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On this show, our hosts Harrison Koehli, Elan Martin, and fellow editors discussed the latest release from Red Pill Press. Out of print since 1967, Dr. Kazimierz Dabrowski's Personality-Shaping Through Positive Disintegration introduces readers to his theory of positive disintegration. Dabrowski's theory is miles ahead of the disease-based, Freudian-tinged, materialistic psychology of today. We talked about the book, the theory, and why Dabrowski is still so important. TPD is a psychology of transformation that helps make sense of onself AND the world.

The book is available on Amazon (print and Kindle), and you can watch two videos of Dabrowski here.

Running Time: 02:14:00

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Elan: Welcome back to The Truth Perspective everyone. Today is Saturday, June 6th and I'm your host Elan Martin. With me in the studio today is my co-host Harrison Koehli and editors of, Shane Lachance and Caroline McCallum.

All: Hellos.

Elan: You can call us here at 718-508-9499 to chime in and share any observations or thoughts you have regarding the subject matter we discuss today. What we just heard in the intro was from the 1975 film by PJ Reese. It was an interview with Kazimierz Dąbrowski, the Polish psychologist, psychiatrist and physician and his ideas concerning personal growth and development.

Harrison, for several years now you've been looking seriously into Dąbrowski's work and I thought we'd begin today by simply asking why Dąbrowski? With all the prominent and better-known psychologists of the last hundred years or so, why do you want to discuss his work today?

Harrison: For a few reasons. First of all, the immediate reason why I thought it would be a good idea to talk about him is Red Pill Press has just published a new book called Personality Shaping Through Positive Disintegration by Kazimierz Dąbrowski.

Elan: So it's a plug.

Harrison: Yeah, a shameless plug. It was first published in 1967. It's one of his English language books and has been out of print since 1967, so of course we're very happy to see it back in print and available for less than $400. That's the current price if you look on Amazon or AbeBooks for a used copy. There was only one that I could see actually available. So it's now available on Amazon in CreateSpace and in Kindle too.

I first found out about Dąbrowski from reading Political Ponerology because Andrew Lobacziewski was of course a Polish psychologist and a generation younger than Dąbrowski but he does mention Dąbrowski and his work a few times in the book. They had at least some minor interactions. It's hard to know how much they corresponded, if at all. Lobacziewski just mentions him a couple of times, mentioning that Dąbrowski thought that there were more psychopaths in the world than Lobacziewski thought there were.

So just from that reference in the book I checked him out and found out that there's a website positive that has a lot of information on Dąbrowski. I got copies of all the books on CD from one of his students. None of them were available, they're all out of print, they're all super-expensive and hard to find. But as for why Dąbrowski? I think, like you were saying, 100 years and all these different psychologists, I think that Dąbrowski is the only one that has managed to take all of the good bits from all the different theories and fit them into something that is comprehensive and coherent; a full picture of human psychological nature from the most base, primitive aspects like psychopathy, up towards the highest.

So that's a differentiation that you don't see in most psychological theories. Either you get something that is completely materialistic, like behaviourism that just focuses on behaviour and doesn't differentiate between any kind of inner processes that might be different between different people or different kinds of motivations for certain behaviours. We've got more modern theories or not even theories but just perspectives like The Wisdom of Psychopaths where you take this concept and then try to find the positive aspects to it where there are none. Then you've got Freudianism. We'll talk about Freudianism a bit later on.

But what Dąbrowski does is manage to take what might be true from certain aspects of these theories and put them all together in a way that makes sense so we have an understanding of the very varied or multidimensional aspects of human nature. So why are there so many contradictions? Why are there differences between people and why do they seem so great at times? This goes way beyond just simple personality tests for things like being more introverted or extroverted, openness or the five big personality traits or anything like that. It's so much more in-depth and just seems to capture the humanity of psychology.

That's one of the problems that I have reading a lot of books by psychologist and textbooks or just pop psychology, is just how simplistic it all is and how much gets left out and how much is just wrong. So Dąbrowski seems to give a bigger picture that takes all of that into account, that maybe gets ignored or sidelined or totally misrepresented. We will be getting into details of some actual examples of those things as we go through the show.

Caroline: One of the reasons perhaps that Dąbrowski did not achieve the popularity of some of the other big names, Freud and later on Adler, Maslow and all those folks, is that he was number one embracing of suffering and considered this a good thing whereas the majority of psychology, at least as practiced today, seems to be focused on taking away suffering, just saying "Okay, you feel bad. Let's figure out why you feel bad and find a way to stop you feeling bad" whereas Dąbrowski's approach was to say "Yes you feel badly, and we'll find out why, but then to self-craft your personality that expands and integrates that." God that sounds pretentious! But the idea was that it's not something to run away from, but that there were lessons within them to have. Also he handed the responsibility very much back to the people he was seeing. There's a quote in the movie, highly recommended.

Harrison: I've got the clip.This is the interview from that video, just a little clip to give you something of Dąbrowski's perspective on therapy. So here we go.
And even, as you know, I dislike the too often visits of my patients. This is three, four, five, this is sufficient number and after we transform psychotherapy to auto-psychotherapy. And from this stage it is not necessary to see very often psychologists or psychiatrists.
Harrison: Close your ears Freudians or any other practitioner of psychiatry or psychology because for a modern practitioner of these magical arts, it's the magical source of income so of course you want your patients to be coming once or twice a week for the rest of their lives, right? Well not for Dąbrowski. Like you said Caroline, he wanted to put the emphasis on the self and self-control. So he was just there to help them take control of their lives by giving them the tools and the definitions and the ideas in order to understand what they are going through and how to utilize their so-called symptoms in order to grow from them and to transform those symptoms.

So he wasn't about elimination of symptoms. That's another quote from the video, he views that practice as this kind of surgical removal of symptoms which will only lead to a negative result because you can't eliminate symptoms like suffering or the various inner conflicts and problems that people have. Those are the material with which a person has to work in order to develop. So by just removing the symptoms, either with drugs or with some kind of self-calming narrative to end the suffering, that really ends the possibility for growth because that suffering is there. It is a sign that there is something that needs to be worked through and that there is a higher level from which to come after getting out of that lower level of suffering.

So his approach is totally antithetical, totally opposite to most therapies available, not only then, but probably most of them today as well.

Shane: I worked in the human services field for a few years and that was one of the things that you'd see, pretty much this continual therapy that people would get. It was on and on and you don't see these methods working. You don't see the clients taking on the reins of this self-improvement themselves. It's a dependence on whatever type of therapy. I think there's elements in the Freudianism and others that sees these symptoms as a negative thing, a bad thing and really that's a condemnation of human nature itself. What Dąbrowski did, he turned things upside down and said no, these things are what it means to be human. These things define meaning for us and by analyzing it and looking at what the causes are and creating these values and by looking at what you're going through and what you can achieve, there is what he terms a hierarchy of values where these things have more meaning and people can gain insight into the things that they're going through.

Harrison: Well, on the subject of the hierarchy of values, there's an important distinction that needs to be made there because one of the main aspects of Dąbrowski's theory of positive disintegration was its multi-levelness. He means something very specific by that; that there are actually different levels of human behaviour and your inner being. It's not just a matter of if someone values something more than the other because you could easily say "Well let's look at a psychopath." A psychopath might value one thing over the other, so he has a hierarchy of values but that's not exactly what he's talking about because if you have someone that in one situation might value one thing over the other, it could be just that they are valuing their own personal gain or the subordination of other people to themselves over something else.

But that's just a product of the instinct or the psychological program in action at the moment. That's what defines a person at a low level of development; they are completely controlled by their biology, the instinctive patterns of behaviour that are within them. So depending on the situation they're in, they'll just be controlled by the instinct that is running at that time. So in one situation they might be feeling alright; as Gurdjieff would say, their stomach is full so they're feeling great and they might show some kindness to a person or behave in a way that will be perceived as kind. But if they haven't eaten that morning or something's happened and they're in a bad mood then they'll be angry and nothing will inhibit that anger or a display of anger or even violence to another person, or worse.

Caroline: So they're operating at a level of an infant.

Harrison: In a sense.

Caroline: In a sense. But that idea that however you feel at the moment is the whole world.

Elan: Another thing that Gurdjieff said was that every man is a Christian after a cup of coffee. But you know, this whole discussion of values as being so integral to what Dąbrowski was talking about, on a more mundane level somebody might value a green shirt over a blue shirt because that's their favourite colour. But what we're really talking about here are the values that would suggest more integration, more wholeness, more authenticity, valuing the other, other people, your connections to other people, how well or not well you find yourself interacting and being considerate of others, which is nothing new to us, but what I'm finding so fascinating about Dąbrowski's work - just getting my feet into his work - is just how closely his ideas follow those of Gurdjieff's. One in particular, especially as regarding not rejecting suffering outright or looking for total alleviation is Gurdjieff's discussion of inner friction or inner conflict as a way to build character and a way to grow the self. He talked about avoiding buffers or avoiding these ways that people quite often do to avoid suffering. Buffers just make things easier. Alcohol's a buffer. Dissociation is another buffer. So the value we get from Gurdjieff and now Dąbrowski in this new framework is, don't avoid it. See it as material from which to work on yourself.

