L.S. Vygotsky’s Ideas in the Clinical Psychology



The present article discusses possible perspective trends of the development of the cultural-historical approach in the context of clinical psychology. This puts forward the thesis about the development of man in ontogeny as a result of his interaction with cultural environment which causes the transformation of natural mental functions into higher mental ones and the formation of the whole range of psychopathological abnormalities. It also discusses the voluntary regulation of higher mental functions, the determination of involuntariness and postvoluntariness of functions, the internalization of actions, the differentiation of affect and emotion (incl. as a higher mental function), the “cultural” socialization of non-mental functions (sexual, sleep, excretion) and the inconsistency of natural and “cultural” entity in a human. This paper confirms the statement that the basis of the development of man in ontogenesis is the emergence of subjectness like all the forms of higher activity through the encounter with cultural restrictions and requirements. It suggests extending the concept of “higher” functions by means of including physiological and bodily functions. The latter acquire the characteristics of higher mental functions during the socialization: the voluntary regulation, hierarchical structure and control. This considers the phenomena of alienation, conversion and dissociative disorders and voluntariness as a result of the complication and restructuring of natural functions. It also suggest trends for further investigations.

General Information

Keywords: socialization, the cultural-historical approach, voluntariness, a “cultural” body

Journal rubric: Problems of Cultural-Historical and Activity Psychology

Article type: scientific article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17759/chp.2020160210

For citation: Tkhostov A.S. L.S. Vygotsky’s Ideas in the Clinical Psychology. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2020. Vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 78–88. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2020160210.

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In his classical concept of higher mental functions presented in the epigraph, A.R. Luria formulates the main ideas of the cultural-historical approach in psychology. Having schematized these theses to the limit in order to separate out the principal and key points. We shall note that human development itself is considered a result of interaction of a human being and the cultural environment. It causes the transformation of natural innate mental functions into higher mental functions through the adoption and following internalization of special, social-by-origin tools. Their formation takes place in an immediate touch with the adult by way of the so-called interpersonal (shared) activity. There is a presumption A.R. Luria. Reconsideration of the concept of localization, 76— 77. that interpersonal activity is actualized in an object­centered, real form. When internalizing, it turns into a concealed, unobserved shape mediated by a psychological tool — a sign; and it is not aimed at outward objects, but, first of all, at management of other people, and then at its own conduct. The principal difference of higher mental functions from natural consists in the ability to auto- regulation, in their lifetime genesis, social origin, mediation of the construction by a psychological tool­sign, voluntariness, and awareness by way of their functioning, hierarchy and systemic entity [8].

Primarily speaking, the distinction between lower (natural) and higher mental functions take different hi- erarchal places. It lies in that; there is a new intermediate element protruding in between the stimulus (which the behavior is directed to) and human reaction. The behavior loses its immediate character, and the unity of the stimuli and reactions turns out to be disruptive. The scheme of the formation of higher mental functions introduced by L.S. Vygotsky [23] is reproduced with almost no alterations in later psychological works in the context of the cultural-historical approach, although its several basic theses lack for definite clarifications.

Above all, there is still a problem of voluntariness remaining an obscure point that has been one of the most complicated aspects for explanation during all the history of philosophy and psychology. The problem of vol­untariness, or in its philosophical meaning, “the problem of volition”, has not had a single meaning yet, as there is absolutely an unintelligible moment of joining the incorporeal substratum of will and a material corpus. Any variant of its solution cannot help, but face the unsolved psychophysiological problem. A possible bypass that L.S. Vygotsky applies is the idea of sign-symbolical mediation — a universal instrument adopted during ontogeny. It enables to master one’s own behavior by means of mastering stimuli managing this behavior. This idea borrowed from Hegel was to explain the resource of influence of the incorporeal substratum of will on a real conduct. Hegel employed the metaphor of “cunning” of reason that does not interfere with the actions of natural powers but allocates them in that consequence, which responds to the will of the subject without any violation of natural laws [5]. For instance, the existence of an airplane in no way breaks any decree of nature, however there are no planes in nature; it is the invention of humankind. Though there is no “natural airplane”, the invention constructed in full accordance with decrees of nature (and what is more, it operates particularly due to these decrees) allowing human beings to do the act incompatible with their nature. Although decrees of nature are not violated, the result is a completely unnatural event. A real stimulus, which later on provokes the required behavior, may be substituted by its semiotic copy or signifier, thus representing the stage of transition to sign-symbolical mediation.

This is it what L.S. Vygotsky considers as a specifically human invention, as well as Hegel does in his metaphor of “cunning” of wisdom. Following him he underscores that there are no such cultural methods, which could not be separated into their constituent natural processes. The principal restriction of that explanation is that releasing the will from the necessity to make the material force does not completely clarify the problem of choice. After all, the problem does not consist in the inability to lift a stone with will, but with the necessary muscle force. The force ceases to be measured in kilograms but it remains unclear how the will may be determined, at all; and whether the doubling or even trebling of substances occurs in here: if voluntariness is determined by the use of psychological tool, thus how (what with) should its usage be determined? Yet, in an attempt for the non-contradictory solution of the problem of vol­untariness, putting in voluntariness in the most studied form in the context of the cultural-historical approach, A.R. Luria has to come to word juggling in the genre of dialectical materialism: “Refusal from the idealistic notion of higher mental functions like demonstration of some spiritual principle detached from all other natural phenomena, as well as refusal from the naturalistic approach to them as natural properties laid in the human brain by nature may be considered the main achievement of modern psychology” [8, p. 142]. Later, in the absence of content discussion of the problem of voluntariness this idea in neuropsychology transposes itself into the problem of cerebral localization of voluntary functions: “The mechanism of voluntary regulation of higher mental functions can be regarded as the substantive principle of cerebration whose derangement causes the whole aggregate of defects, or “‘frontal lobe’ neuropsychological syndrome.” According to the observations and special investigations the voluntary speech regulation of higher mental functions is related predominantly to the left frontal lobe functioning” [6, p. 223].

