The theory of the Detour
A theory of relativity in psychology


Theory of the Detour
by Michel Cariou


Glossary of notions and concepts of the theory of detour

Translated from French by Besma Barkallah - July 2013
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Integrated Activity by Michel CARIOU - November 2008

“All the building of the mental life is built, on its various levels, by the adaptation of our activity to the object, and what directs the adaptation, they are the effects of the activity on the activity itself” Wallon, 2002 [1941], p.69).

This quotation of Wallon, concerning the psychic development of the child, can be registered in a way much broader as a whole of the process of the alive one; of an elementary level of the life (bacterium) to the whole of the life cycle of the man.

In 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.

But this agreement supposes a double movement of the activity. It must be able to be exerted directly on the circle to take there all what the organism needs, and possibly to draw aside the danger (centrifugal orientation). It must also be able to be exerted on the organism itself to transform it with intend to increase its adaptive agreement (centripetal orientation). It is the law of functional alternation of Wallon.

Thus we can observe this double movement of the activity in the plant, the animal and the human one. The tree that pushes its roots in the direction of the water, the small fawn which learns how to go or the man which works out his psyches, use their activity to modify their own structure, according to their genetic inheritance certainly, but obligatorily in an interaction with their circle.

And, if it is possible, it is because there is a general law managing the activity of the living one. The law of differentiation / re-organisation. According to the concerned situations, this law applies to elementary or higher levels (water growth sensor directed of fibres for the tree; sensory and engine for the fawn or the baby; thought and mental action for the adult. But, on some level that it is, there is no adaptive evolution of the activity without this general process which starts by distinguishing the relevant elements from the activity (in connexion with the vital objective), for then reorganising them in a new state, or a new competence, more impressive compared to the circle (Intellectually,/synthesis analyses).

These general problematic of the activity being posed for the whole of living, it becomes possible to deepen it within the framework of the adaptive step of the human one. For the man, the nature of the activity will change according to the stages of the development, as well as quality of the development of the psychic structure.

In the development of the child, the activity will take two principal orientations: working of the body working of the gesture. Depending with hundred percent on his human entourage the child must initially develop competences of communication of lived sound and perception of lived of the different one. It will be the role of the emotion that, starting from the visceral and tonic reactions of the baby, will make it possible to format this activity-bond ensuring its basic safety. Of origin visceral, but differentiated by the interaction with the entourage, the emotional expression is the first psycho-relational working of vital energy.

However quickly, the activity of the child must turn to another method allowing him its future autonomy, the real action (the activity of relation of Wallon). Vital energy being always the same one, it goes without saying its working in the terms of the action can be made only if it is not it already in the terms of the emotion. However, it will belong to the real action to give a socialised form to one lived which will concern the emotion. However the antagonism between the emotion and the real action (L-shaped first and second setting' vital energy), remains a logical data, which will last all the life. Walloon, although being interested in the child, had had a presentiment of it well while writing: “Thus the emotion is what welds the individual with the social life by what there can be of more fundamental in his biological existence, and this bond will not be broken, although the organic reactions of the emotion, as the image of the situations or the things is intellectualized, tend to be erased”. All the life there will be thus a dialectical relationship between emotion and action.

The adaptive activity of the adult is organised, integrating temporality and the social one, in the order of the project (or desire in the emotional method). It is the programmed aiming of objectives registered in the social environment which allows, by the success, with the psychological structure to adapt them and build the being. It is the directly adaptive method of the integrated activity.

This one can be also expressed on an indirectly adaptive method: the leisure.

Glossaire 2.0 - © - 2005