Caroline: What it boiled down to is he was looking for a way to develop more inner consistency, that regardless of situation, by knowing yourself and knowing the way you react to things, that you can be in control of the behaviours you choose to display, not to display the attitude with which you approach it, that you're not blown about by every wind and circumstance. I guess they would call that the integration of it, that you become a consistent, solidified personality with reactions that are appropriate.

Harrison: On that note, I've got a few passages from the book of Dąbrowski to read. This is from Personality Shaping. This one is on suffering, to get back to Elan's point of the kinds of similarities with Gurdjieff's work. This is page 216.
Suffering elevates a man, ennobles his spirit but this takes place only in cases of active suffering as a result of conscious will in an effort to sacrifice ones' self in the name of a higher ideal.
First I'm going to give a little intro to the book. It's called Personality Shaping. It's all within the framework of the theory of positive disintegration which is hard to summarize in a sentence, but if I could, disintegration is the internal conflict or suffering that a person goes through that in its most extreme form would be a case of psychosis, but on a lower level it might be a depression, anxiety or existential anxiety; just some kind of inner conflict that someone's going through. And the positive part of it is that out of that suffering comes a higher level of being than there was before.

There's all kinds of different levels and gradations. We may or may not get into all of the details, but this book is about personality shaping. One of the differences with Gurdjieff is the terminology that he uses. So for Gurdjieff of course, personality is the low level, the shell that your self has taken as a result of social forces and heredity, the full person that has been formed mechanically through the formative years of a person's life. For Dąbrowski, personality is actually the goal in the sense that he would call ordinary people in their everyday lives individuals because they all have certain differences from everyone else; we've got different hair colour, faces or different constellations of personality traits and interests and all that.

So we're all different in certain surface level ways and that's our individuality, but on an essential level we're pretty much the same in that most people are on a pretty low level of development. I'll read his definition of personality.
Personality in the context of this work is a name given to an individual fully developed, both with respect to the scope and level of the most essential positive human qualities, an individual in whom all the aspects form a coherent and harmonized whole and we possess in a high degree the capability for insight into his own self, his own structure, his aspirations and aims - self consciousness; who is convinced that his attitude is right, that his aims are of essential and lasting value - self affirmation; and who is conscious that his development is not yet complete and therefore is working internally on his own improvement and education - self education.
So for Dąbrowski probably very few, if any, people on the planet have a personality. I just wanted to get a little bit of the language out of the way. But on the subject of where people are now, I found this quote to be interesting also in light of Gurdjieff.
We usually perceive only that portion of reality which the quantity and organization of our receptors of external and internal stimuli and of our transmission stations permit us to perceive.
I'll just break that down a bit. We've got external and internal stimuli and we receive them through these transmission stations and through these receptors. So the amount of reality that we can perceive depends on the quality and organization of those receptors, that ability to perceive reality. So the implication of that, of course, is that without very good receptors or with fewer receptors, or disorganized receptors, we actually won't perceive certain aspects of reality.

I think we've all had an experience of that where we're talking to someone and they just don't get something. It just goes right past them. It's because they literally can't see the reality in front of their face because they don't have the hardware or the software to be able to do it.

Caroline: But then perhaps there's the implication that through Dąbrowski's work that reception can be improved.

Harrison: Possibly, and that would depend again, on the person and what they came with.

Shane: There's actually an interview up on SOTT right now with Lavrov and a reporter from Bloomberg News. It's really frustrating in one sense because the reporter is putting these inane, ridiculous questions to Lavrov and Lavrov is very patient and very elegant in his description and the guy just doesn't get it. He doesn't get what he's saying. He's twisting his words and he just doesn't understand the reality that Lavrov is expressing. It's a good example.

Caroline: He asked the same question three times. Lavrov answers it three times and finally he says "You're infected with American thinking." It's very entertaining. You should really go onto the Signs page and watch it. It's educational beyond all telling.

Elan: Not to digress, but for those of you listeners who are just tuning in for the first time, we've been making reference a number of times to Georges Gurdjieff whose work we've referenced here and that informs a lot of our thinking. He was a teacher of a fourth way school, dealt in esoteric knowledge, but mainly he was teaching the psychology of growth. So in case references to Gurdjieff were lost on any of you, that's who the guy was. We also highly recommend reading In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky, which is a fantastic discussion of Gurdjieff's ideas.

Harrison: What I like so much about Dąbrowski is that a lot of the concepts in Gurdjieff are also in Dąbrowski but they're said in a different way and in a different language. I personally find Dąbrowski more practical in the sense that I can relate all of these ideas to things that I've experienced or that I'm going through. I can put the name to it. Gurdjieff was really difficult, you really had to work for it to even know what he was talking about. So he'd come up with a term and then you just had to figure out what the term meant through much suffering and effort.

Shane: It's interesting because there's so much comparison between the actual content, but the systems themselves are so unique from our general way of thought, particularly probably Western way of thought, that these are foreign to what we commonly know. So this use of language that each of us has is useful to redefine things as they explain different terms, so that you can understand their system. If you're going in and trying to define things as you know them, it's not going to work.

Elan: Harrison, you brought up the term positive disintegration. I know the first time I heard that term I wouldn't say I was put off, because I wasn't quite clear on what it meant, but it's loosely defined as a disorganization or dissolution of mental functions and structures or suffering due to inner conflict. I think that a person kind of goes through this disintegration when they come across some kind of barrier or block in their lives where they come to realize that what they're doing or how they're being just isn't working somehow. You might call it a crisis or an experience of shattering of self-confidence, but the value as I'm seeing of Dąbrowski's work is that it's at these times that we can take advantage of the opportunity where things are shaken loose. If we've crystallized on a foundation or we've built ourselves up looking at things through the lens of the ego, then having that ego shaken up, having these self-doubts can actually be a constructive thing if embraced and worked from.

Caroline: And not only that, but there was something about the name when I first heard it too, but after reading a bit more on it, the word disintegration has a catastrophic connotation. Now disintegrations can be catastrophic and everybody I'm sure in their lives, has gone through one or more of them. But I think if you're alert to them, these disintegrations can be in one area or another and don't necessarily have to be life-shattering. But if you're alert to them and alert to these opportunities, you almost could potentially be in a state of continuous integration, once you become aware that this part or that part of your thinking is causing trouble, is not working, is whatever.

Harrison: What did you mean by being in a state of continuous integration?

Caroline: Well just that if you're alert to different areas of your life where things aren't working, as opposed to letting them all pile up until you're looking for some Xanax or something.

Shane: It's like life provides us with pretty consistent opportunities to learn about the different lies we've told ourselves.

Caroline: Right. But if you keep ignoring them and ignoring them and all of a sudden you are on the floor hoping for some Xanax.

Harrison: A technicality based on Dąbrowski's works is that it's probably not a good thing to be in a continuous state of integration, just in the sense that it's only by disintegrating an existing structure or an existing habit that a new habit can be formed and then be reintegrated. So if a person never experiences a disintegration they will never grow or change.

Caroline: Okay, well what I meant was that the process can be an ongoing thing.

Harrison: Yes, absolutely.

Caroline: That's what I meant. You're not continuously integrated, everything is great, but just that the process is not something that stops or starts according to every crisis.

Shane: I wanted to get back to something Elan mentioned earlier about how these various things in our lives can prompt these various crises. It seems that natural life creates some of these opportunities, like when a teenager is going through puberty or a mid-life crisis and so on. But it seems that our environment itself, as it is today, creates tremendous opportunities to really see what's going on, to feel it and learn from it.

Elan: And by the same token Western culture as we experience it today, provides so many buffers and so many ways precisely to avoid looking at things as they really are. But at the same time we have the new Red Pill Press publication of Personality Shaping and so there are these other kinds of forces of wakefulness and tools that are being made available to us.

Caroline: And having the tools is the important thing. The suffering Elan, for many people is seeing and having no idea of what to do about it. But Dąbrowski's whole thing was "Okay, here are things that you can utilize that will help you process these very, very disruptive, unpleasant, uncomfortable, painful feelings" and that's the hand that he held out to people, "Your suffering can't be taken away from you and there always will be suffering, but here is a means of making something good out of that and improving and elevating yourself."

Harrison: I'm going to read a few more paragraphs from the book and then we'll play another clip. So this is in the section on self knowledge and knowledge of others.
The basic Socratic thought 'know thyself' is always actual for everyone who consciously realizes his ideal of personality. It goes hand in hand with a fundamental query: who am I and where am I going? Learning to understand one's self consists in seeking an answer through experience and meditation to the questions. What is it in myself that is not me? What is it that I am becoming although it is not yet crystallized and what should I strive with persistent will to make myself although it is not yet myself through meditation, contemplation and continuous effort?

