictates of basic drives, striving for power, career, recognition, etc. Adjustment is periodical, hypocritical, often deceitful. This is a morally negative adjustment. Adjustment is used to win favors, to charm and conquer the opposite sex. Adjustment to external norm hides a discrepancy between one’s intentions and an externally assumed compliance.

Social and Biological Functions 133

Level II

In general adjustment is made to external norms but with certain instability of the consistency of adjustment. At times behavior departs from adjustment to external norms. Periodical inhibition, constraint and feeling of shame in regard to one’s adjustment. At times resistance, even rebellion against adjustment. Periods of sincerity. Low frequency of deceit and disregard for others in one’s adjustment. Recurrence of periods of negative adjustment (maladjustment). Maladjustment can be manifested antisocially, and mostly as behavioral disturbances, mental illness, and suicide.

Level III

Periods of grave struggles with adjustment and maladjustment. Negative adjustment (i.e. adjustment to external norms) becomes rare, but negative maladjustment (global rejection of external norms) is more frequent taking the form of extreme individualism. Inner conflicts manifest the struggle of gradual rejection of lower values and an effort to adjust to higher values. Desire for greater strength and development of higher values is combined with a need to approach the ideal. Hence frequent maladjustment to the “lower” self but adjustment to the “higher” self. Increasing courage in standing up against conformism and externality. Search for the creative “newness” and “otherness.” Rejection of norms forced upon one by external pressures.

Level IV

Adjustment to higher values. The organization of one’s hierarchy of values is strong. It is based on the strength and elaboration of one’s autonomy and authenticity. There is awareness of the developmental significance of one’s actions; such as activation of empathy, self-awareness, third factor, and responsibility in the service of positive adjustment. Total rejection of external norms and opposition against them whenever they influence human development toward inauthenticity and dependence on social opinion. Adjustment to the ideal, transcendence and universal love as the main forces of development.

Level V

Adjustment to personality ideal. Calmness and harmony derived from independence from the “lower” I and form the lower levels of the inner psychic milieu. Independence through love, sacrifice and self-sacrifice. Full acceptance of the way of suffering as a means of attaining spiritual liberation.

134 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Level I

Subordination, servility, cruelty in the name of rulers, meanness dictated by dependence on stronger authority. Intelligence is used to cover up one’s feeling of inferiority toward others. The sense of inferiority may not be conscious but masked by more readily activated aggressiveness.

Level II

In the initial phase of level II others are manipulated with the aim of covering up one’s sense of inferiority to lead them away from one’s “secret of inferiority.” Feelings of inferiority are often compensated asocially or pathologically by showing off, exhibitionism, play acting, or display of superiority. Instability and fluctuation of feelings of inferiority and superiority. Feelings of uncertainty in relation to external and superficial attitudes of inferiority and superiority. Need for approval, acceptance and recognition by social milieu as a source of well being. Values are taken from external sources. Socially operating values such as prestige, position of influence, social class are taken as norms of behavior. Desire for group membership is a strong motivator. Acceptance of stereotype ideas and values of conformity. Group norms are not distinguished from individual norms. Social usefulness is understood in terms of the needs of the majority. Relativism of values and ideas. Adjustment of one’s thought and behavior to “what will people think of me.”

Level III

Feelings of inferiority toward higher values. Increasingly conscious feeling of distance from ideal. At the same time ideal becomes more desirable and more attractive. Growth of respect and reverence toward ideal and toward highly developed personalities. Feelings of inferiority are sincere and without envy toward others. Strong feelings of inferiority toward oneself.

Level IV

Balance between the feeling of inferiority towards oneself and the feeling of inferiority toward ideal and an authentic hierarchy of values. Sense of smallness within the enormity of cosmos combined with a sense of one’s spiritual worth. Blending of external and internal feelings of inferiority in the core of individual and common essence.

Social and Biological Functions 135

Level V

One cannot properly speak about feelings of inferiority at this level.


Level I

Primitive competitiveness in which the individual uses physical force and deceit responding only to his own primitive urges and seeking only his own advantage. Rivalry serves selfish needs and is carried out aggressively, or even violently.

Level II

Gradual appearance of some restraint. In competition less recourse to the use of force, deceit, or aggression. Inhibitions and controls begin to operate in a limited range. At times the individual begins to show dissatisfaction with rivalry, especially when it comes to physical form of rivalry.

Level III

Psychological and moral rivalry with diminution of personal interests. It is a struggle for hierarchical social and moral principles and values. The individual begins to experience states of consideration, reflection, and disquietude. He strives to reduce lower levels of competitiveness through activation of the dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration.

Level IV

Rivalry is highly organized and above all takes into consideration the interests of others. There is understanding and sympathy towards one’s rivals. Rivalry is now a struggle for ideals.

Level V

Struggle for ideas and values carried out with love for those who compete or oppose. It is an expression of a need to work together than to direct. The individual is motivated by service to others, and reaches the absolute “I-and-Thou,” which precludes any sense of rivalry.

136 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior



Level I

Primitive and brutal forms of aggression such as physical assault, disablement, destruction, mutilation. In war these forms of aggression toward the enemy occur sometimes even after victory, thus indicating rigid and primitive emotional reactions, lack of sympathy for the victims of aggression, incapacity for identification with them and for understanding their suffering. On this level instinct of aggression works together with primitive activities of other instincts, such as, for instance, self-preservation.

Level II

Instinct of aggression is less strong and comes into action nonsystematically. Some degree of inhibition of impulsive aggressiveness is evoked by reflections arising at the start of fighting, even more so when encountering the consequences of one’s own aggression. These inhibitions take the form of tendencies to interrupt, or give up, fighting. There are beginnings of sympathy and identification, changeable manifestations of syntony (expressed by disquietude and still rather weak feeling of guilt). When the instinct of aggression is active ambivalence and ambitendencies cause in it an imbalance of reactions “for” and “against.” Such conflict of opposing tendencies divides and weakens aggression and may even exhaust its initial force by leading more quickly to loss of tension. As a result some reflection may arise in respect to one’s own aggression and that of others.

Level III

Aggression on this level is never a reaction of self-defense. Instead one of its essential components is a concern for the welfare of others. Aggression is attenuated by the action of the creative instinct. Through creativity one searches for different forms of expressing aggression, above all such forms whose fundamental elements are moral, esthetic and intellectual. The essential features of multilevel development of the instinct of aggression are: achieving an attitude of persuasion, gradual loss of impulse to have to win an argument and to impose one’s views on others, gradual understanding and appreciation of the value of concession or defeat. Aggression becomes a moral struggle for a righteous cause (either personal or for others).

Level IV

Total elimination of such forms of aggression as physical force or deceit, or anything that is promoted by selfish and egocentric attitudes. It is a struggle for an ideal, a principle, or a cause, carried out with honest methods. The dominant characteristic of this struggle is persuasion and respect for the opponent. There

Social and Biological Functions 137

is not only a tendency to understand his motives but even an attempt to present them in a better light and on a better level than they actually are. This was Abraham Lincoln’s approach. Aggressive opponents are approached empathically through attempts to influence them toward sublimation of their methods of fighting. This distinct hierarchization of values guarantees a high level of development of the instinct of aggression by subjugating it to the personality ideal. This instinct of aggression becomes strongly linked with and transformed by a highly developed social concern and empathy.

Level V

Aggression in any form disappears—it is replaced by an understanding and putting to life the principle: “love your enemies, bring peace to those who persecute you.” This principle, which expresses far-reaching goals, is a basic factor in the prevention of aggression. On this level fighting will take the form of resolving—on an ideal plane—of the relationships “I-and-Thou” (or “We and You”); it will be expressed in constant help in development through conflict of ideas but without imposing them.


See pages 45-51.




The question of the nature of psychoneurosis as a developmental process, and the question of different levels of psychoneuroses is elaborated elsewhere (Dąbrowski, 1972). Here we shall only give a very sketchy description of the characteristics differentiating psychoneuroses at each level of development. It might be worth pointing out that a given type of psychoneurosis is not limited to one level of development but may display lower and higher levels in itself. Predominance of somatic components points to a low level of a given psychoneurosis, while predominance of emotional and moral conflicts points to its higher level (Dąbrowski, 1972, Chapter VII, Sections 2 and 3). Infantilism and regression are closely related to psychoneuroses as is the phenomenon of nervousness or psychic overexcitability.


See “overexcitability,” Chapter 7.



Level I

Total absence of psychoneuroses. The rigid structure of primary integration with its predominantly automatic behaviors controlled biologically and externally precludes the formation of psychoneurotic processes which, by their very nature, are disintegrative exhibiting a disequilibrium and conflict between external and internal determinants. The internal determinants are absent in primary integration.

Some So-Called Pathological Syndromes 139

Level II

Unilevel disintegration dissolves the cohesive structure of level I but does not produce any structure that would replace it. In consequence, instability and fluctuation of behaviors can easily, under external environmental or internal emotional stress, develop into severe mental disorders. The absence of an internal hierarchy and of a direction of development limits the individual’s capacity for reflection and for inner psychic transformation. Emotional tensions and conflicts, therefore, have to be converted into somatic processes or transposed into dreams and imagery which become populated with agencies and creations whose existence appears to be external to the individual. Thus we encounter here disorders on the border-line of psychopathy and neuroses, psychosomatic disorders, hysterical conversion, flight into sickness, hypochondriasis, neurasthenia, phobias, perseverations and obsessions with stereotyped contents.

Level III

The emergence of multilevel inner conflict, even if somewhat indistinct at first, shows greater involvement of reflection and emotions in moral concerns, i.e. in questions of right and wrong, of one’s relations with others, and in the search for the meaning of life. When the conflicts are intensified we observe psychoneuroses in the form of obsessions in relation to higher levels of experience, anxieties and fears about others, existential anxieties and depressions, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, hysterical conversion but with reflection and control, psychasthenia, states of depression, worthlessness or anxiety associated with creative processes, etc. In most cases one observes a distinct striving for inner psychic transformation, i.e. for changing oneself so that one would move away from “what is” and develop toward “what ought to be.” The developmental gradients of hierarchization, inhibition, reflection, and syntony (i.e. increase of alterocentrism) described at the end of Chapter 6, are very distinct in psychoneurotic processes at this level of development.

Level IV

Here existential problems become more pronounced than in level III. Psychoneuroses are generated by a sense of failure in self-perfection and responsibility, by a sense of blocked progress in meditation and contemplation. Tendencies toward genuine ecstasy may be quite strong. Empathy may increase to the point of incapacitating the person in face of the extent of suffering and injustice in the world. Hence depression and anxiety over the fate and failure of other people. But all the psychoneurotic disturbances possible at this level are not severe because they are subject to autopsychotherapy, inner psychic transformation and education-of-oneself. Creative process may generate systematized obsessions of higher level as was the case of such writers as Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Miguel de Unamuno, William Faulkner, and so many others.

140 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Level V

Absence of psychoneuroses or other disturbances, only the affective memory is alive which makes it possible to recall the experience of a given psychoneurosis for use in the work of self-perfection or in work with others.


Infantilism denotes a combination of mental and emotional characteristics which in their developmentally positive form are associated with openness, naivete, trust and emotional sincerity usually encountered in children but far less common in adults. In its negative form infantilism is a function of curtailed developmental potential, as in mental retardation. Positive infantilism is a function of strong imaginational and emotional overexcitability usually combined with creative talent.

Level I

Emotional infantilism is absent, instead there is emotional underdevelopment. Creative childlike characteristics are very weak or nonexistent.

Level II

Characteristic forms of childlike behavior are variably manifested as excessive sincerity, animism, magical thinking, sensitivity and irritability, rich world of fantasy and fiction, inclination toward exclusive attachment and devotion to others, unexpected changes of mood and feeling.

Level III

Sensitivity, sincerity, openness, dreaminess, lack of adjustment to everyday reality. Strong elements of magical thinking, strong creative imagination and fantasy, hierarchy of values develops in fantasy life, imagination and creativity (stories of heroism, love, honesty, devotion to good causes). Interplay of sensitivity, emotionality, and imagination. Development of empathy and of rich imagination in understanding and sensing the needs of others. Imagination and fantasy facilitate escape from difficult and painful reality giving appearance of immaturity and infantile behavior, yet at the same time when the stresses become extreme they may lead to severe psychoneurosis and schizophrenia.

