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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6. The 4th Detour: the access to the mental activity as concrete activity

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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

As we saw, the adult life depends a lot on the psychic structure developed during adolescence. The aged being the life’s continuation of the individual, it is quite obvious that it will different according to the adult life which the teenager will cuts generated. First of all, it should well be said that if there is an undeniable organic aged, nothing authorises us to think that there is a psychological aged. One the other hand, the growing old person will be necessarily confronted with the losses due to her organic old. That means that the work of adaptation must continue in an accentuated way with, or according to the degradation of the body. From this point of view, we’re not equal face with the ageing. There are individuals (between 60/65 years) who are in loss of autonomy and others who wait 95 years to experienced organic the losses. We speak about 30 years of variation and it is thus particularly inappropriate to treat all elderly people as if it was has a homogeneous population. In fact, the body’s ageing starts very early. The fact of becoming presbyopic at 40 gold 45 years is already a sign of ageing, obliging the person who had until there a good sight to curry glasses and already there, we start to see the adaptive capacity of the person, because this relatively minor event can be very badly lived, even traumatic. That depends of course on what was set up during adolescence like definition of the Identity.

To come back to elderly people, the constant that we can accept, it is that the aged generates a loss of 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.
. And thus the person has not completely the measures to react to the events which arrive to him. Moreover, one general phenomenon is that, because of organic ageing and the energy fall, many of behaviours which, until there, were entirely automated (walk for example) require, to be well carried, a conscious vigilance of the person. In other words, it is when the person lays out less energy, that it is asked to him to spend it more. Our adult life is considerably marked by the friendships and relations which we maintain. However, with the passage to the retirement, many of relations are not naturally accessible any more. The friendships also can be moved by family’s or friend’s bereavements. Elderly people is thus in a paradoxical situation since they find themselves alone and needing an energy level which precisely drops, since it comes from the body. The continuation of their history will especially depend on the way in which psyches was structured and thus of their capacity to mentally manage the problems of everyday life without needing to resort to the project or without needing to positive feedbacks. All Detours of the life until now had been related to the emergence of new cerebral functions.

During ageing, it is exactly the reverse which occurs. The adaptative process is inevitably the same than by younger people, but there is not necessarily concrete reward at stake. It thus will be necessary that the growing old person in loss off autonomy finds in itself the capacity to think the things which interest her, deals with the problems that are important for her and must lurn to be satisfied with a mental result. What characterises the 4th 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.
, is first of all to be carried out over many years, and it is also the internalization of the world (subjective world of the person), so that elderly people who has realized the 4th Detour can move in this subjective world. Concretely it means to be able to access mentally this subjective world and without needing concrete returns.

As we’ve already said, the 4th Detour does not correspond to the emergence of a new function but rather to the adaptive consequence of the biological losses that the person inevitably undergone. If everything goes well, the person will internalise those biological and social losses as a normal condition of the development and will adapt her 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. in her state. When will arrive the moment when the loss of autonomy will be very important, some people will be able to transfer to their waiting’s from concrete activities and feedback as mentalized activity in which they will produce the mental action corresponding to the mentalized objectifies, which will be a mean to satisfy feedbacks which, from external way, will become mentalized. Those persons will thus live a serene old age in spite of all problems that they will have to cross. However, in any case, we should not ask to the person to accept what she has lost because that concerns the conscience, but on the other hand to work as much as possible to make evolve the person to more mentalization. We should not confuse the processes by which the psychics structure really functions and the representation that the conscience has of it. If the 4th Detour is carried out, unfortunately it wouldn’t be fully. To put it another way it means that as long as it remains a possibility of activity anchored in the being activity, this one stills important: to go shopping, to make its kitchen oneself… However, there is a real difference between using the residual aptitudes of the adult and suffering not being able to continue them anymore. The 4th Detour is thus a stage of the human’s development which is neither obligatory NOR never completely successful. It is however a crucial step of the development which will make it possible to still live happy many years and with few expenses. I must rectify one thing compared to my book, in which I’ve said that the 4th Detour located the person beyond the temporality and the kind. If it remains true for one hereafter beyond temporality, i.e not like an absence of access to temporality, but like a reduced importance of this one, insofar as the person doesn’t develop her plans any more, it is not the same kind.

I had been brought to this hypothesis by the observation of couple living together very old and ends up resembling itself even physically. That remains true, but nevertheless the kind which all the life was the integrating identifier of Ego, couldn’t disappear without risk from disintegration. But for all that, the Kind remains the integrating axis of the identity. One only has to see, that elderly people always presents themselves in the terms: “I’m Miss…” or “I’m Mister…”

If this process does not succeed and that the 4th Detour thus remains out of reach, the person will be caught up in a combat against the inescapable ageing of the body and her wishing capacity held consequently in failure. That will only exhaust the individual and bring itself to behaviours of oppositions towards the circle, with various somatizations, even with a syndrome of sliding. In other cases, the social failure of the differentiating and the identifier, for little that it is partially supported by the externality, will lead the person to loose the identity integration of kind. At this moment, we’ll be present at a classical example of insane un-compensation, so easily currently confused with Alzheimer’s disease, which reaches, the Young subject. Contradiction in private clinics between insanities of the old subject and Alzheimer’s disease was, as it were, resolved by a trick while speaking about classical type of Alzheimer’s disease.

Michel CARIOU - july 2010