Positive Disintegration theory and creative people
The Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD; link to Wikipedia) by clinician and theorist Kazimierz Dabrowski describes personality and emotional development from lower toward higher levels.
In her article Theory of Positive Disintegration as a Model of Personality Development For Exceptional Individuals, Elizabeth Mika notes that some people’s developmental potential “contains strong positive and negative elements” and “the intensity of the developmental processes on this level can bring an individual close to a ‘psychic catastrophe’ (Dabrowski, 1970, p.60).
Examples of such “dramatic inner transformation, bordering on psychic dissolution” listed by Dabrowski include Leo Tolstoy [painting], Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jack Ferguson, Franz Kafka, Soren Kierkegaard, Abraham Lincoln, John Stuart Mill, Isaac Newton, Gautama Buddha, St. Paul, St. Francis, St. Augustine, Blaise Pascal, St. Ignatius Loyola, Alfred de Musset, Heinrich Heine, St. John of the Cross, and Adam Chmielowski.
“Although the above list consists of eminent individuals,” Mika adds, “there is much evidence showing that lasting inner transformation consistent with the developmental processes described by TPD is a much more common phenomenon.”
Intensity can look like mental disturbance
The article Misdiagnosis of the Gifted by Lynne Azpeitia, M.A. and Mary Rocamora, M.A. notes that gifted, talented and creative individuals “exhibit greater intensity and increased levels of emotional, imaginational, intellectual, sensual and psychomotor excitability.
“These characteristics, however, are frequently perceived by psychotherapists and others as evidence of a mental disturbance… when they seek therapy they are frequently misdiagnosed because therapists receive no specialized training in the identification and treatment of persons who have advanced and complex patterns of development.”
For more about the theory, see page: Dabrowski / advanced development