The theory of the Detour
A theory of relativity in psychology


Theory of the Detour
by Michel Cariou


5. Third Detour: the access to the adulthood through differentiation Identity/Otherness of Kind


Outline of the presentation

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  1. Introduction
  2. First months of the life
    1. The development of the centripetal phase corresponding to the genetic development (construction of the organisation)
    2. Second phase: Birth with the human access (exercise of the vital functions and beginnings of the interactions with the adult)
  3. First detour: Structuring of the emotion and, consequently, the interaction to the human one
    1. First phase: Coordination of the emotional reactions (installation of a basic safety based on the emotional participation)
    2. Second phase: Shaping of the vital energy through the proper action (activity of relation of Wallon) and socialising action.
  4. Second detour: The differentiation of Ego and Other (of 2/3ans, till the puberty)
    1. 1° phase: Appearance of the reflexive conscience, distinction between the emotion of the Other and his own emotion and thus the subjects’ positioning from him even.
    2. Reflexive conscience
    3. 2° Phase: refinement of the others and thus of Ego by the experiment of varied social situations
  5. Third Detour: the access to the adulthood through differentiation Identity/Otherness of Kind
    1. 1st Phase: evolution of the body, discovered sexual emotion and access to the total ideology (self-centred on itself or centripetal position)
    2. Adolescence (From 11/12 years until 19/21ans minimum) and the installation of the identifiers
    3. 2nd phase: differentiation Identity/Otherness of Kind and development of a subject’s position (in realistic projects)
  6. The 4th Detour: the access to the mental activity as concrete activity
  7. References of this presentation
Adolescence (From 11/12 years until 19/21ans minimum) and the installation of the identifiers

Adolescence is thus the structuring crisis which will set up a new type of relation organism/circle, which will structurally, but not inevitably functionally, identical during all the adult life. So the quality of the ageing, which depends, for the most part, on the differentiations/internalisations carried out by the adult, is thus directly connected to the type of relations organism/circle which the crisis structural of adolescence will have made it possible to set up (we will speak again about it during the presentation of the 4th Detour).

The child having differentiated the basic behaviours as a multitude of behaviours appropriated for varied contexts is adapted well as long as he is confronted with these concrete contexts or with the same people.

The access to the formal thought allows him the installation of the internalization of the common denominator to each class of behaviours. Thus in a new context, the teenager will have an internal reference to adjust his behaviour, result of the integration of particular competences. These internal reference, we will call them identifier/differentiating.

Two principals’ identifier/differentiating will get clear, corresponding to two major constraints of the autonomy of the adult:

The first corresponds to the need for the person to function like a unit (structural Integration). It must thus federate through a major axis of all its development, recognised by all, the various facets of its identity. (Vertical Integration/horizontal Integration)

The second, answering the continuation of the adaptive law of differentiation/reorganisation, will allow to give an account of the work of development of competences increasingly diversified throughout the life and without, for that, that various competences are expressed outwards the subjects’ uniqueness (functional Integration). He corresponds to the inscription of the person in the social one, insofar as it is through its competences and social activitiesIn all the cases, the produced living organism of energy (vital energy) and this one generate and feed an activity which will be, to some extent, its liaison officer with the circle. It is thus thanks to it that the relation organism/circle will build itself. Therefore we call it integrated activity, because it corresponds very exactly to the degree of development and integration of the organism, and consequently, to the definition of the circle. In the case of the man, it is the level and the quality of the development of the psychological one which will determine the nature of the integrated activity and of the circle compared with which it is adaptive. It concerns as well the various stages of development during the growth, as the operation of the adult throughout the life cycle. that the subject will have a place recognised by the others, place in which he must be recognised.

However the identifiers are not crystallised good once and for all with adolescence. They are as beams of methods to be which are open to be more or less quite elaborated (refined by differentiation/reorganisation) and which is thus more or less internalized in the psychic structure. Because, if they are badly differentiated, and thus badly interiorised, they could not be enough to reach the adaptive agreement guaranteeing basic safety and will have to call for the external system of the representations, to compensate for the failing basic safetyThe basic safety is not a feeling (conscience), but an unconscious psychological state. It expresses the state of an organism which is in adaptive agreement with its circle (whatever its level). When this agreement is threatened or broken (objectively or subjectively), an alarm signal, the anguish appears, which functions with the psychological level like the pain in the organic plan. of the teenager.

