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

From: Achilles Delari Junior <achilles_delari who-is-at>
Date: Sun Jul 06 2008 - 19:48:01 PDT


To Katarina, from Achilles


Thank you very much, for all important
information about “Problema razvitija i raspada vysshikh psykhicheskikh
funktsii” [Problems of the development and dissolution of higher mental
functions] – since there was not English translation then I will try translate
to Portuguese. Even more because the great importance of this text that you
described so precisely above. Do you think that the roots of systemic and
inter-functional approach to HMF´s development and disintegration/decay may be
encountered already in 1930´s text “O psikhologuicheskikh sistemakh” (About the
psychological systems)? There are many important changes in the 1934’s text
compared to the 1930’s? The vygotskyan concept about sense and meaning
expressed in “misl i solovo” [thought and word]” (1934) influences before the
“Problems of development and dissolution of HMF”? There are some people in Brazil that
identifies two major ways to approach sign conception in Vygotsky’s
intellectual trajectory: (1) a more instrumental one; (2) a more constitutive
one…In another text, Vygotsky himself said:


“In the first works we ignored that the meaning
is proper of the sign <“But has a time to collect the rocks and other to
spread them.” (Ecclesiasts)> We left of the beginning of the constancy of
the meaning, and for this we poured this, taking off it of the parenthesis. But
already in the first inquiries the problem was implicit. If before our task was
to show that it had of common between “node”
and the logical memory, now consists of showing the difference that exists
between them, of our works is inferred that the sign modifies the
interfuncionais relations” * (“Problem of the Consciousness”– Problema Soznania) – Translation from
Portuguese, based on WorldLingo (MS-Word) tool…


“Nos primeiros trabalhos
ignorávamos que o significado é próprio do signo <“Mas há um tempo para
recolher as pedras e outro para espalhá-las.” (Eclesiastes)> Partíamos do
princípio da constância do significado, e para isso despejávamos este, tirando-o
do parêntese. Mas já nas primeiras investigações o problema estava implícito.
Se antes nossa tarefa era mostrar que havia de comum entre o “nó” e a memória
lógica, agora consiste em mostrar a diferença que existe entre eles, de nossos
trabalhos depreende-se que o signo modifica as relações interfuncionais”
(“Problema da Consciência” – Problema Soznania)


I wonder if the (maybe) second approach to sign
is associated to the relation between sense and “world view” (mirovazriene) and
personality dynamical-structural totality, and the complex relationship between
sense and meaning. How this new conception of sign and semiotic process (more
detailed in “thought and word” (1934) in functional analysis than in genetic
terms) can influence the construction of a deeper comprehension of the
ontogenetic and dysontogenetic development of
HMF’s? I’m curious about this question, and its possible answers in late
Vygotsky’s production…


I will begin now, trying to translate “Problema
razvitija i raspada vysshikh psykhicheskikh funktsii” to Portuguese, and then I
will read the indications of Mike Cole and Peter Smagorinsky. Thank you very
much, I´m very grateful to all you for this opportunity. Oh, yes. I was
forgetting, “Aron Antonovsky's concept of

sense of coherence and salutogenesis” seems very important. I´m not familiar
with this approach, but I will search about it. Antonovsky´s language and sense
concept seems to the Vygotsky ones, too? Can you indicate any Antonovsky’s work
for my proximal reading? Thank you.


Umuarama, July 6, 2008.




From Katarina:


Dear Achilles,


I recently mentioned Vygotsky's theoretical essay "The Problem of

Development and Dissolution of Higher Mental Function". I hope this might

ease the understanding of some of the basic ideas of Vygotsky's approach

to mental health...


Are you familiar with the Jewish-American Aron Antonovsky's concept of

sense of coherence and salutogenesis? This concept has some similarity

with Vygotsky: e.g. health- and resource oriented psychotherapeutical

approach, salutogenesis vs. pathogenesis and symptomatological oriented

approach to mental health.


Best regards from Katarina



From Katarina


Dear Joao et al.,


Original source:


Vygotsky, L.S. (1934). Problema razvitija i raspada vysshikh

psykhicheskikh funktsii [Problems of the development and dissolution of

higher mental functions]. Report to a conference of the Institute of

Experimental Medicine, 28.
April 1934.


As mentioned, this work of LSV is not available in English.


Source in Russian:


Vygotsky, L.S. (1934/1960). Problema razvitija i raspada vysshikh

psykhicheskikh funktsij. (a last report which he made 1.5 months before

his death). First published in Russian in Vygotsky, L.S. (1960). Razvitie

vyschikh psikhicheskikh funkzii [The Development of Higher Mental

Functions]. M.Isdatel`stvo APN RSFSR, pp. 364-383].