Now as for what taking this path entails,

If one is to take up the task of shaping his personality he must be morally vigilant at all stages of development. One should at all times guard against self-deception, auto suggestion, the inclination for self-justification, the attitude of pretence, convenience and egoistic motivation.
And one last one:
After one attains the level of personality, suggestion and judgment, feeling and action is replaced by conscious yielding only to those environmental influences which harmonize with one's distinct and firm convictions and by a conscious rejection of those influences which act upon one's subconscious and uncontrolled drives; jealousy, conceit and the like. Thus at the level of personality there occurs a weakening of susceptibility to various environmental influences, that is, to impulses stemming from the lower nature of man to multi-directional discordant stimuli, influences of public opinion and so on. It should be clearly stressed here that the attitude of constant refashioning and of selectiveness in relation to external stimuli as opposed to instinctive and stereotyped mechanisms [in other words automatic behaviour]. Such an attitude requires the controlling of our internal environment and principally control of its instinctive and habitual level.
So basically Dąbrowski is calling for self-control, the differentiation between external stimuli and our reactions to them and even our internal stimuli and our reactions to those and how we act based on those stimuli. In other words to put up a type of wall or way station between those stimuli and our response. So when we receive the stimuli, something might make us angry or give us some emotional reaction where our impulse is to act out immediately in a stereotyped mechanical way, Dąbrowski is saying "No, you've got to stop the reaction and then choose your action based on your own values and the personality ideal that you have realized and shaped for yourself."

Shane: And doing this process relates back to Gurdjieff. You're creating what Dąbrowski called the subject/object. So you're creating the seed for a soul, if you could call it that. There is this something that can develop that is more me or that ought to be me and by going through this process of separating yourself from these other mechanisms and having self-observation you're growing that piece of yourself. I have one quote on subject/object and it just relates so much to Gurdjieff's perspective too that I thought it was fitting.
In order to educate himself a man should, as it were, split himself into a subject and object. That is, he should disintegrate. He must be the one who educates and who is educated and he must also isolate himself in the active entity and the one which is subordinated to it. The structure or set of the higher level must continually react upon the structure or set of the lower level and the higher feeling must react on the lower feelings.
So you're going through this process of looking at yourself, you're separating yourself from your reactions and one of the interesting things that goes throughout Dąbrowski's theory is you are doing this type of auto therapy, so you are in charge of it, but it's not just yourself. He also calls for having an advisor and also having others play a part.

Elan: Well that was pretty interesting. I just want to mention that in general being rigorous with one's self, being honest, not lying to one's self about what one is feeling and why, what one is telling one's self and why is hard! Or it can be. We have our egos and our sensitivities. As we were discussing this, I was thinking "What does all of this work resemble when we're actually doing it or when we're on our own, for instance, alone with our thoughts and our feelings?"

For example when we just felt sensitive to a comment that someone else made or something and we can decide that that person is a jerk, and maybe they are, or maybe they're not. Maybe their observation was valid. You can go through these thoughts and emotions and I think that the degree to which you're honest with yourself and serious with yourself about your response is the degree to which you are engaging in these feelings of disintegration. Do you allow it to overwhelm you? Do you make black and white decisions based on this internal friction or do you build on it? Do you decide that you're going to really think about the stimuli, think about the statement, think about your own thoughts and feelings and why they're there?

It's just a way I think that can be practically applied to this type of work. It's sitting with all the thoughts and feelings that have been thrust upon you, in a way.

Harrison: This next clip is a little bit of advice that Dąbrowski gave to a young man. I believe he was 17 years old, named Brian. If you look at the show description on the BlogTalk Radio page you can find a link to a YouTube channel with the two videos. I'd highly recommend watching them. They're entertaining and insightful. So this young man was at a hospital in Alberta. He was extremely shy. He had had a few big problems in his life so he's in this hospital and Dąbrowski was seeing him. So this is some advice that the young man Brian was given.
As well, you have something that I think about many times. You should be agreeing when you are alone, to think that's you in relation to all reality, all stimuli, you should be controlled by yourself. You should look at your inner stimuli and external stimuli, look at them and to be to some extent independent of such stimuli, not act on ways immediately on the basis of stimulation, external or inner, no? But to have some moments of - how I can say - reflection and after to do this for another kind of action. This is to be always controlled by yourself. You understand me? And think about well even five minutes before you sleep about those.
It seems like just common sense advice, but personally I've never heard that in my entire life. I've never heard it in such a way in reading psychology books or just from the mentors or authority figures in my childhood. No one's actually said that to me; to look at the influences coming from the world, all the reality, internal or external, and to be controlled, to only act out of your self-control, from yourself.

Caroline: Usually what you're handed as a child is a set of rules.

Harrison: Yeah, "this is what you've gotta do."

Caroline: Whether you're society or society plus, if you've had a religious upbringing God knows you've got piles of rules. But you internalize them and you abide by them as best you can without much thought and yet should you happen to not be able to abide by them perfectly, you still have piles of guilt with no means of alleviating it other than if you go to confession and that never really did it.

Harrison: And then that's the end of the process. That's what you learn and that's what you're stuck with when realistically there should be new rules as you grow up, as you go through puberty, as you become a young adult. First of all there are new capabilities, new possibilities at those ages and therefore there should be new instructions, but we're left with just the childish rule set and that becomes the social structure that we're in, in society where we just follow the rules.

Caroline: And these days you're lucky if you have those, at least a baseline of civilizing influences, but hardly something that would produce a mature, well-functioning, psychologically healthy society.

Shane: Dąbrowski takes these ideas of a parent and teaching their child, having restrictions and there's punishment and reward, and he takes it steps further, that these things can be a part of the child itself and that there are these higher things where punishment and reward doesn't need to be the be-all and end-all, but that things like conscience can also provide a means of punishment and reward, letting you know what's right and what's wrong. You're not just being told what's right and wrong but you're utilizing those things from within yourself.

Harrison: That's where the importance of an advisor comes in because, like you said Shane, Dąbrowski wasn't a total individualist; that everyone's just on their own. There is very much a social aspect, not only of love and friendship, but of this teacher/student relationship. There are several sections in the book on advisors. The criterion for an advisor is that they have to be at a higher level of development because it's only a person at a higher level of development that can see what that person or child is going through and through their own experience to therefore be able to give the right kind of advice to help this person through this process.

So for a parent to be a good parent, they have to have first of all an experience of what the child is going through, which they hopefully should have, having gone through childhood, but then also an understanding of that process; so to be able to look at the child, to see the problems that the child is going through and to be able to pick out those aspects or as Dąbrowski would call them, dynamisms, and then the appropriate response to bring that dynamism or nucleus of a higher quality to fruition.

So it might be a feeling of guilt, and then how to steer that guilt towards something higher, towards conscience as opposed to just following the rules. "You feel bad so I'm going to make you feel bad because that was wrong and that's what you have to feel when you do something wrong so that you don't do it again." That's a very basic juvenile system of developing a young personality. So reading that section for me was pretty depressing because there is nothing like that in our society. We don't have a system of proper mentorship or advisor relationships with a person who helps us develop our own personalities to become better, higher people. We're just left on our own and we're lucky if we can find something to help us along that process, otherwise we just have what society gives us.

One of the concepts that Dąbrowski develops in this and his other books is along the lines of what psychologists call adjustment. So criminals are mal-adjusted and good members of society are adjusted. That's the uni-level, simplistic approach to adjustment. You're either part of the team or you're not. "You're either with us or against us" right? It's the George Bush method of looking at society.

But Dąbrowski differentiated that. He said it's not quite that simple because there is positive adjustment and negative adjustment. And there's positive maladjustment and negative maladjustment. So of course negative maladjustment would be like a criminal, someone who goes against society or society's rules for bad reasons. It's because they really don't have any kind of empathy or social connection to the people they live with and they destroy; they are a destructive influence in society. But then again, you've got positive maladjustment. This is what I like about Dąbrowski. There's another quote, I can't remember it.

Caroline: Krishnamurti. It's no sign of mental health to be well adjusted to a sick society.

Harrison: Yeah, exactly. And that's pretty Dąbrowskian; that if society isn't worth being adjusted to, then it's better to be maladjusted to it. I'd say most aspects of our society aren't worth adjusting to or accepting because they are the product of this low level of being and the people themselves in these positions of power and in these positions of influence in media and the arts and politics and even religion, are operating on a low level and that low level influence filters down to everyone else. So a person with any developmental potential will, first of all, feel that something is wrong, like Neo in the Matrix. There's just something not right here. And then as they become more aware of themselves and the society and are clearer about what's going on and more knowledgeable about all these aspects, then they can identify these things that are wrong and why they're wrong and then take a moral stance against them.

And even that, the concept of a moral stance has been totally perverted in our society so we can't even be adjusted to morals because according to official morality, it's right to hate Russia and want to go to war with them for totally absurd reasons that aren't based in any kind of reality.

