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Социальная психология; психология социальной работы

Psychological specificity of self-concept as an integral characteristic of personality

Author: Kaluzhnaya E.N., PhD in Psychology, Zaporizhzhya National University


Self-conception problematics belongs to a quite developed sphere of empirical knowledge. In the same time, we should agree to the point that not all the psychological aspects of self-conception phenomenology as an important factor or a psychic development of a person has yet been entirely revealed in modern psychology.

During the existence of psychology as a field of scientific knowledge the researchers agree that the origins and mechanisms of person’s representation of oneself – one’s self-conception – is worthy of thorough studying. In the study of self-conception of personality at different stages of ontogeny three initial conceptual positions of significant value were received: heterochrony theory (B.H.Ananyev, S.K.Vizev, I.V.Davydovskyy, M.D.Aleksandrova, E.F.Rybalko), the theory of «acme» (A.A.Bodalov, A.A.Derkach, V.V.Stolin), the theory of life and human subjectivity (K.A.Abulhanova-Slavskay, E.Erickson, I.S.Kon, D.A.Leontyev, S.L.Rubinshteyn).

Discussion nature of the features of forming self-conception leaves open a number of questions which are required some answers: 1) during what ages person is the most active in the process of self-conception; 2) which factors are crucial in shaping the self-conception in different ages; 3) what are the patterns of self-conception as a complex of dynamic formation of personality.

The purpose of the article is a theoretical attempt to define through psychological mechanisms of self-conception as a resource for achieving integrity of personality.

It is known that the components of self-concept operate in indissoluble unity, because they cannot be represented in the «pure form». A.Maslow (1973) wrote: «If you tell me that you have a personal problem, I'm not sure if I’ll say «okay» or «I’m really sorry», it all depends on the cause, as they can be both good and bad. In other words, if the reason is «bad» in terms of the past, it may be «positive» from the standpoint of the future. Therefore, causal explanation undoubtedly important in terms of science is insufficient because of a mental relativity of space and time, which is a prerequisite for causality. The causality itself – is some form of subjective perception inherent to a person. As a result of the mental world spreads its influence not only forward but also backward, to their own cause, existing in the form of feedback. Having observed this approach we can clearly see another aspect of each event – its purpose and meaning.

The meaning of any event becomes apparent only through analysis that allows to understand why and, more importantly, for what it had happened. The concrete world, in which we live, makes sense if there is a new, off the starting point. Thus, A.Adler (1969), was stressing the relativity of «external data», said that no events experienced before, not the cause of success or failure: the man gives them value according to his purpose. The same as an intuitive exaggeration, so as a euphoric impairment degree of influence of external events, are leading to the increasing in irrelevant arsenal of defense mechanisms that prevent the normal development of the individual.

Among the psychological defense mechanisms of the most common are:

  • projection (attributing to others their own traits, intentions, motivations, which denied into yourself);
  • regression (return to previous stages of development);
  • rationalization (misrepresentation, the desire for self-justification, justification of the reasons and motives of their actions to maintain self-esteem);
  • displacement (forgetting, ignoring the obvious facts, unpleasant events, «motivated forgetting»);
  • exit (avoiding unpleasant situation, «escapism»;
  • fantasizing (immersion in the virtual world, avoiding the reality);
  • transfer (channeling aggression or unpleasant feelings to «secure» facility);
  • jet formation (implementation actions and actions against real, genuine impulse because of their personal or social unacceptability);
  • identification (achieving inner balance by identification with someone);
  • compensation (the desire to succeed in some area to compensate for failure in another area);
  • overcompensation (the desire to succeed is in that area, which suffered a setback);
  • sublimation (channeling energy libido in socially acceptable activities);
  • idealization (literally own positive qualities and characteristics in order to approach the «I am perfect»);
  • suppression (unconscious exclusion of bad content from the field of consciousness).

Protective psychological mechanisms as a means of preserving the integrity of self-concept of personality in some way transform the objective reality, staining it with meaningful colors and giving subjective valence. The most important value for a person is not what happens to him/her, but that sense that it provides external circumstances as a result of understanding the situation (T.Tytarenko, 2003).

In particular, K.Horni (1997) saw no major conflict between self-concept and direct human experience, and the contradiction between the real and the ideal «I», stressing that the essential differences between them leads to depression caused unattainability ideal. Help the person to abandon unattainable inspired «I am perfect» unrealistic goal, and is one of the most lightweight, which can provide psychotherapy.

Thus, self-concept serves as the set of all human conceptions of themselves, passed through a filter of self-esteem. Mental activity, intense social attributes – the motives, means, goals, cannot affect the person's self-conception, and vice versa. Functional specificity of individual life-assertions can only be understood by considering it as a whole integrity. Only the analysis of the whole human life course as a sequence of events, elections and decisions, provides a complete holistic view on orientation of the individual with his personal values ​​and ways of interacting with the entire world.

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