Level IV

Infantile traits are part of very strong creative dynamisms. The individual is more adjusted to the reality of higher levels than to the actual reality of lower levels surrounding him. The individual is sincere, open, vulnerable, and appears to be

Some So-Called Pathological Syndromes 141

naive, but combines simplicity, charm, nobility and freshness with inner strength and persistence in carrying out programs which may have no merit in the eyes of his contemporaries. Examples of such infantile yet strong personalities are Joan d'Arc, Saint Clare, Franz Kafka, Emily Dickinson, Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Pierre Bonnard. Poets and musicians who manifested strong infantilism abound. Level V Enhanced and subtly differentiated emotional and imaginational overexcitability allows the highest level of artistic expression in understanding and representing the suffering, as well as the joys experienced by man. In the creative process the artist, poet, musician, intuitively rises to this highest level, although he himself may not have reached it in his own development. But such individuals as Saint Francis of Assisi or Ramakrishna combine childlike nature with the highest level of development guided only by their personality ideal; for Saint Francis represented by Christ, for Ramakrishna by Divine Mother Kali.



Level I

Psychopaths with moderate severity of the disorder regress to the lowest level of psychopathy manifested by hatred, cruelty, or vengeance. Their intelligence is in the service of such plans of action and can be metaphorically viewed as being in the service of subconscious animal archetypes of mutual devouring (“If I don't eat them, they will eat me”).

Level II

Regression to primary integration, or regressive thoughts of a psychoanalytic character serve to achieve a complete identification with mother, or other persons, and offer an opportunity for full relaxation. Regression through flight into sickness. Regression to extreme passivity, immobilization. Regression to one-sided, more physical than emotional sexual release. Regression to attitudes of formality or to compulsive orderliness as a means of propping up one’s sense of security (external structuring).

Level III

Regression to self-destructive tendencies carried out in thought, a retreat from life. Regressions in waking dreams, in dreams, and in sleepwalking. Sometimes regressions take the form of flight into sickness, obsessions to tear open one’s wounds (cf. p. 10, Frustration, level III), periods of obsessive search for warmth

142 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

and affection (especially during times of recuperation from internal conflicts “regression in the service of the ego”), avoidance of conflicts (when too many or too intense multilevel conflicts have been experienced). A need to lose oneself in love or in creativity typifies highly positive (i.e. developmental) regressions.

Level IV

At this level the term “regression” can be used only metaphorically. We observe reflective and elaborated relaxation, periods of total solitude, at times excessive introvertization of mystical states, periods of prayer, meditation and contemplation in order to collect one’s strength in the face of a social mission, before having to undertake decisions of great responsibility, or in order to develop common essence. Fairly calm and fairly systematic tendencies to regression through death (martyrdom) are also observed. Regressions at this level are always positive and occur as a necessary self-protection and as a means of continuing the labor of development.

Level V

Absence of any type of regression. There are periods of spiritual rest in nature but with instant readiness to resume one’s work. Indeterministic imperative of work till the hour of death. Relaxation prior to taking an important decision or prior to carrying out an important decision whether it involves internal or external heroic action. The highest authentism of man capable of an instantaneous suspension of his activities in order to take up in all simplicity total sacrifice and death.




How a person develops, views and approaches the world, fellow people and himself is inseparable. The seven disciplines discussed in this chapter have a long history and are represented by a wide range of views and people who produced them. These different orientations can be sorted out according to the level of human development they appear to represent. In the course of history and man’s ideological and social strife the higher levels seem always to lose in battle with the brutal unscrupulous power of the lower ones, whether we look at Prometheus, Socrates, Christ, Jeanne d'Arc, Galileo, Pablo Casals, Solzhenitsyn, or the United Nations and the American democracy. Yet how to account for the fact that the higher levels are not overwhelmed and wiped out?



Level I

Absence of understanding of man as a psychological being. The interest in man is chiefly as a living organism, hence the study of sensory reactions, perceptions, stimulus-and-response, and animal psychology. Man is regarded as a product of external determinants. Clinical psychology is treated as a profession rather than as a field of research exploring and expanding the understanding of the human psyche.

Level II

Awakening of humanistic interests. Interest in the workings of the human psyche grows through self-observation of sensations of bodily awareness and through grave personal experiences or crippling conditions of health or status. Hence interest in the lower neuroses (e.g. psychosomatic disorders or phobias) and psychoses.

144 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

One begins to observe in oneself symptoms and reactions characteristic of neurotic and psychotic processes. Becoming aware of such symptoms in oneself awakens interest in introspection as one of the means of studying these phenomena. The need to know oneself also appears although still in a vague form.

Level III

Beginnings of differentiation of levels of emotional and instinctive functions. Gradual development of individual psychology and of viewing personality as a developing structure. Psychology becomes existential and begins to recognize individual goals of inner psychic transformation (cf. p. 37). Because of the increasing realization that not only that which is perceived and consensually validated is objective but also that which is perceived and experienced only by some individuals, the problem whether emotional functions have objective validity becomes a subject of study and theory as exemplified by the approaches of Nicolai Hartmann, Soren Kierkegaard, William James, Eduard Spranger, Abraham Maslow, Erich Fromm, Gordon Allport, Carl Rogers, Suzanne Langer, and many others. The conception of man becomes more inclusive and universal, in consequence of which psychological and therapeutic skills develop on the basis of wider and deeper experience, acceptance of others and intuition (see p. 100). The psychologist develops a balance of interest between the role of external and internal stimuli and events. He easily captures the developmental perspective of individual and social growth. In the approach to psychological problems the work of the dynamisms of the inner psychic milieu becomes evident, such as, for instance, dissatisfaction or positive maladjustment which stimulate the search for new approaches. Beginnings of understanding of “selectiveness,” of objectivity and of the reality of “subjectivity” in psychology and education. Understanding of the role of “selectiveness” and “subjectivity” in psychology of development and educational psychology. Increasingly perceptive understanding of levels of psychology itself. The clinical psychologist becomes from a professional an authentic person.

Level IV

Multilevel and multidimensional psychology. Distinct interest in the psychology of inner experience and in existential psychology. Systematic elaboration of objectivity of values, as represented by Jaspers, Binswanger, Tolstoy, Tagore, Camus. Organization of empirical psychology on different levels of empiricism. Elaboration of differentiating principles and methods of multilevel psychology, in which task the dynamisms of organized multilevel disintegration play a highly significant role (e.g. the third factor, subject-object in oneself). Examples: Kierkegaard, William James, Jung, Minkowski, Allport, Van Kamm. Understanding that there is value in methods of cognition through meditation, contemplation or ecstasy, and that mystical experiences can be studied objectively. Mystical and similar

Disciplines 145

experiences become thus accessible to empirical approach. Understanding that phenomena of psychopathology have to be differentiated on many levels.

Level V

Systematic application and elaboration of multilevel empiricism. Empirical and introspective methods are tested and applied to contemplation, ecstasy, and to the psychology of mystical experience. Study of the question of essence in psychology. Psychology of autonomy and authentism. Empirical approach to the study of the relation “I-and-Thou” on the highest level. Here belong the contributions of Christian saints known for their considerable psychological knowledge and experience (e.g. St. Theresa of Avila, St. Gregory the Great), masters of yoga and similar systems (Gandhi, Steiner, Aurobinho, Ramakrishna).



Level I

Statistical mean is accepted as the standard and ideal of normality. Abnormality is regarded as a function of the deviation from the mean. Brutal methods of treatment (electric shock, lobotomy, chemical treatment divorced from the context of personality development) of those who are not normal. The ill are taken out of their proper family and work environment, persecuted and destroyed. There is no understanding of the fact that those labelled mentally ill deteriorate in hospital conditions because of their low threshold of frustration (see p. 110), sensitivity and irritability, and because they are deprived of qualified individual attention. The mental norm is patterned after the physiological and physical norm. “Healthy mind in a healthy body” is accepted as a principle without understanding the complexity of human mental and emotional structure. Mental functions are treated as a narrow superstructure of anatomical and physiological functions.

Level II

Beginnings of an attitude differentiating mental disturbances. Beginnings of seeing some positive aspects in psychopathological processes. Pharmacological and psychological therapies are often combined on the basis of available knowledge and theory. A great variety of therapies and approaches is represented here by Freudian psychoanalysis, transactional analysis, Perls’s Gestalt therapy, and many others. All these approaches help a person in one way or another to deal with his feelings. They enable him to function in relations with other people in order “to get the most out of it.” However, the egocentric focus of these therapies precludes the development of genuine relationship with another person as

146 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

an encounter of “I-and-Thou.” Physicians, psychologists and philosophers in contact with the mentally ill begin to identify with some patients and with certain forms of mental disturbances. Still they tend to treat these disturbances as illnesses. In consequence humane treatment of the ill, sometimes even regarding them as above average and worth more than normal individuals. Psychotherapy through consolation, charity, also—in part—psychoanalysis. Examples: Adler, Rank, Horney.

Level III

Gradual development of treating of patients as individuals. Attempts to introduce a hierarchy of values into various so-called morbid processes. Great potential for empathy with disturbed individuals. Feelings of affinity with patients. Lack of tendencies for avoiding patients and for indiscriminate hospitalization. Experience of inner conflicts such as those represented by the dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration facilitates noticing them and taking advantage of them in patients during their therapy. This facilitates observation of one’s own states similar to psychoneurotic states. Multidimensionality of life’s problems is perceived and applied. Cases are treated individually. Transition from clinical diagnosis to multilevel multidimensional descriptive-interpretative diagnosis. This is a diagnosis which attempts to obtain as full a picture as is possible of the patient’s developmental potential, his family and work environment, and his developmental direction. It is derived as an approximation and set of hypotheses from the first collection of information and then continually verified in the course of therapy and the patient’s personal development. Examples: Jung, Adler, Rogers, May, Frankl, Fromm, Fromm-Reichmann, Van Kamrn and other existentialists.

Level IV

Increasingly more insightful and subtle treatment of patients as individuals who possess positive, even accelerated authentic developmental dynamisms. Continuous development and adjustment of these dynamisms in relation to patients. The basic approach is to uncover creative elements and psychic richness of clients as the most helpful and vital elements of their psychotherapy and development. Psychotherapy is based on stimulating and balancing the direction and the autonomous forces of individual development. Readiness to check the value of past and anticipated experiences as well as of goals. Being able to recognize and demonstrate that many of the mentally ill are extremely valuable members of society who, because of unfavorable social conditions, are barred from contributing to enrichment of society. These are the people who have the perception and the sensitivity to moral, esthetic and emotional values so sorely lacking in a mass society. Psychotherapy is based on the promotion of education-of-oneself, and of autopsychotherapy.

Disciplines 147

Level V

The highest level of empathy. Mentally ill are treated as unique and unrepeatable individuals. Most mental and emotional disturbances are looked upon as a means of development. Negative components in order to be transformed and employed in development are linked with positive ones. For instance, sensual needs for attention and frequent contact with others can be reduced by practicing relaxation and calm induced through meditation. Psychotherapy with a client is carried out with the aim of his being able to develop autopsychotherapy, i.e. to activate consciously and systematically his developmental dynamisms in the process of inner psychic transformation. Instead of treatment there is education. The goal for the client is to become capable to education-of-himself. Various systems and disciplines of yoga and self-perfection based on moral and spiritual principles have this character.



Level I

Application of principles of biological rearing similar to raising animals. Education by means of training to develop proper conditioning. The goal of education—a consequence of positivistic principles—is adjustment to changing conditions of fife. In methods and goals of education absence of understanding and consideration for the need and possibility of individual development of mental structures and functions. The individual is treated as a human animal. Individual autonomy is not differentiated from aggressiveness.

Level II

First signs of reflectiveness. Uncertainty and disharmony in educational systems. Conflicts between automatism based on the principles of animal training and systems of “inner psychic transformation.” Liberalism based on tolerance and pluralism of many different systems but without a possibility of evaluating their individual value in context of a moral hierarchy because of belief in the cultural relativism of values. Reaction against education based on prohibitions and systems of rules. Growing uncertainty in regard to different educational attitudes. Education is not based on a hierarchy of values. Absence of such a hierarchy causes fluctuation of educational trends. Educational systems are developed on so many premises that “anything goes.”

Level III

The problem of a hierarchy of values in education appears and grows in significance. Growing significance of developmental psychology and of individua

148 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

education. Beginnings of understanding autonomy. Beginnings of grasping the value of an authentic ideal. Needs of objectivization and of differentiation of the value of emotions. Hierarchization of aims. These characteristics represent those educational systems of East and West which incorporate the struggle between lower and higher tendencies, inner conflict, and autonomous development. Such education is founded on hierarchical models of behavior in relation to oneself and others.

Level IV

Principles and methods of education are based on such dynamisms, defined in Chapter 5, as third factor, subject-object in oneself, inner psychic transformation, self-control, self-awareness, identification and empathy. Development of humanistic systems of education. These systems and methods are known in all schools of education based on a hierarchy of values and on developmental principles. The dynamisms mentioned above are perhaps only more precise conceptions of the most fundamental and the most advanced forces of development. Multilevelness of values and of emotional and instinctive functions is not only recognized but is applied consistently. Development of self-determination, autonomy and authenticity. Education takes into account the emotional and intellectual development of the relationship between “I-and-Thou.” Education based on programs involving education-of-oneself and autopsychotherapy.