In general I think that reading Dąbrowski is a very effective way, first of all coming to know ourselves, what's going on inside of ourselves, what these things actually mean and the possibilities that our experiences open up that we might not have even been aware of beforehand. We might have just seen certain aspects of ourselves as problems and insoluble problems, but to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel; that there is some hope and that oftentimes - I'll qualify that, oftentimes but not always, so don't get full of yourselves - oftentimes these are actually positive things about ourselves that we should embrace and develop further. A problem I see is that it's very easy to just take something like certain aspects of Dąbrowski's work and then just use them as a means to puff one's self up and to make someone think "Oh well I think pretty highly of myself."

Shane: Which has been done among Dąbrowski's work itself. The driving force in maintaining his theories has been around the gifted, with children. There's some authors out there who are really full of themselves and have distorted his ideas a little bit and made it a little narrower than it actually is. But getting back to what you were saying about our leaders Harrison, Dąbrowski had these different ideas about these levels. There's the primary integration, the low level way of being.

Caroline: Just enough to get along.

Shane: Yeah, and where our primitive drives rule us. This is really the level that psychopaths operate at. They're out there ruling society and having their influence on people and this causes, in itself, this process of neuroses, where we're living in this poisoned well and it's going to affect our thinking and feeling. So we'll have these manifestations. Lobacziewski talks about it in terms of the hysteroidal cycle. When these times reach what he called Rasputin Eras, which is what we're facing today, wouldn't it be great if instead of having these leaders that are basically at the lowest level of humanity, if we actually had leaders who were able to either achieve personality, which would be the ideal, but even people who are able to achieve those things, having them in power.

Caroline: Or at least striving for it.

Elan: Shane you mentioned neuroses. Dąbrowski has a term called psychoneuroses which he suggests without which we'd be unable to grow and develop ourselves. So I thought we'd just take a look at the terms itself, neuroses, at its base level so that we're all on the same page about what a neurosis is. The term is derived from the Greek word neuron or nerve and the suffix "osis" means diseased or abnormal condition. So there are many different types of neuroses; obsessive/compulsive disorder, obsessive/compulsive personality disorder, impulse control disorder, anxiety disorder, hysteria and a great variety of phobias.

Wikipedia says that according to C. George Boeree, professor emeritus of Shippensburg University, other symptoms may involve anxiety, sadness, depression, anger, irritability, mental confusion, low sense of self-worth, behavioural symptoms such as phobic avoidance, vigilance, impulsive and compulsive acts, lethargy, cognitive problems such as unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, repetition of thoughts to obsession, and he goes on and on. You can kind of extrapolate from there because we've all experienced neurosis in some form or another. In reference to something you said Shane about neurosis being induced by the leaders and the cultural authorities that we have. it's a weird way of looking at it but it's a natural and healthy response to the crazy-making and psychopathic influencethat we're all under.

Caroline: It's kind of like the collective gaslighting. The leaders get up and talk about values and protecting democracy and humanitarian aid, or whatever you want to call it, and then you go and watch five YouTube videos and you know it's a lie. Trying to put those two things together in your head just makes you crazy. Then you get depressed, upset and anxious and there you are.

Shane: And hysterical. These moments of hysteria really show that the people responding this way are human and that there is something behind that hysteria. I think Dąbrowski would term it developmental potential. It's that which we really need to utilize to get out of this mess that we're in.

Caroline: Right. As opposed to drugging it. It's work and for a lot of people that's a very off-putting part of it.

Harrison: On the subject of neuroses and psychoneuroses, that's just another area where Dąbrowski was so ahead of the curve and even ahead of the curve today, because one of the things he did was try to identify levels of neurosis. Through all his clinical practice and studies on the people that he had experience with, he could see that there are certain types of neuroses that cluster around lower levels and other neuroses, which he would call psychoneuroses that were more of a higher level phenomenon.

So at the lowest level you'd have just base paranoia. That would be like Lobacziewski's paranoid characteropath, just a very low level of development and brutal paranoia but then the types of uni-level disintegration, which would be a disintegration in the emotional structure that doesn't and often cannot reintegrate at a higher level. So a person just breaks down and to use the disease terminology, if they recover from that, they're no better off than they were before and in some cases are even worse. So the extreme case of uni-level disintegration would be psychosis or suicide where the person cannot pass through and transcend that level of neurosis.

So these types of neuroses are often in low level cases more psychosomatic; they have more bodily manifestations. This can be certain types of hysterical disorders or conversion disorders where there is a predominance of symptoms in the body which have no or very little actual biological basis. It's psychosomatic. At the higher levels it's more of an internal, psychic, therefore mental neurosis and this is where we might have things like depression and anxiety, and even the subject of what someone is depressed or anxious about.

Shane: This idea of uni-level disintegration I think is really interesting because what it says is that somebody may go through this conflict and this process of disintegration. With multilevel disintegration you're bringing in these higher values like others, conscience and so on. With uni-level the struggle is with maintaining yourself at that level and you can reintegrate at that level. Dąbrowski brings up this third factor which is basically choice. You have this free will, are you going to engage in this suffering in terms of bringing yourself to a higher level or are you going to choose to avoid those things and maintain the charade? Just keeping your personality as it is or you're saving face and you bring yourself back down to that level, or you might just have a psychotic break or worse.

Caroline: One thing I found kind of interesting just watching the films is that one would hope that the majority of people do have some kind of instinctive will to health. There is the interview with the lady Ursula. I don't know whether that clip was all one interview, but through very gentle, skilful extending of help, of suggestion, you could watch this woman go from being practically catatonic to smiling and connecting with the other interviewers.

Harrison: To give some background, she was in a depression for ten years. Ten-year long depression and you could see on her face she was not there. Her eyes were mostly closed, looking at the floor, very little connection with the other two people in the room and you can see on her face that she's been depressed for ten years and there's very little social contact with people around her.

Caroline: But as he spoke to her with just very gentle, simple suggestions to consider this possibility, to consider that possibility, a tiny bit of very gentle scolding that "It would be good if you were to interact with people more, to think of other people more, to do something for them."

Harrison: I've got the clip.

Caroline: Oh play it, it's wonderful.

Harrison: So in between he was explaining what he was doing and so he mentioned that he'd observed that she had no contacts, that she was cut off from other people so he wanted to establish that connection with her, to bring her out of that, to make her interested in the conversation and to take an interest in her in order to establish that kind of human contact. So in this first clip, like you're saying Caroline, he's giving some suggestions, some advice on what might be better than shutting yourself off in a depression like that.

For instance, if you occupy your emotional life, your thinking, occupy with others, you will not think so intensively about your depression, your obsessions and so on. If you develop your social attitude towards other people, you diminish many of your egocentric states.

Do you want to comment on that one?

Elan: I would just say that that's an idea that isn't so foreign to us here as well. The whole idea is that you're helping yourself by engaging with others, by helping others and being their psychologist or their means of emotional/psychological support. You're imparting another way of being to the person who's struggling and simultaneously you're growing yourself because you're extending yourself and reaching out. So it's wonderful to hear Dąbrowski talk about it in his own way.

Harrison: This is something else he had to say to her:
If you are in good theatre and you observe dramatis persona, yes? - How you call it - and you see heroic people, they are in very deep depression, sadness, anxiety, but they are heroic. You feel at the same time something like very good enthusiastic attitude and you are at the same time very sad and this mixture of suffering and of enthusiasm gives you the possibility to go up to the higher level.
Shane: That last piece, talking about going up to the higher level, I think that was for one, just listening to Dąbrowski is just so awesome because of the kindness and empathy.

Harrison: The enthusiastic attitude.

Caroline: You can do this!

Shane: And enthusiasm just comes through. But when he's getting her mind out of this depression, there's more to it; that there are these higher levels. I think so many people are shut off from that idea that these higher levels don't even exist. "We don't know and we're just sitting here in this depression." But for him to introduce these ideas that this depression is a sign or an indication that there's something more behind that, and that she can tap into that, and she did! At the end of the interview she's smiling and you can see it in her face. She's connecting with the other interviewers.

Harrison: Making eye contact. Posing for the photographers.

Shane: Yeah, it was really heartening.

Caroline: I don't know how much longer her treatment went on, but then if you're going to do this for a person - I'm not saying Dąbrowski personally but just in general, then there is a responsibility to continue to support that, and that's where as the levels of integration go up, then it becomes a more social group thing, that each encourage the other.

Harrison: But also that the responsibility does fall on that person. So like you said, depending on the case of course, it would depend on how many times he would see them, I think I either heard or read somewhere else that he'd even prefer if he only had one or two meetings with someone, if they had the ability to work on their own, but to put that into their own hands; so to work with the person just enough that they're steered in the right direction so that they can work on themselves on their own, but at the same time with a social group because other people are so important. But that role of an advisor is that very specific role and giving support just at the right moments and in the right circumstances and with the right advice.

So there is more than one aspect there. There is the social aspect about being in a group of people and all working together, but there is the responsibility of each person on their own to take that into their own hands.

