The theory of the Detour
A theory of relativity in psychology


Theory of the Detour
by Michel Cariou


L'énergie vitale


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 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.

Indeed, we can only note one shift between the energy produced by the vital metabolism and his expression in the order of the action controlled by psyche. It is not rare to see a patient, elderly (of which the metabolism is weakened) to show of a force and an activity (psychic or driving) important whereas the young people function sometimes in a very slowed down way, with what they call a tiredness which blocks as well the action as the reflexion. And yet, from the metabolic point of view, they have important energy reserves.

This problem is the logical consequence of the attitude which, since Descartes formalised it, consists in dissociating the psychological one (the heart for Descartes) of the organics (the animal machine). It is as if each one of these spheres belonged to a different reality. Within the framework of this theory, it is also the consequence of the psychic differentiation Me/Me body which takes place at the time of the second turning with the emergence of the reflexive conscience. Having access only to its lived and its thoughts, the individual will identify itself with this conscience which, however, does not give any account of the major processes which constitute and animate the person. Then, the body becomes a thing which we live, and form part of possession (of having) whereas the spirit, summed up in the conscience, becomes a constituent element of the being. For all that, the problem arose to the researchers and is always posed.

Janet tried to attack it but, badly succeeded, since it is precisely one of the weak points of his theory. he distinguished a global energy dimension of a psychological tension, drifting of the first, but which applies only to the energy which makes function the various levels of psyche. It is in the fluctuations of this psychological tension that he sees the origin of the psychological malfunctions’ problem (particularly through the psychological automatism). However, if this distinction has the merit to pose the problem, it hardly gives information on the way in which these two energy methods are articulated. It also remains in a distinction between two forms of energy.

Freud, more skilful, eluded the problem by creating the concept of impulse. This one has already the character of psychical representative of the organic activity (particularly sexual). Thus, it can work on becoming to it impulse without being worry about the relation organism / psychological. Moreover, by extending the concept of sexual to all what is pleasure, with in backdrop an instinct of reproduction of the species, he makes this vital energy a programmed natural instinct so that the individual carries out the drawing of the species.

Wallon moved the problem while making carry his reflexion on the activity (implying forcing energy) and on these forms (tonic, formatted of the body / formatted of the gesture).

Others, like the behaviorists, could not completely avoid the problem and get tangled up in it. They answer it superficially and in an anthromorphic way, by introducing a concept hold-all and general like the motivation (hunger, for example), to give an account of certain uncertainties of the step of training.

On the other hand, if one articulates the distinction done by Janet (global energy/psychic energy) and the methods of L-shaped setting' activity of Wallon, one foresees a solution to leave the dead end induced by cleavage body/spirit. It is enough, then, to admit that the biological one and the psychological one are one and even living organism, which adapts. From there, we can consider this enigma as problems of management and L-shaped setting' vital energy by the highest adaptive level: Among Man: the level of the Psychological ones.

The animal, like the man on this point, manages part of its vital energy on a primitive level of the central nervous system, concerning the operation of the biological organisation itself. For the action in the circle, the animal has natural instincts which format this energy in a way adapted to his relation organism/medium. That confers him a certain vital effectiveness, provided that the circle remains in conformity with that which allowed, in the history of the species, the construction of these adaptive instruments.

The man, on the other hand, hardly has these preformed systems of effective drain of vital energy. Each human must build them in the specific interaction that he keeps alive with his own circle. Thus by an effective activity, it will ensure its continuity and its autonomy.

In the first life times, when this energy is not only any more the engine of the biological adaptation to the needs for immediate survival (genetically programmed), it is expressed in the circle with sometimes a force which astonishes the adults. What the authors call the rage at the new one born, lies within the scope of the precursors of the emotions and expresses a so intense violence which it makes fear and can even lead to convulsions. At this level, the vital energy is not yet really channelled by the emotion, or a fortiori by the thought, and one can then note that the natural energy under unclaimed is considerable when it is expressed freely.

That wants to thus say that the L-shaped setting' energy by the psychological circuits attenuates the force of it, would be this only by the energy which this psychological work consumes as of the first structured working: emotion. However, as Wallon thinks it, no level disappears completely and the power of the energy will be able to be still expressed in a quasi rough state, in violent one whims for example, or later, when an extremely intense emotion (fear, anger), will overflow of the systems symbolic systems which normally controls it, punctually giving a superhuman force to the individual, at the price of a twilight state of consciousness. Because what is clear, it is, that there is only one vital energy and that this one is produced by the biological activity of the organism. On the other hand, it is extremely abundant, and its expression depends mainly on the quality of its management by the superstructures of the central nervous system: the psychological one.

However, this one is done in two times. Initially, it is the emotion which is used as framework with vital energy because it is the average first by which the child can act on his vital safety while communicating (and while perceiving) its lived and that of the human entourage. The emotional contagion being with double direction, it carries out the bond first between the organism and its circle of life (human).

It is only in the one second time, that vital energy will be able to animate an activity, which this time, will be formatted by the external object (it is initially the gesture).

These two methods of the L-shaped setting' energy are forcing antagonists because, if energy passes in working of the body and the immediate communication, it is not available any more for the L-shaped setting' clean action, guided by the external object, nor for the communication mediatised by the complex circuits of the language and the thought.

However, this antagonism between these two expressions of vital energy is perhaps not as radical as Wallon thinks it. Indeed, it is there that intervenes the automatism, which in a simple and unconscious way organises the clean action, in his relation with the external one. The pianist who makes vibrate a room communicates the emotion well; but it does it thanks to its perfect control of the automatism of the play. On the other hand, to want to interpret without having the technique of play completely, can lead only to failures. That is true also language, because its control functions on the principle of the automatism. It then becomes ready to communicate, in a targeted way, the positive or negative emotions. ************MANQUE*************************************** Toutefois le jeu demeure subtil car si l'émotion donne son énergie à l'automatisme langagier, elle peut, si elle devient trop forte, le bloquer. Le sujet ne pourra plus alors qu'éructer ou bégayer. ********************************************************

The emotion, first L-shaped setting' vital energy, is thus makes some always present behind those which succeed to him and, if those are quite elaborate provides them the energetic which they need.

That can be observed in the sports where a player, after having carried out considerable efforts in the control of the play, having succeeded or fails. At this time one can see energy ebbing in the form of the emotion through outburst of joys (often accompanied by gesticulations anarchistic, as at the baby), or of the tears (accompanied by a tonic collapse).

It is thus well during the psychic development that will carry out this work allowing an energy of biological origin (including that of sexuality) to gradually animate all the levels of the activity, of most elementary, with most complex; from the more concrete and immediate, to the most abstracted.

However, the psychological development, with the length of the life cycle, is not completely tinned genetically. Adaptive opportunities that bring up to date gradually the maturation of the central nervous system will become methods to be only according to the interactions which the organism with the circle will carry out. And thus, from these meetings will be able to result from the more or less powerful adaptive trajectories, in the vital energy management, and in its investment in more or less effective activities to ensure the autonomy and the basic safety of the person.

That makes it possible to understand why, sometimes, the antidepressants do not act. They give to the organisation the means of producing more energy, or of facilitating its neuronal circulation on the level. But if this one is blocked in adaptive cul-de-sac (thus psychological) or get stuck in sands of an existential uncertainty, one will not find it in the adapted activity of the subject.

Michel Cariou - November 2008

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