Interview With Norbert and Jean Duda
“Inner Conflict: The Pathway of Positive Disintegration”
The Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida (CJSSF) offers a special event on “Inner Conflict: The Pathway of Positive Disintegration.” This lecture, including lunch, will take place on Saturday, January 9th, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Resurrection Church in Miami, FL.
Norbert J. Duda, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist in Ft. Lauderdale, and has been an expert on Kazimierz Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration for the past 40 years. He has served as Director and Publisher of the Third International Conference on the Theory of Positive Disintegration, and the Fifth International Conference on Dr. Dabrowski’s Theory of the Future. Dr. Duda studied four years of Philosophy, four years of Theology, and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest. He was also Professor of Psychology at St. Lawrence College.
Jean Valdes-Fauli Duda, MS, LMHC, has a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and is a Florida licensed Psychotherapist in private practice. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Loss and Healing from St. Thomas University, and is a Certified Thanatologist with the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Mrs. Duda has presented at international conferences on the Theory of Positive Disintegration and has worked as Associate Director of the Divorce Recovery Programs in the Archdiocese of Miami. She has published on “Life Transitions and the Impact of Divorce” in the Professional Newsletter for the North American Conference for Separated and Divorce Catholics.
CJSSF: Your upcoming program “Inner Conflict: The Pathway of Positive Disintegration” is based on the work of Dr. Kazimierz Dabrowski, a contemporary of Jung’s. How did you become familiar with Dabrowski’s approach? Was he aware of Jung’s work?
Norbert Duda: “I was Dr. Dabrowski’s student at Laval University in Quebec, Canada in the late 1960’s. In addition, I was also in psychotherapy with him. Our meeting came at a time when I was going through major change and my own disintegrative process. Dr. Dabrowski was the catalyst that helped me to make sense out of what was going on as I began applying the Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD), and was ultimately able to reprogram my life. Moreover, Dr. Dabrowski was from a Polish background as was I, which encouraged an even stronger bond.
Jean Duda: “In 1985, Life as I knew it was in flux. Everything seemed to be falling apart. I felt like I had an albatross around my neck, and couldn’t make sense out of my existence. Concurrently, I was studying Psychology at Florida International University in Miami. During this time I was introduced to Norbert by a mutual friend, and ultimately, the Theory of Positive Disintegration as well. Things slowly began to make sense as I began to apply TPD to my disintegrative process. I also began to view myself differently as I put myself back together in a way that made sense to me. What I once viewed as a curse I began to realize was an ally in my evolving personhood.”
Jung and Dabrowski were contemporaries. Their theories share similarities and differences. Dr. Dabrowski was a psychiatrist and psychologist and he was a medical student in Switzerland. They were aware of one another but we don’t know if they ever really collaborated with each other.
CJSSF: You compare Jung’s emphasis on the necessity of death for rebirth and individuation and Dabrowski’s concept of positive disintegration and autonomous personality development. How is Dabrowski’s approach different from Jung’s?
Norbert and Jean Duda: Both theories, we think, focus on the scriptural quote, “death to the old man” or woman, thus allowing for new possibilities for growth and the evolving spirit to occur. Jung uses myth as one way to understand the human dilemma. Dabrowski describes lower levels of existence vs. higher levels in a human’s ability to respond. Jung describes “individuation” as a process where the conscious and unconscious merge and are integrated, ultimately leading to “self-actualization.” or autonomous personality development. Dabrowski states that through the process of positive disintegration and one’s developmental potential a person has the capacity to evolve to higher levels of functioning to ultimately achieve personality ideal or “secondary integration.”
Both theories postulate that the journey is painful but with self-reflection and a willingness to go inward to do soul work, the suffering, and/or “symptoms” can be guides that light the path of each individual on their journey to discover a more rich way of being in the world.
CJSSF: How have you applied Dabrowski’s theory in your clinical work?
Norbert & Jean Duda: We meet the person where they are. We validate their experience of being in the world and let them know that their angst can be a positive sign and that they are in the throes of a disintegrative process that can be very positive. We also look at their psychic symptoms as a good sign and not as mental illness. Symptoms can be a sacred road map to a more evolved self. We encourage our clients to look at those parts of their lives that they want to allow to disintegrate while embracing new parts of the self that are in the process of discovery.
CJSSF Interviewer: Teresa Oster, MS, LCSW, Communications Committee