In the scope of the cultural-historical concept of L.S. Vygotsky, voluntary control is fulfilled through internalization of externalized object-centered activity by means of mediating it with sign. One of the notions here requiring clarification is the idea of internalization. Originally, it appears in the works of E. Durkheim regarding it as the mechanism of socialization of a human being. Later, this term in the similar context, like a mechanism of adoption, transition into internal plan of outward actions is employed sequentially in the works of P. Janet, J. Piaget, L.S. Vygotsky himself, J. Bruner, P.Ya. Galperin, V.P. Zinchenko, remaining rather a metaphor than a real psychological mechanism. Perhaps, the exception is the theory of the gradual formation of mental actions by P.Ya. Galperin presenting the picture of action transition from a real through uttering to a mental action. Seemingly, in spite of the extremely gradual developmental work over the steps of such a transfer this theory does not read qualitative changes of the stages concerned, at all. De facto, it brings them to merely quantitative differences with a strong outlook on “inner speech” as a transitional form from speech to thinking. If nonverbal thinking can be fancied, for instance, in the type of Helmholtz’s unconscious inferences, then speech with no thinking is nothing else than shouting.

Questioning about the essence of internalization, one discovers, that despite a widespread usage of this term its concrete mechanism remains mysterious. Literally, internalization is a transposition inwards of that what has been outside but it is impossible to comprehend as swallowing or putting something external (what in particular?) inwards one’s head, brain, or psyche (what?). The comparative analysis of the usage of this notion displays that the difference in opinions concerns not only the theoretical understanding of the phenomenon of internalization, but also defining the range of the phenomena, which relate to internalization. This fact makes him presume that the term “internalization” implies several different notions linked more or less to one another, and combined non-critically [16].

One can attempt to illustrate internalization mechanism with addressing to the most elementary instance of internalization of outward object. The phenomenon of probe can be found in the works of A.N. Leontiev, N. Bohr, which was described for the first time by Aristotle under the name of “the stick of the blind person”. This remarkably rich-for-interpretation phenomenon enables us to understand the simplest models, base laws of one of the most complicated psychological phenomenon of internalization.

Its entity lies in the following: when a blind man feels surface with his staff, and a surgeon tries to find a bullet in the wound by means of probe there occurs a wonderful thing. Their sensations do not localize at the boundary of hand-probe (where it is to take place because the probe is a foreign body, and the hand is a part of my body. The probe by way of effort affects, stresses upon cutaneous receptors, that is, the sensation is to localize exactly at my body’s border), but in a paradoxical way at the extremity probe-object. This is a paradoxical thing because it turns out that the distant-receptor embodies into the corpus configuration becoming its extension and, as a matter of fact, becoming internalized. This internalization keeps until the probe shows its “rigidity”, that is, predictability of possible changes. As soon as another person sets it in motion, or in an unpredictable way it changes its form and/or degree of subordinacy, it inevitably becomes externalized, and the sensation shifts to the boundary hand-probe.

The most important thing in this phenomenon is that the border of localization is straightly fixed with the limit of autonomy and predictability, dependence on the subject. Always provided, that the probe does not change its form, it is constant, and all its actions can be predicted and taken into account. In other words, the internalization of the probe in this example is its embodiment in body scheme. It is not in terms of putting it inside myself, but in the meaning of turning into a person’s instrument, prosthesis by means of which actions are as much predictable and subject to us as our biological body’s actions. Further still, stemming from this instance, the internalization-externalization ratio is not fixed, and it may dynamically change depending on conditions. Our own body is not immanently internalized; in some situations it shows uncontrollability and unpredictability felt like estrangement (intoxication, numbness, etc.). In the similar way, complex forms of instrumental extensions are internalized, they cease to be realized having the possibility to be taken into account and anticipated. In the given situation internalization is nothing else than the adoption of the scheme of relations with them (complex forms of instrumental extensions), the adoption of models of behavior, whereupon these extensions cease to be reflexed, to be the phenomenon of our consciousness, becoming unconscious. That does not mean that they cease to exist, after condition changing they can externalize again. So, in the phenomenon of “a stopped escalator” which in no way differs from an ordinary stairway a person suffers a drastic sensation of motor discomfort. In this case, there is an internalized model of a moving staircase, and we are prepared for the motions adapted to it in the form of a specific motor setting. As similar extensions, one can consider cognitive schemes, maps, measurements, language grammar, etiquette and so on. Considering such an interpretation, the internalization joins in the specific meanings of this term: 1) transformation of outward, observed forms of activity into inner (unobserved) processes; 2) transformation of the forms of joint (collective) activity into the forms of individual activity; 3) a person’s adoption of norms, settings, values, etc. of a group [16]. This also enables mitigation of the problem of the transition of a material, outward action into an ideal, inner one for it is not an action but its scheme internalized. In this sense, the historical-cultural approach is not quite restricted essentially by mental functions, and it has a wide prospect of possible development.