Level V

Continuing growth of self-determination, education-of-oneself and autopsychotherapy. Meditation, and empathy contribute to the development of educational methods. Comprehension of the value of intuitive and mystical cognition and of their influence in education in close cooperation with empathy. Education of personality and development of paths leading toward personality (cf. page 42) and its ideal. Education is founded on the recognition and experience of individual and common essence (cf. page 42, Authentism). It recognizes the indispensability of contemplative methods and of testing them empirically. In consequence, these methods are part and parcel of the highest level of education.



Level I

No philosophical activity other than pseudophilosophy of power manipulation and mechanistic object relations.

Disciplines 149

Level II

Puzzlement and curiosity in respect to the external world. Pluralism of philosophical orientations. Philosophy is, in general, concerned with uncovering the principles of nature. At one extreme philosophy elaborated from unconscious and untested myths, at the other positivistic philosophy. Relativism and body-bound consciousness of Sartre’s existentialism are typical representatives of such ahierarchical orientations. Fluctuation between positivistic approach and religio-cognitive, pantheistic and monistic approaches

Level III

Principle “know thyself'. Two trends in the development of philosophy: one in relation to the external world, another in relation to the inner world. The philosophy of external world becomes gradually subordinated to philosophy of the inner world leading to the development of introspective, religious, existential, and mystical philosophy. Multilevelness of methods and principles of cognition in the service of an existential search for the meaning of life. Philosophy dealing with the meaning of man’s existence develops on the substratum of individual experience and inner transformation of conflict with oneself, personal drama, suffering. Such philosophy deals with the development of an autonomous hierarchy of values and aims. In consequence, it deals with the hierarchy of inner experience. The main representatives are: Kierkegaard, Jaspers, Heidegger, Gabriel Marcel, Camus, Unamuno.

Level IV

Further development of existential and moral philosophical trends described in level III. Philosophy becomes more consistently a way of life. Philosophy is based on a program of self-perfection as exemplified by Pythagoras, Kierkegaard, Jaspers, Tagore, Tillich, Buber, Barth. Philosophy of emotions and will is developed as a function of multilevel empiricism of systematic meditation. The need for multilevel methods of exploring human experience is stressed. Two directions of philosophy emerge a most characteristic for this level: monistic (in the sense of accepting total identification with the first cause, the principle of being, or the highest being) and essential (in the sense of accepting individual essence as having an indestructible existence not to be dissolved in ultimate oneness). Gradual transition toward the orientation of individual essence.

Level V

Amalgamation within oneself of the essential values of sensory-perceptive, rational, intuitive and mystical philosophies. Continuing growth of the philosophical

150 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

principle of multilevelness and multidimensionality. Philosophy based on empiricism of mystical experiences combined with a need for developing scientific foundations for such empiricism. Philosophy of multilevel reality based not only on “common knowledge” but also on individual “privileged knowledge” arising from experiences on higher level. Philosophy as a science and synthesis of intuitive wisdom. Empirical philosophy of a transcendental and absolute conception of the relation of “I-and-Thou.” Philosophy of an all-encompassing love that transcends death.



Level I

Primitive naturalism frequently as a function of the need of self-preservation. Fear and humbleness before “higher forces,” expectation of punishment. Primitive symbolization of gods. Praising the gods and bribing them with gifts and offerings. Brutality and cruelty in making live sacrifices. Forms of deification of oneself.

Level II

Beginnings of experiencing and adopting an immanent attitude. Some degree of respect for divinity. Fluctuation of feelings toward gods or one god manifested in atheistic and personalistic attitudes. Variable attitudes of fear, self-abasement and subordination alternating with periods of self-confidence. The emotional attitude toward a god of good and a god of evil is not elaborated and, therefore, inconsistent and unstable. The conceptions of immanence and transcendence are vague because a superficial external attitude toward a god prevails, hence attraction toward religious ceremony and ritual.

Level III

Attitude of respect toward the divine is distinct. Gradual hierarchization of values and of divinity. Prevalence of monotheism. Development of religion based on respect and conscious freely accepted dependence. Immanence combines with a tendency to see transcendence as a concrete possibility. Development of inner religion with diminishing needs of external expression, that is more of inner worship and less of external worship. Humility which grows out of a sense of personal relationship with God increases while authoritarian attitudes grow weaker. Religious attitudes and feelings undergo distinct differentiation into many levels due to dissatisfaction with oneself, feeling of inferiority toward oneself, feelings of shame and guilt. Development of sincerity. Religious attitude based on that “which ought to be” rather than on that “which is,” i.e. a growing need to be consistent in one’s religious beliefs with one’s deeds. Objection to a formal and abstract conception of God grows stronger

Disciplines 151

because one’s religious attitude becomes experiential, mystical, and empirical as well. God is perceived less as a God of power and more as a God of love and justice.

Level IV

Organization of an autonomous hierarchy of religious values. Projection of religious ideals and the personality ideal onto other functions and values. Appearance and development of the “partial death instinct,” i.e. the need, in striving for self-perfection, to destroy all that is undesirable, negative and constitutes an obstacle in development. This can be accomplished through deliberate frustration of one’s basic needs (cf. page 111). Turning away from excessive institutionalism and dogmatism of religious organizations. The distinct action of developmental dynamisms causes a separation of higher from the lower religious levels. A strong need to feel and realize love in relationship with others. Consistency between religious convictions and one’s deeds. The balance between an intellectual and an emotional attitude toward God grows stronger because at this level emotional and intellectual functions begin to operate in unity and harmony. Concrete transcendentalism also increases as does the distinct need for dialog with God.

Level V

Fully developed attitude of love stemming from the highest values which personify divinity and people in their unrepeatable and individual relationships. Active love resulting from experiences gained in meditation and contemplation. Total readiness for sacrifice for the sake of others and for one’s faith. Union with God is experienced in meditation or in strong intuitive projections. Such experiences generate an inner understanding of God through so-called infused knowledge. The deepest respect and love of God do not obliterate the awareness of one’s individuality. This means that the sense of affinity and union with God exists together with preservation of distinct and permanent individual essence. At times when it becomes difficult to obtain a response from God, one’s relationship to him is built through continuing work of inner perfection and through creating and discovering ever higher values.



Level I

Principles of animal ethics in the service of primitive stages of development. Efforts to justify the right of the stronger, of brutality and deceit. Attempts at providing ethical explanations subservient to the regime in power. Ethical principles based on the law of the jungle expressed in such beliefs as: “it is moral if I take someone else’s property, it is immoral if someone takes my property,” “might makes right.” In the motivation of such principles there is the distinct tendency

152 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

to identify others with oneself but never to identify oneself with others. Total lack of inner process that would warrant a capacity for ethical considerations.

Level II

Principles of ethics take into account initial forms of empathy and identification. Taking into account one’s own interests and those of others is subject to a wide range of fluctuation. Moral motivations give some role to feelings and actions of involvement with other people (syntony). Lack of clear formulations of ethical principles. Weak reflectiveness in moral motivations. Distinct moral relativism which is not rigid because of the instability, fluctuation and lack of directions of ethics.

Level III

Hierarchization of values becomes the principal basis of scientific analysis of behavior and motivation. Decrease of egocentrism and increase of empathy and understanding of others. Development of a postulate of objectivity of emotions, evaluations and moral deeds. Gradual and distinct differentiation of the “lower” and the “higher” of that “what is” from that “what ought to be.” Decrease of the egocentrism characteristic of primary integration as a result of distinct action of such dynamisms as dissatisfaction with oneself, disquietude with oneself, feelings of inferiority toward oneself. Ethical principles are based on an attitude of compassion and helpfulness toward others, on deep though partial identification, understanding of the developmental level and associated inner struggles.

Level IV

Ethical explanations and ethical principles derive from the main dynamisms of organized multilevel disintegration (p. 36). Understanding, compassion, and help toward others are active, however, without approving principles and conduct incompatible with one’s personality ideal. Empathy and responsibility become the main factors in the development of ethical behavior. Unilevel approaches, such as sensory-perceptive, or unilevel empiricism, are abandoned. The principles and methods represented by authentic moral systems (i.e. those based on conscious individual responsibility) recognize and incorporate the ideal of multilevelness of reality. To such systems belong Christian systems, certain moral systems of India, certain existential schools, or those closely related (e.g. Allport, Minkowski, May, Rogers, Teilhard de Chardin, theory of positive disintegration). These ethical systems are all developed from the basis of individual processes and of an individual developmental hierarchy of needs, values and aims.

Level V

Moral principles are explained on the basis of the structure of personality and its ideal. Intuition is given an important role in differentiation of levels of reality. In

Disciplines 153

the analysis of motivation and in moral principles importance is given to a highly developed empathy and sacrifice, and to the treatment of others as subjective beings. A highly developed intuition and synthesis derived from contemplation, even ecstasy, plays a big part in the formulation of moral principles. Transcendental moral ideals are given weight and validity. There is an effort to comprehend the “I-and-Thou” relationship in absolute terms.




Level I

Analysis, motivation and justification of brutal aggression or cunning, are in the service of primitive drives. Methods are developed for spreading dissension between groups (as in the maxim “divide et impera”). Treason and deceit in politics are given justification and are presented as positive values. Principles of taking advantage of concrete situations are also developed. Political murder, execution of opponents, concentration camps and genocide are the product of political systems at the level of primary integration.

Level II

In motivation of political positions there are considerable inhibitions in justifying the realization of the lowest drives in politics. There is an uncertainty about primitive motivations. Political leaders and political groups yield alternately to positive and negative pressures without clear orientation. Partial understanding of a responsibility for distinctly negative actions. Support, although reduced, for trivial forms of treason and deceit still operates.

Level III

Distinct presence of scruples in analysis and motivation of political phenomena. Labile yet strong need for honesty in representing political events. In the analysis of the political process a strong need for moral responsibility, even for partial identification with the position occupied by the opponents. Under strong pressure of lower level motivations there is a regression to level II but in its more positive aspects. Hierarchization of values is expressed in the separation of that which is negative from that which is positive and developmental in politics. There is clear understanding of the importance and the need to support and further develop international organizations such as The League of Nations, The United Nations, The International Court of Justice, and the like. Honesty in politics is increasingly more stressed. Partiality is weak and subordinated to a more developed hierarchy of values.

154 Theory and Description of Levels of Behavior

Level IV

Appreciation of international relations based on identification and authentism, indicating that in politics one is guided by a more highly developed hierarchy of values and by higher ethical criteria. Problems of agreement of professed beliefs with actions and of faithfulness in political obligations are given primary attention. In politics based on the differentiation of right from wrong and on the enactment of that which is right, one can detect the action of positive maladjustment, the third factor, subject-object in oneself, awareness and self-control, identification and empathy. The role of ideal and even the transcendental relationship of “I-and-Thou” makes a contribution towards solving political problems.

Level V

Introduction and systematization of the highest criteria of moral politics. Postulates of high moral value in persons occupying key positions of leadership. Development and realization of politics on the highest level of honesty. One’s own nation is treated more objectively while other nations are treated more subjectively. This represents greater discipline in thinking and in an emotional attitude towards oneself and one’s own nation but at the same time higher empathy and reduced severity to other individuals, groups, and, nations, as exemplified by the political actions of Lincoln and Gandhi. Professing and realizing full harmony between beliefs and actions. In politics one is governed by identification and empathy stemming from authentism and education-of-oneself. In a synthetic approach to politics one reaches towards transcendental morality. Principle: “My kingdom is not from this world” yet, in part, it is for this world.




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Part 2





Kazimierz Dąbrowski, M.D., Ph.D.

With the Assistance of Michael M. Piechowski

Marlene Rankel (nee King) and Dexter R. Amend



[There was an errata to this page: see image file 1996 errata; the errata is also reproduced as the following unnumbered page]










Part 2





Kazimierz Dąbrowski, M.D., Ph.D. and Michael M. Piechowski, Ph.D.

With the Assistance of

Marlene Rankel (nee King) and Dexter R. Amend



[blank page in book (page 158)]



The early part of this research carried out in 1969/70 owes a great deal to the energy and initiative of Dr. Alvarez-Calderon who came to Edmonton on a leave of absence from the Universidad da Femenina in Lima, Peru.

Marlene King organized the demanding and enormous task of the collection of data, the contacts and appointments with the subjects, and their testing. She has written the Selection of Subjects and Administration of Tests and the evaluations of intelligence on the basis of autobiographies, while Leendert P. Mos has contributed the Wechsler interpretation of intelligence.

Dexter R. Amend collaborated with the senior author on the description and final form of the neurological examination. He also contributed to the analysis of each one of our examples.

