Kazimierz Dabrowski’s psychological theory of positive disintegration, in short, states that we are programmed from our early childhood by two things: our environment and our biology. We carry that programming through life and build upon it as best we can. However, there usually comes a point in a person’s life where the past programming is no longer able to take him where he wants to go. Often this is precipitated by overexcitabilities: overt intellectual curiosity, overt physical movement (the kid who just can’t stop moving), overt emotion and expression thereof, etc. The more these overexcitabilities are expressed, the more discontent with his primary programming a person is becoming. The first sign of this may be a panic attack. Once the person realizes that he can no longer continue down the path of his previous programming and go in life where he feels that he must or where he truly desires, it becomes incumbent upon him tear himself apart (to disintegrate as a person) and reconstruct himself (or reintegrate) according to how he wants to become.
(Regarding overexcitabilities: there are five categories of overexcitabilities: Psychomotor, Sensual, Intellectual, Imaginational, and Emotional. Most people will have at most one of these at a time. After psychological evaluation it was revealed I had all five. For a while some had nicknamed me “Mr. Excitement.” They don’t know how right they were.)
The process of positive disintegration is usually a pretty painful one, since it involves facing all the things which have created who you are — love, fear, hopes, dreams, hatreds, desires, taboos — and deconstructing them in order to create the person you wish to be. It is easy to become lost in the intellectual side of positive disintegration, meaning that the process can, without proper guidance, become mired in intellectualism. However, once the defensive barrier of intellectuality has been broken through, all that is left is the raw person, and from there does process of true disintegration begin. Tears are usually shed, depression may set in, and the question of meaning may become very pervasive. It has for me.
When reintegration begins, the person can ask themselves such questions as “who do I want to be?” and “who do I want to become?”, discovering that the answer was within them all the time, but that prior programming may have prevented it from actualizing. However, once the person has reached the point where he is willing to reintegrate, then the answers — and the actions which follow — are more easily accepted and integrated.
My disintegration started about a year ago. However, it wasn’t until about a month ago that I finally broke through the intellectual barrier. What precipitated the change? The very real thought that my life was nearing its end. It all started in November with a slight flu that because a sinus infection (or so I thought). During that time I also started to get a lot of heartburn, which I attributed to a hiatal hernia I was diagnosed with about 10 years ago. It didn’t help any that I started slacking on my eating habits — eating out more often than I should, especially junk foods, breads, ice creams, chocolates and coffees, especially the frappuccinos, of which I was sucking a large one every day or two, not to mention the cortaditos and green teas I was drinking. Sure, I was eating less, exercising, and losing weight, but I was eating like crap, and tearing my system apart from the inside with caffeine. Meanwhile, I was feeling crappier and crappier, pretending the sinus infection was nothing but an allergic reaction to my dog, and pretending the heartburn and stomach pains were normal. During this time, my anxiety kept going up and up about all manner of health issues — diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ALS — for which I was displaying symptoms.
Then, about 4 weeks ago, my heartburn hit. Bad. I spent that Friday overeating (vegetables, for the most part; it was the only thing I allowed myself to overeat then), having coffee, and then eating Chinese food: fried rice with fried crab rangoons and eggrolls. Saturday morning I ate the remaining Chinese food leftovers, topping it off about 3 hours later with a frappuccino, then 2 hours after that with a large, fish meal. 2300 calories in about 6 hours. Considering I eat 2100 calories a day, that sort of stretched it for me. I was on the edge of queasy that whole day, with a bit of acid indigestion and the feeling that fish was stuck in my throat. Then I had some green tea, 4 cups of it. That’s when it hit: the heartburn to end all heartburn. My stomach fired up, and everything in my body’s core was painful. I couldn’t sleep that night because my throat would burn unmercifully if I laid down, or even sat, so I spent the whole night walking around in my apartment complex. It got better during the weekend, but not much, and throughout the week I found myself barely able to eat since everything — everything — gave me heartburn, even water. I was miserable.
Eventually the doctor gave me Pepcid to control the heartburn, then had me checked for gallstones, pancreatis, and liver issues. Nothing. However, I don’t do well on H2-blockers, so a few days later I landed in the emergency room with massive stomach pain. There I was prescribed a much stronger acid blocker, Prevacid, and told to take one per day, a dosage my GI doctor, with whom I had already met and scheduled an upper esophageal endoscopy with, doubled when it didn’t seem to be working. (The dosage has been stepped back down, thankfully).