However, within the confines of the present understanding of the psychological essence of internalization, the classical statement of cultural-historical theory for higher mental function to be an internalized outward activity becoming voluntary and realized is arguable. On the contrary, an authentically internalized activity even ceases to be realized and comes out of the extent of its voluntariness into the zone, which after N.F. Dobrynin can be called as post-voluntariness. With reference to N.F. Dobrynin the sphere of post-voluntariness is restricted with the function of attention and related to the loss of a voluntary effort in activity, and that becomes interesting. This idea is much richer and it may turn out to be alive for the development of cultural-historical theory itself. If we assume, that any function after passing the stage of de-automation of its involuntary, natural realization through an unfolded, interpersonal stage, and later conscious, reflexed interpersonal transits onto the post voluntary level which enables to considerably simplify and optimize complex forms of activity.

Post voluntary and involuntary functions in relation to their awareness are similar outwardly only. Involuntary functions are primarily “transparent” (unconscious) to the subject, they still may come opaque when being acquired; they are subject to logic mechanism and described in the language of tropisms. “Transparency” (post voluntariness) is derivative, the functions have already become transparent after their acquirement but the potential of becoming conscious reduced inside them reveals easily in different complicated cases.

The discrepancy of innate and “cultural” entity in a human being causes the gap in the space of which there appear and grow specific disorders related to the group of functional and conversion symptoms. The principal chance for their realization is determined by the mobility of I-boundaries, which make it possible to set up a specific configuration of “false boundaries” imitating organic pathology. Although this hypothesis needs a special discussion and argument, one may assume, that the mechanism of conversion and dissociative symptoms formation consists in that they display themselves only in the sphere of “semitransparent” functions acquired by a person (or fundamentally, that may be acquired). Movement disorder in case of abasia atactica, mutism, colitis, constipations, diarrheas, enuresis, dysphagia, em­esis, dyspnea, aspiration, hysterical dumbness, aplasia, deafness, functional amnesia, pseudo dementia, etc. does not occur on the anatomical or physiological level but just on the functional as control disorder, control zone shift. The indirect confirmation of this hypothesis is that there are no conversion disturbances of hematopoietic system, i.e. the work of the liver and kidneys. The core of conversion and dissociative pathology is in the failure of the management of these functions on the level of post voluntary realization (or, on the contrary, it lies in the introduction of a latent control over the early automatized functions) and shift of the subject’s bounds from an outside contour to an inside one when the action gets directed not to the object but to the function itself.

One can single out a very interesting and promising field of analysis of the psychological and brain mechanisms of the unbalance of possibilities for one or another function realization on the different levels: involuntary, voluntary and post voluntary. With reference to L.S. Vygotsky there is a case of voluntary compensation in Parkinson’s disease. “A parkinsonian is not able to make a step; when you tell him: “Take a step!” or lay a piece of paper on the floor, he takes this step. Everyone knows how well parkinsonians go up/down the stairs and how badly — on the even floor. One has to lay a number of pieces of paper on the floor in order to lead the patient to the laboratory. He wants to go but he can’t influence upon his motility, this system is ruined in him. Why is a parkinsonian able to go when there are pieces of paper laid on the floor?” [21, pp. 129—130]. There is an explanation given by L.S. Vygotsky: “That system, which enables him to raise his hand, is now broken. But he can link one brain point with another by means of an outer sign” (ibid.) — it is not fully clear. What does the linkage “of one point of the brain with another” through an outside sign mean in this case? The more convincing interpretation of this phenomenon is given by A.R. Luria: “The compensation of movement disorders turns out to be possible on the basis of rearrangement of mental processes, which he used during his walk. The activity is transferred from the subcortical level where lesion foci are located to the level of safer cortex of cerebral hemispheres” [9, p. 110]. Notwithstanding it, there is no way to contend that walking represents an entirely involuntary, purely reflex act; as the minimum, it includes direction programming, but it is rather a post voluntary function that involves also purely reflex links and still extends further. As M.M. Bakhtin noted: “The person directing the hand to the object, of course, doesn’t voluntarily manage clonuses necessary for the act of grasping, but a part of the movement towards the object is quite voluntary” [2, p. 134]. Likewise in Jackson’s example of the patient, who is asked by the doctor’s request to say “no”, says: “No, doctor, I can’t say no”, one should recognize that the reflex basis of the action is quite safe (otherwise, no similar action could have been possible), but its inclusion in voluntary or post voluntary act is disturbed.

The clinical picture of Jill de la Tourette syndrome provides more demonstrative example of the disagreement of the ratio of involuntary, voluntary and post voluntary components. A.R. Luria writes about this syndrome: “Any progress in explaining Tourette syndrome fundamentally broadens our understanding of human nature on the whole... I don’t know any other syndrome the meaning of which is commensurable with this” [15, p. 127]. The specificity of de la Tourette syndrome lies in the presence of manifold obsessions, tics, eschrolalia (yells related to obscene or sacrilegious vocabulary) occurring just in that situation where it is prohibited, for instance, in church. Though de la Tourette syndrome has got a hard organic ground, its interest for psychology is connected with the very moment of control: involuntary verbal product is pointedly linked to the efforts of its voluntary regulation and to culture through its content. A patient with this syndrome does not simply cry out any words but only those marked by culture as forbidden.

At this point, one more parallel manifests itself along conversion and dissociative disorders; that is obsession contrast content: when the patient shows obsessive ideas about the possibility to do the harm involuntarily exactly to the subject whom he or she doesn’t want to do it to (for instance, the mother who is in fear to throw her child out of the window or kill the child). Although we have tried to describe the intricacies of these syndromes showing the close connection of voluntariness, organic or dynamic ground, the cultural context of symptom formation, and their psychological study in the scope of the cultural-historical approach in clinical psychology seems to be envisaging further development.