Moreover, the adaptive dynamic, related to the relation organism-circle, brings certain identity branches to become dominating a time, then to yield this preponderance to other branches, progressively of the evolution of the adaptive constraints of the circle, with the advance in age.

That made that the differentiating system of identifier/differentiating is stable and thus flexible and, if all occurs well, allows progressive internalization of the various facets, which diversified and were dominating a time, in the life cycle of the subject. If it is not the case, it is because the insufficiency of differentiation and internalization of an identifier led the person to use a social stereotype (thus something of external with the structure) in order to support identifier/differentiating insufficiently worked out to be interiorised. That then produced a certain rigidity of the identifier/differentiating concerned, which prevents it from evolving/moving flexibly while remaining stable (what has consequences on all the psychological structure). The person thus depend on externals feedbacks adapted to rigidity of the stereotype, and, to register this one in an excessive dependence with the returns of the circle.

The social identifier/differentiating works like a system of participation in the circle, at once partial and quotes on a relative scale going at least from the maximum. Partial because describing only one facet, no-obligatory, of the person (a trade or another, a leisure or another, a social position or another, for example; but, from the point of view of the mental harmony, no one is obliged to be plumber rather only teacher or other, not more than it is not necessary to play tennis or poker). Relative, because in each one of those activities, we can be more or less powerful, i.e. be located on a going continuum of strong to weak, according to his choices and of his own competences.

The identifier of kind, although being also based on a social concept, has vocation to represent the total person, by methods which can be varied in their contents, but which, however, returns to a binary logic: we are a man or a woman, with our own manner certainly, but without there being continuum between the two and we are it from our birth to our death. Moreover, to position kind opens with the inter-subjectivity with the other kind (Chabrier, 2006Chabrier, L. (2006). Psychologie clinique.), answers social injunctions, and corresponds to a sexual dimorphism…

Several major acquisitions are built at the time of this crisis of adolescence, so that the person acquires a real autonomy and becomes a completed adult.

It is first of all the access to temporality. This one will make possible all on what from now on the basic safety of the subject will rest: development of the project, the desire.

It is also the capacity to ensure the internal integration identity which is pressed mainly on the identifier/differentiating of kind which makes it possible to be recognised in its globalism and its historicity, like being recognised like a total being, including its competences.

Depending much on the success of this structural work of development, sexuality will be able to then become either a structuring activity in the relation with the other (while falling under the inter-subjectivity), or a simple external shoring (competence) of its identity of man or woman.

The access to temporality, made possible by the abstract or formal thought, will be a true revolution in the psychological operation of the child. It is especially what will start a revolution in the differentiation Me/Other, but this time on another level.

The small child built space while walking inside, and the object by handling it and by using it. Thus it could integrate in his relation organism/circle, concretely, a permanence of the object (cf Piaget), including human objects, these others which are regularly present in the life of the child, with each one their concrete characteristics and their context of life. But that remains surface and external. Because, it is by their direct relationship with the activity of the child, that the objects or the others are perceived in their permanence.

What was possible for space is impossible for time: we cannot walk in the time which is an abstract concept. It is thus the formal thought which will make possible the design of a vectirized time. Temporality is thus what starts to set up continuity and a unit of the person and symmetrically a permanence of the others. It is thus a first step towards the integration of the psychological structure which is found, always equalises with itself, even in a multiplicity of historically lived events. It is, also the possible access to the reality of the Other, in the duration, the possibility of interiorising it with its specificities, its desires, its permanence and its evolutions.

This access to time, with a permanent self-awareness, opens the way to the major functional method of the adult: the development of the project.

