A model of human functioning. The ten most important factors that determine, in interaction, individual and social functioning.
The 'Ten Factors Model' of human functioning. In this model, key
factors in human Functioning which must be taken into account for practical
purposes, are presented in a coherent context. Hereby the most
important processes, transformations and functions are described that
determine the various phases, stages or states in which those factors may
A range of connections between environment and response.
Situational factors. Including material and social conditions.
The first factor determining psychological functioning, is environment
(External context, situation, biotope, nurture). These include
material and social conditions or processes. The environment
provides matter and energy to the body. A gradual
distinction can be discerend between different influences:
(A) Direct physical influences. These are of a mechanical, chemical, electrical or magnetic nature (such
as food, temperature, violence, various stimulation of the senses).
(B) Indirect physical influences. In particular, this
concerns the social environment. Such influences are realized through higher
psychological and psychosocial processes involving signs and meaning,
communication and language.
Internal state. Physical properties and processes.
By interaction of environmental factors and congenital tendencies, the
physical state of the organism is determined (biological constitution,
physiology, 'internal environment' or internal state). This includes physical
health, fitness, muscle strength, muscle tone, funcionality of organs, and so
on. The physical condition can be seen as a 'snapshot' of all kinds of
physiological processes (organic, vegetative and animate processes);
including metabolism. The latter can be roughly devided into two
types of processes:
Anabolism: Storage and construction. It's function is
preparing for action (preparatory). It's mode concerns resting
state (sedation); Slow down. It's directed towards introversion.
This is the Comfort System, the Parasympathetic. (B)
Catabolism: Combustion activity. It's function is
regulating activity (participatory). It's mode concerns
activation (arousal); Speed-up. It's directed towards
extroversion. This is the Effort System, the
condition is measured by internal body-perception (body sensation,
interoception). To be distinguished are visceral feeling or
visceroception; and muscle and movement feeling, or
proprioception. On basis of body perception the nervous system
especially determines what the (biological) needs of the organism are.
Change of body condition already leads on a subcortical level to
the activation of innate reflexes, for example:
(A) Animale, or motor reflexes (Eg. The patellar tendon
reflex). (B) Central, subcortical reflexes (E.g. the orientation
reflex). (C) Vegetative reflexes due to emotional reactions (E.g.
flushing), and sexual reflexes (e.g. erection, orgasm), etc ..
All these processes interact with higher
processes in the nervous system and the brains.
Innate factors and predisposition. Congenital key characteristics, response patterns, talents and abilities.
The environmental influences are combined with innate characteristics or
tendencies ('nature'). These are based on genetics of the
individual. In the disposition of talents and tendencies of a person,
different degrees can be distinguished, from general to specific:
(A) The universal genetic blueprint of humans, or
general human potential. (B) General gender
differences. (C) Ethnic or so-called 'racial' differences.
(D) The individual genetic profile.
It can be said that in general, the tendencies of the first type
dominate the other ones in most respects.
externally-sensory perception information about the environment is gathered
in the various sensory modalities like seeing, hearing, touching,
groping, sense of temperature and pain, pressure and balance, tasting,
smelling, and so on.
As the organism reaches a sufficiently high level of activation, impulses from
external and internal environment are distrubuted in the nervous system
through all kinds of ascending (ascendent, afferent) nerve
tracks. Thus they will reach long term memory (L.T.M.). Memory
content includes a reflection of the person's life experience or 'personal
history'. There are various types of memory data (engrams):
(A) Data from direct
experience. A more or less chronological sequence of perceptions and
feelings (episodic memory).
1. External observations (exogenous). 2. Body feelings
and sensations, and states of consciousness (endogenous).
(B) Data from indirect
experience. Mental content derived such as knowledge, ideas,
fantasies, general rules, norms, values, preferences, plans, etc.
Rational constructions. Abstract patterns and structural
characteristics, hypotheses and generalizations; schemata, classifications,
hierarchies and plans. (In particular, this involves linear,
temporal, convergent processes, typically within the left-side brain).
2. Non-rational constructions ('pseudo-sensations'). Fantasy
representations, creative thinking, dream experiences, expectations, concepts
and purpose Intends, stereotypes, still rings and symbols. (In
particular, this involvs non-linear, spatial, divergent processes, typically
within the right-side brain).
Acquired reaction patterns. These concern skills and habits.
in behavior, thinking, emotion, sexuality, social interaction, communication,
etc. (strategies, 'programs', scripts, skills,
(D) Conditioned responses. Associative
combinations of action-reaction, stimulus-response, context and
The first two types of data
together constitute the person's 'model of the world' or 'worldview'
(including philosophy of life, 'picture of man', 'self image', and body
Manifest cerebral information processing (cerebration). Conscious and unconscious mental processes (mentation).