Sister Paulette Payette has made an important contribution by collecting, selecting, and in part translating the material on Saint-Exupéry. Pat Collins has also carried a share of the translations.

We wish to thank Dr. T. Nelson, Chairman of the Department of Psychology, for his faith in the value of this project and his continuing support which removed many a roadblock. We also appreciate the valuable advice given us by Dr. T. Weckowicz in the early stages of the work.

At various phases of this work we have benefited from the participation of Dr. Lorne Yeudall, Leendert P. Mos, and Larry Spreng.

Janice Gordon was with us until the end of 1971, was indefatigable keeping track of the subjects, data, and mountains of typing. Mrs. Vivian King has carried on this task and typed and retyped successive versions of this part.

This research was supported in the years 1969-72 by three successive grants from the Canada Council: 55-03099, 55-56099, 55-56156. We wish to express our appreciation for the Council’s latitude of vision in supporting this unorthodox project.

Finally, we want to sincerely thank all those persons who under the anonymous name of “Subjects” have contributed their time, effort, and enthusiasm to offer us the substance of this research.






The Theory of positive disintegration has existed for more than thirty years (Dąbrowski, 1939, 1946, 1949, 1959, 1964a and b), but systematic research on questions defined by the theory was not possible until recently. There were numerous obstacles in starting research on the central question of levels of emotional development. For the senior author the change of country and language, and the lack of grant application savoir-faire was, in the beginning, a handicap in obtaining funding for research in an area which was considered subjective, limited to the individual, and therefore un-researchable. Because of the generally held view that emotions are primitive undifferentiated energizers of behavior, the attempt to distinguish levels of emotional functioning was considered unrealistic. And because of the universally held view that emotions are more primitive than cognition, and that values are relative and culturally determined, the attempt to differentiate levels of valuation as levels of emotional functioning was considered quixotic.

At that time the implications of Kohlberg’s research on the stages (or levels) of moral development (Kohlberg’s, 1963) were not understood. The present research was developed independently of Kohlberg’s, and for this reason we shall abandon further reference to it. Those familiar with Kohlberg’s work will easily see how both types of research complement each other, and how both—one directly and the other indirectly—converge on the question of levels of emotional development. In the meantime, research in biocybernetics has shown that feelings are very precise and reproductible phenomena measurable by instrumental methods (Clynes, 1970).

Introduction 161

In view of the initial difficulties—the novelty of the questions and impediments in communicating them—it was fortunate to be in Canada where pioneering research is encouraged in many fields by Canada Council. In 1969 the Council awarded a three-year grant to study the levels of emotional functions. The present part is one, but not the only, product of this triennial endeavor.


The original idea was to develop measures roughly defining the level of emotional development for a given individual, since we thought, at first, that it would be possible to find typical examples representative of each level of development. Several questionnaires and two picture tests were attempted. They were useful in the preliminary screening of hundreds of subjects. They were also useful in attracting many different subjects, some by the very novelty, others by the emotional impact of the questions asked. Eventually it became clear that a pool of material characterizing different levels of many expressions of behavior had to be collected before any reliable brief tests could be developed. There is one exception however, and this is the neurological examination.

The neurological examination had been used in over three decades of clinical practice by the senior author, who has combined reflex tests with an observation of behavior to yield indicators differentiating between higher and lower levels of development. In this part this method is described for the first time. It has to be stressed that it is considered to be nothing more than a first step in an attempt to find a quick and objective test that would enable the evaluation of a person’s possible disturbances (neuroses and psychoneuroses) and permit assessment of the dominant developmental level. The examination takes only 15 minutes and the evaluation of the data another 15-30 minutes. In the hands of the senior author it has proven to be fairly reliable (0.85 correlation with the other more extensive tests).

At the very beginning of the research a number of subjects were willing to undertake the task of providing more extensive material by writing their autobiographies and the Verbal Stimuli test. Like the neurological examination both essay tests were used previously, but the present method of scoring differs from the one used earlier. Previously, the material was read and the key emotional events and the subject’s reactions to them were analyzed for the type and level of development. The present analysis is very detailed and its purpose is different. In clinical use the writing of an autobiography is a means of focusing the subject’s attention on his emotional history to give him a sense of perspective, and to uncover and show to him concretely the direction he is taking in his development. It is a tool of developmental diagnosis where the diagnosis is a part of therapy (see section on Therapy Through Diagnosis). In research the autobiography servers as a means for detecting as many dynamisms, functions, and components of the

162 Types and Levels of Development

developmental potential as possible. From these separately identified units the mosaic of the developmental pattern is constructed. Thus the autobiographies and the Verbal Stimuli serve as a source of material in which—by method of comparison—the different levels of emotional development can be observed.

It may be said that every individual has a developmental “center of gravity” or dominant level at which he functions emotionally and intellectually. He may lean away from this “center” by engaging in behavior on a lower level (e.g. aggression or the brotherly syntony of beer party), or on a higher level (e.g. mood of silence and reflection, or genuine feeling of compassion and helpfulness). Since almost everyone grows psychologically to some degree, we encounter residues of previous developmental levels and precursors of new levels—those toward which the individual is moving.


It is not our intention to unravel the intricacies of the human psyche in all their fascinating and bewildering detail. Our purpose is to demonstrate that human behavior can be more readily understood in the macroscopic framework of a scale of development, that levels of emotional development can be differentiated and measured, and that the transition from one level to another occurs through conflict.

The conflict is unavoidable because different levels are incompatible with others (i.e. pure I is incompatible with pure II, and pure II is incompatible with pure III). The more intense the conflict the more intense and global is the developmental process. The development is accelerated when it engages most, or all, of the developmental dynamisms and functions.

The acceleration of development and the intensity of conflict are a function of psychic overexcitability. 1 We distinguish five forms of overexcitability: psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional. Each form can be viewed as a mode of experiencing and acting in the world. Thus, the psychomotor mode is one of movement, agitation, need for action whether trivial or well planned; the sensual mode is one of surface interaction through sensory inputs of pleasure and displeasure; the intellectual mode is one of analysis, questioning and logic; the imaginational mode is one of dreams, images, plans never carried out, strong visualization of experience whether direct or from hearsay; the emotional mode is one of relationships with others and with oneself, of the despair of loneliness and of the joy of love, of the enigma of existence. This is especially true of accelerated


1 The term overexcitability rather than excitability is used to denote the idea that only when excitability is strongly exaggerated, does it make a significant contribution to development. Almost every individual possesses a modicum of excitability in the five areas. This basic endowment does not allow more than stereotyped (i.e. “normal”) development.

Introduction 163

development. In one case (no. 5) the development is so intense and convulsive that the person reaches almost the highest level without having fully undergone the prerequisite lower levels.

Another important aspect accounting for the fact that one cannot find individuals narrowly confined to one level of development is the complexity of emotional development. There are many functions 2 and dynamisms 3 involved. The absence of a given dynamisms is as significant as its presence. For instance, the rejection of inner conflict and the absence of a feeling of guilt characterize level I, while the presence of inner conflict and the presence of feelings of guilt characterize level III.

Because of the large number of dynamisms and functions involved, a person in his development does not activate all of them uniformly. Some advance and some lag behind, and some are never brought into play. Thus, no one can have all his dynamisms and functions narrowly confined to one developmental level. Consequently, no one can in his development represent only one level. The only exception would be absence of development, which by definition is level I (primary integration).

The analysis developed in our research led us to a new approach, and this was to break the essay material and the neurological examination into small units and evaluate each unit separately according to the criteria of the theory of positive disintegration. By this procedure the terms of the theory are tied to concrete expressions of behavior-verbal and subjective in the case of the essays, nonverbal and non-subjective in the case of the neurological examination.

As modes of experiencing and acting, these forms of overexcitability may be regarded as two-way channels of information flow. They can be large, small, or nonexistent. Development is most accelerated when all five channels are present and are great. The variety of inputs creates numerous conflicts and interactions (cognitive and experiential) which fuel the developmental process.

In order to account for the fact that not all individuals reach higher levels of development the concept of the developmental potential was introduced (Dąbrowski, 1970; Dąbrowski, 1972; Piechowski, 1970). It is described more fully in the first part.

The five forms of overexcitability count among the components of the developmental potential, the others being special talents and abilities.

In the present research we have paid particular attention to the manifestations of psychic overexcitability, but alas, not from the very start. When the analysis of the biographies and Verbal Stimuli was well under way it became clear that the material offered numerous occasions for identifying one or another form of psychic overexcitability. This, however, is only an indirect way of detecting it. It was too late to develop a test that would measure directly the presence and relative


2 Functions are expressions of behavior

3 Dynamisms are the postulated moving forces of development

164 Types and Levels of Development

strength of each form of overexcitability. Although we feel that we have obtained a fairly good picture of the relative strength of each form of overexcitability for each type of development, the picture is only approximate.


The types of development are: normal 4, one-sided, and accelerated (Dąbrowski, 1970).

Normal development is characterized either by the absence of psychic overexcitability, or by limited strength of its forms. Examples no. 1 and no. 2 are the best illustrations. Example no. 3 with its fair amount of emotional and imaginational overexcitability illustrates a type of development which is already much richer than the normal. Its limitation, in this particular case, appears to come from a more egocentric than alterocentric orientation of emotional responses.

One-sided development is characterized by the power of a special talent or ability which does not engage the whole personality structure. It may carry a person some distance in one area but does not extend to a global developmental transformation. For instance, the female musician (Example no. 2) spends a lot of energy perfecting her music and feels highly responsible for the quality of her skill, even to the point of feeling that others should not end up taking blame for her imperfections. But we do not observe her spending much energy in perfecting herself as a person.

Accelerated development is characterized by multiple and very strong forms of overexcitability. Example no. 5 shows a young man who reaches toward the highest level of complete self-sacrifice for the sake of others. His emotional overexcitability is very strong and highly alterocentric. It is coupled with psychomotor overexcitability, the other forms being fairly weak. This combination—almost inevitably—leads to an explosion. Example 6 shows someone with similar endowment but balanced by greater strength of the imaginational and intellectual forms. The developmental tensions have, therefore, more channels over which to distribute themselves. Examples 4 and 7 show the richest mixture, and, perhaps the best relative balance of strength of all forms of overexcitability. Development in such cases proceeds fairly uniformly on a global front encompassing all functions and all dynamisms.


The developmental processes are essentially of two kinds: integration and disintegration. The levels of development constitute a five-step scale of which the


4 By “normal” we mean the type of development which is most common; it entails the least amount of conflict and of psychological transformation.

Introduction 165

bottom and the top are integrations while the required intermediate steps are disintegrations.

Primary integration, or Level I, represents development limited to the constitutional typology of the individual without transforming it to any significant degree. Example no. 1 is closest to this category. At the other end of the scale is secondary integration, or Level V. It is the highest form of development that can be empirically established. We have not included an example of this level.

Between these two extremes partial integrations can occur at any level. Example no. 2 represents, to a great extent, partial integration at Level II—higher than the almost total primary integration of no. 1.

The two types of disintegration are the unilevel and the multilevel. Unilevel’ disintegration, or Level II, is characterized by undifferentiated disassembly of the cohesive structure of primary integration. There is a loss of unity of action and there is a loss of direction. Internal conflicts exist but they do not engender a hierarchy of values—a sense of higher and lower within oneself. A large amount of the past history in the Examples no. 3 and 4 is of this kind.

When differentiating factors begin to appear and the unilevel conflict becomes multilevel we observe the beginning of multilevel disintegration. At first it is spontaneous (Level III) and the emerging hierarchy of values is an experiential process of unknown (to the individual) origin. Many fundamental changes have to take place and many different dynamisms have to come into action before the storm begins to sort itself out. When more conscious and more deliberately systematizing factors begin to pull together the field of experience that was upturning and demolishing, as it were, all areas of the personality structure, we observe a transition to Level IV (organized multilevel disintegration).

Examples nos. 3 and 4 are the best illustrations of the transition from Level II to III. In no. 4 it engages the full complement of the dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration in their incipient form (i.e. at the demi-level II-III). Their relative strength appears much greater than in no. 3, which, on the contrary, is missing some of them.

In no. 5 we observe a curious mixture of levels II, III, and IV. Although this appears irregular and exceptional it is not unique. It is an example of development subject to the greatest amount of hardship and harmful interpretations.

Advanced level III is well illustrated in no. 6. Here the development is moving toward its clarification. Here also we observe the full complement of multilevel factors already active during childhood. They press for an organization and inner consistency—a transition from Level III to IV.

In no. 7 (Saint-Exupéry) we have the full harmonious organization of level IV. There is already present the anticipation of secondary integration (level V). It can be observed in a sense of universal harmony and universal empathy, in perception of inner unity without and within, in service to others, and in the readiness to lay down one’s life to defend values most cherished and consciously lived.