The development of the project consists in directing vital energyAs soon as the life appears, whether it’s animal or vegetable, the living organism produces energy. It is this one, which will make possible the internal working of all what is living. It is it also which makes possible the exchanges between a cell and its environment. It’s still always this energy which is at the origin of the quasi-invisible but considerable force which will make it possible a tree to break masonry to extend its roots. Finally it is it which will be deteriorated by the disease and will die out with death.
In fact, nobody disputes this vital energy seriously when it is satisfied to be expressed in the biological order (or the plant) and as well gives an account of the beats of the heart as of the race of an animal.
All becomes complicated when we speak about the psychological order (or of its first steps) and more particularly of the human one.
towards an objective (socially developed and compatible with what the child, or the adult, already acquired). There, the child will meet frustration not to reach the objective immediately. The child thus will have to invest vital energy in intermediate objectives, which by stage, will bring it closer to the final objective.

It is thus at this period, with the access to the formal thought and temporality, that the child meets what Freud locates in the resolution of the Oedipus under the distressing term of work of castration.

Indeed, the objective is not immediately accessible, it is necessary to pass by intermediate bearings. Moreover, the initial objective very often is fuzzy and thus imagined, partly, through desires of the person. The progression by stage towards this selected objective will bring to discover it in its objective reality. There is thus in addition to the inscription in the time of the project, a confrontation with reality (not all, immediately, but also not very from what is awaited).

When students are registered in first year of Psychology, they have only one very approximate and idealised image of what is a psychologist (generally, that which can help the others).

However, to arrive to their end, they will have initially to succeed in transferring their vital energy on acquisitions from first, second and third year which comprise many lesson very distant from their initial motivation (methodology, statistics, biology) and thus to discover thus gradually (teaching, training courses) that the trade of psychologist does not have anything an almost magic competence to know (intellectually) to be able to help the others. Each year the student will have to make choices of reality, renouncements of phantasms, to reach, finally, the objective and to invest it in a suitable way.

To adolescence, the feedback of the circle will not relate any more directly on the behaviours, but to the result obtained by the child in the realisation of his projects.

There is no nature’s difference between the project and the desire. This term corresponds in fact to a more emotional and personal connotation of the project. However, like the project, the desire is built in a renouncement of immediate satisfaction, with the profit of a strategy aiming at reaching the object. Through a temporal inscription, it is a more precise discovery of the reality of the object, and thus of its partial nature compared to the phantasm. Contrary to the living out of a fantasy, the project, like the desire, confronts the subject with frustration and learns him how to accept it, by a carry forward of satisfaction in time.

If it is not the case, we are in the logic of the desire (or of the need) and in the situation of the living out of the fantasy. The little child began this training of frustration and, thus, from a real-world which is not compatible with its subjectivity. Until there, they are the parents who say, or should say, which is possible or not and what will be, perhaps possible, if the child follows the stages necessary to reach that point. It is a true work of training which must make it possible to mobilise, to contain and direct vital energy. At this stage of the development of the child, it’s the adult who is considered as psychological integrator and interface with the circle (guiding the adaptation and the development of the child).

When we ask a child to help his parents, he often answers “I do not want”. As if that were enough like explanation. The child does not understand that it is not the measurement of all. It can even feel a deep feeling of injustice if we force it to do something it does not want. The same if we don’t give him what he “wants”; particularly if we’ll give the object to another child. The training of frustration is an ungrateful work for the parents, but essential for the child.

There is thus there a very important work of education, on a very concrete level (without talking endlessly). This education, it’s, initially, the work of the parents, in the interest of the child. For lack of this daily work, which rests on the will and the capacity of the parents to define clear and regular limits (evolving/moving just with the age of the child), the child will never have a space of safety (in which its autonomy will be recognised). He will suffer from feelings of persecution and mistrust, likely to compromise the feeling of legitimacy of his desire (to adolescence), and thus the feeling of his own total legitimacy.

The project carrying out the new realisation of the own action irrigated by vital energy, it becomes also the guaranteeing one of the adaptive agreement and thus of basic safety. If preceding work would not have succeeded, the teenager, then the adult is likely to settle in a feeling of constant injustice and mistrust, leading it to allot to the others his failures and frustrations (externality).

However, a work of recursive re-elaboration of the management of frustration remains possible, thanks to the important upheavals of the crisis of adolescence.