One thing that I liked about those clips was, in another bit he does give a few gentle nudges, we'll call them and one of those in there is that he's just totally honest. He essentially says that your depression is totally egocentric, that you're only focusing on yourself and your own problems. There are other people in the world and if you focus on them, on being there for them, you won't be focusing on yourself so much and you won't be suffering as much because you'll actually be doing something positive for others and by extension, for yourself.

Elan: And it was interesting how he set the stage for her by mentioning going to a play or some performance that would include a hero who's suffering. So I think the suggestion there is that without blowing it up too much, that the heroes, the protagonists, the people who are the centre of an adventure or a drama also go through stuff and by engaging in such a narrative, to some degree, you can recognize a hero. I think Joseph Campbell alludes to this as well. They struggle! But they're struggling usually for the greater good of something and they're doing what they're doing in spite of their difficulties.

Shane: Unfortunately a lot of our media, fiction and movies are based on this really twisted and corrupt idea on this primary level. But the original purpose of these forms of dissociation in entertainment may very well have been relating to being able to go through and identify these processes. I think Gurdjieff even spoke on this too, that the original Greeks, when they had these plays, was to produce catharsis. Perhaps we can look at in terms of going through these levels of disintegration and helping us to move those things along.

Caroline: To vicariously experience pity and sadness and empathy for this presentation of the story was a way of working through that even if you weren't necessarily experiencing it yourself. It still gave you the tools and the understanding.

Elan: When you think of the Greek tragedies, these were heavy-duty stories that ended pretty badly quite often and they didn't include heroes exactly, but I think the point was to learn from their mistakes in some way.

Caroline: And the struggle.

Harrison: I'm going to play another clip and then read another bit from the book. So this one is on Dąbrowski's idea of multi-levelness. This gets back to the subject/object that you were talking about Shane because according to Dąbrowski he would say that up to 60 percent of the population is at the level of primary integration. So for these people, there is no subject/object. They are one individual and there's no inner reflection, no self-insight, no self-control, no differentiation between different levels of one's self, between higher and lower values.

Shane: Now was Dąbrowski defining people at this level as psychopath because his definition was very broad?

Harrison: It's not really clear. In places he would say that primary integration was psychopathy, but like you said his definition was very broad. There are other places in his works where he's a bit more specific and basically saying a bigger badder psychopath and those would be the guys that Lobacziewski calls essential psychopaths or whom we call psychopaths in our western psychiatric, psychological framework, like with Robert Hare's work. He does use the word a bit differently in a lot of his works, so just keep that in mind. Dąbrowski said that 60 percent of the population were psychopaths, within a certain definition.

Shane: And we might understand that in terms of authoritarian followers.

Caroline: I think that would probably be the better term for it.

Harrison: Yeah. So the origin of multi-levelness in one's self is first of all an interest in one's self and the questions that I read out earlier, who am I, where am I going, what is not me, what do I wish to be but am not yet? Those kind of questions are the beginning of self-knowledge, of self-insight. From there that knowledge becomes much more in-depth and comprehensive, but it's based on an awareness of the levels within one's self; so an awareness of the lower natures and the higher possibilities, and then that brings things into conflict. So we realize that our old ways of doing things are no longer satisfactory to ourselves. Maybe they're not getting us what we want anymore in a certain sense. They're not working anymore and new values arise and so the old ways become hindrances towards our further development. But that's founded on this awareness in one's self of these different levels. So that's what he's talking about in this clip.
You have this need, very deep need to be animals from time to time. But if we are people with something like different levels of functions, we observe our self and we dislike to be always on the primitive level. This is to be aggressive, to be completely egoistic, to be stupid, with tendency to subordinate others to our primitive instincts. And this is basis for multilevel aspect of our human being, of our human nature. And you observe this multi-levelness a unique human phenomena, this mixture of animality with higher human nature. And if you act as a highly developed human being, you'll never go down to the most primitive aspect of life.
Just so you know, that clarinet in the background was being played by Brian, the 17-year-old shy, timid one to whom he gave that advice at the beginning of the show, to always be in control of one's self.

Elan: As we just heard him speak, I was thinking about the cognitive sciences and meta-cognition and how developing conscious choice and making distinctions between the types of things that we're motivated by is so important. It's like we're describing or looking at all of these various approaches to growth; meta-cognition, think about the way that you think and using your awareness and choosing to reflect on the thoughts that you're having and not simply reacting or acting on certain drives automatically just because they're there and they happen to be very strong at the moment. Gurdjieff might describe it as having different eyes. Jeanne De Saltzmann describes it as separating yourself between your two parts, your higher and your lower.

Again, it's wonderful to hear Dąbrowski describe what we've been reading about and thinking about in these other terms.

Harrison: I just want to read a bit from the book on that. We were talking about subject/object and Dąbrowski makes an important distinction here.
This dynamism should not be identified with the conception of introspection accepted in psychology. Psychological introspection as used by us in the observation of our own psychological processes inclusively to determine the form of their course, their correctness, associations and so on. The significance and the tasks of the subject/object in the psyche of one and the same individual dynamisms are considerably further reaching. With its help, the individual knows himself in the sense of knowing the motives and aims of his own actions, his own moral, social and cultural self. In other words, this dynamism serves the aims that are connected primarily with one's higher development, with the development of one's own personality and not only those connected with cognition as such or cognition for the purposes of scientific research. The character and the very genesis of this dynamism therefore show us that there are essential differences between it and the introspective method in psychology.
So Gurdjieff makes the same distinction, that when self-observing, it's not the same thing as the textbook definition of introspection. There's more to it because anyone can introspect, even a person that doesn't have any developmental potential. Anyone can look at the course of their thoughts at certain times and say "Okay, this associates with this. This chain of thought is logical or not and this is what proceeds from this thought or this process."

Caroline: Would you say the difference is when you start to ask why? Why am I thinking this and why am I thinking that? As he says, an opening.

Harrison: Yeah, and then you get more into the actual aims and motivations inspiring the thinking and then to differentiate between the different levels. So why am I thinking? Well is that a thought that's just proceeding from some primitive drive that I have, some expectation that others have of me that I'm trying to fulfill? Is it from me myself or is it from social influences? Am I just programmed that way? Is it just my biology? Is that just the habitual way that I think? Is there another way?

Caroline: So getting started on this is not as complicated as people might think. You can just start saying why. Why am I doing this and why am I thinking that? And then also Dąbrowski and Gurdjieff emphasize that there is also something that you are measuring by. The reason to ask why is to compare with something that may not yet be. I have this other possibility. Why am I not measuring up to it?

Shane: Yeah, that was the thing I was thinking of Caroline, was that he's bringing in these ideas of higher human psychology and that these things exist. That's pretty much absent in most psychology. When you look at whatever pop psychology idea, it's oftentimes very materialistic. Bringing in these higher elements is a very human thing. We see the same thing happening in pretty much all fields, whether it's science or whatever else. It's very materialist and you can't look beyond the nuts and bolts but what we're finding is that when you obsess over these nuts and bolts it's like spinning your wheels. You're not going anywhere. There is no higher thing to achieve.

Elan: On that subject, when we were watching the interviews with Dąbrowski he makes use of terms like spiritual and he makes reference to an astral body. He discusses one's resolution toward dying as the next step in the process as opposed to the end of all things and the end of all being. So like you were saying Shane, there's this very materialistic approach that even gets into psychology that he seemed to be divorced from. He's holistic. He recognizes that some of us are spiritual beings and I think he doesn't by any stretch hit you over the head with these ideas. It isn't in any way woo-woo, but the suggestion of them gives you the impression that he knows, at least intuitively, or senses that there's more to it.

Harrison: He distinguishes between universal and individual traits of personality. So the universal traits will be certain moral attitudes and views and to that he adds religious attitudes. So there is a religious/spiritual component that seems to be inextricably linked with higher levels of development so that there is a spiritual aspect that is there for all individuals at a high level of development. The individual aspects are the ones that are individual to each personality, him or herself. So those would be the characteristic interests or talents of that person. So it might be a musical talent or genius or just a field of study. So it may be social work or psychology or some certain field of academia.

Caroline: Or being a good mechanic.

Harrison: Yeah. Or a carpenter. And also the individuality of exclusive bonds of friendship and love and how for these individuals they will form these individual exclusive relationships with specific people. So it's not that their love or something is just equally dispersed to everyone. There are special relationships that develop at a high level. Now of course that's not to say that other people are cut off from the love, it's just that that's one aspect of it. A person at level of personality will be working towards the greatest good and the greatest social good, so interacting with people and living that life in the world and having that influence in the social environment that they find themselves in.

There's a couple of directions I want to go. First of all you mentioned the mystical and spiritual aspects and I want to get to that so just keep that in mind and bring it up if I don't get to it. First, I want to read a passage on the over-excitabilities. This is a very central topic to all his books and the theory in general; and that is that a person's developmental potential, the reason that we have integrations is because of these things called over-excitabilities. So our systems, our bodies, our nervous systems, our intellects, our minds, our emotions seem to be very sensitive so a stimuli will provoke an intense response and without that response, it's the shock that wakens things up and without the sensitivity you'll just be integrated. You're just like a rock that won't break. But a sensitivity allows that breaking down, that disintegration to occur, which is the necessary process in order to break down and then rebuild something else.

