Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya • ISSN 2075-7999
peer-reviewed • open access journal


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

About authors
Suggested citation

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]

Akhmedov A.B. Osobennosti Ya-kontseptsii u podrostkov, nakhodivshikhsya v zone voennykh deistvii, i u ikh sverstnikov, prozhivayushchikh v stabil'noi sotsial'noi situatsii [Self-concept of adolescents in war zone and peaceful circumstances] [Elektronnyi resurs] // Psihol. issled. 2009. N 2(4). URL: (data obrashcheniya: 10.05.2010).

Andreeva G.M. Psikhologiya sotsial'nogo poznaniya [Psychology of social cognition]. M.: Aspekt Press, 2000. 288 s. [in Russian]

Bauman Z. Tekuchaya sovremennost' [Liquid modernity]. SPb.: Piter, 2008. 240 s. [in Russian]

Belinskaya E.P. Identichnost' lichnosti v usloviyakh sotsial'nykh izmenenii [Identity of person in social changes environment]: avtoref. dis. … d-ra psikhol. nauk. M., 2006. 50 s. [in Russian]

Belyaeva O.V. Dinamika lichnostnoi identichnosti v podrostkovom vozraste [Dynamic of personal identity in adolescence]: avtoref. dis. ... kand. psikhol. Nauk / Psikhologicheskii institut RAO. M., 2001. 20 s. [in Russian]

Bramer L.M., Shostrom E.L., Abrego P.J. Therapeutic counseling and psychotherapy / 6th ed. Englewood Cliffs. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall International, 1993. 402 p.

Chuprikova N.I. Psikhologiya umstvennogo razvitiya: Printsip differentsiatsii [Psychology of intellectual development: Principle of differentiation]. M.: Stoletie, 1997. 480 s. [in Russian]

Erickson E. Identichnost': yunost' i krizis [Identity: youth and crisis]. 2 izd. M.: Flinta: Izd-vo MPSI, 2006. 352 s. [in Russian]

Geshtal't-psikhologiya i sotsial'no-kognitivnaya teoriya lichnosti. K.Levin i A.Bandura [Gestalt psychology and social cognitive theory of personality. K.Levin and A.Bandura]. M.: Praim-Evroznak, 2007. 128 s. [in Russian]

Greenfield I.L. Formirovanie sotsiokul'turnoi identichnosti u podrostkov [Formation of social and cultural identity of adolescents]: avtoref. dis. … kand. psikhol. nauk. M., 2003. 21 s. [in Russian]

Ivanova I.V. Vliyanie perezhivanii na razvitie lichnostnoi identichnosti u detei starshego doshkol'nogo i mladshego shkol'nogo vozrasta [Influence of emotional experience on development of personal identity of preschool and elementary school children]: avtoref. dis. … kand. psikhol. nauk. M., 2001. 20 s. [in Russian]

Janoff-Bulman R., Timko C. Coping with traumatic life events: The role of denial in light of peoples assumptive worlds // Coping with negative life events: Clinical and social psychological perspectives / ed. by C.R.Snyder, C.E.Ford. N.Y.: Plenum, 1987. P. 135–159.

Konchalovskaya M.M. Osobennosti stanovleniya lichnostnoi identichnosti v doshkol'nom i mladshem shkol'nom vozraste [Specifics of personal identity formation in preschool and elementary school age]: avtoref. dis. … kand. psikhol. nauk. M., 2006. 20 s. [in Russian]

Martsinkovskaya T.D. Perezhivanie kak mekhanizm sotsializatsii i formirovaniya identichnosti v sovremennom menyayushchemsya mire [Emotional experience as a mechanism of socialization and formation of identity in modern changing world] [Elektronnyi resurs] // Psihol. issled. 2009. N 3(5). URL: (data obrashcheniya: 10.05.2010)

Maslow A. Dal'nie predely chelovecheskoi psikhiki [Distant extents of human psychics]. SPb.: Evraziya, 1997. 430 s. [in Russian]

Masterson J.F. The real self: A development, self, and object relations approach. N.Y.: Bruner/Mazel Publishers, 1985. 183 p.

Metodologicheskie problemy sovremennoi psikhologii – paradigmal'nyi i mezhdistsiplinarnyi aspect [Methodological problems in modern psychology – paradigmatic and interdisciplinary aspects]. M.: Smysl, 2004. 183 s. [in Russian]

Murray H.A.
TAT: rukovodstvo / per. Koshkina K.A. [Electronnyi resurs] // Flogiston: [sait]. URL: (data obrasheniya: 14.02.2006) [in Russian] (Murray H.A. et al. Thematic Apperception Test Manual. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1943. [English orig.])

Potebnya A.A. Slovo i mif [Word and myth]. M.: Pravda, 1989. 622 s. [in Russian]

Prakticheskaya psikhodiagnostika [Practical psychological diagnostic]: Metodiki i testy / red.-sost. D.Ya.Raigorodskii. Samara: Bakhrakh, 2005. 672 s. [in Russian].

Shpet G.G. Filosofsko-psikhologicheskie trudy [Philosophical and psychological writings]. M.: Nauka, 2005. 479 s. [in Russian]

Shipp A.E., Clemens E.V. Counseling adolescent students affected by the war in Iraq: using history as a guide // Professional School Counseling. 2006. Vol. 9, N 4. P. 322–326.

Stern W. Umstvennaya odarennost' [Intellectual endowments]. SPb.: Soyuz, 1997. 128 s. [in Russian]

Stolin V.V., Pantileev S.R. Test-oprosnik samootnosheniya [Self-regard test questionnaire] // Praktikum po psihodiagnostike: Psikhodiagnosticheskie materialy. M.: Izd-vo MGU, 1988. S. 123–130. [in Russian]

Vigotsky L.S. Pedologiya podrostka // Sobr. soch. M.: Pedagogika, 1984. T. 4. S. 227–231. [in Russian]

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.
E-mail: Этот адрес электронной почты защищен от спам-ботов. У вас должен быть включен JavaScript для просмотра.

Martsinkovskaya Tatyana D. Ph.D., Professor, Psychological Institute, Russian Academy of Education, ul. Mokhovaya, 9, str. 4, 125009 Moscow, Russia.
E-mail: Этот адрес электронной почты защищен от спам-ботов. У вас должен быть включен JavaScript для просмотра.

Suggested citation

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 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: (date of access: 0421000116/0029. [in Russian, abstr. in English]

Back to top >>

Related Articles