Psychological Health of a Person: Theoretical Issues

(Mykola Papucha)

Nizhyn Mykola Gogol State University, Nizhyn, Ukraine


Introduction. Can we talk about a theory in the context of a person’s psychological health? The question is essential. If under “theory” we understand the definition of some concept, then we can see a wide range of psychological health’s definitions. But having taken a closer look it turns out that there is a huge theoretical problem.

Methodology. If the definition of the concept is not just the naming of some symptoms (which can be different each time), but is a word form of the phenomenon’s essence, then we should admit that we don’t know this essence. We multiply this “essences”, losing the subject. It is strange that we don’t know what is “psychologically healthy person", but we know, what is unhealthy. The essence and the phenomenon coincide here (that actually cannot be), and we consider the essence while it is just a symptom, a manifestation. We can help the person to get rid from the symptom, but it is the same as we give the person a big dose of analgetic while he has acute appendicitis. The situation is tragic. This is, as L.S. Vygotsky wrote, “treatment from cough, but not its reasons” (Vygotsky, 2015), and it flourishes now in all psychological practices. And if we add to that the unique singularity of a person’s soul, we shall get chaos and confusion. So why do the psychotherapists do help? We shall answer this question a bit later. The theory is needed, and the reason for that is not for helping to reduce the symptoms, but to get rid of the real damages, which induce the symptom. This will be what is called recovery. In order to do this we should start from the real, not fictional understanding the essence of the person’s psychological health. Do we know this essence? We do, at least in the methodological continuum of L.S. Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory. L.S. Vygotsky considered that the only really psychological research object is the complex structure that consists from instinctive, affective, motoric and intellectual moments (Vygotsky, 2015). This specific structure is also known as the higher psychological function. Human psychics is an assembly of numerous higher psychological functions, that are flexibly and chronogenetically interconnected and in their continuity consist the interfunctional psychological systems. We can add to this what L.S. Vygotsky couldn’t, because he was ahead with his idea (that is empirically proved), and he hasn’t lived till the theory of systems (synergetics) appeared. The structure, as it was understood by L.S. Vygotsky, is the currently frozen process in the time and space (in other words, the changes of the structures go on continually, and thus the personality should be understood as a chronotope) (Vygotsky, 2015). The connections within the higher psychological functions and within the interfunctional psychological systems are settled and developed according to the non-linearity laws, and, thus, every person has a nonregistered high number of the levels of freedom to exist and develop, which cannot be predicted by the modern science.

Results. From this standpoint we can present the existence of the psychologically healthy personality as continuously and unpredictably developing and conflict-dramatic, as the connections are established sometimes between very contradictory structures. And this is normal, the professional help is not needed here. The human psychics (interfunctional psychological system) has a need in experiences and, besides, the processes of damage always go along with the processes of self-renewal and creation, that cannot be controlled by person’s consciousness. The main for the professional here is the commandment execution of ancient doctors: “First, do no harm”.

Sometimes the reconstructive work of interfunctional psychological systems is not enough and then the person adds conscious willed efforts, aimed at the facilitation for the self-organizing psychical activity. These two factors (the unconscious self-organization of interfunctional psychological systems and the person’s willed efforts) are actually the higher psychics’ work, that is aimed at the organization of human behavior and the harmonization of his/her inner world. This work continues regularly and permanently and this is psychological health. Illness starts when the connections are radically damaged and cannot be adequately reconstructed by the person. The manifestations of it are really diversified. But if the specialist will understand the essence (the damage of interfunctional psychological systems), he will be able to help the person reconstruct that, what is wrong inside, and it means to cure actually and properly.

Conclusions. Now we shall return to the answer to the question. The existing ways of psychological help are not appropriately (with the knowledge of the essence), but accidentally can give a positive effect, because the very nature of higher psychological functions is essentially social, and the attentive, empathic relation from the Other (that is unfortunately so rare in our life) can considerably improve the person’s state. In this sense the experience of K. Rogers’ humanistic therapy is unique.

Keywords: mental health, psychology, personal development, activity.


Vygotsky L. (2015) Collection of researches. M. V. 1.

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