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
1st Phase: evolution of the body, discovered sexual emotion and access to the total ideology (self-centred on itself or centripetal position)

The child of 10-11 years generally acquired a state of balance and a good adaptive stability. Indeed, it has basis of behaviour which format the characteristic action so as to be recognised by the circle and to recognise itself in them. Differentiation/reorganisation of these behaviours in a multitude of typical situations enabled him to format its 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.
and to gain in autonomy in the various contexts which it was brought to meet.

If the development were harmonious, its adaptation is thus completely satisfactory and, by the play of the imitations/identifications and differentiations with respect to the others, it continues to improve its adaptive agreement to the circle.

However, as we already specified, the constant improvement of its adaptive agreement by differentiations/reorganisations that are interiorised like as many manners of being in situation, could not make it possible the child to reach at the following stage. The excellence reached by the diversification of the behaviours could not modify the base of the relation organism / circle without the intervention of new dependent competences on the neurobiological maturation of the child.

However, precisely, it is not one but two new functions which will become ripe. On the one hand, in a purely biological way, the activation of the sexual organs, on the other hand, coming to crown a long work of cognitive training: the access to the formal thought (cf: Piaget), made possible by cortical maturation. Social waitings also change and the child, become adolescent, is engaged more and more with becoming tall, i.e. an autonomous adult.

The structuring crisis of adolescence thus intervenes as a rupture of the beautiful adaptive balance which the child had reached. It thus implies the development of a new adaptive base, a new definition of the relation organism/circle and it is thus the centripetal phase of a new detourThe concept of Detour proposes a “process which consists, for an organism, to set up a new type of adaptive relation with the circle, by another elaboration of its internal organisation leading to a new form of activity in circle, having a more general range” (Cariou, 1995, p.127).
In other words, the organism, while being confronted with the various modifications of the circle in its interaction with him, will always operate a reorganisation of its internal organisation thanks to the internalization of external elements, which will be able to give place to new more adapted behaviours, with an aim of maintaining the agreement vital, but more indirectly.
, whose centrifugal phase will proceed throughout the adult life.

Puberty is often the first visible sign of this transformation. The appearance of the secondary sexual organs, the modification of the relative proportions of the body segments, the activation of the sexual organs themselves, leading to discovered truly sexual pleasure, are events which cannot remain unperceived of the child and even of his entourage. These events generate an anguish relating to the recognition of the own body as being well it his. In order to restore this support of the 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., which is thus faded, the teenager must carry out a new work of appropriation of his own body.

The deep transformation of the thought which the access to the formal operations and a higher level of abstraction generates is less directly visible and often later than the effects due to sexual maturation. It is often in an indirect way that this decisive acquisition is let perceive.

Thus, as in the second detour, one will note a tendency to fold on oneself and a rejection of all his adaptive behaviours in the micro-circleWe can say that each adult does not adapt any more to one objective circle but rather to the interiorised representation which it has of this one. This representation of the circle (since it’s not the conscious’ choice of a subject) becomes so singular, single and carries out the micro-circle (mentalized) by connexion to which will be exerted the adaptive step aiming at ensuring the basic safety. of childhood, differentiated in the preceding phase under the influence from the parents. One will observe also an evolution of the interest’s centres and nature of the relations which the child maintains with his comrades.

“When the friendship and the competitions cease being based on the community or the antagonism of the tasks undertaken or to undertake; when they seek to be justified by affinities or moral’s repulsions, when they seem more to interest the intimacy to be it that effective collaborations or conflicts, it is the advertisement which childhood is already undermined by puberty” (Wallon, 1941Wallon H.,(2002[1941]). L'évolution psychologique de l'enfant, p.179.).

The rejection of the childhood which starts there, following a modification of competences of the organism, implies the development of a new micro-circle in agreement with the new capacities which the growth and the development make possible. In this new circle it will have to manage itself the permanence and the unit of its identity towards otherness’s which represent the difference, but in the midst of which it must build its place.