The theory of the Detour
A theory of relativity in psychology


Theory of the Detour
by Michel Cariou


2. First months of the life


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
Second phase: Birth with the human access (exercise of the vital functions and beginnings of the interactions with the adult)

This phase opens with the birth of the child. Until there, the organisation was nourished, heated, oxygenated by the mother and did not have any activityIn 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. to deploy to ensure its survival. With the birth any exchange. It is plunged in a colder environment; it is private of oxygen and food. From now on, it will have to exert by itself its vital functions. It is thus quite natural that this period of the life is initially devoted to an adaptation to the physical world which requests especially its visceral sensitivity.

On the behavioural level, the infant has only one gestural competence: to suck. This one functions like an animal instinct, i.e. a behavioural sequence complexes which is activated starting from a release and is completed on another signal. It is, probably, the only natural instinct available to the man. The others, artificial instincts (Wallon), it will have to build them, thanks to the properties of its nervous system, in the interactionL'interaction organisme/milieu est au centre de cette théorie car "l'organisme et le milieu ne sont pas dissociables. L'organisation du premier n'ayant de sens que par rapport aux propriétés du second" (Cariou, 1995, p.120). Pour l'Homme, le milieu c'est le social et c'est par l'activité - la vie physique et psychique - qu'il arrive à "maintenir sa propre structure en accord avec les conditions du milieu dans lequel il baigne et dont il est issu" (ibid.). L'activité est donc le "trait d'union indispensable" entre l'être humain et son environnement permettant de maintenir l'accord vital entre ces derniers. with its social environment.

This stage, from the psychological point of view, the baby is in a state of total lack of differentiation compared to its social environment, as well physical as human. All the excitations that it perceives are confused in its lived, on which they are of internal or external source. One is still far from the existence of one me and, with stronger reason, of the individual and the subject which it has to become. All its adaptive activity (integrated activity) is turned towards the appropriation of the physical environment, from the point of view of the performance of its vital duties. They are there that its basic safety The 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. is placed, in the good performance of its biological organisation.

However, the adaptive dialectic, which will allow the passage another level of development, is already moving. The cries, the tears, the anarchistic gesticulations that the surplus of visceral excitations generates, are expressed in the external social environment and meet answers there. The adult gives a direction to these demonstrations which, for the child, do not have any, and produced behaviours in direction of the child (rocking, words, etc…). Already create for themselves bonds between one lived internal and a more or less pleasant answer of the circle. It is what Wallon calls the law of the effect, more known and studied in terms of operative conditioning (Skinner).

By the exercise, the control of the vital functions will be ground and refined. They will pass from the level of lived immediate to that of the automatismIn the first version of the theory, the automatism remains a process of management of the activity of relation (action clean), that Wallon defined as a working of the gesture compared to the external object, in opposition to working of the own body in the emotional expression.
In the theory of the Detour, with the access to the symbolic function system, the external object becomes mental (it is internalized) and the real action (activity of relation) becomes also mentalized. It is the operational activity (in the broad sense) of the thought compared to a representation of the object or a situation.
So the automatism is not confined the sensory-motor activity anymore, but these is a process which will continue to manage the real action, even mental, and up to the highest intellectual levels. All this finalised, voluntary mental activity and, at the groping beginning, is organised in an automatism which becomes unconscious and fast. The theory of Detour thus extends the concept of automatism until the high positions of the spirit. That makes it possible to include/understand by which process the psychological organisation adapts itself and incorporates in its structure, the human and social environment with which it must reach its adaptive agreement.
: he will be at the same time more effective and more discrete, leaving more place to the real life experiences of the interactions with the human environment

Basic safety being always ensured by a good management of the vital functions, the interactions with the medium will be able to be different and take an expressive value. The tonic activity can then be used as support with a whole range of expressions, by mimicry, the attitudes or the postures. Thus, the child internalizes, in his own structure, the methods of communication of lived sound, which find their form and their direction in his interaction with the adult.

These vectors of the communication, thus built, will be the materials on which will be exerted the total reorganisation organism/circle which will lead to the first detour.