Introducing the child into the context of culture is connected with the particular practice of objectification of his strenuous activity, physiological manifestations, with the fixation of restrictions. Their further overcoming and “folding” are the way of socialization, development of voluntariness and derived “transparency” of corporeal functions. The build-up of “objects” on the way of the subject is a constantly flowing task of the new topology of the subject-object division. As to pathology, in this case it just confirms the existence of this already- concealed inner “bearing structure”. Different cultures and historical epochs affixing specific attributions of responsibility and blame to the subject produce various configurations of the subject-object discontinuity and, thereafter, various types of concealed structures defining the pathomorphism of conversion disorders.

There is one more point that needs clarification; this is the substance of the interpersonal phase of the formation of higher (non-natural) function. In the classical version, it is a shared performance, which enables the child to master the forms of behavior inaccessible on his own. Generally, the ontogenesis history of “higher” human functions is expounded as the aggregate of reasonably “vegetarian” events. A little child in cooperation with the adult (as a representative and medium of culture) assimilates new forms and modes of activity joyfully getting them internalized (truly speaking, it is not always clear how he does) and transiting to a new level of mental functioning. Never-the-less, theoretical speculations, clinical observations, and even a trivial experience do not accord enough with that kind of grace. Even the acquisition of simple alimentary and hygienic habits does not run smoothly, and the phenomenon of punishment itself in the broadest sense, which is principally irremovable from culture, makes the idea about the absolute harmony of the dyad of adult-child or subject-society questionable, at all. Eating with hands is much simpler than with a fork, skating, playing the violin and just simple readings are not physiologic; regulation activity of corporeal functions, inclinations and needs requires permanent and quite serious efforts. The acquirement of social and cultural norms differs little in principle from the acquirement of the law of gravity through the practice of falling, and of ability of contacting with matches properly through a painful burn.

Currently, in the theoretical and practical understanding it seems to be of significance principally to formulate and integrate a number of important notions into the context of the development of modern psychology, which correspond to the actual challenges of the cultural-historical process, and, subsequently, to the goals of psychological theory and practice. The notions of “violence”, “effort” and (if to be more exact) their interrelation need in specification. The non-evident and wrong assumption lies in that the function that derived as a consequence of cultural transformation possesses indubitable advantages over natural. Even if we face some of its imperfections, they are the matter of the imperfection of its acquisition. The advantage of higher function over natural is not much obvious, yet. V.M. Allakhverdov points out that the child after the birth possesses such a perfect reflex control (for instance, forced grasping reflex enables the child to do chin-ups after having seized the hand lifting him) which he, maybe, never achieves or not soon, on the voluntary level; and capabilities, speed and volume of the information processed on the conscious level are never equal to the organismic capabilities of a human being [1]. The advantages of higher function lie in something else: in the possibility to come out of the extent of existent stimulation, capability of behaving or non-behaving in accordance with some other, non­natural rules, and sometimes despite them. At that, one should especially underscore that denial, inhibition, and prohibition, as the forms of socialized self-regulation have not got less significance than joint fulfillment with the adult. Effort and tension have a principal value for generating higher forms of psyche. Further internalization is to involve the obligatory stage of the externalization of involuntary natural activity, its objectification, and the following post voluntariness expects the preceding de-automation. The well-known parallelogram development reflects very important, but non-fully conceived phenomenon, that is, possible activity deterioration at the initial stage of the acquisition of mediating instruments. The comprehension of “inhibition”, “restriction” as the basic essence of the interpersonal stage of higher function formation is analyzed by D.B. Elkonin quite in a detailed way, and earlier by Ribot [25].

In accordance with cultural-historical approach; memory, perception, thinking and speech are traditionally considered as higher mental functions, though there are no principal restrictions for possible analogous interpretation of both other mental functions (for instance, emotions) and corporeal and physiological functions [22]. Emotions with relation to the cultural-historical approach may also be considered as higher mental functions possessing all the corresponding characteristics: hierarchal structure, lifetime social formation, sign- symbolical mediation and voluntariness of regulation. Properly speaking, human emotions form upon the basis of natural (innate) affectivity. The driving motive of their development in ontogeny as in case of other higher mental functions is communication with the adult, in the first place, with the mother. For instance, the mother fills with sense and signifies vital needs (you want to eat, drink, you feel cold and so on) and corporeal functions of the child. Likewise she recognizes and designates (signifies) mimic, locomotive, physiological signs of the child’s condition in the terms of emotions: pleasure, displeasure, joy, sorrow (you’re angry, pleased, anxious, upset, etc.).

The somatic-vegetative displays of physiological state, that is, reddening, blanching, strain, relaxation, etc. are signified in the category of emotional experiences transforming into their sign and adding to the natural, organismic essence with the symbolic meaning. Such a “doubling” leads not only to the formation of a wide range of differentiated emotions but also to the “structural readjustment” of organismic functions (in particular, the physiological displays of emotions) which turn from natural and involuntary to social and managed. This fact changes the situation in a thoroughgoing way: the child’s scream turns from the display of fear into the instrument of overcoming and handling this fear, that is, into the call for help. L. Wittgenstein describes the acquisition through the natural sensation of the sign function by the example of pain: “The words are associated with the primordial, natural expression of sensation, and they substitute it. The child hurts himself, he cries, and at the same time, the adults induce and teach to exclaim, and then to clause. They teach the child a new, painful conduct... Verbal expression of pain substitutes the cry” [24]. In order for the child to acquire such an instrument, it is very important to form and keep a constant “gap” between the display of need and the mother’s reaction, in which this display transforms into the action.

