Are crises an essential component of healthy personality development?
In his Theory of Positive Disintegration, Polish psychiatrist and psychologist Dr. Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902-1980) proposed an approach to personality development in which crises are not only necessary but fundamental in creating opportunities for individual development. Crises force our focus inward, leading us to challenge our established beliefs, roles and routines. While crises often resolve with a return to the status quo, recovery is sometimes stymied and posttraumatic stress results. In other cases, however, the outcome is posttraumatic growth. The individual experiences a proces of disintegration, a loosening of the components of personality that allows for an examination and re-evaluation of the self. One rebuilds after a crisis, implementing conscious and deliberate changes to reshape the personality toward increased autonomy, uniqueness and the realization of one’s ideal personality. This work provides a comprehensive yet balanced overview of Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration in its historical and present-day contexts and demonstrates its continued relevance in today’s most vital areas of psychology, including posttraumatic growth, education, neuroscience, and personality theory.