In this manner the theory provides for the distinction of five levels of develop-

166 Types and Levels of Development

ment. These levels are vastly different. In our analysis we assign a level value to each response. If the level is I the value is 1.0 and if the level is II the value is 2.0, and so on. Because of the distinct character of each level and also because of the continuity of development which involves transitions from one level to another, we found it necessary to also assign values to demi-levels or borderlines between one level and another. Thus a response characteristic for the borderline of levels I and II (i.e. an expression of behavior less integrated than I but not as advanced as II) is given a value of 1.5, and response characteristic for the borderline of levels II and III is given a value of 2.5, and so on. In practice, then, we distinguish nine levels: five full levels and four demi-levels.


The data related to the subject’s heredity, environment, and his own role, if any, in his development, are collected in the Inquiry and Initial Assessment of Development. For the purpose of this research the inquiry was carried out after the neurological examination (see Selection of Material).

The Inquiry is followed by the Autobiography, which is divided into response units rated separately. The ratings are given in the margin. The biography is followed by Summary and Conclusions which focus on the developmentally significant responses of the subject. The distribution of ratings across levels is given and a Level Index is derived.

The Verbal Stimuli are treated in the same manner as the Autobiography, although the material and manner of expression are often different.

All the ratings on the responses isolated from the Autobiography and the Verbal Stimuli for each case are presented in a table. This table is a key which enables one to locate every rating of every response 5. The table has three parts. The first part lists all the instances in which a dynamism was identified. The second part lists all the instances in which a form of overexcitability was identified, and the third part, all the instances in which a function was identified.

The table is followed by an analysis of all the ratings that count as developmental dynamisms (this is explained in the section on Dynamisms). The next analysis is devoted to kinds and levels of overexcitability—the basis for evaluating the developmental potential.

Next are the results of intelligence testing and its evaluation according to the WAIS and the positive disintegration criteria. The function of intelligence in development is derived from the biography and Verbal Stimuli. The Neurological Examination is next with its own data and interpretation which is given in the summary. The overall evaluation of development plus its clinical and social aspects are discussed in the final Developmental Assessment.


5 Responses from Verbal Stimuli are underlined.


Introduction 167

At the end of the part a developmental profile of each example is constructed. It includes a brief assessment of the strength of the developmental potential, Level Index, I.Q., and an evaluation of the capacity for developmental transformations.







Material for this part was collected at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, over a three-year period. During this period several tests were developed and revised; some of them were used only in the beginning of the project for initial screening of subject populations.

Two questionnaires, Verbal Items aimed at assessing the present stage of the subject, and Personal Inventory (a type of forced autobiographical questionnaire), were used in the initial stages of investigation as screening procedures for levels of development. Subject populations for these tests numbered 1258 and 1590 respectively. These tests are presently undergoing revision, but were helpful in clarifying the range into which the subjects fell. Subjects were then chosen from various points across this range, and further tests were administered. These tests were: The Neurological Examination, The Verbal Stimuli, and The Autobiography, which, in most cases, the subjects completed at leisure in their homes. The Autobiography pool numbers 81 subjects, the Neurological, 127, and the Verbal Stimuli, 950. Eventually, Verbal Stimuli was administered in group settings as well, with and without time limits. Much of this material is still awaiting analysis.

Two other tests, Faces, and Situations (the former a series of faces of individuals and the letter, groups of individuals), have been administered to subject populations of 576 and 565 respectively; but they have not been included in this part and are also presently in a state of revision.

Subjects sampled included graduate and undergraduate students, firemen, nurses, housewives, members of various religious groups, and patients from a mental hospital. Although the general subject population was broad in terms of age, education and profession, the selection of students, both undergraduate and graduate, for further research, was agreed upon because of the greater ease of data collection. Those who were not students volunteered for research after hearing of the project through other students.

Selection of Subjects and Administration of Tests 169

Initially, some of the subjects responded to the Verbal Stimuli and objective tests as part of their required course work in an undergraduate psychology course. When it was obvious that some of these subjects were of interest because of their more pronounced developmental typology, they were requested to participate in further testing. In some instances, payment was made for time spent writing tests. The subjects were approached in regard to the use of their material for this part. Permission was granted in all cases. Identifying features such as name and places have been disguised; otherwise, except for the correction of spelling and typing errors, the material is offered exactly as it was presented by each subject. Subjects chosen for further research were thus initially screened by the Verbal Items and Personal Inventory tests, followed by the Neurological Examination and the Inquiry. They took home with them the Verbal Stimuli and Autobiography, which they completed and returned by mail. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale was administered after all other testing was completed.

The Autobiography, and Verbal Stimuli were rated independently of other tests. While an effort was made to separate the Inquiry and Neurological in terms of time, because of the fact that this was a personal encounter, absolute independence was impossible. The Neurological was administered first, with a minimum of conversation between subject and examiner, with the subject returning in approximately four weeks for the more detailed Inquiry. Because the examiner was performing the Neurological examination on the other subjects at the same period of time, and interviewing a number of subjects, it was felt that the subject would less likely be recognized when he returned for the Inquiry.

The initial goal of the research was to represent each level of development by the selection of a typical case. Difficulties lay in the following areas:

1. the largest proportion of the population represented the borderline of the first and second level.

2. pure types were practically non-existent, types spanning several levels being much more prevalent.

3. higher level subjects were not easily found, and it is now felt by the researchers that such subjects are not to be found randomly in general population pools. It may be necessary to choose very specific populations (members of helping professions, missionaries, etc.) in this area of the research. For this reason, it was decided to select the case of Saint-Exupéry—a case which provides ample material illustrating the fourth level of development.

Although most responses were written, in one case (no. 2) the responses were tape-recorded. The taping seemed to serve the purpose of keeping the subject going and elaborating on her responses. This method may be more appropriate for those subjects, at all developmental levels, who find it difficult to express themselves in writing. Also, it may well prove applicable to the subjects (often the lower level subjects), who, while they may well be interested in the remuneration of testing, do not wish to apply themselves to the task of many pages of writing.

170 Types and Levels of Development

Individual researchers, after considerable screening, voiced a preference for individual test administration, particularly for the Verbal Stimuli. Croup research, which included the necessity of minimizing personal attention seemed to introduce a lessening of interest on the part of the subjects. This proved detrimental to the quality of the research material.

In summary, the cases for this book were originally chosen through mass screening procedures; they were given the Neurological and the Inquiry in the research offices at approximately a 4 week interval, during which time they wrote their responses to Verbal Stimuli and their Autobiography. Finally, they were administered the intelligence test. Test administration and scoring methods were kept as independent as possible under the circumstances.




As described in the Selection of Subjects and Administration of Tests a serious effort was put forth to make the tests independent of each other.

The Neurological Examination was given first. Then within about a four-week period the subjects wrote their autobiographies and responses to verbal stimuli. They returned for the Inquiry which was conducted by the same person who gave the Neurological Examination. The Inquiry, therefore, is not entirely independent of the neurological examination, but at the same time, it is not used in assigning a numerical value of the level index.

The WAIS test was given independently by another person. Besides this test the intellectual functioning is also evaluated on the basis of the Autobiography and the Verbal Stimuli.

The Autobiography and the Verbal Stimuli were analyzed blind by a different examiner who did not come into contact with the subjects. Ideally these two tests should have been rated by two different examiners. This was not possible because the work presented here constitutes the development of the procedure and its demonstration. From now on it will be possible to have these tests rated independently, or even to use simultaneously several raters for the same material. This presents, of course, an interesting problem. For one thing, there are many, in fact still too many, possible categories (dynamisms and functions). Some of them appear at times more or less interchangeable (e.g. in the case of Saint-Exupéry the categories of cognitive function, intuition, and reality function in several instances are interchangeable; similarly it is not always possible to decide whether subject-object in oneself is more appropriate than hierarchization or inner conflict).

The reasons for this occasional interchangeability are: (a) the content of a response can at times be interpreted in several way, (b) some categories are more closely related (even overlapping) than others, (c) at higher levels of development there is a convergence of expressions of behavior reflecting the trend toward developmental unity.

172 Types and Levels of Development

Another important factor is the length of the essay material. In six out of the seven examples we have isolated between 96 and 182 response units, and correspondingly between 117 and 345 ratings. No person, unless his memory is extraordinary, can be expected to cut that many responses and assign that many ratings identically two times in a row on the same material; so much less two different persons. We believe, however, that the atomization of the material into the smallest possible response units cancels out the effect of these indeterminacies if the number of responses is large enough (we favor a minimum of about 100). The rationale is similar to that for precision of weighing on a two-arm swinging balance. Repeated weighings give a more accurate measure. What we do here is’ take more points on the developmental space of a subject. Perhaps rather than developmental analysis we should call our approach developmental topology.

By following this procedure the precise details of the analysis will vary from rater to rater, but they all should arrive at the same overall value for the level and the type of development for any given subject. But the drawback of the method remain& in that it requires a comprehension and interpretation of the subject’s enunciations.

This difficulty can be reduced by taking the following step. One can create a file of responses for each diagnostic category. Extending the file by material obtained from additional biographies and answers to verbal stimuli, one will arrive at a collection of self-descriptions of behavior characteristic for a given category. The examination of this collection will allow one more directly than a descriptive definition to tie the theoretical construct with a recognizable range of behavior.

The neurological examination was attempted and introduced here in order to open the possibility of an entirely different approach, which rather than supplanting the use of verbal disclosures could become a reliable and independent measure of their value. Perhaps then the preferred minimum of 100 could be reduced. We are fully aware that further development of the Neurological Examination depends on the finding of a greater number of well differentiating items.


The purpose of the Inquiry and Initial Assessment of Development is to make a preliminary evaluation of the subject’s hereditary endowment, environmental

influences during childhood and adolescence, and the autonomous factors of his development. The subject’s present state and background are evaluated to obtain a tentative picture of his level and type of development.

The items of the Inquiry are similar to those found in any initial clinical interview. Yet they enable a tentative diagnosis of development in the context of the theory of positive disintegration because they refer to, and reflect, the presence and extent of developmental influences derived from the tree factors of development and the developmental potential. First factor, or constitutional determi-

Methods 173

nants in the subject’s development, are covered by items 1 and 2. Second factor, or socio-environmental influences, are covered by items 3, 4, and 7. Third factor, or the operation of “own forces,” is offered expression in item 9. The rest of the items (5, 6, 8, 10, 11) touch on the factors already mentioned, but pertain more specifically to the developmental potential, or the manifestation of the different forms of overexcitability, special talents and abilities, and their interrelationships, which give rise to signs of positive disintegration.

Description of the Items

1. Heredity and psychic constitution in the family: incidence of mental illness, mental retardation, psychopathy, alcoholism, drug addiction, and other forms of psychic anomaly in family members. Special traits, talents, abilities, and interests of family members, as may be expressed through professional occupation, hobbies, art, music, etc.

2. The same or similar characteristics in the patient (as above).

3. Familiar situation during childhood and adolescence: perturbations in family structure due to separation or death of family members. Focal point, or dominant member(s) of family structure—father, mother, parents, or children. Family atmosphere—was there love in the family with respect and concern for the interests of all, or was there hate, fear, indifference, ineptitude or contempt among family members?

4. Education and school environment: did learning for the most part occur under strained or insecure conditions, or under conditions of security and openness? Were teachers predominantly authoritarian and insensitive to the personal interests and abilities of the subject, or were teachers understanding, attending to the subject’s interests while cultivating his abilities? Did teachers present strong, weak, or poor moral influence?

5. Puberty: incidence of psychoneurotic symptoms, suicidal tendencies, drug addiction, etc.; expressions (evidence) of creativity, self-awareness, strong emotional ties, etc.

6. Interests and talents: special interests and abilities, creative pursuits.

7. Marital-familial life: nature of the relationships with spouse and children. Family atmosphere—subordination, individuality, conflict, coexistence, active concern, etc. Nature of the role of husband (father) and of the wife (mother) in marriage and the family.

8. Psychopathological symptoms: disturbances of reality functioning such as disorientation in time and space, and in relation to himself; suspicions; delusions of grandeur and persecution; illusions and hallucinations; severe obsessions; indications of personality splitting.

174 Types and Levels of Development

9. Does the subject see anything pathological in himself?

10. Signs of positive disintegration: nervousness (kinds and levels of overexcitability), symptoms of neuroses and psychoneuroses, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, obsessions, tics, hyperkineses, emotional crises, self-criticism and self-evaluation, self-awareness, feeling of shame and guilt, positive maladjustment, creativity, empathy, etc.

11. General appearance: physical bearing—facial expressions, gesticulation; conduct and attitude of the subject toward the examiner; forms of excitability and inhibition; traits of psychological type-introvert, extrovert, etc.