The acquirement of forms of emotion displays including both orders and prohibitions in this sphere takes place in touch with and under supervision of the adult. In this sense, emotion does not differ from other higher mental functions, passing through the interpersonal stage to intrapersonal. The peculiarity is determined by the restrictive form of the joint activity, which is also characteristic of corporeality and sexuality, by sharing not only function fulfillment, but its prohibition with the adult, as well. The examples of such prohibitions are as follows: the refusal from direct feeling expression (“A real man never cries”) or the imitation of socially significant emotions (“Smile!”). The socialization of affects in the form of cultural instructions and prohibitions is the condition, manner and result of the development of the voluntary management of emotions. By means of transforming primarily outer dialogic process into inner mechanisms of emotional regulation, there appears a mature emotion, the function of mastering and managing one’s own behavior. In that way the emotion obtains its voluntariness attaining it non-directly (as it is impossible for a human being simply “not to feel”), but through sign-symbolical operations.

The mother’s word creates the system of coordinates and frame of references “leading” the child through the steps of “affects taming”: differentiation, imitation, teaching to express, and manage. “The immediate emotional communication between the mother and child during the first half a year of the life already does not come to double-contact exchange of emotions; the world of objects wedges in it as the third link, and the mother loses no chance to indicate what is interesting, good, terrifying in this world” [20]. Both fixing the “affect-object” connection (“You rejoice at a new toy”) and training the attitude to the matter of emotion (the objects connected with a positive experience are valued as “good” or “desired” and vice versa) are lifelong and social. One of the first steps along this path contains the ability to “brake” immediate emotional displays slowing down or concealing the feelings. The example can be politeness as a set of regulations and restrictions for the expression of true senses in definite situations. As sign systems determining emotion formation there are both natural phenomena (gestures, mimicry obtaining sign functions) and the sign system itself — speech.

Object domain is the primary “instrument” of the mediation of emotions. The child learns to manage the experiences through “acquiring” their objects. Citing to A.N. Leontiev, like a need must “gain its sight” in the issue of meeting its object, an affective state transforms into emotion by way of the “affect-object” connection. Making formally external spatial manipulations with an affectively charged object, per se, the child gains the instrument to manipulate the inner state. In the future, the child’s approach moves towards the objects that provoke positive emotions and moves away from the objects provoking negative emotions (peculiar to lower forms of affectivity) are substituted by the complex activity of sign-symbolic “holding” of one’s own behavior, emotions and outward things. The management of emotions is not carried out directly but in a mediate way, for instance, by means of their objects. It is impossible to provoke a definite feeling voluntarily, that is, with the help of self­ordering and self-convincing but “manipulations” with the emotion’s object enable to organize the situation in the way when a desired feeling appears (“When a black thought enters your mind, uncork a bottle of champagne or read “The Marriage of Figaro” once again”).

The attainment of sign function by means of organismic displays (the transformation of a “physiological” cry into the message) and fixation of multiple-valued relations between an affective feeling and its object transfers affectivity from the natural field into sign-symbolic, that is, semiotic one. The comprehension of sign system opens broad possibilities for their poly-semantic interpretation: sorrow and joy for the person feeling their gist are the signs of joyous and sad events, while for a psychiatrist or psychologist they may be the sign of mental disorder, and for a psychoanalyst they represent the reflection of some long-ago forgotten incidents. The obligatory object orientation of a mature emotion together with equivalence relation between an affective feeling and its object generates conditions for the voluntary regulation of emotions. Emotions like higher mental functions also play “a substantially diverse role in comparison with elementary functions (auth. affects) accomplishing organized adaptation to situation with a preliminary control over one’s own conduct” [22, p. 55]. The connection with their own objects does not imply “the bondage” of emotions. It is rather vice-versa: it enables to get free from the imposed settlement of the immediate influence. The voluntari­ness of emotions attained by means of sign-symbolic mediation allows a person to take hold of the passions caused by circumstances and/or hormonic changes. Voluntary perception sets a person free from the power of sensory area, and voluntary memory — from the power of immediate anamnesis. However, emotion voluntariness has its restrictions: in emotion there is always a “track” of a primitive, uncontrolled affect in the form of an inexplicable feeling that involuntarily appears and hard gives way to regulation. This shade of “naturalness” and “immediacy” adds the quality of “genuineness” to a mature emotion: an excessive mediation is the loss of emotion (“artificiality” of feelings, absence of sincerity), and an excessive immediacy is a loss of the subject (“one has forgotten himself, has been off his onion, a surge of feelings has overlaid”).

Thus, in the phylogenetic sense, affect is a product of a biological development that has led to the differentiation of a primarily indivisible reflection into cognitive and affective processes, and emotion is a result of the further cultural development of affective processes [7]. However, the relation of emotion with the object is not concluded in the modality of its affective shade only: the more developed emotion, the more complicated and mediated relations between them. If affect is characteristic of either the “ignorance” of its object, or a plain connection with it, then in the course of socialization this connection loses its immediate nature and becomes determined by the individual peculiarities of semantic sphere and experience or by cultural standards and rules. This relation may possess mobility and abilities for transformation in the issue of emotional switch. The kind of the connection like this is not the identity when a definite object is unambiguously related to the concrete affec­tive feeling (this is characteristic of involuntary affects) but it is rather a univalency (or, in the category of semiotics, “ascription”). As long as the object orientation of emotion is a basis for the formation of voluntariness (the object is one of the “tools” of mediation), these disturbances are interrelated. The loss of voluntariness represents the outer form of emotional disorders which is phenomenologically reflected in a “capturing” kind of feelings in affective and anxiety disorders, in the inability to slow down, conceal or restrain their displays, while its (voluntariness’s) latent psychological mechanism lies in the derangement of the connection with the object.

