The paper raises the issue of signs and symbolic meaning in developing human personality. From the standpoint of cultural historical psychology personality as a kind of totality of subjectivity may be considered as a higher mental function that should be disclosed in terms of its historical genesis and the cultural resources that are to develop it. The role of the plastic image as a cultural means of allowing a person to conceptualize himself/herself and his/her place in the world as a kind of integrity and value is showed. The genesis of the plastic sign of literal physical transformation (tattoos, etc.) to more conventional forms when the plastic image takes on a symbolic value (mask, dance, actor’s part in the theater and others) is considered. Its history can reveal such representations of a person as personality and individuality. The emergence of the most rudimentary forms of cultural behaviour demonstrates an active, transforming the relation of person to him/herself. Bodily changes, cultural «mutilation» and other transformations of physical features are the first signs and symptoms of separation from the nature and development of identity and mechanism of identification with the family name and the image of the totem. The sculptural portrait and anthropomorphic images point to the allocation of the individual family, society and the awareness of a person as a citizen of the state, make their own decisions and to responsibility for oneself. Further theatrical culture shaped a view of a person as an actor who can carry a role without merging with it completely, taking a decision from different positions.
The paper aims to systematize modern concepts of body image and body scheme. For the analysis of theoretical models the following criteria were allocated: explication of the mechanism underlying the formation and restructuring of body image, development of certain aspects of body image which are explained by the presented concepts. Separately the issue of the difference between the body scheme and the body image is discussed that seems relevant in connection with the specific features of the neural mechanisms of body image. In the study of the phenomenological level of bodily experience the assumption that the body scheme is fragmented and has no hierarchical structure is considered. Significant differences in viewing basic mechanisms of developing the body image associated with attention to various bodily phenomena are showed. Psychodynamic, cognitive, socio-cultural, feminist and interdisciplinary approaches are analyzed, which permitted to identify mechanisms of integration-differentiation, cognitive generalization and internalization-introjection. The analysis suggests the consideration of the body image in the context of issues on the appropriation of the body. If person is considered as a tool for shaping and maintening integration of mental processes, the patterns of interconnected and interdependent changes in the processes that occur in the construction of the image of the external situation and the body image acquires a special psychological meaning. It becomes necessary to allocate correctly the structure of the integrating object in which the subject is involved during the normal course of life, and in exceptional cases, i.e. in the presence of physical defects, the sudden change of appearance, etc. These development objects determine specific form of body image and its possible distortions.