Ki-Jo Feza Sonne

Cand. psych., Ph.D. student

Agerbovej 16, 1 tv. DK 2800 Lyngby, Denmark

Going beyond the Frontiers of Limitation as choices in the World.

In connection with my practice period of 6 months as a student of neuropsychology at the Center of Braininjuried at the University of Copenhagen, I have observed the evident difference between the way patients act upon their deficits. The way of acting seems to be closely connected with the outcome of their cognitive and physical rehabilitation practice: Training of the whole human being, grounded in the theory of A.N. Leontjev and A.R. Luria's neuropsychological methods.

The very different outcome, in spite of almost the same conditions awoke my wondering. The typical set of acting was either a reactive acting upon - in other words an active fitting into the given premises - or an awarely acting upon the given conditions. One could also say, that the patients either reacted upon own needs, or they acted upon their possibilities in the World, with the aid of an agent (helper). But both ways were actually active. This led me to Vygotsky's concept of development.

The idea of The Proximal Zone of Development (Zoped) is created by Vygotsky. It expresses the phenomenon that the subject is able to extend its actual capacity with the aid of an agent (helper) being at a higher level. The concept is not about factual development, but is about the process of development. E.g. according to IQ, we measure the factual IQ, not IQ- abilities. We measure the past instead of the bridge to future.

My point is that Zoped does not imply passivity of the subject. E.g. the little child is capable of making the agent (mother) to lift it into Zoped.

My claim is: At every age level the subject is actively contributing to Zoped. When it wants to - and dares to.

But also!

My claim is: That the subject at any age level - likewise - can manoeuvre itself into The Proximal Zone of Destruction (my concept) as well as into The Proximal Zone of Development. Together I name the two ZO'OPED.

It is therefore also my claim, that man, via agents in the world can act reactively to his own being and thereby off-lay responsibility for his own development, or man, via agents in the world, can act awarely upon his own being in the world, and then carry the responsibility for his own development.

It is my idea that the choice between the two, is related to respectively a need- initiated activity (as seen by Leontjev) or a self initiated activity (as described by the brilliant Danish psychologist, Niels Engelsted).

Together they form a SUPERPOSITION. I find that Development or Destruction is selected actively, both by the subject and by the agent. The activity and its consequences then lead to either life quality - or the opposite. If no choices are taken, mental stagnation will characterize the subject.

Well. What is a superposition? A superposition is a state, where two (or more) potentials are present but have not manifested themselves. The properties are thus complementary and cannot be measured at the same time. An example of a superposition is pictured by the electrons.

The famous Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, acknowledged that one cannot see an electron. But electrons can be registered by some measuring device, and thereby can (indirectly) be experienced.

By this the electrons showed up either as particles or as waves. Always either/or, never both at the same time.

Bohr knew that he measured the same object, which then pictured the mixed state: THE SUPERPOSITION.

That is to say that the electrons before measurement is in a superposition. When the electron beam is measured a collapse occurs, and we only see the one component, e.g. the particle. Another example of a superposition is the Danish psychologist, E. Rubin's figure/ground and face/vase figure. Corresponding to this understanding, I see mans being as superpositions. E.g. in the mode we acquire the world, our consciousness is the tool (consciousness is always about something). The consciousness can be either reactive, led by needs and desires, or the consciousness can be selective, led by our own activity or self initiated activity, as Niels Engelsted should have put it.

In the superposition of active being, the subjects activity has its origin either in the need-dimension (reactive side) or in the dimension of awarely acting (active side), and thereby the subject creates active Destruction or active Development for himself.

Thus the psyche of man is characterized by these two ways of acting, in which the subjects activity is the selective choosing among the two conditions. Vygotsky should have called my superposition a mix-up of higher and lower cortical activities.

When the agent is active transferring (handing over) in order to make the subject able to exceed its frontier of limitation beyond the obstacle, and the subject wishes so, ZOPED is released to the subject. This Zoped is due to the little child as well as to the adult. E.g. when the little child acquires mothers tongue or when the adult acquires foreign tongues.

But if the agent's activity is need-initiated, the subject will become reified, as a mediator of the agents needs, and in this way forced into The Proximal Zone of Destruction - exemplified in infant-depression and infant-deprivation. Just think of the horrible experiences of Dr. R.Spitz.

Or - if the agent without warning alternate between need-initiated and self- initiated activity in relation to the subject (the child) will it not then also be forced into The Proximal Zone of Destruction? E.g. the alcoholized mother, who plays with her child, and in herself finds beautiful games to play - until the ecstasy changes or vanishes, then she wants to be left alone, in peace from the demanding child. Now she rejects it, just as violently as she played and laughed with it, just before.

She is an example of a subject, whose choice of social decline prevents her to select dealing with agents of development, she actively chooses the agents of destruction (drinking comrades), and thereby The Proximal Zone of Destruction, which she again delivers to her child.

The adult must find the agents in the world by themselves. So when we are adults we choose, if our agents are leading to Development or Destruction. In opposition to the adult, the child does not choose its own agents in early life.

SO, we can develop Zoped or Destruction by our own free will, but we also can be forced, against our own will, into destruction, when we are not free to choose or are dependent of the state of the agent and our own dependence of him.

Becoming adult we actively find the agents of the world by ourselves and thereby become responsible for lives further growth into Destruction or into Development.

The demand of Proximal Zone of Development, Zoped:

When working at The Proximal Zone of Development, a demand must be fulfilled. This demand is kindhood among man. James Wertsch calls it inter subjectivity. To me this means a willingness to develop - to hand over - to transfer knowledge, kindness and growth. This inter subjectivity or kindhood among man, is a premise in exceeding the Frontiers of Limitation beyond the obstacle. If not so, we enter The Proximal Zone of Destruction.

We just have to choose.