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The Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) by Kazimierz Dabrowski describes a theory of personality and personality development. Unlike mainstream psychology, Dabrowski's theoretical framework views psychological tension, anxiety, and depression as necessary for growth. The strongest potential for tensions that lead to advancement stem from mental overexcitabilities, above-average reactions to stimuli. Also, unlike some other theories of development such as Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, it is not assumed that even a majority of people progress through all levels, which are not tied to ages.
In his book "Positive Disintegration,"  Dabrowski uses the terms "hyperexcitability," "increased excitability" and "overexcitability" and just "excitability" in his work. Increased excitability is viewed as a feature of high developmental potential along with special abilities and talents and other biological factors.
He describes those who have hyperexcitability as showing "strength and perseveration of reactions incommensurate to their stimuli." (p. 98) He addresses 5 types of hyperexcitability:
Psychomotor - Physical response to stimuli. Often seen as hyperactivity. Emotional - Emotional hypersensitivity. Imaginative/imaginational - Intense fantasy life that sometimes disrupts reality. Sensory/sensual - Sensory hypersensitivity. Mental/intellectual - Highly active mind. "Exaggerated search for explanations and a tendency to intellectualize problems in everyday life."
The term "overexcitability" was popularized in the gifted education community by scholars such as Sal Mendaglio, Ph.D., who edited "Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration" and Susan Daniels, PH.D and Michael M. Piechowski, Ph.D, who edited "Living with Intensity."
Other books that address the topic of excitability include: Fonseca, Christine. Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students. Prufrock Press Inc, 2011. Jacobsen, Mary-Elaine Psy.D.. The Gifted Adult. Random House Publishing 1999. Webb, James T. Ph.D.. Searching for Meaning, Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment, and Hope. Great Potential Press, 2013.
Websites and blogs on the topic of excitability include: Dabrowski's Overexcitabilities and Theory of Positive Disintegration, How to Identify and Cope with Overexcitabilities and Overexcitability and the Gifted
- Dabrowski, Kazimierz M.D.. Positive Disintegration. J.& A. Churchill Ltd. 1964
- Mendaglio, Sal, Ph.D., Editor. Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration, Great Potential Press 2008
- Daniels, Susan, Ph.D. & Piechowski, Michael M., Ph.D, Editors. Living with Intensity. Great Potential Press 2009
- Fonseca, Christine. Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students. Prufrock Press Inc, 2011.
- Jacobsen, Mary-Elaine Psy.D.. The Gifted Adult. Random House Publishing 1999.
- Webb, James T. Ph.D.. Searching for Meaning, Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment, and Hope. Great Potential Press, 2013.
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