In contrast to the “normal” experiences which keep their ability for voluntary management or experimental situation undergoing reality test, (where affect existence depends upon duration of effect (chemical or neurophys­iological)), in the clinical picture of affective pathology there is a peculiar field of persistent abnormal affective phenomena whose distinguishing feature is the inability of self-dependent correction. In spite of the diversity of disorders in the affective sphere found in clinical practice, from the phenomenological point of view, besides the particular “depth” and anomalous directedness of pathological affects, their essence comes to two main formal characteristics: the loss of voluntariness and connection derangement with object content. Irrespective of the modality of affect the loss of voluntariness is expressed in the inability of management of both experiences attaining a peculiar “capturing” nature and affect displays becoming uncontrolled by the subject. These capturing experiences are characterized by ambiguity and diffuseness, they are not that much reflexed by the patient, and they seem to him/her to be “obscure” and non-deducible from the life context. Even if they seem to the patient to be the consequence of some real events, their scale of the experience is incommensurable with the event either in its depth, or in its duration.

Upsetting the wholeness of normal phenomenon, pathology presents to us particular “natural experiment” baring concealed-in-norm mechanisms. The distortion of the link of emotion with its object in affective and anxiety disorders is found in two ultimate variants: “non-object-oriented” and “over-object-oriented” emotional phenomena. The former implies the loss of volun­tariness, which is determined by the absence of appropriate means of management, that is, by the absence of emotion’s object, first. The latter is determined by the lack of means of management since the depth of emotion in relation to this object or the link rigidity invariably exceeds the ability to manage.

In the phenomenological sense, derangements of vol­untariness show in an obsessive, “capturing” way of pathological experiences; structurally describing, as the connection disturbance “object-affect”. One of the variants of the loss of voluntariness is represented by “non-object- oriented” emotional phenomena found in the clinical picture of endogenous disorders and described in the context of the pathology of vital feelings. Vital ennui in depression and vital anxiety are characterized by the absence of a causative explanation, firm content, psychological non­deducibility from life context, and they have phase course and respond to biological therapy. The diffuse localization of similar sensations at the border of consciousness and body can be considered as a peculiar “pseudo-thingness”, the interpretation of non-object-oriented emotion as a corporeal sensation (an “oppressive” boredom, “a weight on one’s heart”, “the heart jumping out of the breast”, “impossibility to find one’s own level”, the sensations of “muscle tension”, “dry mouth”, “nervous tremor”, “lump in one’s throat”, “lack of air”, “heaviness in the stomach”, “weakness in legs”, etc.). Since such emotions have “phantom” nature, no actual activity can help along their resolution, and no object can fulfill the function of mediate link, which attach a capturing and obsessive nature to them. Apart from poorly managed emotional states linked to vital needs determined phylogenetically, there may be ontogenetically generated “particular” relations with the object. These experiences about an excessively significant object in clinical practice are referred to the category of “super values” and bound up with neurotic and personality disorders. Those super valuable formations are characterized with a developed (though, not always appropriate) reflection, hypertrophied pithiness, object-centered character, and relatively safe criticism. The reasons for the specific, overvalued relation to the emotion’s object are associated with the history of a given particular patient, and seeming absurdity in the presence of a relative criticism is based on the unconscious nature of connection with the object.

Thus, there are two variants of the disruption of emotion link with its object and, accordingly, two variants of voluntary regulation disturbance turning emotion into affect. The first variant corresponds to endogenous af­fective disorders in which affect has not still become the emotion, and object attribution has a phantom nature. The second one corresponds to personality pathology, psychogenic and neurotic disorders in which the affec­tive component is not an emotion anymore since it is rigidly connected with the object [18].

The experimental proofs of the central place of regulatory component fault in affective disorders in the form of the deficits of sign-symbolic mediation of emotional regulation and actualization of destructive strategies of self-regulation of emotional states (self-accusation, rumination, desasterization, drinking for relieving anxiety, avoidant behavior, etc.) are presented in the works about cognitive regulation of emotions [12; 14].

As far as it was mentioned above, cultural-historical approach in its classical variant applies to quite a limited number of mental functions despite there were not and there are not any fundamental restrictions to understand both mental and non-mental functions from the point of view of this approach. First of all, it concerns the cultural transformation of the human body that extends not only at the expense of instrument acquiring, but of the total transformation of senses, motility abilities and even formation of virtual mental functions (the Internet, computer, imaging systems) (H.M. McLuhan. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man).

This is a fundamentally new field of the possible application of cultural-historical approach concerning the transformation of culture itself and generation of (in principle) new psychological instruments-tools, which come out of the extent of a simple site or physical corpus. However, the base of such a transformation is laid down already at the stage of the formation of cultural body, cultural corporeal and physiological functions, which do not match with natural functions in the way of realization (actualization) and management being their basis. In the most general form the idea of cultural body formulated by K. Marx in his remark about that, “Hunger is hunger but the hunger gratified with cooked meat eaten by a knife and fork is another hunger than that which bolts raw meat with the help of hand, nail and tooth” [10, p. 28].

In principle, the restrictions imposed on natural functions by society create a new “landscape” of a cultural body, in principle. Prohibition and rules of meal and functions make the new reality of an “alimentary” body, hygiene causes the subjective phenomenon of “cleanness and mud”, and sexual bans cultivate an “erotic body”. In this sense, the last group of taboo is particularly demonstrative. Sexual needs colliding with the regulation of its manifestations form totally particular ideas about erotic/non-erotic entity, which are closely connected with the historical, religious and ethnic variants of banned/allowed substance. Despite sexual attraction is traditionally regarded amongst major and the most fundamental human needs, its realization control is traced since the very early stages of human history, particularly in European culture. European culture is characterized by marking out the zones of “tolerable” manifestations of sexuality and distinct “marking” of forbidden ones. The specific character of such an attitude requires mastering one’s erotic attractions and turning sexual attraction from natural and involuntary into voluntarily regulated.