Vygotsky, L.S. (1934/2003). Problema razvitija i raspada vysshikh

psykhicheskikh funktsij. In Vygotskij,L.S.(2003). Osnovy defektologii.

Izdatel`stvo "Lanj", pp.598-618.


Vygotsky, L.S. (1934/2005). Problema razvitija i raspada vysshikh

psykhicheskikh funktsij. In Vygotskij,
L.S. (2005). Psikhologia razvitija

cheloveka. Vygodskaya, G.L. & Kravtsova E.E. (eds.), Izdatel`stvo

Smysl,Eksmo. Available online, se attachment from Bella Kotik-Friedgut's



This work of Vygotsky is one of the most important theoretical essays in

the field of critical-theorethical reflections on developmental- and

clinical psychology as well as cultural-historical psychopathology.

"Completed" only 1.5 months prior to his death, the "Problems of

development and dissolution of higher mental functions" may leave an

impression of incomplete theoretical
reflections on the development and

dissolution of HMF in ontogeny and dysontogeny. Nevertheless, Vygotsky

obviously made an attempt to criticize the inadequate naturalistic

principles of developmental psychology.


As mentioned earlier (2006), Vygotsky's (later Luria's) original

developmental idea was to apply detailed qualitative analyses of single

cases of (organic) distorted development, describing the mechanisms of the

dissolution of higher mental functions (dysontogenesis). According to

Vygotsky, the genesis of higher mental functions in ontogeny should be

understood and described via the mechanisms of the dissolution of higher

mental functions.


In this essay, Vygotsky tries to explain the basics of human

consciousness, i.e. its social character (semiotic mediation), the impact

of the dissolution of higher mental functions (e.g. clinical cases of

diverse speech- and language

disorders - aphasia; CNS disorders - cerebral palsy, optical agnosia etc).



Alexander Luria and Bluma Zeigarnik elaborated Vygotsky's ideas on the

dissolution of higher mental functions in their theoretical and empirical

work on neuropsychology and psychopathology.


Zeigarnik's ideas were based on Vygotsky's work on psychological

dysontogenesis as a new paradigma, research method and differential

diagnostic in some clinical disciplines (clinical psychology, special

psychology, psychopathology and child psychiatry). Zeigarnik - a student

of Kurt Lewin and Lev Vygotsky - was a founder of a new scientific school

in infant psychopathology with a new methodology not of the "old

psychometric school", but based on the central ideas of Vygotskian

clinical works and the above mentioned essay.


Some central ideas from this essay were crucial to cultural-historical

neuropsychology (Luria). The originality of Luria's neuropsychology

manifests itself in its organic connection with the more general and

clinical pscyhological ideas of Vygotsky's school: Vygotsky's ideas of

cultural-historical genesis, mediation, systemic hierarchy of higher

mental functions, or "psychological system".


>From Vygotsky's essay, it is clear the concept of higher mental functions

(HMF), operates with mind (psixika) and its dissolution (narushenii

psixiki) as units of analysis. According to Vygotsky and Luria, HMF is a

complex type of mental activity, developed and mediated throughout a

person's lifespan.


In this essay, Vygotsky formulated some of his fundamental positions:

about the development of higher mental functions, sensory and systemic

construction of consciousness etc. Based on this theoretical position,

Vygotsky did research on local brain disorders. Vygotsky's research (1934)

pioneered 1) scientific analyses of systemic construction of higher mental

functions and 2) neuropsychological rehabilitation/compensation of/for

dissolution (disorders) of higher mental functions caused by local brain

disorders. On the basis of this research the localization of higher mental

functions was formulated. Vygotsky's research established that the human

brain has an exstracortical structure of organisation of higher mental

functions (via signs, and first and foremost, speech). Vygotsky introduced

the idea of interfunctional connections (IC) of the human brain. According

to Vygotsky, our socio-historical behaviour leads to interfunctional

connections, enabling development of higher mental functions. This idea

was later elaborated by A.N. Leontiev (1972).


For more useful discussions of Vygotsky's work, good translations of the

above mentioned essay and other clinical works are needed.


