Psychotherapy as reconstruction
Kazimierz Dąbrowski (1979), a Polish psychiatrist and psychologist, was the author of the theory of positive disintegration. He meant a process of developmental change, which is immanent to humans – that is it happens to everyone and is a necessary stage in the actualisation of one’s true potential.
The moment of disintegration is usually not pleasant, often filled with tension and anxiety, tiredness and pain, doubt or breakdown (let us recall the hardships of puberty: mood swings, hurting body, restlessness). Working on yourself can be compared to a renovation of a house – more or less capital, with or without destruction of the walls. To get better, it must first get a bit worse. In psychotherapy, we rebuild non-functional models of behaving and experiencing into more functional ones. We touch emotions that were long frozen, which we pushed deep under our skin with our willpower (often as children). And after several, several dozen meetings with a psychotherapist it turns out that as we deepen our breathing and regain contact with ourselves and another human being, we have some desires which might be unsatisfied (and it might hurt!), or we get sad or furious when we realise that our parents actually did not give us what they should have.
The question I often ask myself and my clients is, “what is this whole suffering for?” Why should I torment myself so much? Isn’t it better not to feel? No, it isn’t. The cause of our current problems might hide in the lack of experiencing of those emotions. On the other hand, when we express them and integrate them with ourselves, we can deal with our current matters with more force and relief. There is also an additional benefit derived from such “working through” unpleasant stories, feelings and aspects of ourselves. Namely, if we do it in the presence of a mindful and kind listener, we acquire the feeling that we are not going mad, that our problems have their source and that someone understands us. This can in turn help us regain faith in humans and build good relations with them.
Dąbrowski, K. (1979). Dezintegracja pozytywna [Positive disintegration]. Warsaw: Publisher: Wydawnictwo Lekarskie PZWL.