The Psychological Concept of Overcoming: Theory, Methods, and Diagnostics

  • Vladimir V. Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health
  • Vladimir V. Andreev Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health
Keywords: will concept, overcoming phenomenon, overcoming levels, transgression, motivation, feeling, coping, uncertainty


Introduction. This paper (a) provides an overview of various theoretical and methodological approaches to studying the concept of ‘overcoming’, (b) presents terminological, semantic, and functional approaches to the analysis of the concept of ‘overcoming’ in the structure of athletes’ self-consciousness, and (c) demonstrates associations between the phenomenon of ‘will’ and the concept of ‘overcoming’ from various perspectives. In particular, we examine philosophical, psychological, pedagogical, psychophysiological, and socio-psychological determinants that influence our approach to studying the phenomenon of overcoming. This study represents a first attempt to carry out the methodological, theoretical, and critical analysis of the issue of overcoming in psychology. We systematized previous ideas and concepts about the phenomenon of ‘overcoming’, formulated our working definition of this concept, and distinguished levels of overcoming. For the first time, the phenomenon of ‘overcoming’ is comprehensively studied in terms of physical and psychological regulatory determinants.

Theoretical Basis. We discuss in detail basic theories, principles, and concepts including the dialectical principle, the principle of transgressiveness, the principle of stable disequilibrium of living systems, and the principle of self-determination. This section (a) provides the main conceptual framework for the psychological theory of overcoming, (b) considers the impact of the concept of resilience, the extra-situational theory of activity, the idea of passionarity and liminality, and (c) concentrates on the psychology of extreme situations, psychological barriers, and risk issues. Explanatory determinants of the phenomenon of overcoming include the ‘freedom reflex’ and the ‘goal reflex’ by I. P. Pavlov, the ‘principle of dominance’ by A. A. Ukhtomsky, the synergistic ideas of the ‘concept of nonequilibrium systems’ by I. Prigogine, the ‘concept of passionarity’ by L. Gumilev, and conceptual perspectives of P. K. Anokhin, B. G. Ananiev, N. A. Bernshtein, E. S. Bauer and other scientists.

Results and Discussion. We elaborated a scheme for functional analysis of retrospective autobiographical questionnaire data and also developed an algorithm for semantic analysis of empirical data. The results of the content analysis enabled us to introduce a structural and dynamic characteristic of the phenomenon of overcoming and to clarify psychological parameters of the concepts of ‘will’ and ‘overcoming’. We (a) carried out the semantic analysis of various concepts of the phenomenon of overcoming, (b) introduced a level-based concept of overcoming, and (c) attempted to conceptualize the concept of ‘will’ and its associations with the paradigm of ‘overcoming’.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Vladimir V. Andreev, Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology


Allport, G. W. (1937). The functional autonomy of motives. American Journal of Psychology, 50, 141–156.

Bauer, E. S. (1935). Theoretical biology. Moscow; Leningrad: All-Union Institute of Experimental Medicine. (in Russ.).

Brehm, S. S., & Weintraub, M. (1977). Physical barriers and psychological reactance: Two-year-olds’ responses to threats to freedom. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 830–836.

Caplan, G. (1963). Emotional crisis. In The Encyclopedia of Mental Health (Vol. 2, pp. 521–532). N.Y.: Franklin Watts, Inc.

Chudnovsky, V. E. (2006). Development of personality and the issue of meaning in life: Selected works. Voronezh: NPO MODEK. (in Russ.).

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1986). The dynamics of self-determination in personality and development. In R. Schvarzer (Ed.), Self-related cognitions in anxiety and motivation (pp. 171–194). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1991). A motivational approach to self: Integration in personality. In R. E. Diensbier (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation (pp. 237–288). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Retrieved from:

Frankl, V. (1990). Man’s search for meaning. Moscow: Progress.

Gumilev, L. N. (2001). Ethnogenesis and biosphere of the Earth. St. Petersburg: Cristal. (in Russ.).

Guseinov, A. Sh. (2017). The protest activity of the personality (Doctoral dissertation). Krasnodar. (in Russ.).

Hegel, G. V. (1974). Encyclopedia of philosophy: Vol. 1: The science of logic. Moscow: Mysl'. (in Russ.).

Hobfoll, S. E., & Lerman, M. (1988). Personal relationships, personal attitudes and stress resistance: Mother’s reactions to the child’s illness. American Journal of Community Psychology, 16(4), 565–589.

Kornilova, T. V. (2003). Psychology of risk and decision-making: A textbook for university students. Moscow: Aspect Press. (in Russ.).

Kozielecki, J. (1987). Koncepcja transgresyjna czlowieka. PWN, Warszawa.

Kozielecki, J. (1995). Koncepcje psycholog iczne czlowieka. Warszawa: Wyd. Zak.

Kozielecki, J. (1997). Transgresja i kultura. Warszawa.