Following L.S. Vygotsky, if one accepts that the most important “trait of higher mental function is mastering one’s own behavioral process”, then it is quite consistent that sexuality loses its involuntary character early. Moreover, this is the only human function whose canons of realization are fixed within the framework of legislation. As a result, there is a new, socially determined regulatory principle of sexual conduct. This is the sexuality, which accounts for the idea of “cultural development” consisting in that “it is not nature but society should be regarded as the determining factor of human behavior”.

The hierarchal construction of human sexuality shows itself in that natural need for procreation is instinctive in nature; it has the exact range of unconditioned stimuli; it is realized in the form of chain reflex under the conditions that respond to these unconditioned irritants. It also shows itself in that, from some moment it begins complying with the conventionalities that are not biological, but social in nature and it transforms to “genetically more complex and higher form of behavior”. The hierarchy of the human sexuality construction reveals itself in the possibility of its split; for instance, in case of the “withdrawal” of higher regulatory forms, in the situation of alcoholic or drug intoxication, in the pathological state of affect, in frontal lobe syndrome and other lesions of cortical parts of the brain. As in some other variants of higher mental functions, in the new structures of human sexuality (contrary to lower mental functions) the difference lies in, first of all, that “... the immediate unity of stimuli and reactions in one complex turns out to be disturbed”.

Exactly like other mental functions, human sexuality is characterized by the lifetime social nature of its formation. However, in this case the peculiarity of socialization is determined by the combination of the severity of prohibition, its inner contradiction and non-apparent wording (not always); and the interpersonal stage of formation is mostly characterized by sharing of not function fulfilment but of its prohibition. Not only is the model of realization primarily obtained, but also the stereotype of inhibition. M. Foucault demonstrates that the silent management of child’s sexuality displays in the form of interpersonal activity may be realized not only in words, but also merely in the architecture of educational buildings [4, p. 4-48].

Although the notion of socialization for L.S. Vy­gotsky is not connected with the repressive function of culture, there is no principal theoretical restriction for its usage when interpreting repression. Such an extension of the comprehension enables to use the advantages of the home cultural-historical approach combining them with the well-developed subject of the repressive function of culture in contemporary western philosophy and psychology. One more demonstrative example of the socialization of non-mental functions, still turning into cultural ones is the transformation of sleep. Sleep like many other physiological functions is not fully natural any more for a person as distinct from animals. Exactly in the same way like a human being partially controls that what, where, how and when he eats, where and how his processes of elimination are realized, he began to partially control his sleep. Sleep as well as food, excretion, erection after their socialization gets not only naturally but also socially determined: the way life and conduct influence upon it; a human being regulates his sleep in accordance with the views adopted by culture.

In the natural environment, sleep adjusts mainly to conditions of nature (illumination, temperature, melato­nin level in the blood) and regular flow of physiological processes: as a general rule, an animal falls asleep as night is setting in. It is tired, and it sleeps as much as the organism needs. In the social environment, a person finds the means of the direct and indirect regulation of sleeping, thus, he endeavors to put off sleep time in order to speak to his friends, complete his work, or go to the cinema. He tries not to fall asleep in the daytime when there is work to do, when he moves and flies over several time zones and then tries to adapt himself to time changes, and he fixes the time he gets up in the morning. The set of means of the indirect regulation of sleep enlarges: a person takes soporific to fall asleep, sets an alarm clock, on having awoken he has coffee in order to wake up. Regimen becomes the tool of sleep regulation: a person’s job and life assign an individual what time and how regularly he goes to bed, and how many hours he sleeps. An artificial light allows a person to work in the night, perhaps, breaking his circadian rhythms — the rhythms of sleep and wakefulness in concerned with lightning. In other words, at least, a human sleep may be partially controlled with the help of direct (what time to go to bed and wake up) and indirect (sleeping pills, coffee, energizing drinks, listening to the music before one’s sleep, making a bed) tools. Thus, sleep can be considered as the analogue of higher mental function [13, p. 24].

Sleep as well as food, excretion, erection after their socialization gets not only naturally but also socially determined: the way life and conduct influence upon it; a human being regulates his sleep in accordance with the views adopted by culture.

Such a transformation like in every other case creates a specific zone of “the cultural pathology” represented by the whole set of caused-by-culture disorders. From the moment the sleep is not a natural function any more, a person begins taking it as a voluntary function, that is, as that what he is able and obliged to manage. However, a human being can manage even “genuine” higher mental functions (memory, perception, thinking) on a limited scale only. The sleep itself is just an analogue of higher mental functions. Like any physiological function it depends upon a great number of factors; and the boundaries of its voluntary regulation are pretty narrow. As in case of conversion disorders, functional impotence and other “higher” corporeal function derangements, neurotic insomnia forms according to the mechanism of the vicious circle of excessive efforts, hyper function of control in the absence of necessary means and instruments for such a regulation. The lack of the improvement in consequence of auto regulation does not lead to the change of coping-strategy by patients: either they proceed with picking up some newer inefficient medicines of sleep control, or they cease any whatsoever actions in way of “rejection reaction” and changeover to the chemical modulators — somnifacients. For all that, the size of the market of soporifics — the most widespread psychotropic drugs — enables to evaluate the prevalence of cultural pathology related to sleep in modern society.