Best regards,






From Achilles to Peter


“He [Vygotsky] was no child psychologist but a
psychologist who became increasingly interested in the theoretical problem of
development, which led him to study cultural diversity, brain pathology, and
other disciplines. By inclination he was a theoretical psychologist. In
practice, his applied work was most in clinical settings” (Valsiner and Van de
Veer (2000) The social mind – construction of the idea. p. 339)


Mental health was not my field of study too. And I am not a professional researcher as the important scholars which I have the very privilege to talk here in XCMA, as you. I have read Vygotsky’s works since 1987, intermittently, and I was interested in general psychology (theoretical and methodological) problems and educational implications until 2000. However, I gradually change my interest since 2000, because personal motives and reflection about social consequences of psychological works related to personal emotional experiences (perizhivánie?) like mine. I’ve personally dealt with mental health issues too, there are three or four generations of some level of humor/affective diseases (depression and/or bipolar affective disorder), including me and my son. But I think that Vygotsky is right about the dialectical relations between “everyday” and “academic” concepts developing each other, in order to aid people to living better. Thus, I ask for help on XMCA, despite my academic inexperience. Thank you for your important contributions here. I didn’t know Kozulin and Gindis reference about this yet. If the mental diseases will be viewed “as a sociocultural rather than an organic or individual developmental phenomenon”, biochemical factors determinacy will be replaced in a explicative psychopathological framework. I remember a quotation made by Andrei Puzirei, in the note 26 to Vygotsky´s “Concrete Human Psychology” (1929), in which he related Vygotsky´s thinking to the literary text of Thomas Mann.


“Важно, как
формулирует основную свою мысль Т. Манн, знать не то, какой болезнью

болен человек,
но — какой человек болен данной болезнью.”


is important, as it formulates its basic thought T. Mann, to know not with what
illness man (person) is sick, but - what man (person) is sick with this


Of course, we return to the question “what is a person”… Or better “Who is this person”, at the moment, trouble minded. Your contribution here, Peter, shows that this person makes sense to his difference to the others, in a social-cultural background, using available semiotic tools. Thus, I understand that like in including education, mental health practices must proceed in including different people in social relations that can create the interpsychic semantic resources to mean difference in a health-full way. Seems to me a “psychological system” problem… Vygotsky says that is not so important memory (for instance) as an isolated function, but the role of this function in a inter-functional sistem, not memory, but how people uses this memory, signify it… Then, I suppose that a “dysfunction” must to be viewed in this way too, “what is the place, the role, of a “dysfunctional process” in the hole inter-funtional system of all concrete person’s personality?” But, to a depressive patient meaning and sense about his/her own experience are dysfunctional… the genetic roots of these dysfunctional sense and meanings must be traced, and concrete semiotic process to replace/master them… I wonder… But don’t know how. Vygotsky´s clinical experience is very larger than I could know, until this moment. Valsiner and Kozulin, points this. I know only 2 moments in which Vygotsky reports episodes of his clinical cases. (1) In the text “The problem of Environment” (Vygotsky Reader) – the three children that reacts differently to the sickness (alcoholism) of their mother; (2) in the text “The diagnostics of development and the pedological clinic of difficult children” - the epileptoid boy. Valsiner and Van der Veer (Vygotsky - a quest for synthesis) quote the work about Pick’s Disease.(Vygotsky, Samukhin, Birenbaum, 1934 - К ВОПРОСУ О ДЕМЕНЦИИ ПРИ БОЛЕЗНИ ПИКА - Клиническое и экспериментально-психологическое исследование) – And seems to be very interesting, because its detailed description and analysis of two clinical cases (“K.” an “Z.”)… I will try to translate this text to Portuguese, because I’m very curious about empirical data provide by Vygotsky himself – and his comrades. Even Andrei Puzirey (note 24) have talked about the importance of “psychotechnical metodology” in Vygotsky project to psychology ulterior development. I think that create semiotic means to aid people obtain more mentally healthful way to live is a possible path to improve Vygotskyan project, in this sense.

работе «Исторический смысл психологического кризиса» (Собр. соч., т. 1, с. 289
и др.), обсуждая идею «общей психологии», понимаемой как «методология
психотехники» (в широком смысле последнего слова), или как «философия
практики», Выготский формулирует как одну из принципиальнейших особенностей
такой психологии ее ориентацию на психотехнику в широком смысле этого слова, т.
е. на технику практической работы с психикой, ее трансформации, овладения ею,
ее развития. «Не Шекспир в понятиях, — пишет Выготский, — как для Дильтея, есть
цель такой психологии, но психотехника — в одном слове, т. е. научная теория,
которая привела бы к подчинению и овладению психикой, к искусственному
управлению поведением».


the work “historical sense of psychological crisis” (coll. works, T. 1, s. 289
others), discussing the idea “general psychology”, understood as “the
methodology of psychotechnics” (in the broad sense last word), or as “the
philosophy of practice”, Vygotsky formulates as one of the most fundamental
special features of such a psychology its orientation in the psychotechnics in
the broad sense of this word, i.e. to practical work technique with the psyche,
its transformations, mastery of it, of its development. “Not Shakespeare in the
concepts - it writes Vygotsky - as for Dilthey, is a purpose of such a
psychology, but psychotechnics - in one word, i.e. the scientific theory, which
would lead to the subordination and the mastery of psyche, to artificial
control of behavior” (based in WorldLingo, translation)…

 What do you think about this Puzirey´s interpretation?