12. Tentative assessment of type and level of development: integration or disintegration; normal, one-sided or accelerated development; approximate level of emotional development.


Nature and Purpose of the Test. As a psychological measure, the Autobiography serves to probe and bring to surface information regarding emotional attitudes an individual has toward himself and others. Our basic assumption is that the expression of these attitudes reflects the level of the individual’s emotional development. The content of each expression (response) is a guide to identifying a given function or dynamism.

The functions are behavioral expressions and, therefore, not particularly difficult to recognize in the material. The dynamisms are the moving forces of development postulated by the theory of positive disintegration. The dynamisms shape the functions, i.e. the expression of behavior, and because of this are of greater diagnostic significance. For this reason the first attempt in rating a response is to identify a dynamism, and if that fails, the response is rated as a function. The forms of overexcitability are rated in each response separately.

Besides giving information regarding an individual’s attitudes toward himself and others, the Autobiography reflects to some extent his developmental history and his psychological type (forms of psychic overexcitability, if present, extraversion-introversion, etc.). This information is used in assessing his developmental potential. Consequently it helps in determining whether the possibility of transcending his particular type and level of development exists.

Procedure. Subjects are given the following request:

Please, describe on 6-8 (or more) typewritten (or handwritten) pages your personal history from childhood till the present. Concentrate especially on the sad and joyous experiences that you can remember, as well as your thoughts, reflections, dreams and fantasies associated

Methods 175

with them. Include your emotional relationships to parents, siblings, etc. Describe your most prominent or important (positive or negative) personality traits.

The autobiographies are written by the subjects at home at their own convenience. The autobiography is used in its entirety, unedited, except for spelling and typing errors.

The material of the autobiography is divided into responses. A response is the smallest amount of material (a sentence or a paragraph) which can be evaluated independently of the rest of the text. Each response thus becomes, as closely as possible, a separate measurement.

A response is evaluated in the following manner: (1) what dynamisms or functions does it represent, if any; (2) what developmental level of a given dynamism or function does it represent; (3) what kind(s) of overexcitability does it represent, if any. Although it would be possible to give separate level ratings to each dynamism, function, or form of overexcitability, we have limited ourselves, for practical reasons, to only one level index for each response. If there is more than one dynamism, function, or overexcitability detected in a given response, then each is given the value of the level of the response. The separate categories (i.e. dynamisms, functions, or overexcitabilities) that can be detected in a given response we call ratings. For example, in a biography in which 100 responses have been isolated, there can be 100 or more ratings.

In most cases we have tried to explain the level assignment and the particular rating. In other instances, the justification can be found by reference to Part 1. The ratings identified in the biography are collected in a table according to the level they represent. From these data is derived a Level Index. To obtain the level index the number of responses in each level category is multiplied by the numerical value of the level: 1.0 for level I, 1.5 for the borderline of levels I and 11, 2.0 for level II, etc. The sum of these values is divided by the number of the ratings to give the level index.

The level index shows only the average level of emotional functioning of a given individual. It does not indicate the extent or the direction (integration or disintegration) of his developmental process.

The ratings are also enumerated in the Table of Level Assignments of Biography and Verbal Stimuli Responses. This table consists of a list of developmental dynamisms, functions, and overexcitabilities as described in Part 1.

The responses are numbered in sequence. The sequence number of a response is given in the superscript to its level indication. Every rating obtained within a response is identified by the same number and the same level indication. The content of each response can thus be quickly found to illustrate the identified function.

Positive and Negative Aspects of the Autobiography Test. We make the assumption that the subject cannot present himself through his autobiography at

176 Types and Levels of Development

a level higher than his actual level of development. Nevertheless, the possibility exists that he would not furnish the information revealing more primitive forms of his behavior.

Individuals with tendencies toward fantasizing, confabulation, or pathological lying often falsify or distort aspects of their life histories. But, such falsification may be detectable (from internal inconsistencies and comparisons with other tests) and distinguishable from truthful material. The very fact of detecting falsification and its nature can be very informative with respect to the subject’s personality and development. An important distinction, particularly meaningful in the light of the theory, with implications for the subject, is the difference between: (1) falsification of self to others, and (2) falsification of self to self. In the material studied so far we have not met with this problem.

Some individuals with extremely high internal tension cannot express themselves well, or not at all. Although in these cases the biographies are often brief and oblique, they are still very helpful. Such biographies frequently reflect profound and well differentiated signs of morbidity, particularly in paranoiac. and psychopathic conditions. This problem is more serious with respect to the Verbal Stimuli test, where the response is more likely to be artificial than in recounting the story of one’s life.

In the senior author’s experience it has been found that falsification is minimized when the attitude of the examiner towards the subject is appropriately helpful and kind. Out of a good relationship emerges sincerity in the subject and trust between him and the examiner. The best approach and relationship give the best autobiography. In general, individuals sincerely seeking help, especially nervous and psychoneurotic individuals give reasonably objective and extensive autobiographies.

There may be some legitimate apprehension regarding the use of the autobiography as a psychological measure. An autobiography is decidedly subjective. Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that content, in terms of factual information, is in itself not very important. What is important is the detection of the developmental dynamisms and of forms of psychic overexcitability. With this in view, the autobiography is particularly well suited to the theory. For example, the individual is asked to reflect upon and recount what has been most important to him. This task demands of him to “stand outside of himself.” How he does this and how well he does it gives, perhaps, the most complete and direct indication of those processes involved in the “division of subject-object of oneself,” inner psychic transformation, inner conflict, etc. It is these processes and other related dynamisms which are the key diagnostic measures of emotional development.

It should be remembered, finally, that the autobiography is only one in a battery of tests, the results of all of which are necessary for a complete picture and assessment of development.

Methods 177


Nature and Purpose of the Test. The difference between the Autobiography and this test lies in the nature of the stimulus. In the biography the subject tells his life story as he sees it and as he is willing to present it to others. Here the subject responds to specific stimuli which direct him to areas of experience, or concepts, which are of high diagnostic value in our developmental analysis. These stimuli elicit responses allowing a fairly clear differentiation of emotional attitudes, or their absence, toward basic facts of human experience.

This test usually produces more material than when it follows the autobiography. The only exception is example no. 2 (#350) where the responses were taped. Taping appears of advantage in testing procedures where stimuli are introduced at various intervals.

Procedure. Subjects are given the following request:

Please describe freely in relation to each word listed below your emotional associations and experiences. Use as much space as you feel you need.

Great sadness Nervousness

Great JOY Inhibition

Death Inner conflict

Uncertainty Ideal

Solitude and Loneliness Success

Suicide Immortality

The responses are written either at home at the subject’s convenience or in the classroom when the test is given to a whole group. In such cases the list is shorter and includes only

Great sadness Suicide

Great joy Inner conflict

Death Ideal

Solitude and Loneliness Success

The list used in the initial stages of our research was a little different. Case 3 (#406) shows the responses to this early list. In place of Uncertainty there was Anxiety. In place of Solitude and Loneliness was Solitude. While Ideal and Success were absent, Irony was included as another stimulus.

The procedure for identifying the responses, evaluating and rating them is the same as for the Autobiography.

We give below several examples of different levels of Sadness and Inner conflict.

178 Types and Levels of Development

Great Sadness


Level I: “Such thoughts as losing parental respect come to mind. Another thought is the inability to attain self-made goals in life.” (Example 1, no. 28 and 29)

We note external orientation and absence of reflection. In fact, the absence of sadness.

Level II: “Sadness, great sadness, has a connotation of utter helplessness-all being dark and no light to be seen anywhere. Sad is truly a darkish grey word.” (Example 3, no. 98)

The subject’s orientation is internal and there is reflection, but no possibility of resolution (psychic immobilization).

Level III: “Sometimes I can experience great sadness in my children when, for instance, one is tired and hurt by one of the family looking then as if the unhappiness of the moment never would go away.” (Example 3, no. 99)

We observe not only an internal orientation and reflection but also empathy and identification with others (alterocentric orientation).

Level IV: We do not have an example in the material presented here. Sadness can be experienced as a consequence of feeling distant from one’s ideal.

Level V: “Protected, sheltered, cultivated, what could not this child become? It is the sight, a little bit in all these men, of Mozart murdered.” (Example 7, no. 90)

Here sadness is an expression of the highest empathy.

Inner Conflict

Level I: “I rarely think of inner conflict in relation to myself.” (Example 1, no. 42)

“Hardly ever (experience inner conflict) because I know what I want to do and anything anything that conflicts with that I get rid of or get out of the way somehow, even if it’s something that I would want to do. … I’m always happier for being able to make a decision like that. Whereas a lot of people can't make these decisions and that’s why they suffer.” (Example 2, no. 72)

Absence of and rejection of inner conflict.

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Level II: “Perhaps I can say that, though at times I feel I am a person who would like to be truly happy, joyful, I do find myself attracted by opposites: the light and the dark.” (Example 3, no. 107, see also no. 104)

The forces of conflict are of equal strength and of equal value (hence of one level).

Level III: “1 argue with myself whether or not life is worth living, or if life has any point to it.” (Example 5, no. 148)

This level is characterized by the distinction of “what is” from “what ought to be,” hence the existential question of the value of life.

Level IV: “Here one is far from the hate mill, but notwithstanding the kindness of the squadron, I suffer from a certain human impoverishment. 1 never have anyone to talk to, which is already something. I have people to live with, but what spiritual solitude!.” (Example 7, no. 88)

This level signals the approach of secondary integration and is ex-pressed as a trend toward inner unity, hence spiritual concerns.


The diagnostic significance of the dynamisms of positive disintegration is described in Part 1. Here we describe the procedure for analyzing the data obtained from Autobiography and Verbal Stimuli.

Every response unit that is isolated in the Autobiography or the V.S. is scrutinized for the dynamism or several dynamisms it may reveal. If none can be identified we try to match the response with a function most closely corresponding to what is expressed in the response.

The dynamisms are organized into four groups corresponding to the diagram in Figure 1 of Part 1. Three of these groups correspond to Levels IV, III, and II. The fourth group is called category C. Level I, being that of Primary Integration, does not have characteristic dynamisms because, by definition, very little development occurs here. Positive disintegration begins with the loosening and breaking of this structure—the transition to Level II.

Level I is identified by the total absence of developmental dynamisms, by external conflict, rejection or absence of inner conflict, primitive temperamental syntony, and the disposing and directing center united with egocentric drives. The primitive expressions of behavior are described in Part 1 in the Level I category for every function.

The criteria for counting a response as a dynamism are as follows. We assign a value to each level: 4.0 to Level IV, 3.0 to Level III, and so on, and a middle

180 Types and Levels of Development

value for each demi-level: 3.5 for the borderline of Levels III and IV, 2.5 for the borderline of Levels II and III, and so on.

The dynamisms of positive disintegration do not appear at a given level like deus ez machina. They appear earlier at lower levels as precursor manifestations. This is illustrated in the diagram (Figure 1, Part 1) where we tried to reflect this course of events by the spindle-shaped contours for each dynamisms. The value assigned to these manifestations is thus lower than the proper level value for a given dynamism. Thus we occasionally note the manifestation of Inner psychic transformation (Level IV) at the borderline of Levels II and 111, and accordingly assign it a value of 2.5. This, however, is not counted as the activity of the dynamism. It is only a precursor manifestation.

The transition from one level to another requires that the dynamisms be present and active in something more than a precursor form. We assign such manifestations a value 0.5 lower than the full level value and count them as an instance of the activity of a given dynamism. For example, Dissatisfaction with oneself is a distinctly multilevel process denoting an experience of higher and lower values: ‘what one is’ against ‘what one feels one ought to be’ (or what one ought to have done). It is a departure from the unilevel process of “everything goes,” or “black and white are equally attractive.” For this reason even the earliest manifestation of dissatisfaction with oneself cannot be rated lower than 2.5. When the experience is more conscious and more elaborated we assign it values of 3.0 or even 3.5.

In short, we count as dynamisms of positive disintegration at Level II all those manifestations which are rated at least 1.5, at Level III, all those which are at least 2.5, at Level IV all those which are at least 3.5.

The mid-values are supposed to indicate that the dynamisms begin to be present and active, and that the transition from one level to another is in progress. The clearest examples of this are subjects no. 4 and no. 6, one illustrating the transition from Level II to III, the other from Level III to IV.

In category C we have put together a group of dynamisms which, by themselves, do not characterize any particular level but can be expressed over a wide range of levels. To reflect their different developmental significance and somewhat different levels at which they begin to manifest, we have assigned them different minimum values. Thus, Identification and Syntony must have a minimum value of 2.0 to be counted as dynamisms, Creative instinct, Inner conflict and External conflict a minimum value of 2.5, and Self-perfection, Empathy, and Disposing and Directing Center, a minimum value of 3.0.

