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

From: <ERIC.RAMBERG who-is-at>
Date: Mon Jul 07 2008 - 06:47:36 PDT


I believe as a consumer of mental health services you fall under the axiom
"highly qualified" to discuss the issue. I believe Vygotsky's error in his
theories on defectology are similar to his misunderstanding of literacy and
its effect on higher mental functions. My humble opinion places this error
in Vygotsky's marriage to marxism and the march towards the 'better man',
but that is certainly a subject for another time. Whether there be an
error in theorizing or not Vygotsky's contribution to the study of special
education is HUGE. If one thinks of the augmentation utilized these days
by students who have disabilities it is specifically what Vygotsky viewed
as a broadening of the social mileau and semiotic offerings. I have many
more thoughts on the subject but time is short and usually people have
other things, such as the new XMCA article, to discuss.


                      Smagorinsky" To: "'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'" <>
                      <> cc:
                      Sent by: Subject: RE: [xmca] Vygotskyan approach to mental health - socio-genetic
                      xmca-bounces@web roots of mental diseases and psychotherapeutic semiotic mediation.
                      07/06/2008 07:24
                      Please respond
                      to "eXtended
                      Mind, Culture,

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

(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

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,
(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
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
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?
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