Positive Disintegration (Level 1): Go Me! AKA Distracted, Void, and Holding it Together

People who engage in creative activities often observe inner tension is released when self-expression is meaningfully increased.  This notion is intuitively acknowledged by those who have experienced enormous creative drive at some point in their personal evolution - whether through creating a blog, a song, woodworking, or whatever the outlet may be.  

As explained in the post about key vocabulary for FI, the Theory of Positive Disintegration is a five-stage theory of personality development  providing a professional psychological framework for exploring intuition, creativity, moral reasoning, and internal drive.

Just like the creative products people create, the way people spend and save money provides insight into their value system. Even more important than outward behaviors is the inner reasoning used to justify their choices.

Besides analyzing this theory in terms of creativity, it can be a useful tool for evaluating personal beliefs about money.  As we explore levels one through five, please reflect on motivations and behaviors around personal finance, career exploration, and general well-being.

Level 1: Primary Integration (Or Go Me!)

Primary integration is the first level of Dabrowski’s five-stage theory.  The person is well-integrated and may even appear balanced, but they are functioning at a lower level (before they are busted apart and possibly reassembled for integration again at a higher level).  

Little to no inner conflict exists on level one.  Conflict that does exist is mostly with the outer world.  Perfectionists at this level often focus on the flaws of others instead of struggles within themselves.  People operating here use others to meet their own ends and may deceive many (including themselves) while doing this.    

Focus on the self, measuring oneself against others, using achievement for attention-seeking, lack of trust, blame, and severe projection are common at this level.  With all of these drawbacks in mind, it is still easier to operate on this level than to move up to level two according to Dabrowski, so many people stay here.

In terms of gifted psychology, people who advertise their giftedness with the intention to make others feel intimidated or inferior are operating with little hope of escaping this lower domain.  

Growth takes humility. If humility is lacking, there is little hope for moving forward. Therefore, an external or internal crisis may be an opportunity for moving into level two for those stuck in a self-serving mode (unless of course, they use the drama of the crisis to divert more energy and attention from others to themselves, thus missing the point of the opportunity and remaining stuck).

Level 1 and Finances

In terms of money, someone operating at this level needs very black and white ways to appear better than other people. Thus, they are easily duped by advertising, flaunt what they buy, climb career ladders with unexamined ambition, and generally cause harm by trying to appear important.

While an eternally fascinating level of operation to speculate about (with massive amounts of fodder constantly coming in from the outside world), level one won’t be the focus of this blog.  

Let’s leave behind level one with a few quotes from a peer-reviewed article:

"Primary integration largely corresponds to the concept of the authoritarian personality.”

"They are not capable of having internal conflicts, although they often have conflicts with the external environment.”

"The individual unthinkingly follows the program that society has drawn up for him or her.  Although we can converse easily using these ideas, and we may defend them vigorously, they do not really belong to us.  ideas reflecting our true selves and insights are only revealed when we dig deeply below the surface into the deeper strata of the self and that task is extremely difficult and seldom attempted.”

Part two of this series will explore what inciting incidents may cause someone to cling desperately to level one or move through the hard lessons of level two.

Below is a source for the above quotes:

Mendaglio, S., & Tillier, W. (2015). Has the time come to emulate Jung? A response to Piechowski’s most recent rethinking of the theory of positive disintegration: The case against primary integration. Roeper Review, 37(4), 219-228. doi:10.1080/02783193.2015.1077495

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