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The scientific concept of a normal person

I wrote this headline and realized that it was necessary to clarify once again the role and place of scientific knowledge in the individual fate of a person. Science appears in his life more often than not in the form of scientific texts, but in the form of specific actions of people that have a direct impact on a person’s fate (and perhaps his very life), up to a physical touch or penetration into his body, not to mention about the impact on thoughts and feelings. Most often this is done by representatives of the following professions: teachers, doctors, lawyers, that is, those who teach, treat, judge.

They substantiate their impact on someone’s specific, very individual, fate with the data of science, which, as you know, is busy searching for truth, searching for general laws and particular laws.

We ask ourselves this question: “How do these sciences manifest themselves in the professional influence of the representatives of these specialties?” The answer is possible in approximately this form: science defines the logic of analysis of a particular phenomenon through its justification in the laws known to it. In turn, the logic of analysis determines the pattern of impact, its focus, strength, quality; any analysis should have a certain unit that allows the person who uses it to control their own actions. Such a unit is a form of thinking that allows us to differentiate different sides of the analyzed phenomenon.

I think that in the humanities this form of thinking is the concept of norm, normality, normal person. This is a form of thinking, in a rough likeness, similar to a cookie cutter, which must be applied to the test (phenomenon), pressed (make intellectual efforts) and the object is separated from the cookie cutter (in intellectual activity, it is necessary to isolate and, at the time of analysis, limit the content under study). The analogy can be even more complete if we supplement it with a picture of the cook’s possible manipulations with a piece of dough, which is now called a cookie. In the analysis of a person working with the concept of the norm, this recalls his ability to clarify, correct, and discard some of its contents.

So, norm, normality, normal person is a form of thinking about the individual life of a person. Let us dwell briefly on the difference in the content of the concept of “normal person”, which manifests itself in the professional activity of a teacher, doctor, lawyer.

We will use for this a scheme of the content of the concept of “normal person”.


Learns the school curriculum at a given time

Organs and their functions correspond to the state of health

He is responsible for his behavior before himself and other people; knows and complies with the rules of civil behavior

In these brief (of course, very approximate) formulations, I would like to draw the reader's attention to the fact that the basis and choice of a unit of analysis (norm) are fundamentally different qualities of a person’s individual life. For the teacher, they are identical to the transformations of the subject (school curriculum), for the doctor, they are associated with a person’s self-esteem of their condition (health), for a lawyer, this is the degree of organization of their behavior in terms of the rules common to the group. What kind of person to consider, for example, as the representative of these three professions, all together, not separately, is normal: the one who studied well at school is healthy but violates ... Or the one who did not study well at school is not very healthy but doesn't break? What kind of person is he, really normal? Is it possible to be more normal than normal, or less normal than normal?

Usually in professional practice, the answer to these questions is quickly: “He is a normal student, can study, but ...”, “She is a perfectly healthy woman, she could not invent diseases, but ...”, “He is a reasonable person, he understands his position, he can ... "Maybe he could - these are words about opportunities, about the possibility of being normal, which are not realized, because ... Then you can write a fan of reasons at your discretion.

In scientific psychological analysis, these possibilities of a person to be normal - understanding the norm as a way of thinking about a person, and not as a means of fixing his qualities - are reflected in various models of periodization of mental development. They are based on two very important premises:

1) the researcher’s need for a holistic vision of life and the need to fix this vision in the concept of normality;

2) the need to overcome the contradictions between the static and dynamic characteristics of life with an understanding of its laws.

These premises and their awareness turn out to be extremely important for the researcher, since the entire history of the humanities in the 20th century has shown that what kind of concepts a person uses, what standards of thinking he considers correct, how he organizes his life and explains his experience, depends “not on the properties universal "human nature", not only from the intuitive self-evidence of basic human ideas, but also from when a person was born and where he happened to live. ”

The rational need of the researcher for an impartial point of view remains at all times, but our time has once again shown clearly that research procedures should not be allowed to find their justification, their guarantee of correctness in the invariable principles of any unique, considered reliable, natural and moral philosophy.

In the science of man, as in other sciences, the emergence of new meaningful concepts is preceded by the awareness of new problems and the introduction of new procedures to solve these problems. Concepts as forms of thinking make sense due to the fact that they serve human goals in real practical situations. Changes in the application of concepts, clarification of their meaning depend on whether there is criticism and change in the intellectual initiative that caused their appearance.