Throughout this time, my fear and anxiety was at an all time high. The words “esophageal cancer” (or “the beast” as it is called in cancer circles) kept showing up associated with all my symptoms, as did “esophagitis” and “Barrett’s esophagus”: food getting stuck in the throat, pain swallowing, pain which radiated to the back, nausea after eating, and a bunch others I don’t want to list. The result of the endoscopy was better than that, however: mild gastritis due to increased acid, and GERD causing a lot of esophageal inflammation. And while most gastritis is a result of an H. pylori infection, in my case it was simply all that damn coffee I was drinking. (I’ve since to have one cup of a caffeine containing drink, which has had a rather interesting side effect on my sleeping: I’m now going to sleep at 10pm and waking up, refreshed, at 4am.) At least, that’s the hope. The doctor’s also said that if the nausea doesn’t subside he’ll have me checked for something called gastroparesis, which is basically where some sort of nerve damage — half the time due to “unexplained reasons”, by which they usually mean an untraceable viral infection damaging the Vagus nerve, which controls the stomach’s muscle contractions — which causes the stomach muscles to not work as they should.
Remember that sinus infection I kept putting off? Can you see now why I’m scared of this?
Speaking of which, I went to the allergist and found out that I’m allergic to pretty much everything: bahia grass, johnson grass, oak, mulberry, dust (VERY allergic to dust), cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, fire ants. Everything except mold, that is. Not allergic to mold. Weird. I also found out that I had a sinus infection, for which I got an antibiotic. Problem is that even after the sinus infection I started getting bouts of dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Inner-ear infection, maybe? I’ll have to wait ’til Tuesday, when I meet with my (new) Ear/Nose/Throat (ENT) doc about this. Hopefully it isn’t labyrinthitis, but then if it isn’t, what could it be?
By the way, if you were wondering why I hadn’t written in a while, here’s your answer. Because of all of this, I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything for any extended period of time, especially writing. My anxiety levels were going through the roof (they’re much better now, but I tend to have relapses) speeding up the entire disintegration process by making me face the very real possibility that I may soon discover what will kill me. (Please, please, please if you’re going to comment some pithy little quip like “well, we’re all going to die of something sometime!” do me a favor and save your bits. I’ve had enough of that.)
So then this is both a blessing and a curse. A curse because I still don’t know what’s going on, and due to my history it may have something to do with my brain. (When I was a kid I took a lot of head injuries, including a fall from 6-feet up which landed me in the hospital. Well, it landed me on the concrete, then I was transported to the hospital.) A blessing because too often thoughts of this nature — about who you are versus who you want and believe you can and should be — don’t come until it’s too late. Charles Stanley, a pastor I enjoy listening to, put it best when he said that all too often people in their deathbeds would tell him, “I’m just now dying, but I suddenly realized that I forgot to live.”
Insofar as the medical issues are concerned, I’m sure I’ll put up an update sometime. When I know what’s going on. Don’t hold your breath, though, it might take a while. Insofar as overexcitabilities are concerned, my overt attention to my health (in other words, my hypochondria) is an expression of these overexcitabilities, my mind trying to move in one direction in order to get its motors running. The problem is that unless that direction is constructive, it will be destructive.
Now, regarding the person I want to reintegrate myself into? Well now, that’s a pretty deep question, and one I’ll only partly answer here, both because some answers are highly personal and because other answers I’ve yet to discover.
First and foremost, I want to become a more social person. I’ve always admired people who almost effortlessly meet people, and I want to become like that. So I will. I’m also becoming much better at keeping up with friends who I’ve lost touch with. For example, yesterday I met with Mike. Mike is an avid reader of science fiction I met in a bookstore a fee months back. He’s semi-retired, works 2 days a week (enough to pay the bills) and lives by himself. I saw him waiting for the bus, and decided to stop and say hello. I hadn’t seen him in months and may not see him again, yet it’s nice to be able to stop and say hello. My primary integration told me that I should avoid talking to strangers too much, and because of my many moves, my environment also told me that I shouldn’t keep up with relationships. My new integration now dictates that I’ll make every possible effort to keep in touch with friends and family. Happiness, I’ve discovered, is not a personal thing. There’s no such thing as “personal happiness,” no matter how much the media says there should be. No, happiness is very much a community thing. And I, as a very social person, require community in order to be happy.
Another issue is the issue of God. I want to believe in God, and while my primary integration took me to a place where God wasn’t an acceptable answer (or even an acceptable question), my new integration instead has made me realize that there is still room for something as seemingly illogical as God. Furthermore, because I can now accept truly and fully that God speaks through various means to everyone, I can allow myself to once again return to my Catholic roots without becoming judgmental of others or myself when i don’t totally agree with what orthodoxy has to say: I can believe what I believe based on my understanding. After all, didn’t Jesus speak to different people with messages specifically meant for them? The lady at the well got a completely different message than Nikodemos, didn’t she? Now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t insult the Catholic faith by claiming myself to be one, but neither will I deny that I now routinely wear a rosary and spend at least a half hour each morning in prayer. (Things to do after waking up at 4am: (1) pray, (2) go to the gym, (3) write.) I also still listen to many protestant teachers, like Bob Coy and Charles Stanley, and like with Catholicism, I may not agree with everything they say, but there’s much I can learn from them, including when to know that I am wrong.
