111: Shining the Light on Positive Disintegration with Chris Wells

Shining the Light on Positive Disintegration

How does it feel to identify as broken and immensely different from all those around you? If these feelings continue and compound, then one ends up feeling mentally ill—doomed to be always on the outside of normal.

Chris Wells joins us today from The Gifted Development Center in Westminster, CO. We met at the SENG conference, and then Chris’ name came up again in a conversation with Kate Arms, our guest from Episode 93. Chris has the knowledge and in-depth experience on the topic of positive disintegration. Her story is amazing–and you don’t want to miss it!

Something new we’re doing here in the Embracing Intensity community is profiling different members of the community to share who we are, what we’ve figured out, and how we can get to know and understand each other better. I’m giving you a sneak peek of my interview with Javon Fernanders, and you can find out more when you join us at Embracing Intensity.

In this episode:

  • What Chris is intensely passionate about, in light of her history of mental illness and giftedness–and why she’s become an advocate

  • What intensity looks like for someone who had “mental illness” since a young age

  • Why it’s taken Chris her whole life to temper the way she is and to be able to move through the world without causing problems

  • How intensity made everything more difficult because no one understood and she always felt alien and different

  • How she spent 12 years on disability for bipolar and panic disorder, wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”

  • Positive disintegration: a sign of strong developmental potential that says, “You are NOT broken.”

  • What it means to be an empath and to no longer feel so alone

  • The cultural factors that affected Chris and the messages she was raised with

  • Why she wishes people would have encouraged her in the things she wanted to do

  • How she “tuned herself out” and used her gifts to make adults’ lives difficult as a teen

  • How Chris got on the path to “figuring things out”–after getting kicked out of high school, going to drug rehab, and writing a book

  • Overexcitability and how it is misunderstood

  • Chris’ younger life—”Intensity out of control”

  • Why she felt like her personality wasn’t working anymore

  • How she uses her fire for good, in studying positive disintegration in incredible depth

  • Why she began studying Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration

  • What has helped in harnessing the power of Chris’ intensity and how “life flows more now”

  • The best advice anyone ever gave Chris: From Linda Silverman, “Stop trying to fit in–and study Dabrowski’s theory.”

  • Personal habits that help her use her fire in positive ways, like writing

  • Books that have influenced Chris the most:

    • Ordinary People by Judith Guest

    • Mellow Out by Michael Piechowski

    • Living with Intensity by Susan Daniels and Michael Piechowski

  • How Chris helps others use their own fire

  • Building community and connection with support and affirmation

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