This leaves us with the peculiarities of subject-object in oneself. In its full form this is a dynamism of Level IV. In our study of the material presented here we had to assign some value to introspection, reflection, etc. Rather than create separate categories we counted them all under subject-object in oneself as its preliminary manifestations. We assign a value of 2.0 to introspection without self-evaluation, a value of 2.5 to introspection with some self-evaluation, and a value of 3.0 and

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higher if the self-evaluation is used for self-correction (i.e. at the point when the introspective process serves development and as such becomes one of its dynamic factors). Thus the minimum value for counting subject-object in oneself as a dynamism is 3.0 rather than 3.5.


The importance of different forms of overexcitability as the components of the developmental potential was discussed in the Introduction. Here we describe the identification and rating of overexcitability.

The Autobiography and Verbal Stimuli are read first in order to isolate response units and identify dynamisms ‘and functions. The manifestations of the five forms of psychic overexcitability are identified in a separate reading of the material.

The identification of overexcitability is easiest at a younger age (i.e. in memories of childhood and adolescence) and at lower developmental levels. As the development and age advance overexcitabilities are differentiated into dynamisms and higher levels of functions, and are masked by greater complexity of experience.

At this stage of our research we assign the level value of a given response to whatever is identified in it (dynamism, function, overexcitability). The possibility exists of assigning individual level values to different forms of overexcitability contributing to one response. For instance, an adolescent recalls how he planned a detailed strategy of snowball fights to give victory to his class and to make a friend of his happy. We could give this response a rating of 1.0 or 1.5 for psychomotor and intellectual overexcitability (planning action and solving problems in the service of aggression), 2.0 for imaginational overexcitability (visualizing the scene), and 2.5 for emotional overexcitability (friendship rather than partnership for mutual profit). Such refinement, even if it could be justified in each instance, would require more effort than is useful.

The ratings for overexcitability are collected in a table according to kind (P, S, E, Im, Int) and to level. This table, cumulative for the Autobiography and the V.S., gives an approximate (but probably accurate) picture of strength of different forms of overexcitability at different levels. For instance, the subject no. 4 shows most of the manifestations of overexcitability at Level II and II-III; however, psychomotor and sensual overexcitability appear much less frequent, in comparison with other forms, at Level II-III than at II. This may be interpreted to mean that these forms of overexcitability, being developmentally less valuable, lag behind the other forms. But it may also mean that we detect less reliably higher manifestations of these forms of overexcitability.

The only form of overexcitability that appears to be consistently poorly detected is sensual overexcitability. It seems that verbal self-description does not lead one to explore this, area of experience unless it is unusually strong. However, the Neurological Examination has several items (e.g. cutaneous sensitivity, ab-

182 Types and Levels of Development

dominal reflex) which give a qualitative assessment of the presence and strength of sensual overexcitability. The Neurological Examination also detects emotional overexcitability well.

Psychic overexcitability is an enhanced manner of responding to external and internal stimuli. The five forms of overexcitability have different significance for development. Each form may appear in a given individual in a developmentally strong or weak variant.

In our Example no. I (Primary Integration), we do not observe any significant amount of overexcitability. In no. 2 we see a small amount of emotional and more of psychomotor, which is dominant. This does not strongly favor development. In no. 3 we see fairly strong emotional and imaginational overexcitability. The development does not appear to advance more intensely because the emotional form seems to be more egocentric than alterocentric, i.e. it does not involve a strong measure of deeply experienced relationships with others, nor a strong need of service to others. By way of contrast, in no. 5 we observe an enormous power of alterocentric emotional overexcitability combined with fairly strong psychomotor, but little of any other form. No. 6 appears to have a similar pattern but imaginational and intellectual forms are fairly strong and counterbalance the tensions created by the emotional and the psychomotor.

In no. 4 we have the richest combination of all five forms with the emotional, intellectual and imaginational being the strongest. This combination is similar to that of Saint-Exupéry.

Developmental thrust is generated by interactions between different forms of overexcitability. In the material presented here we have observed on occasion interesting conjunction of different forms of overexcitability, for instance emotional-intellectual or imaginational-psychomotor. Such conjunctions arising from the blending of different forms add to the richness of the individual’s development.

The achievement of higher levels of development seems to depend on the particular strength of emotional overexcitability. It seems that the highest level of development is possible only if in the constellation of all five forms the emotional is the strongest.


For the purposes of our research intelligence was evaluated using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. In addition, the material contained in the Autobiography and the Verbal Stimuli was used for an evaluation of the role of intelligence in development. In this case we were looking at intellectual functioning in relation to emotional development. Here caution: intellectual overexcitability should not be confused with intellectual functioning and intelligence. Under the term intellectual overexcitability we put those forms of enhanced reactivity which are expressed in logical and causal cognition focused on finding answers to probing questions.

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The broader theoretical subject of the interpretation of intelligence from the standpoint of the theory of positive disintegration is treated in Part 1.

The subjects studied in this research cover a wide range illustrating the role of intelligence in development.

In Example no. 1 (Primary Integration) we observe fairly high intelligence. It is used as an instrument for satisfying basic needs and drives (e.g. the choice of teaching in view of the advantage of long vacations). This subject’s intelligence neither serves nor promotes development. In Example no. 2 (Partial Disintegration and Integration) we observe not too different a picture, although the intelligence does serve occasionally the function of reflection and self-observation, and of taking other people into account.

In Example no. 3 intelligence is combined with imagination, introspection, and reflection—the precursors of subject-object in oneself. The dynamism itself is active too. There is also a strong creative element (art and poetry). It begins to aid developmental transformation. Here intelligence is distinctly in the service of creativeness and development. It is enriched by all five forms of psychic overexcitability. It is manifest in numerous precursor activities of subject-object in oneself such as introspection, observation of oneself and others, but the dynamism itself begins to be active too. Intelligence is also active in the manifestation of all other dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration.

In Example no. 5 intelligence lags behind development. It is insufficient to provide the subject with enough of a field to match his excessively intense emotional process. Unfortunately it is not creative, and for this reason could not absorb, or balance, some of the excess tension.

In Example no. 6 intelligence is very much in the service of development and it is creative. It is enriched by imaginational and intellectual overexcitability. It strongly contributes to subject-object in oneself and to autopsychotherapy. And in Saint-Exupéry intelligence is already in the pursuit of the final synthesis. We observe integral perceptions and preoccupation with the hidden yet more fundamental dimension of reality.


Purpose and assumption

The purpose of the neurological examination is to obtain a global impression of the nervous and psychic activity of the subject. The presence and extent of various reflexes and forms of reactivity involving the voluntary and autonomic systems are investigated. Other manifestations of nervous activity, such as trembling of the hands and the eyelids, and the coordination of bodily movements, are observed and evaluated. These reactions are given context and qualified by the general conduct of the subject during the examination. Of

184 Types and Levels of Development

great importance is the subject’s responsiveness to his own nervous reactions, to the requirements of the examination, and to the examiner.

It is assumed that the subject’s nervous reactions and his behavior during the neurological examination are outward expressions of the structure and activity of his inner psychic milieu. As the psychic activity of more highly developed individuals differs markedly from that of persons less developed, so, it is assumed, the nervous activity of those more highly developed may be distinguished from that of those less developed.

Types of Observable Nervous and Psychic Activity

The Neurological Examination focuses primarily upon identifying and assessing (a) forms of nervous overexcitability, (b) forms of nervous inhibition, and (c) indications of conscious control of excitation and inhibition, as follows:

(a) Overexcitability expresses developmental potential. Psychomotor overexcitability is usually reflected in exaggerated muscular reflexes. Sensual overexcitability may be reflected in cutaneous hypersensitivity. Emotional overexcitability is often reflected in increased reactivity of the autonomic system (as in hyper-thyroidism, or arhythmia during the oculocardiac reflex).

(b) Inhibition usually gives rise to and accompanies tension—or a build-up of nervous energy. Tension forces the loosening and disintegration of simpler psychic structures, necessary for transformation and elaboration of more complex psychic structures. Inhibition and tension may be evidenced in muscular reflexes. Even when reflexes are forcefully strong, they may be of short duration, evidencing inhibition (e.g. when the stimulated member, as the lower leg in the patellar reflex, returns very quickly to its normal position). Inhibition and tension may be observed in strong trembling of the eyelids and of the hands. Motoric restlessness and fatigue, expressed in the bodily movements and posture of the subject, are also indications of inhibition and tension.

(c) Conscious control of excitation and inhibition indicates a complexity of psychic structure which reveals that some transformation and elaboration has already occurred. Conscious control may also indicate the ability of the subject to properly channel an utilize his nervous and psychic energy to further his own development. Subjects with conscious control of excitation and inhibition are alert an attentive, but relaxed. They display general psychic overexcitability, and relatively strong inhibition, but without impulsiveness, restlessness, or fatigue. During the examination they show interest in their own nervous reactions. But they are not startled, disturbed, or otherwise made uncomfortable by their reactions. Their bodily movements are usually well coordinated and directed by thoughtful anticipation of the requirements of the examination. Subjects with conscious control are able to establish and maintain close psychic contact with the examiner. This is evidenced by increased eye contact with the examiner, and by their responsiveness to subtle cues—they are often able to anticipate the ex-

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pectancies of the examiner. The Neurological Examination for such subjects is an empathic relationship, an endeavor of collaboration.

Procedure and Interpretation

Most of the forms of nervous reactivity covered in the Neurological Examination are common and familiar. However, the procedure for evoking some of the reactions, and the interpretation of many of the reactions differs, or takes on new meaning, in the framework of the theory of positive disintegration. The two instances described below serve to demonstrate and exemplify our orientation.

(The patellar reflex) The patellar reflex is elicited three times. It is elicited at first in the usual manner (tapping the patellar tendon while the legs are crossed) to check the magnitude and duration of the response. Next, the subject is asked to look away (at the ceiling, or out of the window, etc.) raise his arms, clench his fists, and tense his muscles from the waist up—at which time the reflex is elicited again. These conditions disinhibit the reflex so that its magnitude and duration increase. The greater the difference between the first and second elicitations of the patellar reflex, the more nervous inhibition is present in the subject. The last elicitation occurs under the same conditions as the second, except the subject is asked to watch his knee while it is being stimulated. This final elicitation usually brings a response smaller than the second but greater than the first. This elicitation shows the effect of disinhibition with attention, and to some extent, conscious control over the reflex.

(Waxy flexibility) Usually, after a subject’s arm is extended horizontally in the air by the examiner, he lets it drop, or brings his arm back down to his side immediately. This has traditionally been considered the normal response, while leaving the arm extended for a period of time after it has been moved by the examiner has been considered pathological—a sign of psychic spasticity or immobility. Leaving the arm extended after it has been moved by the examiner is not considered pathological here. Rather, such a response is indicative of inhibition and suggestibility—both developmentally positive traits. Often the extended arm is maintained by the subject in passive arrest. Occasionally, however, a subject will show hesitation while his arm is extended, expressing an attempt to discern the examiner’s expectancies in order to appropriately comply. The peculiar circumstance of having the arm extended by the examiner without his providing any verbal or other cues as to what the subject should do, serves to distinguish between (a) subjects who are inattentive and show little or no concern for the examination and the examiner, (b) subjects who are inhibited and highly suggestible, but show little or no conscious control, and (c) attentive subjects who look for more subtle cues, who show conscious control, and who attempt to discern and comply with the wishes of the examiner.

186 Types and Levels of Development

Relationships Between Overexcitability,

Inhibition, and Conscious Control

When overexcitability (usually confined to psychomotor and sensual) distinctly dominates nervous activity, such that there is little or no inhibition or no conscious control, the indication is Level I. When overexcitability (usually including emotional) is accompanied by inhibition, but without conscious control, the indication is Level II. When inhibition distinctly dominates nervous activity giving rise to great and pervasive tension, but with little or no conscious control, the indication is the borderline between Levels II and III. When overexcitability and strong inhibition appear concurrently or simultaneously, with some conscious control, the indication is Level III. The distinct predominance of conscious control, in the presence of overexcitability and inhibition, indicates the borderline between Levels III and IV, or higher.

The five forms of overexcitability are ordered in terms of increasing importance for development: psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational, emotional. In particular cases, it is necessary to know the forms and extent of overexcitability. For example, even when overexcitability pervasively dominates over inhibition, if emotional overexcitability is present, the level diagnosis is higher. The kind and form of inhibition is also important in particular cases, for example, uniform and indiscriminate inhibition of all forms of overexcitability including higher forms, is less positive than selective inhibition of lower forms, which shows some conscious control.

Psychosomatic vs. Somatopsychic Manifestations

Psychosomatic and somatopsychic disturbances both result from strong inhibition and tension. But, they differ in that psychosomatic manifestations reflect the channeling of excess nervous tension in ways which produce psychic elaboration or growth of the inner psychic milieu; whereas, somatopsychic manifestations reflect the buildup and release of excess nervous tension in ways which produce specific somatic symptoms and forms of organ neurosis.

