Scientific journal

New Psychological Research

Leontiev D.A. From illness psychology to health psychology: a positive reorientation

Dmitry A. Leontiev, Ph.D., Dr.Sc. (Psychology), Chief Researcher, HSE University, Moscow, Russia; 11 Pokrovsky blvd, Moscow, Russia, 109028;

The article is devoted to the formation of modern views on the psychology of health as a positive characteristic of human functioning. The first approaches to the definition of norm, or health, in the context of psychology and related sciences, the formation of views on the social construction of the concepts of health and illness in philosophy (M. Foucault), sociology (E. Goffman) and psychiatry (T. Szasz), the emergence of the concept of positive mental health in humanistic psychology in the 1950s–1970s (A. Maslow, C. Rogers, M. Jahoda, S. Jourard) are considered. Special attention is paid to the development of views on positive health in the context of positive psychology in the last 20–30 years in the works of M. Seligman, as well as G. Vaillant, C. Ryff, C. Keyes, C. Peterson, etc. Positive health is viewed through the prism of positive personal resources, which perform a buffer (preventive) function in relation to the risks of physical and mental diseases. The data of meta-analyses revealing the contribution of positive personal resources to disease prevention, longevity support, and the promotion of physical and mental health are presented. Positive personality resources such as character strengths, positive emotions and traits, and attitudes toward life directly influence health characteristics, susceptibility and resistance to disease, and even mortality. Psychological health as an integral characteristic of the fullness of psychological functioning of an individual is determined through maturity, safety and activity of personality self-regulation mechanisms, the measure of a person's ability to transcend his/her biological, social and meaning-related determinacy, acting as an active and autonomous agent in the changing world.


Key words: health, illness, norm, social construction, humanistic psychology, positive psychology, personality resources, prevention


For citation: Leontiev, D.A. (2024). From illness psychology to health psychology: a positive reorientation. New Psychological Research, No. 1, 8–29. DOI: 10.51217/npsyresearch_2024_04_01_01



The article was prepared within the framework of the HSE University Basic Research Program in 2023.


Keywords: health illness norm social construction humanistic psychology positive psychology personality resources prevention

Received: 03rd april 2024

Published: 03rd april 2024

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