Why I’ve chosen to believe in God has everything to do with a logical fallacy which states that I will look as perceived proof of something as enough reason to accept its existence, instead of following the scientific approach of failing to find ways to disprove it. During the lowest of low times — and, trust me, these were LOW times of which I may in some future post write more abut — I would get signs and revelations made to me which were nothing short of extremely well placed coincidences. This included my finding two books at the South Florida Art Festival in a Friends of the Library display: Dreamality by Bob Coy (Pastor at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale) and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Both meaning and dreams were things that I at that time was lacking, to the point where I started to question the very purpose of my existence. “Without a vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) I’ve started and almost finished reading Man’s Search for Meaning and will move on to Dreamality afterwards. The fact that these two books appeared in front of me in a most unexpected place during a time of terrible personal need is but one of the reasons I have decided to believe in a God. There are others, but I’ll leave this as is.
A third issue is that of weight. I’ve always seen it as a protective thing, and now I’m realizing that I’ve always been at my perfect weight. However, I’ve chosen to carry an extra load for protection. I don’t need that protection any more, so it’s time for me to drop it. As of this morning, I was 254.5 lbs. (I started the year at 276-ish, though most of the weight was lost during the 2 weeks I couldn’t eat.) I’ve realized that gluten doesn’t agree with me, so I’ve dropped them. (Gluten-containing foods tend to give me heartburn, joint pains, make me moody and irritable, and hinder my cognitive faculties; I think I may be non-celiac glucose intolerant, which isn’t at all a surprise to me, since I’ve never really been much of a bread eater.) I’m not completely gluten free yet, but I’m close, with most of my foods being raw fruits and vegetables, with some fish. And slowly, I’m feeling better and better. I just hope it’s not too late for me to right my ship, and hope that something out of my control (like gastroparesis) doesn’t show up.
You can bet there are more issues — after all, I’m making the person I want to become! But it’s a slow, sometimes painful process, one I recommend to all. It is true what they say, that the pain of regret is greater by far than the pain of correction.
In the process of disintegration, I’ve also done a few things — consciously and not — which I had to do in order to continue the process, painful as they were. One of these was to quit a number of associations I found myself in previously. Most of you don’t know this, but I used to be a Quixtar IBO, though technically I still am because I have the license, but since I’m not active it doesn’t count. (Quixtar, by the way, is a sister company of Amway. Hate me yet?) Specifically, I was in the Bill Britt/Kanti Gala/Shivaram Kumar/Sugeet Ajmani line of sponsorship. I stopped it after I realized that being there, at that time, was a hinderance to my growth. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but knew that at that time I didn’t want to go where they were heading. (Funny sidenote: my spell checker didn’t like “Britt”, “Kumar” or “Ajmani”, but had no problems with “Sugeet”, “Kanti”, or “Shivaram”.)
One of the realizations I’ve made over time is how much that association, with those people, was responsible for my growth as a person. Indeed, those people are some of the best individuals I’ve ever encountered, and I’m now in the process of reintroducing them to my life, if they’ll allow me. (Just because I want them around doesn’t mean they want me.) That doesn’t mean I’m planning to become an active IBO again, but it does mean that my life is enriched by that association and the principles by which they live. The world I am creating for myself is filled with people like those. This is not to say that’s the only place where they exist. Far from it! In fact, through my journey I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with terrific individuals who are heading in their own directions and who have faced or are facing challenges like I am, and of reacquainting myself with people who have been where I now tread, and worse, who have been available to me all my life. I’ve also seen what a rarity these people are, and how special it is to have a group which not only attracts people like those, but that also helps produce people like that by bringing out the best within others.
The big question for me during this process has been whether I wish to continue writing. I know, shocking, but it’s true. I don’t doubt that I have some ability in the craft, and that if I pursued it with more fervor that I would me more successful in it than I am now, but the question is whether I want to do that. Though I would like to answer that the issue has been settled, frankly, that question is still up in the air. At the moment my biggest concern has been with a vision I keep getting, a strange one that makes absolutely no sense to me given my history: I think I’m supposed to work with orphaned children. I don’t plan on going to any other country to do it, since I think I’m supposed to stay right here (the US), but I don’t know what the future holds. All I know is that I’m finally slowly becoming the person I want to be, not because of some outside influence, but because of myself.