Diagnosis of level of development and assessment of the direction of development is assisted to by the identification and differentiation of symptoms more somatic from symptoms more psychic. For example, with severe obsessions, when tension is released psychomotorically through tics or other largely unconscious compulsive behavior, the indication is of lower level than when such obsessions manifest through emotional and intellectual functioning (such as moral obsessions concerning responsibility for others or creative obsessions involving discovery of means to express perfectly)—on this basis a distinction between Levels II and III can be made.

When there are no clear indications of the presence of psychosomatic or somatopsychic disturbances, tentative assessment can be made according to whether nervous overexcitability and inhibition is localized in particular areas, or is more

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pervasive and global, affecting many functions. When nervous activity and tension is confined to release through psychomotor and sensual functioning, the possibility of psychic development is extremely low, and, the likelihood of eventual somatic disturbance is high. But, if nervous activity and tension is more expansive, such that nervous energy may also be expressed through imagination, intellect, and emotion, the likelihood of psychic elaboration, and hence further development is greatly increased.

Items of the Neurological Examination and Diagnosis of Levels

1. Trembling of eyelids, frequency of eye closing, and tension while closing eyes

a. Trembling of eyelids:

-No trembling, or very feeble trembling-Level I.

-Strong trembling, without indications of conscious control-Levels II and III.

-Trembling, with conscious control-Levels III and IV.

b. Frequency of eye closing:

-Very infrequent-usually Level I

-Frequent and strong eye closing, with tension and fatigue-Levels II and III.

-Frequent eye closing with conscious control-Levels III and IV.

c. Tension while closing eyes:

-No tension-usually Level I.

-Extreme tension, with fatigue-Level II and III.

-Moderate tension with conscious control-Levels III and IV.

2. Pupillary activity

-Pronounced dilation, pronounced contraction, or frequent alternation-Levels II and III.

-The above symptoms, with conscious control-Levels III and IV.

3. Oculocardiac reflex

-Normal oculocardiac reflex, with no signs of emotional overexcitability-usually Level I.

-Sympathetic or parasympathetic dominance-Level II.

-Distinct functional arhythmia-Levels II and III.

-Moderate manifestation of the above symptoms, with conscious control of emotional overexcitability-Levels III and IV.

4. Chwostek reflex and Thyroid a. Chwostek reflex:

-Positive Chwostek-Level II.

-Positive Chwostek, with signs of emotional overexcitability-Levels II and III.

188 Types and Levels of Development

-Positive Chwostek, with signs of emotional overexcitability and conscious control-Levels III and IV.

b. Thyroid:

-Signs of hyperactive thyroid-Levels II and III.

-Signs of hyperactive thyroid, with conscious control of emotional overexcitability-Levels III and IV.

5. Palatal and Pharyngeal reflexes a. Palatal reflex:

-Pronounced palatal reflex-Level II.

b. Pharyngeal reflex:

-Pronounced pharyngeal reflex-Level II.

6. Trembling of the hands.

-Little or no trembling-usually Level I.

-Exaggerated trembling of the hands, with little or no signs of conscious control-Level II and III.

-Moderate or pronounced hand trembling, with signs of conscious control-Level III and IV.

7. Coordination of movements

-Good coordination, no signs of inhibition or tension-Level I.

-Good coordination with some inhibition Level II.

-Poor coordination, with increased inhibition and strong tension-Levels II and III.

-Relatively good coordination, but with distinct inhibition and conscious control-Levels III and IV.

8. Muscular reflexes

-Normal reflex, or exaggerated reflexes with no inhibition-Level I.

-Exaggerated reflexes immediately followed by strong inhibition-Level II.

-Exaggerated reflexes, accompanied by strong inhibition, occasionally followed by reflection-Level III.

-Conscious control of muscular reflexes-Level IV.

9. Abdominal and Testicular reflexes

-Exaggerated reflexes, and enlargement of the area sensitive to stimulation (when not accompanied by other forms of overexcitability)-Level I.

-Exaggerated reflexes, accompanied by other forms of overexcitability (e.g. emotional)-Levels II.

-Decreased abdominal and testicular reflexes, accompanied by other forms of overexcitability-Levels II and III.

-Fairly great diminution of these reflexes, with clear signs of conscious control -Levels III and IV.

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10. Inhibition of reflexes

-No inhibition-Level I.

-Generalized inhibition, or uniform inhibition with no selectivity-Level II.

-Very strong inhibition accompanied by great tension-Levels II and III.

-Extensive but selective inhibition which prevails over excitation through conscious control-Levels III and IV.

11. Dermographia

-Pronounced dermographia, together with other symptoms of somatic neurosis-usually Level II.

12. Waxy flexibility

-No signs (without hesitation, the subject brings his arm back down to his side immediately after it has been extended by the examiner)-Level I.

-Long and passive arrest of the arm after it has been extended-Level II.

-Maintenance of the extended arm, with hesitation, and attentiveness to the examiner’s expectancies-Levels III and IV.

13. Cutaneous sensitivity

-Great generalized, or localized cutaneous sensitivity-usually Level II.

-Great generalized sensitivity together with emotional excitability-Levels II and III.

14. Subtleties of expression (face and gestures), and demeanor (inhibition, speed of response, timidity, self-control)

-Open and easy, or impulsive or aggressive demeanor, with no signs of inhibition or subtlety-Level I.

-Ambivalent demeanor displaying hesitation and uncertainty, without reflectivity-Level II.

-Demeanor of restraint with reflectivity, and attentiveness toward the examiner and the conditions of the examination-Level III.

-Subtle and calm sensitivity and receptivity, with conscious control of expression and distinct signs of empathy-Level III and IV.

Grouping of the Items

To facilitate an understanding of how the Neurological Examination (NE) enables a tentative diagnosis of developmental level, the items of the NE may be grouped under three main headings which refer to the kinds of information used when assessing development. Information from a single item, or a single group is not sufficient for making a level diagnosis because information from particular items and particular groups is qualified and given context by information from the others. Information from as many items as possible, and from all groups, is necessary to form a global impression of the subject’s nervous and psychic activity.

190 Types and Levels of Development

One group includes items involving procedures which enable the observation of general psychic overexcitability, as well particular forms of overexcitability (e.g. psychomotor, sensual, and emotional). Included in this group are:

1. Trembling of eyelids, frequency of eye closing and tension while closing eyes.

2. Pupillary activity

4. Chwostek reflex and Thyroid

6. Trembling of the hands

13. Cutaneous sensitivity

The next group includes items which demonstrate hierarchization of nervous and psychic activity. Items in this group involve procedures capable of evoking distinctly different responses which correspond to different levels of development. Included in this group are:

3. Oculocardiac reflex

8. Muscular reflexes

12. Waxy flexibility

Another group concerns forms of somatic neurosis as distinguished from symptoms of psychoneurosis. Included in this group are:

5. Palatal and Pharyngeal reflexes

9. Abdominal and testicular reflexes

11. Dermographia

Conclusion. The Neurological Examination presented here is an elaborated version of an earlier NE which has always been given in the past. Prior to the present elaboration, the NE served as an aid in diagnosis by determining the presence or absence of gross organic dysfunction, and by enabling the identification of tendencies toward specific forms of somatization. But the NE has never been an adequate independent measure of development.

The present NE is the result of recent attempts to formulate and clarify a feasible and relatively precise measure of developmental level. It is hoped that the NE may eventually become a valid independent measure of development, but this hope remains far from realized. Much obviously remains to be done with respect to the elaboration of specific procedures, as well as the clarification of specific interpretations before this NE may be utilized reliably by other professionals. Furthermore, results of the NE, in the form presented here, have been systematically related to results from other measures on only six cases (those which appear in Emotional and Instinctive Functions, Part II)

It must therefore be emphasized that this NE is still in the preliminary stages of elaboration. Even though the NE presented here gives more complete and precise information than the earlier version, results obtained through use of the present NE must be considered as approximate and tentative.




The type and level of development is established on the basis of the analysis of dynamisms and forms of overexcitability. This gives us the theoretical picture of the subject’s development. From the clinical point of view this theoretical picture needs to be translated into the practical terms of a program of the subject’s further development. From the social point of view it needs to be translated into the context of the subject’s milieus: family, school, work, etc.


The Synthesis is the first part of the final Developmental Assessment. It is designed to give a general view of the subject’s development on the basis of all the information produced by each of the methods used. Individual aspects of the subject’s behavior and development are also brought into view.


The processes of positive disintegration often produce conditions classified by a variety of psychiatric categories. Our task is to discern in these conditions, if they arise, their developmentally positive and negative aspects. We are not concerned with the removal and treatment of these conditions, because for the most part we consider them inevitable and necessary in development. Rather, we see our task as showing their developmental nature and thereby enabling the subject to take a more active part in his development. This theme is more fully treated elsewhere (Dąbrowski, 1967; Dąbrowski, 1972).

192 Types and Levels of Development


The prognosis of development is based on the type and level of the subject’s development, and on the likelihood of his willingness to take active and conscious part in his own development. The latter may occur through psychotherapy or counseling, and at a higher level of development, through autopsychotherapy and education-of-oneself.


Since the task of the Clinical Diagnosis is to discern developmentally positive and negative aspects of emotional disturbance, it is the task of therapy to make this discernment work. The task is not easy when one deals with unilevel disintegration (Level II) because the subject either does not consciously experience his development, or does so only to a limited degree. Mental disorders associated with this level of development are often severe and chronic because there is no transition from unilevel to multilevel disintegration (cf. Dąbrowski, 1972, Chapter 8).

When multilevel factors begin to play a significant part in development the use of developmental diagnosis in therapy becomes effective. It may constitute 40 to 50 percent of the therapy, the basic idea being to guide the client from psychotherapy to autopsychotherapy and education-of-himself. It is the task of the guide to introduce the client to the process of differentiating positive and negative aspects of depression, anxiety, obsessions, etc. Then the client, with the help of his guide, can discover the positive side of his own depression, anxiety, obsession, etc.

The detailed developmental analysis demonstrated here can be carried out in every case if the client is willing. By understanding the dynamics of his own development a person can take more active and more conscious part in it—he can take it in “his own hands.” If the theoretical constructs of the theory are well translated into everyday activities and experiences of the client, then success will follow. The client’s creative pursuits, whether attempted for the first time, or more strongly developed, are very important in this process. They help the client to evaluate his successful and unsuccessful attempts to develop him-self.

With the progressing realization of his personal growth he will have less need for visits to his guide as a professional but more and more as a friendly exchange of experience and counsel. This theme has been elaborated elsewhere (Dąbrowski, 1967; Dąbrowski, 1972).

Developmental Assessment 193


In this section of the Developmental Assessment we look at the subject in relation to his social milieu, and at the relation of the milieu to the subject. Our goal is to determine to what extent these relations are beneficial or harmful both to the individual and to his milieu.

In the case of individuals on a low level of development (particularly Level I) the harm to the milieu is quite possible. In the extreme case such individuals are psychopaths and sociopaths. Often they are valued for their intelligence, social skill, decisiveness, and leadership ability. These qualities arise not from conscious desire to serve and benefit others, but from the use of others to further their own narrow egocentric aims. On a small scale we only observe lack of consideration for the long range consequences of decisions, easy adaptation, and emotional deficiency (i.e. lack of consideration for others). On a large scale we observe dictatorship, oppression, corruption, and war. Such leaders—big or small—are, from our point of view, either constitutionally emotionally deficient, or, through early negative environmental effects, emotionally retarded.

An early diagnosis of such individuals would allow for a long-range therapeutic program which would minimize, and perhaps even eliminate their negative propensities.

In the case of individuals at a higher level of development, they can be harmed more easily by unfavorable conditions in their milieu. The subject in our Example no. 3 did not have a good relationship with either parent, no. 5 had an extremely cruel father, and no. 6 had an authoritarian and unsympathetic mother (like no. 3). The vulnerable individuals, like the subjects mentioned here, are psychoneurotic. Often they are quite creative (e.g. no. 3 and no. 6). They are characterized by uncertainty, doubt, anxiety, and depression, and for this reason often rejected in their milieu as unstable and unproductive. Because of our failure to recognize the depressive and unproductive period as a necessary part of their development, these creative and talented individuals are rejected. They are compared unfavorably to well-adjusted normals, and not infrequently, derided as being abnormal and weak. Their depressive periods call for special consideration and care, since it has to be recognized that it often precedes a productive and creative season of work (Dąbrowski, 1972).

[Due to the complexity of the tables of data in the case studies presented in the remainder of the book, OCR is not reliable and could not be converted to HTML. Here is the pdf. ]