Mental processing is characterized by a practically incomprehensible
complexity. There are however certain elementary aspects that can be
(A) Basic ingredients. A
variaty of data and factors, such as environmental influences, innate
reflexes, physical processes, observational data and memory content, provide
the 'raw materials' for the activity of higher-level central physical and
mental processes, primarily within the cortical brain. (B)
Core function. The organism is continuously confonted with the
challenge to produce an adequate response, be it internal or external, to the
given situation. This from the point of view of certain objectives and
priorities (which can be biological, emotional, social, etc.). The
central processing determines both emotional reactions (including subjective
well-being) and behavioral responses (including effective performance).
(C) Construction of an Ad hoc model. A logically -
and practically - necessary step is, therefore, the formation of a concept,
or so-called ad hoc model of the current situation. This consists of
an (abstract) representation of the organism itself in relation to the
setting of that moment. The construed representation of the current
situation serves as a guidance for the determination of adequate emotional
and behavioral responses tn the given situation. It is made up of
'internal' or mental representations ('internally generated
experience', or 'internals') that are momentarily active, or
manifest. The latter we usually call thoughts, ideas, memories,
fantasies, reasoning, emotions, values, beliefs, assumptions, dreams, etc ..
(D) Mental operations. The 'ad hoc model is
constantly fabricated and modified through largely unconscious
information processing. These processes include
information-processing, and decision making (affective and cognitive
processes, 'internal processing' or 'computation'). This
includes recollection and associative thinking, reasoning, fantasizing and
dreaming (the latter especially taking place during 'active' or REM sleep).
These processes are mainly driven by cognitive operators and programs
available that are part of the specific activity of the psychic apparatus.
(E) Working memory. The active processes,
together with their outcome, the 'ad hoc model', are part of variable
contents of the so-called 'working memory' or Short Term Memory
(S.T.M.). The contents of the S.T.M. Is primarily unconscious, but
partly also conscious accessible. The greatest part of the contents of the
S.T.M. however, is always unconscious (subliminal): the
unconscious domain. This unconscious content does have a great influence on
the task performance of the person. The whole of these processes and
contents is also called 'the unconscious mind' or 'intuition'.
(F) 'Conscious range'. Only a relatively very
small part of the contents of the S.T.M. can be experienced consciously in
principle (supraliminal): its 'conscious range' (see below).
Bubble of Perception. Including awareness of preferences, goals and priorities.
Through conscious and unconscious processes of selective attention, a
relatively small portion of mental processes and contents from unconscious
domain, may become conscious (supraliminal). This conscious
range includes conscious subjective experience ('bubble of
perception'). This concerns a.o. the degree of emotional well-being,
or subjectively experienced quality of life, and possibly also experiences of
meaning or spirituality.
The phenomenon of conscious experience
still is in a high rate inexplained and in certain respect of a mysterious
(·) Every conceivable form
of conscious experience is completely and 'absolutely' dependent of a certain
ability to have a degree of 'subjective consciousness'. (·)
Conscious experience is also highly dependent of organic factors and
processes in the body and nervous system. (·) There are however
no neurophysiological correlates to be found that provide a full explanation
for all specific - and partly unique - attributes of consciousness
(such as qualia, quality of experience and the like).
Subsequently, a portion of conscious experience can be susceptible to
feedforward adjustment or regulation on basis of conscious choices of the
person with respect to his/her own functioning. This comprises the margin of
available conscious choice, or 'free will'. That means we are able to a
certain degree of free choice, self-management and self-determination.
The conscious range of choice is completely and 'absolutely' dependent
of a certain degree of conscious awareness, viz. conscious perception, or
mental representation of (supposed) options available at that moment. For
freedom of choice, therefore, the capacity for conscious subjective
experience is in any case required.
Conscious subjective experience
and free will together may be considered as the 'conscious domain'.
The conscious 'choice to chose' is decisive for the scope of personal
Decisive for the scope of conscious responsibility.
As a result of mental processes in the cortical brain, which are partly
conscious but largely of a unconscious kind, physiological responses
arise. These are produced mainly in subcortical regions of the brain, and
consist of a combined activation of 'conditioned' (learned) responses, and
'automatic' (innate) reflexes. They find their way through peripheral,
vegetative systems, activating guts and glands. First of all, there are
reactions. Through the central nervous system, e.g. global
activation or sedation. (B) Organic reactions. in In the
peripheral, vegetative nervous system, e.g. emotional and/or sexual
excitation (associated with altered respiration, heart beat, blood pressure,
External behavior. In particular, this involves motor skills, self-expression and communication.
Finally externally observable (overt) behavior is determined, also on
subcortical level. This includes motor skills, self-expression and
communication. This is regulated through motor systems, the peripheral
motor nervous system, activating muscles and glands. These expressions
mainly consist of motor response, for example, moving, behaving, phonation,
speaking, and so on.
Notes concerning physiological
responses and external behavior. Both physiological responses
(ad 9) and behaviors (ad 10) are activated through efferent
descending nerve tracks from brains and spinal cord. They can come to
expression through various channels:
Glands: for example, secretion, perspiration, tears, etc.. (II)
Skin: for example, blood flow (flushing), goosebumps, etc.. (III)
Muscles: for example, movement, tension (tonus), sound (voice), power