This is the aspect of his work - like you were saying Shane - that has led to this exclusive focus on gifted children. It's an example of a uni-level approach to Dąbrowski by focusing on this one aspect and then making it this be-all/end-all when it's really taken out of context and not seen in the bigger picture. So this paragraph is about different types of over-excitability that are the tools and the things in a person which allow them to develop in the first place.
Sensual hyper-excitability is an attitude of being sensitive to external stimuli, such as the sense of colour, form and tone. Psychomotor hyper-excitability gives sharpness, speed and an immediacy of reaction and capacity for action. It is a permanent psychomotor readiness. Affectional hyper-excitability is evidence of the development of a property which is the controlling dynamism of the psyche. Imaginational hyper-excitability gives prospective and creative capabilities as well as those of projecting and foreseeing. Finally, mental hyper-excitability results in easier and stronger conjugations [connections] of particular forms of increased sensibility which facilitates their developmental work and is a factor that controls and enriches the mentioned dynamism - creativity, psychomotor readiness, etc.
None of the forms of hyper-excitability mentioned above develops in isolation. As a rule these are mixed forms with predominance of this or that form. They are disintegrating factors and in a conjugation with hyper-excitability, permit preparation for higher forms of disintegration and secondary integration.

So as opposed to there just being one kind of over-excitability, for example emotional "oh, you're so sensitive", he actually divides it into five. So you can have an emotionally sensitive person, someone who will respond with deep emotion to something that another person might not have any emotional response to. You've got sensual hyper-excitability, which is an intense response to art or colour or music. Being a musician myself, I'll often listen to a piece of music and it'll make me cry just because it provokes an emotion through that sensitivity to sense stimuli. But then I'll be in a room with other people who are seemingly completely oblivious to the profound thing going on in this music, right?

So mental hyper-excitability is another, an intense hyper-active intellect that sees all these connections and ideas and works with those whereas other people can just be not really intellectually interested in anything or their mental processes are just pretty basic and don't go beyond that. And then imaginational hyper-excitability, the ability to visualize, to look forward to the future, to imagine scenarios, to play with them in your head, to go through scenarios in your head and see "well if this happens, maybe this happens" or in the creative aspect of inspiration and... 1.28.54

Caroline: Storytelling.

Harrison: Storytelling. Exactly. So these are all aspects that contribute towards this base of being able to disintegrate. These are all disintegrative aspects of the personality. So there's these five excitabilities and one of the things that Dąbrowski did was differentiate them. And like he said, they don't develop in isolation. So you'll often have groups and one might be dominant. So you might have a person who's primarily intellectual, primarily emotional or primarily active. And you can see that in people. Usually you can see a dominant aspect of that personality.

Caroline: That sounds an awful lot like Gurdjieff's men one, two and three. One wonders if he didn't read a lot of Gurdjieff and just never mentioned it.

Harrison: Well he did at least read some Gurdjieff. I know that, but like you said, he doesn't mention it.

Shane: With these over-excitabilities, they can be so extreme that it can form this conflict, right? And so you're going to be struggling with that and there are these options of, say somebody with sensual hyper-excitability who might be attracted to video games as a way of dissociating and turning off those receptors. And we could see different types falling for whatever type of dissociation or means of quashing the intensity of those emotions you're feeling.

Harrison: One of the interesting things about "OEs" as they're called, Dąbrowski writes that there are different levels and different OEs can apply to people more at different levels. If a person is primarily sensual and psychomotor overactive, that is usually an indication of a lower level of development or developmental potential. If you take the example of a psychopath, they can have enormous reserves of energy and they can just go about getting whatever they want with what seems like an extreme amount of what might look like willpower.

Caroline: Those super CEOs of companies.

Harrison: Yeah! They're driven to get what they want and that takes a lot of energy and a lot of initiative. But without other types of OEs, that's the level that they're stuck at so they'll just be there, directed by those primitive drives to get what they want with no possibility of anything higher. The essential OE, according to Dąbrowski is the emotional over-excitability because his theory of development is based on this emotional sensitivity and the whole process is based in emotion. It's a perception of values as an emotional response because one feels more important. There's this emotional component to all these different things. So if you think about the value for truth, like when I see a blatant lie and then people believing it that makes me angry. There's an emotional response to that, but there are people that I've talked to that have no regard for truth. It just doesn't matter to them.

And the same thing like I said about music, having an emotional response to music, there's this emotional component and that's tied directly to values, to be able to feel what's important because a totally logical being, if you just have intellectual over-excitability, intellect without emotion can be brutal and totally unemotionally brutal. It's a robot with perfect logic. It reminds me of the latest Adventures movie with the evil bad guy that logically comes to the conclusion that "Well if things are so bad on this planet then we should just kill everyone. That'll solve the problem." It's a logical, perfectly reasonable response, right? But without the emotional awareness, the emotional component, it just stays on that low level.
So that's kind of the curse of people with developmental potential; these over-excitabilities mean that there's going to be disintegration, there's going to be conflict and there's going to be suffering.

Caroline: The emotional response is your signal that something is wrong. It creates the conflict. "I'm having this emotion about a situation because how I think it should be and how it is don't match up." So that's like your warning bell. So if you never have an emotional response to something, then you're dead. It's the signal that there's something off and something needs to be dealt with.

Elan: You just answered my question Caroline. And that was how does over-excitability in any of these spheres initiate some kind of neurosis or a friction that would cause you to question something or respond to it in an intimate, authentic way that isn't robotic? - As Harrison was saying. So thank you.

Caroline: Nothing ever happened unless someone was pissed off about it.

Harrison: It reminds me of that passage in In Search of the Miraculous where Ouspenky is describing going around St. Petersburg and just looking at the people on the street and realizing they're all dead, just these zombies walking around. That can be one of the shocking realizations of life on this planet, when you have that interaction with a person and when you finally realize that there's nobody home. I've heard stories and I've had experiences myself. You can talk to someone about, let's say, torture, or the murder of a person, like all the examples of cops murdering people on the streets and when you talk to a person, they'll have no problem with it. There'll be no emotional response.

Elan: I have to say, working on SOTT and reading SOTT, there are some times when I'll see the title of an article and I kind of already know what it's about having read something similar and I know that I'll get so angry if I read it, that I have to decide consciously that I'll have to read it tomorrow. Not to put it off, because it's information about our environment and knowing our environment is very important, but it is really tough sometimes. Which is why I'm thankful for this show because you get to rant about all these sorts of things.

Harrison: Maybe we can move on to a different topic. Let's get back to a different topic. Here's a clip I found quite enjoyable from the interview. You can watch the YouTube video. The interviewer asks Dąbrowski about recreational drugs.

Caroline: This was the '70s, you've got to remember.

Harrison: This is a partial response.
As well, such even religious attitudes are drugs, like Timothy Leary this professor of psychology, who told that drug utilization means something like renewal and much more higher sacrament for the life. He was intelligent, suggestive, and he has had very great influence in relation to use and taking. This is terribly dangerous because this takes from our reflection, our independence; all possible factors for development. We are in such a condition we are subordinated towards something who is not clearly known and something would direct us.
Like I said, that's a partial response because before that he had said that perhaps in an individual with some capacity for reflection, a drug experience might be a positive thing, or it could be utilized in a positive fashion. It might be the doorway to the realization of the reality of other possible worlds and other possible levels of being. This is similar to Castenada's work. If you read his first couple of books you'll think "Oh drugs are great. Let's try this out." And then further on Don Juan says "Oh no, that was just to open up your perception but you wouldn't want to do that anymore."

So that's part of Dąbrowski's response. He also said that for a person without any developmental potential, which would be the majority of the population, doing drugs is probably not a good thing because it will only reinforce the negative aspects of whatever development potential that person might have or it might put them into a negative state of disintegration, even to psychosis. We see cases like that all the time. So there is this multilevel aspect to it.

He didn't go into it further on, but I'd guess from other things that Dąbrowski has written and said, that at a high level, a person would probably totally reject the use of recreational drugs for any type of spiritual or developmental purpose because, like he said, that does take away our independence. It subordinates us to something outside of ourselves which we don't know and of which we're unaware. It's a big unknown and it's dangerous.

Caroline: Do you really want to be run by a chemical? He had some very interesting things to say even about meditation in that anything, drugs, meditation or whatever, if it's used to escape suffering, was a bad thing, that suffering was necessary for human development. So anything that would damage individuation was a bad thing. I'm paraphrasing, but he talked about this idea earlier on in that clip - go watch the film, it's a good one - he gets asked a question about the Maharishi Yogi and transcendental meditation.

Harrison: And he rips into him.

Caroline: He very cagily starts out with "Well I haven't met him so I can't speak personally," dah, dah, dah, but this whole idea of becoming one and of dissolving the personality and all, he thought was just horrible. So Nirvana's not a proper goal for a human being. The idea that one should develop one's individuality to its completeness was for him the highest goal and anything that seemed to be about subsuming yourself into this Nirvanic all-ness was just a terrible thing to be doing.

