The Work & Life of Kazimierz Dabrowski: Psychological Theory in Context

Course Description: 

Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902-1980) was a Polish neurologist who emigrated to Canada, eventually settling in Edmonton, Alberta. Dabrowski developed a highly sophisticated and idiosyncratic developmental theory of the personality focused on the notion of “multi-levelledness” of development through “positive disintegration”: for the personality to grow and develop to a higher level, the extant stage of development must be “dis-integrated”. In this light many behaviours and psychic structures conventionally understood as negative, maladaptive, or neurotic symptoms by psychologists instead become recast as “positive” insofar as they are necessary for growth, despite the strangeness they present to others or suffering they incite to the self.

While Dabrowski has become well-known amongst a very small circle of psychologists and educators, primarily in Alberta, and most especially around his concept of creativity and its application for understanding developmental potential in children in the context of education, that he emigrated from Poland raises interesting questions for how his work was, and is, received and interpreted in his homeland. 


Course Objectives: 

Due to the unique circumstances of Pawel Zygmunt’s Polish fluency and his current residence in Poland, this Directed Study aims to address the following three questions:

(a) what Dabrowski did in Poland before emigrating and what has become of that work,

(b) how Dabrowski’s work as an emigrant is/was received in Poland & Europe, 

(c) his current/posthumous status in Poland & Europe.


Texts :

No formal texts required; instead the bulk of the research will be online, consulting websites such as:

The Polish website dedicated to “positive disintegration”

The English website dedicated to Dabrowski scholarship

If possible, to meet and interview Polish scholars pursuing Dabrowski-based scholarship


©2024 | Website by

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?