Thank you very much, for all... I will try to obtain Kozulin and Gindis reference. I need to readso much... (difficulties with attention and motivation had moved me away from reading tasks, I´m trying to recommence) It´s a new and very good opportunity to me stay here in XMCA. Thank you very much. Achilles. I will transcribe the contents of “Vygotsky, Samukhin and Birenbaum” text: К ВОПРОСУ О ДЕМЕНЦИИ ПРИ БОЛЕЗНИ ПИКА - Клиническое и экспериментально-психологическое исследование Contents


§ 1. Литературный обзор

§ 2. История болезни К.

§ 3. Клинический анализ случая.

§ 4. История болезни

§ 5. Клинический анализ

§ 6. К вопросу о клиническом
изучении деменции



§ 1. К проблеме и методу

§ 2. Данные
экспериментально-психологического исследования больного К.

1. Связанность с полем в

а) Связанность с полем из-за
чрезвычайной зависимости от структуры самого задания.

б) Связанность с полем из-за
невозможности отграничения внутреннего напряжения от моторики.

в) Связанность с полем, выражающаяся
в невозможности преодолеть отдельные А. Ch. внутри данного задания.

г) Связанность с полем из-за
подчинения отдекльным силам поля, ведущим к распаду единого действия.

2. Связанность с полем в речи и

а) Структурно-ситуацонные
моменты определяют смысловое поле.

б) Соскальзывания в смежные
смысловые поля.

в) Смыслвые поля выводят за
пределы задания.

3. Конкретность мышления

4. К анализу динамики афективных

§ 3. Данные
экспериментально-психологического исследования больной З.

                         Dados do estudo psicológico-experimental do paciente

1. Связанность
с полем в действии

а) Связанность
с полем З.

б) Связанность
с полем у З.

в) Больная
чрезвычайно отзывчива на все...

2. Связанность
с полем в речи и мышлении и особенности речи З.

а) Несмотря на
внешнюю разорванность речи...

б) Гораздо чаще
чем адевакные ответы...

в) Часто
выступающие у больной «stehenne symtome»...

г) Отдельные
слова, сказанные случайю...

3. К анализу
динамики афективных систем и сопоставления больных



Общие выводы




> Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2008 20:18:56 +0200
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Vygotskyan approach to mental health - socio-genetic roots of mental diseases and psychotherapeutic semiotic mediation.
> From:
> To:
> Dear Achilles,
> I recently mentioned Vygotsky's theoretical essay "The Problem of
> Development and Dissolution of Higher Mental Function". I hope this might
> ease the understanding of some of the basic ideas of Vygotsky's approach
> to mental health...
> Are you familiar with the Jewish-American Aron Antonovsky's concept of
> sense of coherence and salutogenesis? This concept has some similarity
> with Vygotsky: e.g. health- and resource oriented psychotherapeutical
> approach, salutogenesis vs. pathogenesis and symptomatological oriented
> approach to mental health.
> Best regards from Katarina
> On Sun, July 6, 2008 04:07, Achilles Delari Junior wrote:
> >
> > (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 развити� и ра�пада вы�ших
> > п�ихиче�ких 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.
> >
> > Achilles,
> > 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
> > италь�н�ком: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.
> > Achilles
> > 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.
> > and
> > 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?
> > mike
> > 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'
> > Thanks
> > 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?
> > _________________________________________________________________
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> >
> >
> >
> --
> Katarina A. Rodina,
> PhD-Research Fellow/Logoped,MNLL
> Department of Special Needs Education
> University of Oslo
> P.O.Box 1140 Blindern,NO-0318 Oslo, Norway
> Phone: +47 22 85 81 38/Fax: +47 22 85 80 21
> E-mail:
> Head of Russo-Norwegian Academic Relations,
> The Vygotsky Institute of Psychology, Moscow
> The Herzen State University in St.Petersburg
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

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