With adolescence, the child is confronted with a modification of waitings of the social environment and with new injunctions of autonomy’s acquisition. Then another problem: the problem of psychic integration (identity and otherness, in a differentiation and complementarity). Until there, the psychological unit of the child was ensured of outside. The coherency of the circle, the stability of the concrete model people, the parental choices for the becoming of the child allowed him to feel one in all the concrete situations which it had learnt how to live. Its own temporality, split in its various activities, was unified by temporal waiting of the parents and, its methods to be, to be discontinuous, realised, each time, a psychological integration including the concrete aspects of the situations.

But to become a really autonomous man, it is necessary that the teenager lays out, in an interiorised way, the psychic tools enabling him to build its projects in a realistic way and thus realisable. To become autonomous it should not any more need returns of the circle compared to compatibility between the aim that it has and its own psychical reality, physical and social. It should not need to either support the permanence of its being on that of another concrete and external person (fusional relation).

It is thus necessary that it reaches a certain permanence of symmetrical Ego with a permanence of the Other, this time interiorised. It is a development of the category of Ego and Other, a differentiation/reorganisation being carried out on a more abstract level.

Since sexuality is the most visible aspect of the access to adolescence, we could have expected that this talk on the 3rd Detour starts by presenting the problems involved in sexuality. If it is not the case, it is because we make a point of presenting human development according to its functional and structural preponderances. Moreover, for this theory, the form that sexuality takes as its stakes are dependent in the way in which builds the psychic structure and not the reverse. It is initially advisable to distinguish sexuality from the sexual behaviours. However, these behaviours are directly related to the psychic structure of the subject, as to the context of appearance of the sexuality too which depends on the maturation of the sexual organs (inter-individuals differences).

Initially, sexuality is the means by which the species remains. However, among Man, sexuality acquired a function which largely exceeds the reproduction, which can bring to a multitude of different behaviours in the sexual environment. The sex act is accompanied by pleasure (strategy of the species to ensure their survival). For as much, we should not have to think that all what’s pleasure is necessarily sexual. The emotions are of visceral and tonic nature, just like sexuality is visceral and tonic excitation. We can thus consider the problems involved in sexuality like problems of emotional nature. Moreover, the sexual tension like any emotion is slackened in the spasm. The teenager discovers this new emotion without to have had until there the means of giving him a sexualised form. Primitive emotions such as the fear, rage (etc…), were formatted by this activity during the long years of childhood. The primitive relations had time to be domesticated by the activity of relation during the long years of childhood. The sexual emotion, on the other hand, intervenes without real preparation and thus with all the violence of a primitive emotion. It thus remains with the teenager to give a compatible object and form with the company in which it lives. This does not prevent that, when the context is not tallying any more, the sexual emotion can regain a rougher shape (example of the multiplication of the rapes during the wars). The emotion having, according to Wallon, basically the function and the capacity to carry out a participation in the Other (and thus in the Circle, and the adaptive agreement), it represents an extremely important stake which must be set up with adolescence, well beyond the simple pleasure. Indeed, to make love supposes recognition of the Other like subject and makes it possible to carry out, by the means of the emotion, the vital union and to stabilise basic safety.

The other subject then becomes the symbolic representative of the circle and thus, the sex act, of share the properties of the emotion, thus makes it possible to reach the triad with the circle, which is the objective of any activity aiming at the maintenance of the life. We can notice a notorious difference between making love and simply copulating, because so after the love the subject is reinsured and happy, after a simple copulation, it is rather sad and in loneliness. What is clearly expressed in the sentence of “sad animal post coïtum”. Thus to reach the reinsurance which gets the act of love is a capital stake of adolescence. And from this point of view, we can only regret the fact that the teenagers begin a sexual life more and more early. Namely at an age, where they did not have time to build the identity of kind, and thus, the position of subject of their partner. That inevitably brings to take the other like an object, like means of pleasure and to make sexuality a competence which is always likely to be failing. Identity’s integration is then threatened.

