RE: [xmca] Vygotskyan approach to mental health - socio-genetic roots of mental diseases and psychotherapeutic semiotic mediation.

From: Peter Smagorinsky <smago who-is-at>
Date: Sun Jul 06 2008 - 05:24:41 PDT

I have some very tentative thoughts on Vygotsky's approach to mental health, extrapolated from what I've read in the Cambridge Companion to Vygotsky, particularly the chapter by Kozulin and Gindis. I should qualify my comments by saying that I have no scholarly credentials for making this interpretation; mental health is not my field of study. At the same time, I've personally dealt with mental health issues; Asperger's, high anxiety, tourette's, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other neuroatypical makeups have run in my family for at least 3 generations, including through me. So I do have a vested interest in this discussion, if little in the way of formal knowledge.

The field of defectology had origins in a mechanistic mindset that viewed non-normative children as having flaws that could be repaired in the manner of a broken-down car engine. Rather than taking the mechanistic approach that children with special needs were defective and could be fixed, Vygotsky viewed the question of their condition “as a sociocultural rather than an organic or individual developmental phenomenon” (p. CCV, 334). Kozulin and Gindis find that
"The essence of Vygotsky’s approach to remedial education is in addressing the secondary disability, that is, by countering the negative social consequences of the primary disability. Vygotsky believed that physical and mental impairment could be overcome by creating alternative but essentially equivalent roads for cultural development. By acquiring the psychological tools, disabled children transform their natural abilities into higher mental functions as do their nondisabled peers." (CCV, p. 345)
To Vygotsky, rather than “fixing” the “defect” in the child, an educator should strive to minimize or eliminate any environmental factors that could amplify the effects of the original point of concern. I imagine that this effort might focus on diminishing whatever stigmas follow from being different; that is, it might attempt to educate people in the setting about how to view those with non-normative physical or mental makeups and treat them respectfully and in light of their potential. A second approach would be to broaden the sign-and-tool systems available for mediation. Again, this tack would require changes in the environment so that new tools become sanctioned, and new approaches to assessment become available to allow for alternative paths to performance.

I would guess that he would regard "mental illness" the same way he would view other forms of "disability": not so much as defective parts that need repair, but as non-normative ways of being that call for new activity systems.

(12) From Achilles
Vygotskyan approach to mental health - socio-genetic roots of mental diseases and psychotherapeutic semiotic mediation.
“He (Vygotsky) did not believe in meaningless defect or retrogression: since the construction of the human mind follows a certain pattern, its destruction also cannot be arbitrary and therefore reveals specific rupture lines characteristic of the formation of the human psyche. That is why observations of the acquisition of language in the deaf-mute, concept formation in schizophrenics, and the rehabilitation of aphasics were for Vygotsky no less a part of developmental psychology than the sensory-motor behavior of the two-year old.” (Alex Kozuin, Vygotsky’s psychology – a biography of ideas, 1990 – p. 195)

I want to study Vygotsky´s theoretical contributions to Mental Health: (1) mental diseases theoretical and methodological comprehension; and (2) therapeutics dialogical practices, in a cultural-historical approach. And I asked here on the existence of English translation from “Проблема развития и распада высших психических функций”, because I wish to translate it to Portuguese but not if it exists in English. Mike Cole suggests reading Luria, and Akhutina and Rodina. Very important suggestions, I will study Akhutina and Rodina, and search another references by Luria than the ones I have here (more in “classical science” style, than in the “romantic science” books, maybe the ones what I need, I don’t know). But, what more can you suggest to me about the “vygotskyan approach to mental health - socio-genetic roots of mental diseases and psychotherapeutic semiotic mediation”?

Thank you very much.

