Blog entry by Alan Chapman
This article is more than a review of the extraordinary 2019 book by William (Bill) Tillier called Personality Development Through Positive Disintegration...
What follows is a piece of the puzzle: how we can help transform our world into a better place for us all, and for the world itself.
In fact, the world will carry on even if the human race does not. Our challenge is continuing to live and thrive as humans. Our challenge is understanding ourselves, and how best to live.
When we are in or emerging from big challenges/traumas, or realising that past experiences have distorted our lives, it can be difficult to imagine what a new life might be when it is rebuilt, and at times this darkness can hinder our rebuilding and hope.
Hope is an essential life force. Without hope, we can give up.
When we have hope we can heal, thrive, and then we can move mountains if we choose. Or simply relax and be well.
After years of studying, interpreting and sharing many ideas for healthier, happier more ethical life, work, etc., this concept is probably the most powerful I have ever seen and experienced. I see it proven every day, and I can now share it with you.
I refer to Kazimierz Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration, extended brilliantly by William (Bill) Tillier, and explained in his new (2019) book Personality Development Through Positive Disintegration.
Bill Tillier continued to develop the Theory of Positive Disintegration after Dabrowski's death in 1980, and the publication of Tillier's extraordinary work follows the recent republication of Dabrowski's seminal 1964 book Positive Disintegration, both thanks to the brilliant publisher and change-maker, Maurice Bassett.
Dabrowski's wonderful work would have been lost, or remained hidden for many more years, were it not for Bill and Maurice.
Instead, we can now see that Bill Tillier has stood like a giant on the shoulders of the giant Dabrowski, and we have a concept and range of work that is truly world-changing.
The thinking and teachings in this book, and Dabrowski's prior works, explain the most fundamental aspects of what it is to be a fully grown human.
It's impossible therefore to outline all the implications and applications in this brief review.
Certainly, anyone with an interest in their own development and the development of others, in the broadest deepest possible senses, should read this book. It will change how you see yourself, others, and the world.
Certainly leaders and aspiring leaders should read this book. It will change how you see leadership, and how you value people.
Certainly, anyone involved in health, education, society, diplomacy, creativity, design, and governance should read this book. It will show you that what you believe, and what we are taught and conditioned to think about people - especially people who experience trauma – is completely wrong. And if you already knew what this book explains, then this book will help you explain it to others.
The mental and physical health and societal challenges of the modern world are increasingly beyond the reach and help of our over-burdened, demoralised, under-resourced, confused governments, institutions, health services, and charities (even though everyone's doing their best, and commonly at the cost of their own health and quality of life).
We now need radical new ideas and approaches, so that societies, communities, change-makers everywhere, and all of us individually, can develop new solutions for personal and societal transformation, enabling us all to cease our misplaced reliance so strongly on leaderships, systems, corporations and institutions that are often (through no real fault or malice) part of the problem, not the solution.
We now need to transform, ourselves, and to show how and lead those who have failed to do so for decades. This book offers that power.
This book will explain that societies and communities actually already have the power to transform. The weak are the strong. That's not actually a new idea, in essence, but the explanations in this book, and the robustness of the evidence and research, are very definitely new. And very definitely real keys to transformation.
I can best summarise: Bill Tillier's book shows us that much conventional 'expert' thinking about health and people (and by extension communities too), especially traumatic experiences in life, is completely wrong. Not just a bit wrong, but absolutely fundamentally wrong.
The Theory of Positive Disintegration essentially explains that trauma is growth.
Trauma is not easy growth, but it is growth. The bigger the trauma, the bigger the growth. Ask any mountain climber.
Traumatised people do not find life easy, just as the seed of a tree that is blown to a cliff edge, does not find life easy. But, after growing in the wind and rain, clinging to the rocks, the tree grows stronger than any tree in the forest, and certainly much stronger than those trees supported and cared for in plantations and greenhouses.
And life is just like this for people. The tree on the cliff edge is designed to grow strong through adversity, and so are we.
Dabrowski's work was nearly lost, and Bill Tillier's additional 40 years extensions of it have only recently been published.
Take from it what you can. It's a gift of immeasurable value and potential.
It is likely that people who have some lived experience of trauma will understand it more quickly than those people who lack the advantage of trauma in their past or present lives. Whatever, please explore it. The work is as powerful as anything else you could name, particularly in our world which now needs this more than ever.
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