Akhmedov A.B., Martsinkovskaya T.D. Synergetic and holistic tendencies in self-concept: theory and practice

Full text in Russian: Ахмедов А.Б., Марцинковская Т.Д. Синергетические и холистические тенденции Я-концепции: теория и эмпирика
Psychological Institute, Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia

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Abstract. The paper presents theoretical and empirical analysis of synergetic and holistic tendencies in self-concept. The theoretical analysis includes a review of Lange theory considering development as a process from uncertain holistic beginning to differentiated and hierarchically ordered completion. Recent studies in developmental psychology have proved Lange theory [Chuprikova, 1997; Ivanova, 2001; Greenfield, 2004; Konchalovskaya, 2006]. These studies show that perception of self as holistic and unique develops from subconscious characteristics of subjective self which are emotionally indeterminate and thus cannot be verbalized. Self-concept content gradually becomes more conscious, clear, and differentiated with balanced proportion of subjective and objective features of self-concept. In adolescence this proportion reflects social characteristics related to perception of self, the others and the world.

Studying self-concept is particularly important in connection with global transformations of modern world because social values and norms instability associated with social changes lead to transformation of self-concept structure and content. Negative impacts of social crisis activate defensive synergetic trends in self-concept to protect its integrity. There is a specific pattern that activates self-concept stabilizing potential to reduce harmful effects of growing negative social impacts. The holistic trend in self-concept develops on two levels. The first level aimed at supporting emotional well-being activates synergetic potential of a person. In this case the second level mediated by cultural and individual translators and stabilizing tendencies is aimed at self-realization in order to find meaning of life in the boundaries of own culture and community and to be aware of self-uniqueness and importance for the others.

The empirical research was based on a sample of 186 adolescents living in an extreme social environment of war (the Chechen Republic) and in a stable social environment (the Republic of Ingushetia). A comparative analysis of self-concept structural components was performed. An extreme social environment impact on self-concept development in adolescents was analyzed. The results show that adolescents suffered the war perceive the world as threatening and self-functioning in that world as: (1) defensive, suffering, needing help and dying; (2) taking vengeance and attacking; (3) outcast and humble. This was not observed in adolescents living in a stable social environment. The higher expectation of other people positive feeling combined with negativism towards the others is more relevant for the adolescents living in the war zone and shows their frustrated needs in positive relationship, empathy and understanding. The pessimistic perception of self in future is also characteristic of this group.

Several types of self-concept were found in adolescents living in the war zone though in most of them self-concept could be defined as “I am a survivor”. This main self-concept type – “I am a victim” (64,6%) – includes following subtypes: “I am a sufferer” (27,1%), “I am a defender” (11,4%), “I am humiliated” (14,6%), and “I am dying” (11,4%). Other self-concept types are “I am an avenger” (16,7%) and “I am unique” (17,7%). In adolescents living in a stable social environment to the contrary main self-concept types are “I am a lifesaver” (21,1%), “I am successful” (22,2%), and “I am popular” (35,5%). Thus self-concept in adolescents living in the war zone is characterized as “I am a survivor”, which includes positive (“I am unique because of what I have experienced and how I have survived”) and negative (“I am an avenger: since I could survived I must dedicate my life to those who got killed and take revenge for them”) types.

Keywords: self-concept, holism, uncertainty, crisis, individual and social experience


The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Humanities, project 08-06-00252а.

Cyrillic letters are transliterated according to BSI standards. The titles are given in author’s translation [in square brackets]

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Received 14 February 2010. Date of publication: 20 June 2010.

About authors

Akhmedov Akhmad B. M.D., Ph.D. Student, Psychological Institute, Russian Academy of Education, ul. Mokhovaya, 9, str. 4, 125009 Moscow, Russia.
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Martsinkovskaya Tatyana D. Ph.D., Professor, Psychological Institute, Russian Academy of Education, ul. Mokhovaya, 9, str. 4, 125009 Moscow, Russia.
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APA Style
Akhmedov, A. B., & Martsinkovskaya, T. D. (2010). Synergetic and holistic tendencies in self-concept: theory and practice. Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya, 3(11). Retrieved from http://psystudy.ru. 0421000116/0029. [in Russian, abstr. in English].

Russian State Standard GOST P 7.0.5-2008
Akhmedov A.B., Martsinkovskaya T.D. Synergetic and holistic tendencies in self-concept: theory and practice [Electronic resource] // Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya. 2010. N 3(11). URL: http://psystudy.ru (date of access: dd.mm.yyyy). 0421000116/0029. [in Russian, abstr. in English]

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