In the history of the concept of periodization of mental development, I think there were so many moments of his criticism and desire for change that the current situation in Russian science reminds me of a children's drawing, where only after a detailed explanation of its author you can see what is depicted. I will try to fulfill my task of analyzing the scientific concept of “normal person”, while taking the position of a viewer asking questions to the author of the picture — periodization of mental development. There will be two questions: 1) what does the author of periodization mean by mental life? 2) what holistic image of a person (normal) does he have in VIDU “P” construction of periodization? Before turning these questions to the authors of specific periodizations that are most interesting to me for analysis, I will once again clarify to the reader why the problem of periodization is so important for constructing the concept of “normal person”. Firstly, a period is always a period of time, which means that it is possible to highlight some structural elements in the stream of life. Secondly, periods are qualitatively different from each other and at the same time they have in common, since they describe the life of the same person, that is, the concept of a period can be used to remove the contradiction between the static and dynamic properties of life. Thirdly, a series of periods allows you to cover a person’s life in the relative unity of its natural beginning - birth and no less natural end - death. Fourth, the concept of periodization allows you to build a theoretically substantiated diagnosis of development and probabilistic models of future development as a qualitative transformation of the human psyche, that is, answer the question: “What will happen?” Fifthly, fifthly, any author of periodization offers his own interpretation of the facts, that is, answers the question: "Why didn’t happen, or did this or that happen." Thus, he sets the scope of the theory proposed by him - the content of the concept of “period”.

In the practice of the already mentioned professional activities, this can act as a justification of the very specific impact on the individual fate of a person. For example, in the form of such an option: “You can - must”, “Do not want, but you can - we will force, because you can” and the like.

Real communication of people who do not consciously use any scientific periodization of mental development necessarily contains their everyday (and justified) idea of ​​the period of a person’s life, this is reflected in different verbal markings of different ages, for example, child, infant, child, preschool child, schoolboy, teenager, young man, young man, man, mature husband, old man.

This is the first opportunity lying on the surface of a person’s life to connect changes in the properties of the organism with the properties of mental life. In the history of science, such attempts have been made repeatedly. So, the idea of ​​P.P. Blonsky is widely known about the separation of periods of development according to the appearance and change of teeth, that is, on the basis of dentition. This is a bright age sign, it is closely related to the calcium content in the body and to the activity of the endocrine glands.
On this basis, one can distinguish toothless childhood, the childhood of milk teeth, the childhood of permanent teeth, which ends with the appearance of wisdom teeth - the third posterior molars. In the periodization scheme of Z. Freud, the sexual development of the child is considered as the main criterion for the period.

For all their seemingly abstractness, these schemes contain the main feature important for analysis - they try to describe (albeit one-sidedly) the changes inherent in life. Perhaps unknowingly for the authors of these ideas, they identify mental life with life as vitality. Perhaps that is why in the works of P.P. Blonsky critical periods of development were described, seen and understood empirically, characterized by a sharp change in the qualitative characteristics of a person’s mental activity. At the same time, these periods can be opposed (in terms of the rate of change) to other time periods where changes occur gradually.

The holistic image of a normal person in vital periodizations is close to the concept of health, that is, to the characteristic of the activity of an organism that functions in accordance with the properties of its organs. I would not want to do some critical analysis of periodizations; I will show them as I understand.

At one time, the periodization of mental development was proposed by V. Stern, who tried to distinguish between early childhood (playing activity), the period of conscious learning with the separation of play and labor, and the period of adolescence with the development of individual independence and plans for future life. This periodization attracts with the idea of ​​a psychic analysis of human activity, an attempt to correlate the externally observed activity with the properties of the inner world; an integral image of a normal person in the periodization of V. Stern emerges as an image of an active, qualitatively transformed externally and internally human.

There was also an attempt by A. Gesell to construct a periodization of child development, based on a change in its internal rhythm and pace, from the definition of “the current volume of development”. This is a very attractive idea, it allows you to draw attention to those events that occur in the individual destiny of a person, to their relationship and interdependence. Gama's idea of ​​researching a constant tempo and rhythmic periods seems sufficiently productive to study the dynamic characteristics of a person’s mental life. A. Gesell proceeds from the idea of ​​a holistic development of mental life, while a normal person acts as a creature who embodies his integrity.

