The theory of the Detour
A theory of relativity in psychology

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Theory of the Detour
by Michel Cariou

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

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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
2nd phase: differentiation Identity/Otherness of Kind and development of a subject’s position (in realistic projects)

During the centripetal phase of the development at this age, the teenager, even the young adult, set up competences, the manners of being in the world, news and which will need to be exerted to refine in one 2nd phase of the centrifugal type and which is the adulthood here. Many people think that the adult is to some extent the top of the development and that it’s one stable period in the life of the individual. That is partially true insofar as throughout all adulthood, psychic operation is carried out on the basis of installation of the psychic structure to adolescence, i.e. the development of the project and the differentiation of the identity of kind. However, the life of the adult is not therefore linear. When we’re 20 years old, we are a different being from the individual that we’ll be to 40 or 50 years. Even if the individual organises its life on the basis of centripetal phase of adolescence to maintain the adaptive agreement, the adult is obliged to carry out partial reorganisations by the process of differentiation/reorganisation. If a young adult successful the contests to become professor of gymnastics, all the trajectory of his life will be affected. On the other hand, if it fails this contest and becomes a framework shining in its company, we could say that while being the same one and with the conscience of the continuity of oneself, it will be very different from the professor of gym which it could have been. The field of the potentialities tends to be reduced to the adulthood.

Thus the adult life, while being, by internal way, structured by the work of adolescence, will be in fact one period when the person will have, by will or obligation, need for operating differentiations/reorganisations, taking along to install different priorities in the choice from its own action. We find oneself thus faced with a pyramid of values, priorities, which can be looked from all sides and modified when the social context requires it. That is not done always easily and we will then see appearing phases of elaborative depression, related to the fact that the subject does not have priorities any more and thus an inhibition of the action. However, among healthy subject, these depressive episodes are natural and necessary, do not last a long time and will not be a matter of psychiatry.

There will be thus crises throughout the adult life which will mark, for example a marriage, the fact of having children, bereavements, relations in the company, or possible dismissals. Thus the person, while remaining it and one, changes and evolves throughout this course. A 40 years old man, for example, even if he does not realise it consciously, is not the same individual anymore as the individual he was at 20 years. The identity is thus a very relative concept. A relative concept regarding to the way in which the psychic structure was built, a relative concept regarding to the successes or failures that the person met, a relative concept regarding to the nature of the meetings which occurred during the life, a relative concept regarding to all the accidents or diseases that the individual met. It is classically distinguished turning points in one’s life, or life cycle’s crises, like the young adult profiting from a psychosocial moratorium (Erickson,  1968Erickson E.(1972 [1968]). Adolescence et crise, p.164.), as being parents with all the concern and the advantages that it represents, like precisely the departure of the children and as the retirement. The incidence can be considerable (on the financial plan in particular). After will come the old age and will be the object of the next Detour.