Harrison: Yeah, he called it anti-human.

Caroline: Actually I have that written down. There it is. Anti-human.

Elan: Your goal is not to be in this eternal state of bliss where nothing affects you. At the same time he was a proponent of meditation and thought that meditative practices could be very helpful.

Caroline: I wrote something else down about that. The idea that experience must be processed by reflection and meditative practices when used in that form, to take your experiences against your goals of individuation and development, meditation can be very useful because it could provide more insight and new connections. But meditation for the sake of blotting out unpleasant experiences and things you don't want to deal with, was as bad as it could get.

Shane: It lines up with what we were talking about with the various forms of psychological theories, trying to get rid of suffering. We see that a lot in the new age. Your mind is the only thing that exists and it's just this completely selfish idea where reality doesn't exist as it is, as they teach it, and that you can create your own reality. That's thankfully not as popular as it was.

Caroline: Well, it didn't work!

Harrison: In one of his other books he talks about what he calls spiritual narcissism. There's a quote in this book in the section on mysticism. He's again making a differentiation. Dąbrowski's all about making differentiations between commonly accepted concepts and ideas, so getting into them and showing that they're not as simple. They're in fact more complex and more multi-dimensional than most people give them credit for. So on mysticism he says: mysticism is not limited to ecstasy alone.

So this would be this whole blissful meditation, I am one with the universe and I have no attachments to anything in this world, which is anti-human. He says: the mystic transposes his ecstatic experience to everyday life and shapes it in accordance with attained knowledge.

So here's this thing about whatever gains you might get from meditation and mysticism; the important thing is how you integrate that with everyday life, with your interaction with the actual, real world around you. It's not about escaping reality. It's about becoming a more useful force for good in this reality, as a part of this reality.

Elan: And how Fourth Way is that?

Harrison: The mysticism of everyday life. I'll play one more clip. We've mentioned the various levels. His theory is based on different levels of humanity and Dąbrowski distinguishes five different levels in humanity and in development. Of course Gurdjieff does seven. The higher you get the more obscure they get because who's got any experience of those levels. So this is a description of level four. Level one is the primary integration, the people with no real internal conflict between higher and lower aspects of themselves. Uni-level disintegration are those that have some breakdown but no forces to be able to transcend that and to come out at a higher level.

Level three is what he called spontaneous multilevel disintegration. This is spontaneous in the sense that it's provoked, that it's an automatic reaction to the world or to one's self.

Caroline: Puberty and things that are imposed on you.

Harrison: Puberty would be one example in the life cycle of everyone. Then for those with development potential and with these over-excitabilities these can be provoked in everyday life at any time and just based on certain life circumstances, not necessarily biological. Then level four will be the self-conscious, self-directed multilevel disintegration. So it follows a program developed by the individuals themselves.

Caroline: You'd be seeking out these situations like Castenada's "go find yourself a petty tyrant".

Harrison: That would be part of it. That would be in relation to the external world, but also in relation to the internal world, through rigorous self-observation and self-analysis, to root out those parts and to find them and to provoke these inner reactions, just completely within one's self. So there's an internal and an external aspect to this, and this will be the constant process of development that a person in full control of themselves engages in, in order to reach the personality ideal, so the complete ideal of what they have for their personality and for who they want to be and for that then to direct their lives and the way they interact with everyday life.

So this is a short description that he gives of level four individuals.
They are much more organized. They are much more systematized. They are much more steady and stabilized on the highest level. They see clearly their concrete ideal. They dynamize this ideal. They differentiate very clearly between external and internal milieu. They differentiate their inner milieu very clearly. They know what means concrete ideal, social and individual. They know all this and they utilize in their development all such factors.
Again, something to aspire to but that we don't see much in the world around us. I'm just going to read a couple more interesting bits from the book, quotations that caught my interest. This one is on shame. It's short.
Shame reflects in a way one's readiness to feel concerned about the harmony between one's own moral resources and their external manifestations.
Like we said at the beginning of the show, a lot of psychological theories are all about eliminating shame and guilt. They're nasty feelings and we just need to get rid of them, whereas Dąbrowski would embrace these and say these are actually the things that we need to work with because what is shame or guilt if not the sign that we give ourselves that we're doing something wrong, that we're either not living up to the people around us in a way that's healthy or that we're not living up to what we ourselves want to be and how we want to act. And that's where guilt comes from. So hopefully we feel guilty if we behave in a nasty way. And if a person feels no guilt that either means that they're probably a nasty person or they're a perfect individual and how many perfect individuals are there around here? If you're not feeling guilt, then you're not quite human.

Shane: One of the ideas proposed in the adaptive unconscious is talking about just how massive and controlling and powerful our subconscious is. So we get this impression that it can be really tough to penetrate that with our conscious minds. But we have these things like shame and guilt and Dąbrowski talks about being able to utilize these things to tap into the subconscious. I have a quote related to that as well.

"With the feeling of guilt there usually arises simultaneously the need for self-accusation, penalty and expiation. The feeling of guilt is a poignant experience and is connected with the experience of fear and trembling." That's Kierkegaard.

Harrison: Kierkegaard. He got it from Paul though.

Shane: "As we have shown, it is a considerably greater influence on the whole of personality than the simple dissatisfaction of one's self or feeling of shame. When this experience is accompanied by the process of consciousness it reaches deeper into the subconscious than other experiences. On one hand it reaches with its roots into heredity and often into the phase of early childhood injuries and on the other it is transposed into feelings of responsibility for the immediate or more distant environments or for the whole of society." So it can be pretty powerful stuff.

Elan: I'm glad you read that Shane because I was thinking there are times where feelings of shame and guilt are appropriate and even growth-inducing and there's this idea of toxic shame that can be foisted upon you. It's manipulative. When you're enmeshed in a dysfunctional environment you're feeling shame for being alive. I suppose Dąbrowski would say that you can work with that as well, but some distinctions when you're experiencing these types of things can be helpful.

Shane: I think that distinction is really important because there are these pathological elements. We've got to identify our natural, normal shame and distinguish it from what is pathological shaming or what you could call sadistic behaviour. There's an article that's up on SOTT now about a young girl whose father, it's being said, was publicly shaming her. He cut her hair and posted the video on YouTube saying "Look at what you did. Are you happy now?" or something like that and then she committed suicide. So a lot of the comments are around this idea of shaming, that parents shouldn't be shaming their children and this isn't in line with what we're talking about. This guy is clearly a pathological type. He even put up this fundraising.

Elan: The father you're talking about?

Shane: Yeah, the father.

Caroline: He started a fundraiser for the funeral.

Shane: Right. Pretty sick fellow. So we see this idea of how shaming is bad and we just need to keep in mind that there is this distinction, like you said Elan, that we can identify what our natural shame is for things that we have done wrong and distinguish it separately from these kind of instances that are more overtly pathological.

Caroline: Dąbrowski's when you start inquiring within yourself what is mine and what is not mine. So either one is a place to start.

Harrison: We're running near the end of the show so I think we're going to continue next week. There are some more things we want to get to, but before we do, I think we will run just a bit over to discuss some recent news stories and maybe make some connections to Dąbrowski.

First, a new leak hacked email from the Ukrainian activist group CyberBerkut. They released an email allegedly from Tatiania Podobínskaya-Shtik, staff member of the US Embassy in Ukraine addressed to Major General Aleksandr Tarán, Chief of the Joint Centre for Ceasefire Control and Coordination in Ukraine. This is the US embassy sending an email to the guy responsible for the overseeing of the ceasefire agreement from the Minsk protocols a few months ago.

Caroline: February.

Harrison: I'll read part of this email. So Tatiania says to Aleksandr "Sending you pictures which can become a serious problem for you! Think about how you can explain them if the monitoring mission OSCE obtains them. Consult the team leader and think about a possible action, how you can justify them or present them as fake."

Caroline: Figure out how to lie about this and make it convincing.

Harrison: These were pictures showing the presence and the build up of heavy artillery and tanks on the front line in Ukraine. There's supposed to be this demilitarized zone.

Caroline: It's supposed to be 20 miles in both directions.

Harrison: In the first couple of weeks after that Donetsk and Lugansk pulled back all their weapons. Ukraine said they were doing it, never quite got around to it and then eventually several weeks later said "Okay, we've done most of it". They never actually got rid of all of them and they in fact have brought more in. So there are these satellite photos that the US Embassy is sending this guy saying "Okay, if anyone gets hold of these you're going to have to be able to explain them. Lie about them. Come up with some kind of plausible explanation" or whatever.

So the point of this is that the US knew about it. They have known about it since February because these satellite photographs are from March, April and May. So this whole time the US has known that Kiev has blatantly violated the Minsk agreements. Of course it's no surprise to anyone with a brain that it has been happening or that it would have happened. It's totally predictable, but just to know that they know and yet at the same time the US State Department and US officials have been blaming Russia and Donetsk and Lugansk for breaking the ceasefire.

