Dmitry A. Leontiev
State University of Moscow, Department of Psychology, Russia

E-mail:dleon@smysl.ru

 

LIFE-ENHANCEMENT, UNDERSTANDING AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT

 

Theoretical foundations and practical experience of a special form of psychological practice of life-enhancement (LE) are presented and discussed. LE practice can be singled out from such social practices as psychotherapy, religion, and education; its focus is the facilitation of progressive enhancement of one's world view (Leontiev, 2001; cf. 'ontogogy' - Bugental, 1965). This practice causes progressive personality changes through restructuring personal meanings, without touching personality structures at all; no individual peculiarities are taken into account, except for one's world view. The theoretical base for this practice is the complementarity principle: the progress in understanding the world (including oneself) is the only form in which we experience our own personality development. Understanding is defined as cognition accompanied with some - local or global - restructuring of knowledge-belief-meaning structure. Personality development, in turn, is not equal to the maturation of biological prerequisites and refinement of adjustment mechanisms; it rather expresses itself in the progressive evolution of self-regulation mechanisms toward one's taking hand in one's own life course and development (Leontiev, 1993; 1999). The key role of changes at the level of meanings for the whole personality development finds its explanation in the theories of Vygotsky (1931) and Maddi (1970).