Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Cultural-Psychological and Clinical Perspectives of Research on Phenomena of Subjective Uncertainty and Ambiguity

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Cultural-Psychological and Clinical Perspectives of Research on Phenomena of Subjective Uncertainty and Ambiguity

Article excerpt

One of the main consequences of the cultural-historical approach of L.S. Vygotsky, A.R. Luria and A.N. Leontiev in psychology was instigation of studies in psychic structure on the basis of social and cultural conditions, requirements and frame- work of the practical objective activity. As A.R. Luria showed in his early and widely known work Cultural differences and intellectual activity, cognitive activity, which results from direct practical experience, and activity, which is mediated by 'logical codes', have different structure and efficiency depending on conditions and objective content of the cognitive task (Luria, 2001). The problems were formulated, which determined the trend of theoretical and experimental research in Russian psychology for the years to come: By virtue of which psychological mechanisms does the cultural situation change the structure and the organization of cognitive activity? What are the particular psychological mechanisms and the laws of interiorization process in norm and pathology? As it is known, the studies of L.S. Vygotsky's school had led to the articulation of an array of fundamental theoretic and methodological guidelines about the systemic structure of consciousness, its sign-symbolic mediation, about the structure and the functioning of 'common' and 'scientific' concepts, about age-specific dynamics of the higher psychic functions and their organization, about pathological development of personality.

The cultural-historical paradigm, which was elaborated by the school of L.S. Vygotsky, points out social conditions, critical situations and the role of communication as the mediators of normal and pathological psychic development and thus sets the new theoretical model of the psychic, the methodology of experimentation in psychology as a whole and in clinical psychology in particular (Vygotsky, 1982). Special A.R. Luria's interest kindled the research of affective conflicts and 'complexes' with objective methods. Thus, due to the widely used plethysmograph he managed to measure the semantic structure of consciousness and later educed some conditions that influence the development, the content and the change of the breadth of semantic systems. He also generated such modeling of changes in experimental situation as variation of instructions, of stimulus material, of inner emotional states, of motivations and attitudes of the subject (Luria, 2003a). Therefore, he proved the dependence of semantic content of the psychic (including currently not represented in consciousness) on the level of cultural development, ethnical conditions, professional training and on the specifics of cultural tools used as mediators.

In his contemplations about the future of the so-called 'realistic psychology' A.R. Luria emphasized the importance of studying macro- and microsocial influences (class-specific and political biases, religiousness, group memberships etc.), which formulate substantial, structural and functional characteristics of individual mental life: "...in real human cognition we always find an array of alterations and 'distortions', which depend directly on social environment" (Luria, 2003b, p. 324). He also claimed that psychology, which disengages itself completely from particular circumstances of individual life, risks becoming a dogma, a scheme, a fiction, and thus the 'realistic psychology' should tend to the synthesis of nomothetic and ideographic principles of research (Ibid, p. 314) and ideally to renounce the positivistic (purely artificial, 'sterile') model of experimentation; it should take into account the role of individual biographies and conditions of development, particular social situations and communicative contexts both in past experience of a subject and in modeled here and now conditions of clinical survey and communication with psychologist.

For clinical psychologists the relations of contemporary culture (philosophy, art, cinematograph, styles of life), its destructive ideals and mythologems, manipulative media-technologies and all-pervasive idea of 'deconstruction' with various facets of socio-cultural phenomenon of subjective uncertainty is more or less obvious. …

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