In a more positive situation, the teenager not having yet the socialised expressions forms of the sexual emotion, he will use the masturbation to start the generating spasm of pleasure related to this one. That was criticised even more condemned, however through this activity, the subject can be introduced the presence of the Other, like it has been case at the beginning of the 2nd Detour, where fusion due to the emotion introduced implicitly, but obligatorily, the presence of the other. This Other starts by being very vague (the girl or the boy whom we crossed in the street) but opens the door, by its presence in the daydreams accompanying the masturbation, with a process which can bring to the more precise definition of the Other-subject with which we will share the emotion. We can consider it regrettable besides those multiply pornographic sites more and more “hardware”, to which the teenagers have access, leading them to confuse the love and sexuality. Some regard even these productions as models, to follow, of a normal sexual life. Thus is allotted a teaching value to what is only one perverse deformation of sexual, thus endangering the construction of the Identity/ Otherness of kind (and thus their own identity).

At the beginning of this 3rd Detour, we had announced the emergence of two new functions: sexuality (maturity of the sexual organs) and the formal thought (maturation of the cerebral cortex + acquired cognitive former). However, we started by developing the consequences of the access to the formal thought, with his implications, in the forefront of which the access to temporality appears, development of the project/desire, management directed by the marked out project of frustrations. This inversion in the presentation is due to the fact that even if the emergence of sexuality is the most spectacular aspect of adolescence, it will have to fall under the logic of the total development of the person who, it depends especially on the first function (the inscription in temporality). Sexuality is the form found by the evolution of the species to ensure their perpetuation as well as possible. Reproduction by parthenogenesis or cellular division, the evolution chose the reproduction by the mixture of genes which will be constituted in sexuality. This one is thus necessarily binary so that there is thus, mixture of different genetic potentials. In other words, speech of sexual is to speak about the relationship between two partners of different kinds. Then, the word heterosexual is simply a pleonasm. However, if the majority of the higher animals have sexuality genetically regulated by favourable phases and long phases which are not it, one of the characteristics of the Man is to be sexually permanently available. That thus brought human sexuality, taking into account the emotion which is attached to it, to largely exceed the function of reproduction. The pleasure obtained by the venereal spasm will be required independently of any need for reproduction.

In a normal dynamics, the fact that the sexual emotion occurs concomitantly with the access to the formal thought, makes it possible to have a tool to control the anarchistic impulses of the sexual visceral emotion. There are already several levels. The solitary masturbation initially makes it possible to start the spasm which will release the teenager of this tension which exceeds its capacities of management. One notices besides that the puritan companies condemn this behaviour firmly and that would rather tend to generate neuroses and culpability, rather than a blooming of the people concerned. That being rather unhealthy and being able to have dramatic consequences, like inceste etc…

Thereafter, the masturbation will be often accompanied by a idealised representation of a partner of the other kind, even if this one is far from known of the teenager. This fantasized representation of the other, associated with the sex act is one of the stages to cross to reach other reality. And, at all events, the formal thought comes thus using the visceral impulse by introducing the other there. But this other virtual and idealised that the teenager uses in his phantasm, will have to be specified and to fall under reality so that there can be a true inter-subjective meeting. The teenager has responsibility of become a man (or a woman), i.e. more or less in our companies, to find a woman (or a man) with whom it will be able to build a relation of intimacy (cf Erickson). It is then only by the meeting, nonsexual, with people of the other kind, that the teenager will be able to build the otherness of kind and all his difference. Because it should not be forgotten that the other kind is in some kind an unknown continent, that it is necessary to be able to accept such as it is, i.e. not of it to make a simple object of the desire, which would make other kind, simply the outfall of its emotional needs.

It should well be seen that now, in the Western companies at least, sexuality aims initially the pleasure and either the reproduction. The basic difference that there is however in the use of sexuality, it is that if one places oneself if the other is regarded only as one object giving access to the pleasure, the things do not go further that the moment present (compulsion to repeat, Donjuanisme).

On the other hand, if the sexual behaviour falls under a relation of subject on subject, the result will not be only the pleasure anymore but the joy which is also a positive and more global emotion it (than one is hetero- or homosexual).

In short, adolescence is the crisis by which the teenager reaches an operating process which must become the process of the adult with like principal supports, the capacity to work out the project and the desire and thus to recognise the Other (kind) in its singularity, like a person with whole share. That made of adolescence, centripetal crisis of elaboration, from which will rise one application period (centrifuges) which will continue all the adult life and, according to the way from which adolescence will have occurred, the adult person will be quite different.