Kozielecki, J. (2001). Psychotransgresjonizm. Nowy kierunek w psychologii. Warszawa.

Kuhl, J. (1983). Motivation, Konflikt und Handlungskontrolle. Heidelberg: Springer.

Kuhl, J. (1994). Wille und Freiheitserleben: Formen der Selbststeuerung. In J. Kuhl, H. Heckhausen (Hrsg.), Enziklopadie der Psychologii. Motivation und Emotion (Bd. 4). Gottingen: Hogrefe.

Kuhl, J., & Beckmann, J. (Eds.) (1994). Volition and personality: Action vs. state orientation. Gottingen: Hogrefe.

Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New Yоrк: Springer Publishing Company.

Leont'ev, D. A. (2011). Personal potential: Structure and diagnostics. Moscow: Smysl. (in Russ.).

Maddi, S. (2002). Resilience, its diagnosis, and training. Moscow: Institute of Existential Psychology and Life-creation. (in Russ.).

Maddi, S. R. (1965). Motivational aspects of creativity. Journal of Personality, 33, 330–347.

Magomed-Eminov, M. Sh. (2008). The phenomenon of extremality (2nd ed.). Moscow: Psychoanalytic Association. (in Russ.).

Mamardashvili, M. K. (1997). Psychological topology of the path. St. Petersburg: Russian State Art Museum. (in Russ.).

Maslow, A. (1967). Self-actualizing and Beyond. In Challenges of Humanistic Psychology. New York.

Pakulina, S. A. (2010). Overcoming adaptation: A system-forming factor and a condition for the formation of university students’ independence. Moscow: SSU. (in Russ.).

Pavlov, I. P. (1951). The physiological mechanism of the so-called arbitrary movements. In The twenty years of objective studying the higher nervous activity (Behavior) of animals (pp. 481–485). Moscow. (in Russ.).

Petrovsky, V. A. (1992). Psychology of non-adaptive activity. Moscow: Gorbunok. (in Russ.).

Plutchik, R., Kellermann, H., & Conte, H. R. (1979). A structural theory of ego defences and emotions. In C. E. Isard (Ed.), Emotions in personality and psychopathology (pp. 229–257). N. Y.: Plenum.

Podymov, N. A. (1999). Psychological barriers in the professional activity of teachers (Doctoral dissertation). Moscow. (in Russ.).

Ponomarev, Y. A. (1994). Psychology of creativity: Development prospects. Psikhologicheskii zhurnal, 15(6), 38–50. (in Russ.).

Prigogine, I. (1991). The philosophy of instability. Voprosy filosofii = Problems of Philosophy, 6, 46–52. (in Russ.).

Razumovsky, O. S. (1988). Extreme patterns: Categories of the largest and the smallest. Novosibirsk: Nauka. (in Russ.).

Rubinstein, S. L. (1997). Man and the world. Moscow: Science. (in Russ.).

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–78. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). An overview of self-determination theory: An organismic-dialectical perspective. In E. L. Deci, & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of self-determination research (pp. 3–33). New York: The University of Rochester Press.

Ryan, R. M., Deci, E. L., & Grolnic, W. S. (1995). Autonomy, relatedness, and the Self: their relation to development and psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti, D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology (Vol. 1, pp. 618–655). New York: Willey.

Sapogova, E. E. (2009). Overcoming liminality as a way of personal life creation. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 1, 49–56. (in Russ.).

Sechenov, I. M. (1953). Selected works. Moscow. (in Russ.).

Shakurov, R. H. (2003). The psychology of meanings: Theory of overcoming. Voprosy psikhologii, 5, 18–33. (in Russ.).

Shipovskaya, V. V. (2013). Modes of overcoming personal activity in the context of the subject-being approach. Izvestiya Sochinskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta = Sochi Journal of Economy, 4–2(28), 89–93. (in Russ.).

Tomalintsev, V. N. (2007). Extreme Russia: Development forecast. St. Petersburg: Otechestvo. (in Russ.).

Tulchinsky, G. L. (2002). Posthuman personology: New perspectives of freedom and rationality. St. Petersburg: Aleteiya. (in Russ.).

Ukhtomsky, A. A. (1966). The dominant. Moscow; Leningrad: Nauka. (in Russ.).

Ushinsky, K. D. (1953). Selected pedagogical essays: in 2 vol. (Vol. 2). Moscow: Ministry of Industry of the RSFSR. (in Russ.).

Uspensky, P. D. (1992). In search of the wonderful. St. Petersburg: Chernyshev Publ. (in Russ.).
How to Cite
Vladimir V., & Andreev, V. V. (2019). The Psychological Concept of Overcoming: Theory, Methods, and Diagnostics. Russian Psychological Journal, 16(3), 20-32.
General psychology, psychology of personality, history of psychology