Background. Developing criteria for distinguishing between normal and abnormal personality is one of the most important fundamental scientific problems of psychology. However, today it does not have a satisfactory explanation.
The main Objective of this paper is to propose a new criterion to identify normal and abnormal personality that refers to the works of Erich Fromm.
The methodological and theoretical analysis of E. Fromm's ideas of productive and non-productive personality was carried out.
Based on the analysis of Fromm’s accounts an existential criterion for identifying normal and abnormal personality is proposed.
Conclusion. According to this criterion, firstly normal and abnormal personalities can be identified by special features of their position regarding existential dichotomies, secondly they include particular aspects of acquiring this position. Such dichotomies are inherent, bilateral discrepancies. The position of a normal personality pre-determinates certain existential dichotomies and the necessity of searching for compromise in resolving these dichotomies. This position is actively developed by a person taking into account the rational approach. The position of an abnormal personality is to deny a contradicting predetermination of inherent in existential dichotomies and leads a person toward a consistent, noncompetitive, and eventually single way where self-determination is not taken into account. This position is imposed by other people on an irrational basis. Abnormal personality is deemed as one of the most important factors that influence the development of various kinds of psychological problems and mental disorders (e.g. neurosis).
The references are made to empirical studies, which show that the existential criterion can be successfully used to diagnose normal and abnormal personality and to identify the causes of many psychological problems in humans.
There are more than a dozen of personality theories in psychology currently. However, among psychologists there is no general agreement in understanding personality as a psychological reality, i.e. the agreement of phenomena opened to introspection and the facts established by observing the activity of the subject and his/her products, all together designated by the term «personality». The authors of these theories are dealing with very different phenomena and facts, sometimes not quite compatible ones, making impossible comparative analysis based on the criterion of adequacy, designed to assess the extent to which the scientific theory corresponds to the psychological reality explained by it.
Thus, it is useful to turn to the analysis of William James’s works in order to clarify the issue of the psychological reality of the person who according to the author did the most thorough job of identifying the basic phenomena and facts that need be referred to using the term «personality». The results of this study allowed to draw the following conclusions.
From James’s point of view, the psychological reality of personality must include the phenomenon of personal ego and the fact of hierarchically organized motivational sphere that has been developed as a result of individual’s self-determination. James’s representations have withstood the test of time, they were in demand by a number of renowned theorists of personality especially those that considered consciousness as a subject matter of scientific psychology. Perpetual interest in James’s concept of personality among theorists turns to be quite durable in time and is a subject matter of psychological reality.
The paper includes research results of families, who have never applied to psychological counselling. To assess the normality and abnormality of parent and child personality existential criterion was used. In these families a so-called balanced style of parenting was revealed. This style indicates the compromising parental position in the education of their children concerning the existential dichotomies help and autonomy, nature and culture, self-actualization and conditional values, determinism and self-determination. The study results suggest that this position is developed by parents independently and on a rational basis. In accordance with the existential criterion mentioned above, characteristics of the educational position of parents indicate normality of their personality. It is shown that a balanced style of parenting contributes to developing child personality type with a dual, contradictory orientation for both children and their parents when solving life problems. Children with this type of personality, as well as their parents, manifest inherent willingness to compromise position towards the same existential dichotomies help and autonomy, nature and culture, self-actualization and conditional values, determinism and self-determination. Thanks to a balanced style of parenting favourable personal prerequisites for the development of normal personality are shown. As balanced style of parenting contributes to the normal development of child personality, these children have lack personal prerequisites for emerging difficulties in social adaptation, and therefore in families with such style of solving parent-child problems, due to these difficulties are completely absent.