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The Book Forum
December 21, 1964

Positive Disintegration

JAMA. 1964;190(12):1081. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070250063033

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Abstract

An important part of this little volume is its introduction, which affords a good interpretative review of the book and without which workers in the field of mental health might experience difficulty in understanding some of Dr. Dabrowski's theoretical formulations. The essential assumption of his theory is that disintegrative ( roughly nonadaptive) symptoms are indices of processes which are necessary for healthy personality development— in fact, that breakdown is essential for buildup.

In discussing this theory, the author touches on an age-old problem, that of gauging the proper dosage of adversity in ego development, but then he sidesteps the issue by allowing instinctual processes to take over. Dr. Dabrowski states that, "The developmental instinct by destroying the existing structure of personality allows the possibility of reconstruction at a higher level," and, "disintegration is a generally positive developmental process."

The theory rests largely on assumptions with very little empirical evidence except for

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