Caroline: And should be able to stop it.

Harrison: And the whole time it's been them, those dirty bastards! Now that email itself demonstrates just the lowest level of strategic thinking and planning, a total disregard for truth and a total ability to just manipulate facts in whatever direction one wants. "Oh, here's some photos of you guys totally breaking every agreement that you've come to, so you've got to figure out just how you can massage the facts and make them look good." How sick is that?!

Shane: And to put this in terms of Dąbrowski's theory, more in terms of a macrosocial application, when Americans accept these lies and believe these lies, say they are beginning to question things and then "Oh well, the State Department says this and Kiev says this", it's this process of uni-level disintegration where they beginning questioning things and then they choose to accept these lies.

Caroline: Well you also have to look at the fact that they are only presented a small fraction of the total picture so on one level you might absolve them but on the other level you say they should be looking for more sources of information than just CNN. So in that sense there is responsibility.

Shane: I think there is an element of willful ignorance involved.

Caroline: Absolutely.

Harrison: One more from me because I put it up in the show description so I figure I've got to talk about it. Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin is prepared to sign into law an abortion ban without any exception for victims of rape or incest. His reason for this? He argues that women are concerned with those issues only in the initial months of pregnancy. "I think for most people who are concerned about that, it's in the initial months when they're most concerned about it." So if a woman has been raped and impregnated by her rapist, it's only really a big deal in the first month or two or three.

Caroline: Because once she has the baby she'll be so happy about it.

Harrison: Yeah, and when she's 21 weeks pregnant, things change at that point, right? She automatically just becomes not concerned. What a slime ball.

Caroline: They keep re-electing these dictators. There was an instance in February 2011, wherein Keith Ellison, democrat of Minnesota, which is right next door to Wisconsin, "Co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus said that Wisconsin's republican governor Scott Walker is being "like a dictator"," not even trying to dance around the term. "In 2011 Walker refused to back down on a budget measure curtailing collective bargaining rights at public employee unions. Fourteen democrats fled the state to protest the measure and prevent the republicans from getting the votes." So they literally ran away from the legislature to keep from having enough people in the legislature to make a legitimate vote. So he's got a whole range of things; not only is he squashing women's rights, he is very, very big on beating the unions out of existence. So there was that. "He's critical to the cause of union bargaining rights as the outcome could influence the direction of other states seeking to balance their budgets." That was a criticism of him - that if he gets away with it a bunch of other states are going to try it.

Then in April 2011, "Scott Walker is now preparing his next assault on the democratic political process in the state of Wisconsin." He was preparing to do a pop assessment of different municipalities to give them a stress test to see whether or not they are capable of shouldering unexpected financial burdens. "If they failed the test he had an eye towards permitting the governor to take over municipalities that failed to meet with Walker's approval. Should these reports prove accurate, Walker's plan would resemble if not directly, mirror legislation signed in by Michigan which gives that governor extraordinary powers to take over municipalities when he determines them to be in financial trouble."

So here's a way of taking powers that should belong on the local level into his hands. That's a dictator. And yet they re-elected this guy in 2014!! And now he wants to run for President.

Elan: Well that's why he's doing all of these things, so that he can appeal to his base "base".

Shane: Base instincts.

Caroline: Apparently he is a very large recipient of donations; the Koch brothers apparently are funding him big-time. So there you go.

Harrison: Just to bring this back to Dąbrowski, talk about an individual with poor quality receptors of reality. To make a statement like that about pregnant women. No matter how intelligent this guy might be in math or something, talk about being a total idiot!

Caroline: No empathy.

Harrison: No empathy. No conscience. No ability to put himself in the position of another person and to demonstrate that, not even the pretence of it. He didn't even pretend to be able to do it. There are better psychopaths out there than can fake it.Yeah. But no, he can't even do that.

Caroline: God help the kids if he's got any.

Elan: I wanted to just go over a couple of stories, going back to that story of CyberBerkut and what's going on there in Ukraine. I'm just speechless by the numbers of truly aggressive and insane things US secretary Ashton Carter has managed to do and say in a matter of days. But here it goes.
US defence secretary Ashton Carter is meeting today at the headquarters of the US/European command in Stuttgart, Germany with two dozen US military commanders and European diplomats to discuss how to escalate their economic and military campaign against Russia. They will assess the impact of current economic sanctions as well as NATO strategy of exploiting crisis in eastern Ukraine to deploy ever greater numbers of troops and military equipment to Eastern Europe, threatening Russia with war.

A US defence official told Reuters that the main purpose of the meeting was to "assess and strategize on how the United States and key allies should think about heightened tensions with Russia over the past year." The official also said Carter was open to providing the Ukrainian regime with lethal weapons, a proposal which has been put forward earlier in the year.

Most provocatively, a report published by the Associated Press reports that the Pentagon has been actively considering the use of nuclear missiles against military targets inside Russia in response to what it alleges are violations of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty. Russia denies US claims that it has violated the INF by flight testing ground-launched cruise missiles with a prohibited range. Three options being considered by the Pentagon are the placement of anti-missile defences in Europe aimed at shooting Russian missiles out of the sky, a "counter force option" that involve pre-emptive non-nuclear strikes on Russian military sites and finally "countervailing strike capabilities" involving the pre-emptive deployment of nuclear missiles against targets inside Russia.

The AP states "The options go so far as one implied but not stated explicitly that would improve the ability of US nuclear weapons to destroy military targets on Russian territory."
In other words the US is actively preparing nuclear war against Russia.

So all of these aggressive acts by the US, all of these plans are based on lies, pure and simple. Finally, finally, and speaking much to Dąbrowski's discussion of levels of being and personal growth, we have a statement from Putin in response to many of the allegations that have been made against Putin and Russia. In an article entitled "Russia Would Attack NATO Only in Mad Person's Dream", the article begins,
Russia is not building up its offensive military capabilities overseas and is only responding to security threats caused by US and NATO military expansion on its borders, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Italian Outlet Il Corriere della Sera. Speaking to the paper on the eve of his visit to Italy, Putin stressed that one should not take the ongoing "Russian aggression" scaremongering in the West seriously as a global military conflict is unimaginable in the modern world. "I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO. I think some countries are simply taking advantage of peoples' fears with regard to Russia. They just want to play the role of frontline countries that should receive some supplementary military, economic, financial and some other aid" Putin said.
So I was just very happy to hear him say this because here he's putting it out there, it's insane. It's totally insane. It's insane in the way that Israel accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons, as if a) Iran is actually trying to do it and b) once they do, the first point of action would be to bomb or nuke Israel. It's totally insane and it had to be said. And I think it's been a long time in coming. It's total insanity and I hope everybody in the West gets to read this, even though they'll probably dismiss it because it's Putin.

Shane: Putin provides an opportunity, if we look at Dąbrowski's theory and how he was talking about advisors and that advisors can help with individuals' development when they're in these periods of crisis. Putin on the world stage, is acting towards these higher ideals of partnership and working together whereas the United States is manufacturing these crises as a means of disaster capitalism, the shock doctrine that Naomi Klein wrote about. When they're in control of the process, when they're the advisors, people reintegrate at that lower level to steer things towards the direction that they want.

Elan: It's even kind of interesting that when folks describe the situation, it's the US that is a unipolar power as opposed to a uni-level of being and Russia is aspiring to a multipolar and you can connect that to multilevel way of being.

Shane: I think the analogy fits.

Harrison: Alright, I think we should end it there and pick up next week. We'll see y'all next week. We'll continue the discussion. Check out a copy of the book.

Caroline: It's available at Red Pill Press.

Harrison: Yeah, go to If you go to and you buy it there, then the rights holders actually get a bigger royalty. So if you want to help out the estate of Kazimierz Dąbrowski buy it there. We'll see you next week. Tune in tomorrow for Behind the Headlines. We're actually going to close the show today with another clip. This is a reading of a poem that Dąbrowski wrote. It's called "Be Greeted Psychoneurotics" and it's addressed to those people who are suffering in the society where they have yet to realize their place within it or the positive aspects of what they're going through. It's a reaching out to those souls in struggle.

Elan: And let's not forget our fellow psychoneurotics, giving the Health and Wellness Show on Friday at 10:00 a.m. as well.

Harrison: Yeah. We'll see you all then and everyone take care.
Be greeted psychoneurotics
For you see sensitivity and the insensitivity of the world,
Uncertainty among the world's certainty
For you often feel others as you feel yourself
For you feel the anxiety of the world
And its bottomless narrowness and self-assurance
Be greeted for your phobia of washing your hands of the dirt of the world
For your awkwardness in dealing with practical things
And your practicalness in dealing with unknown things
For your transcendental realism and lack of every day realism
For your creativity and ecstasy
For your maladjustment to that which is
And adjustment to that which ought to be
For the loneliness and strangeness of your ways
Be greeted.
"Without passing through very difficult experiences and even something like psychoneurosis and neurosis we cannot understand human beings and we cannot realize our multidimensional and multilevel development toward higher and higher levels."