Umuarama, July 5, 2008.
(11) From Mike
Luria-- Also check out Akhutina and Rodina article at LCHC. And ask on XMCA to see what comes up/mike
(10) From Achilles
I remember that there was a vygotskyan metaphorthat 'a building does not tumbling down, by anotherlaws that ones it was constructed' (not exactly this words,I quote by core)- maybe quoted by Kozulin, I don’t exactlyremember high now. Seems to me a important methodological principle, but I haven't seen much empirical work raised in it, in mental health historical-cultural research, if you could help me with this to, I will be very greatfull too.Thank you again, very much.Achilles,Umuarama, 04 July, 2008.
(9) From Mike
Yes, i firmly believe that.very important.mike
(8) From Achilles
Thanks...I had writed about my interest in othermail before read this.Do you think that 'raspada (desintegration) problem'can help us understand some questions to mentalhealth in historical-cultural approach?Achilles,Umuarama, July 4, 2008
(7) From Bella
Why italian? I sent you the Russian text- here it is once more.Mike, we just recently discussed problems of translation. If you want it tobe published in English, it would be reasonable to use the original Russiantext.Sincerely yours Bella Kotik-Friedgut
(6) From Mike
Whoa!! here is the article for Poalo in Italian!! I have sent to Pentti fortranslation in JREEP/mikePS-- Thanks BorisЛегче найти на итальянском:Il problema dello sviluppo e della disintegrazione delle funzioni psichichesuperiori // La psicologia sovietica 1917-1936. Roma: Edit. Riuniti, 1976.P. 330-347.С уважением,
(5) From Mike
No need to apologize for your English at all, Achilles!You provide a great reference in Kozulin's book that should be accessible to readers of XMCA, and in the article from Vygotsky reader. Abrigado!:-)mike
(4) From Achilles
Joao, Eugene and Mike,
The original text, in Russian we have in Russian Wikipedia, but the link seems to be broken. But I have downloded it before. (atached here)
I wonder that the 'raspada' (disintegration/decay) problem is related not only to the defectology matters, but to the pathopsychology's too (like schizophrenia and Pick's disease
- Kozulin presents this question in 'Vygotsky - a biography of ideas' (cap. 6 – Mind in Trouble - section Psychopathology and Regression); And there is a Vygotsky´s article in the Vygotsky Reader about 'Though in Schizophrenia' (I translate to Portuguese); the text about Pick's disease by Vygotsky, Samukhin and Bierenbaum 'K voprosu o dementsii pri bolezni Pika - klinitcheskoe i eksperimen- tal'no issledovanie' we find only in Russian too, Joao obtains it here in the list and pass to me), but I don’t know yet. I can try translate the Russian 'Problema razvitia i raspada vyschikh psikhitcheskikh funktsii', aided by dictionaries and another on-line translation tools, trying to learn Russian psychological vocabulary, but if Eugene did it, its better.
Thanks. Excuse me about my wrong English writing, ok? But I think that I can understand you very well, even so.
Umuarama, July 4, 2008
(3) From Mike
Hi Joao & Eugene--
I do not know of this article in English, although probably we can get it translated if it is not. Meantime, I can recommend two sources that should help:
Vygotsky, L. (1993). The collected works of L.S.Vygotsky. Vol.2: The fundamentals of defectology (abnormal psychology and learning disabilities) (R.W.Rieber & A.S. Carton, Eds.). NY: Plenum Press.
Katarina Rodina's article which can be found at lchc as follows:
AR Luria's work should be relevant in several places.
Perhaps our Russian bibliophiles can come up with an origanal for translation?
On Thu, Jul 3, 2008 at 3:58 AM,
(2) From Joao
Dear friends... somebody has this text in english:
'Problema razvitia i raspada vyschikh psikhitcheskikh funktsii'
Joao Martins
(1) Achilles para João
Eu também teria outro favor para te pedir. É de perguntarna tua lista XMCA (é isso?), sobre haver ou não o seguinte textoem inglês. Em russo eu já tenho e quero traduzir (vai ser maisrápido que o do Pick), mas se já existir em outro lugar, nãohá necessidade. É o seguinte:'Problema razvitia i raspada vyschikh psikhitcheskikh funktsii''Problema do desenvolvimento e desintegração das funções psíquicassuperiores.'Será que já se encontra esse texto em inglês ou espanhol?
Instale a Barra de Ferramentas com Desktop Search e ganhe EMOTICONS para o Messenger! É GRÁTIS!

xmca mailing list
Received on Sun Jul 6 05:26 PDT 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Aug 01 2008 - 00:30:07 PDT