L.S. Vygotsky also worked on the periodization of mental development, realizing that development is characterized by the presence of quality neoplasms that are subordinate to their rhythm and require special measures every time. He compiled his periodization of mental development in childhood, excluding the period of youth from it, believing that it is the first age in the chain of mature ages, and there development is subordinated to other laws other than those of child development. He considered new in his periodization the introduction of critical ages into her scheme, the exclusion of the period of the embryonic development of the child from the scheme, the already mentioned exclusion of the youth period and the inclusion of puberty in the number of stable rather than critical ages. He believed that psychology studies only the influence of heredity and uterine development of the child on the process of his social development.

Moreover, in crisis periods, their neoplasms die together with the onset of the next age, but continue to exist in it in a hidden form. In a stable age, this leads to an abrupt onset of neoplasms.

L.S. Vygotsky said that stable periods have more or less distinct boundaries of the beginning and end, and they must be determined by these boundaries, while critical periods must be considered from its crisis point, taking as its beginning the nearest previous to this date six months, and for its end - the next six months of the next age.

The following ages are represented in the periodization of L.S. Vygotsky:

Newborn Crisis

Infant age (2 months - 1 year)

1 year crisis

Early childhood (1 year - 3 years)

Crisis 3 years

Preschool age (3 years - 7 years)

The crisis of 7 years

School age (8 years - 12 years)

The crisis of 13 years

Puberty age (14 years old - 18 years old)

The crisis of 17 years

He believed that the personality of a child changes as a whole in its internal structure, and the laws of change of this whole determine the movement of each part of it. At each age, there is a central neoplasm around which other partial neoplasms are grouped. For L.S. Vygotsky, it is important not to transfer the concept of environment from biological sciences to the study of mental development. He suggests talking about quality originality, the one and only relationship of the child with social reality. He called this attitude the social situation of development at a given age. She is the starting point in the development of the personality of the child. The restructuring of the social situation of development is the main content of critical ages.

It seems important to me that L.S. Vygotsky said that the mental life of a person at different stages of its development is determined by the social situation of development, that age-related neoplasms rebuild both the external and internal life of the child.

I think that for L.S. Vygotsky, a normal person seemed dependent on the content of the social situation of development, on other people who create it. The restructuring of the child’s consciousness by the end of a period changes, in his opinion, the entire system of relations with others and the attitude towards himself, he, the child, felt himself changed, changing. It seems that this experience is what distinguishes a normal person for L.S. Vygotsky. The experience of one’s dynamism, variability, the ability to relate to it is the main experience of a normal person, which escalates during crisis periods and is perceived as a natural quality of life in stable periods.

In Russian psychology, the author of one of the most developed periodizations of mental development is DB Elkonin. During his scientific activity, pedagogical periodization underwent significant changes, which developed as a reflection of the organization of the system of preschool and school education. There were many real problems associated with the revision of the start dates for studying at school, the duration and compulsory nature of different types of education (these were the 60s). By that time, facts had been accumulated about the possible features of children, in the context of science, the periodization described above existed, DB Elkonin himself had accumulated a lot of material on the anthropology and ethnography of the game, and conducted research on the historical origin of role-playing.

The basis of the periodization of DB Elkonin is the idea of ​​historical conditioning of the human mental life. He believes that the process of a child’s life in society, which is uniform in nature, in the course of historical development, is divided into two relatively independent flows that can develop hypertrophically. This is the child’s activity in the system “child - public subject” and in the system “child - public adult”.

In the first system, the child reveals the human meaning of objective actions, and in the second, the assimilation of the tasks and motives of human activity.

Systematization by DB Elkonin of the main forms of activity of the child, from the point of view of their content, led to the construction of such a consistent series of forms of activity that are combined into the two groups already mentioned above: 1 - “child - public adult”; 2 - “child is a public subject”:

direct emotional communication - 1

subject-manipulative activity - 2

role-playing game - 1

educational activity - 2

intimate personal communication - 1

educational and professional activities - 2

In childhood, the child can distinguish periods that differ in the content of development. This formed the basis of the hypothesis of D. B. Elkonin on the periodicity of the processes of mental development, which consists in the naturally repeated change of some periods by others.

Анализ содержания критических периодов детства (кризис трех лет) и кризиса перехода от младшего школьного возраста к подростковому («кризис полового созревания») позволил Д.Б.Эльконину говорить о их сходстве. В том и другом проявляется стремление ребенка к самостоятельности и негативные проявления, связанные с отношениями со взрослыми.

Фактический материал и его теоретическое осмысление позволили Д.Б.Эльконину сформулировать гипотезу о периодизации психического развития, где жизнь ребенка делится на периоды, эпохи и фазы (см. схему).
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