Last but not least, let us dwell on one of the most remarkable moments of the socialization and transformation of innate biological functions into higher mental functions, regulated voluntarily and then post-volun- tarily and mediated by special tools. Besides the generation of new forms of activity, this process is attended by possibly an incidental to some extent but fundamental feature: the generation of the subject himself, the consciousness. On having encountered with an obstacle on the path of the involuntary unconscious fulfillment of any natural function, the subject is “clarified” for himself becoming the object for himself. This is possible under the conditions of “delayed”, “braked” activity only, where the subject displays himself in the form of the subject of deficiency, and then of activities.

From Vygotsky’s viewpoint, a corpus is fully farmed out to physiology. As soon as the anaphora of the transformation of the natural entity into the sociocultural one is finished in a gesture, further on is there a beginning of the human life itself of a human being. That is, it is a “one-shot event”. The essence is established: one may forget about the body further, as well as about the transformation connective in between the natural and human substances. Anyway, there is an ability to think over the situation in another way. The deficiency, inability of the newborn for a self-dependent existence with no adult’s help, the so-called “defect” of the body are not the situation of the initial stage of development but a permanent situation. A person as a human being is not complete: from the moment of conception till the moment of death he is merely a “being in the possibility” to become a human being not only as personality but also still in the sense of nature. Each day we face the incompleteness of ourselves, the peculiar “defect”; and if this deficiency is experienced and/or conscious, the corporeal deficiency obtains a sociocultural dimension; the latter in its turn argues about its corporeal disincarnating [17].

The clarification is under way, seemingly, according to a universal mechanism for consciousness: one realizes (is aware of) everything that meets with an obstacle on the path of an immediate and unfettered realization. We encounter with the substance of thinking when we cannot accomplish a task, with the substance of memory when it denies. This resembles the probe, which phe­nomenologically exists in the zone of its “semi-transparency”, partial controllability. As soon as it ceases fully to obey, it turns into an outside object; and as soon as it gets fully subordinate and predictable, it is included in body scheme is not conscious anymore. It can be represented as the metaphor of glass: if we see a completely opaque glass, then we can predetermine its depth by no means, it appears in front of us in the form of surface; if it is utterly transparent it is outside our perception. The glass is in existence to us as much as we encounter with it in one way or another; it is semitransparent or dust-laden.

The genesis of subjectness like all the forms of higher activity takes place in ontogeny, when encountering with cultural restrictions and requirements the child has to accommodate himself to them turning in the process of “normal estrangement” from resultant physical and physiological “forces” into the author of his actions. This act lies in the base of the formation of the basic psychological tool — pointing gesture, which underlie any sign from the point of view of L.S. Vygotsky. “In case of gesture, its natural and sociocultural constituents are equally necessary but differently significant in the making, they form the unique variant of growing sociality (and not only it)... The challenge of a human nature deficient in itself and for itself produces future sociality matrix in gesture. At that, strictly speaking, ever since a human being has got his internal psychological plan formed, there is another “coming to help” as well as the person as “the other for himself”. In this sense, the room for gesture development like a border zone, in which nature evokes culture’s response, is not only outside but in the essence of each person” [17]. Let us pay our attention to that the pointing gesture becomes a sign only provided that it is an “unaccomplished”, outstanding action. The need for it will be no longer relevant if it (the action) manages to be fulfilled. This is the gap in fulfilling a grasping action that transforms it into the gesture of managing his mother who ought to complete it first. There is one more accurate ontogenetic instance of generating subjective responsibility: to put the baby in the corner. The situation here stands out for its form from normal action. The baby’s actions are not confined with the physical limits of the situation: he is rather able to leave the corner but he does not do it transforming the action absence into his own action and alien will or fear of punishment into his action of “inaction”.

This is the type of ontogenesis when the child is under the process of the formation of his own consciousness. J. Piaget’s statement about the connection of the advent of egocentric speech with the hardship of the operational aspect of the child’s activity can be amplified with the hypothesis about the necessity of normal self-estrangement, primary externalization of I with the following new internalization and formation of a mature personality. In other words, even in this, an adequate identification is the product of the internalization of what has been externalized before; it forms in the process of the step-wise formation of ability for voluntary regulation. This is the very stage of egocentric speech when the child speaks about himself in the third person, which is corroborated with the relatively late formation of the first person pronoun in language and with the absence of the phenomena of estrangement in younger children and the reps of archaic cultures.

* * *

The problem of socialization within the scope of cultural-historical approach may be considered in a much broader way than as merely the development of higher mental functions. This is about the transformation of biological substance into human entity. Owing to it a person becomes not only the slave of envi - ronment, perceptive field or of his instinctive desires, emotions but he gains the whole number of psycho - logical tools for separation from them and obtaining of a definite autonomy.

Some of these technologies are quite obvious. For instance, there are entire technologies oil mastering, such as: culinary arts and pornography for tightening up and sexual arousal. But the other mediating instruments are less evident and grounded on management by means of both chemical and non-chemical mediators: drugs, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, as well as poetry, music and phiiosophy. But anyway, all of those are the tools oil human culture helping the human being towards mastering his own behavior. The socialization of natural native features, psychic, physiological, corporeal functions, attractions and needs is remarkable for all the fields of humaneHstence, fromdehveryofachhid till a person’s death including the most existential imoments in the context of culture: life and death, conception and birth, sickness and health. These are not smiple landmarks and properties of biological existence but to a great extent socially and technologically mediated phenomena.



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Information About the Authors

Aleksandr S. Tkhostov, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Professor, Head of Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Moscow State University Lomonosov, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9676-4096, e-mail: tkhostov@gmail.com



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