The theory of the Detour
A theory of relativity in psychology


Theory of the Detour
by Michel Cariou


3. First detour: Structuring of the emotion and, consequently, the interaction to the human one


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: Shaping of the vital energy through the proper action (activity of relation of Wallon) and socialising action.

Although an external activity already started for a long time, it becomes extensive, when postural tonicity is better controlled thanks to functional maturation; the child succeeds in being held seated. The field of its exploratory activity increases then appreciably.

There appears the distinction done by Wallon between emotion and 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. of relation. The emotion is the shaping of the proper body through the management of the tonic function and expresses itself in the attitude or, more finely, in mimicry. It always keeps bonds with the visceral sensitivity in which, it origin. The activity of relation is working of the gesture, by the exercise of the muscles’ tonic function, and is refined by an alternative movement (action, perception) around the external object (or external constraint like gravity). The relations’ activity is thus that will make it possible for the child to make alone, to acquire autonomy.

Wallon presents us those two methods of the adaptive activity as incompatible, the one being a tonic expression, the other needing to be based on postural tonicity to spread itself.

There is thus there, a stake of significant development. It goes indeed, being necessary that the 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.
, initially shaped by the emotion, can go to irrigate the gesture, and more generally what we will call the proper action, without for all that, the child loses his 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. assured by the emotional participation.

It is an essential stake of the development. There is only one source with vital energy: organic metabolism. What will be played, from there and even at the adulthood, it is the capacity of the psychical structure to shape this energy in a way adapted to a process of individuation and acquisition of the autonomy.

That is not simple because, if the organic maturation opens the way with the sensorial-motor- activity, this one will be able to be exerted fully and to be different sufficiently only if it is suitably irrigated by the vital energy. If this one remains partly surrounded on sedentary needs for positive emotional participation, there will be repercussions on the assets that the sensorial-motor activity makes possible.

When the phase 1 was well organized, it ensures a good basic safety by an emotional participation whose management became automatic and thus inexpensive in energy. This one is then largely available to animate the sensorial-motor activity which will be an essential component of this centripetal phase.

By a patient work of mapping of his sensory perceptions (Internal and external) with the driving acts that it produces, the child manages to carry out differentiations (perceptive and driving) which are restructured in gestures or finalised movements which automate itself and register thus in him the objects and the space from which they built themselves.

Thus, gradually, the child builds his relative being, 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 a physical environment and social objects, under the protection in the singular way (thus relative) in which installation itself its emotional participation in the adult. In another way we could say that the “interiorization” of the “making” built “the being” and his world (social environment).

The sensorial-motor phase itself will last until the appearance of the symbolic function around 18 months but, then, even if it is not priority any more in the adaptive activity of the child, the sensorial-motor activity will continue to improve during still long years. During the sensorial-motor phase will have set up themselves the means by which the individuality and the self-awareness will be able to emerge.

During this time, the child diversifies considerably his competences and keep guard them in his heart through automatisms. Those automatismsIn 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.
are necessarily finalised (competences) but fit in the same being and are built and are applied in the report with the other.

Thus, the internal organisation of the automatisms constitutes a means of being, expressing herself in the own management capacity of activity, which in front of the action of the other necessarily prepares with a recognition of its own body in its competences, but also within her limits and her difference with the other.

The basic safety is always ensured by the emotional participation in the adult (mother), but thus prepares the supports giving access to the self-awareness and of the difference.

Moreover, the sensorial-motor activity does not relate to only the material object. She is also exerted in connexion with more general constraints like gravity for walk, but especially, compared to human models in the imitation. If this one will become an adaptive vector of great width in the continuation of the development, it is already present in the sensorial-motor activity and as of circular the initial reactions. She will play a very particular part in the language’s acquisition while making it possible to automate the pronunciation of the words (by imitation) which at this stage are yet only the equivalent of meaning gestures.

This stage the word remains attached to the concrete object and has an immediate expressive function. For example, “not” (very early) is not yet a negation but the equivalent of the gesture of refusal of the typical location. Words such as “Dad” or “Mom” are not differentiated yet from the dad or the mom of the child. It is only later, with the emergence of the symbolic function which the word will be able to represent a category joining together, by a common feature, several detached concrete objects, partly, of a specific context. That is observed for example, when the child starts to call dad all the adult men whom it meets. But, already, “the name helps the child to detach the object of the perceptive unit where it is committed. It makes it survive the impression present” (Wallon, 1956Wallon, H. (1976[1956]). Les étapes de la personnalité chez l'enfant, p.338.).

However, it is only with neurological maturation and the access to the symbolic function that a new phase of internal reorganisation of the psyche will be able to open (centripetal) which will allow the internalisation of the external object as well as the proper action. Thus the word, instead of being the concrete object, becomes mental category and the sensorial-motor activity can become metalized activity, around this mental object which, in a sense remains an external object in which he is the representative, compared to the total structure of the psychological person.

This phase is capital for the continuation of human development because it’s that phase where re-develop dualism is entered the emotion and the activity of relation, the emotional lived and the own (textual) action. She must rebuild in the mental plan all the work of the vital energy management, on the basis of differentiations operated in the order of the sensorial-motor one.

Then, will be able to develop specific centrifugal activities such as the show, the symbolic plays systems, languages’ acquisition or the plays of alternation, which, by the play of differentiations/re-organizations that they make possible, refine competences of symbolization of the child and make him possible the access to the following detour.