The theory of the Detour
A theory of relativity in psychology


Theory of the Detour
by Michel Cariou


4. Second Detour: The differentiation of Ego and Other (of 2/3ans, with puberty)


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
Reflexive conscience:

The bipolarisation and the dialectical one of lived participative leading to the differentiation of Ego and Other have a major consequence: appearance of the reflexive conscience.

To be conscious of oneself and to be different from Different, it is initially to be conscious that its lived is characteristic of you like its emotions. In the beginnings, certainly, the distinction between its lived and the one of the other, are still fluctuating. And, if one is taken in a strong emotional situation, the contagion, the confusion of lived returns in force. But gradually, this self-awareness and other become a tool, which makes it possible to distinguish its emotion from the one of the other and thus, possibly, not to succumb to the contagion or emotional confusion.

It is thus a progress in the self-sufficiency of that which is becoming an individual. Because, in the same time, the language starts to install another means of communication with the other which, contrary to the emotion is directed of a transmitter towards a receiver, using a common code. It’s not thus lived which is directly divided any more, but the code of communication, social and consensual one. It introduces a triangulation between Ego and the Other, via media. The emotional communication does not disappear therefore, but becomes subordinate to differentiation Me/Other by the means of the language.

Another consequence of the reflexive conscience, and the access to the language, is that the child discovers that there is part of him which it can communicate and another which remains incommunicable: its intimate real life experience.

It is the origin of what will be thought, in the teenager and the adult, in terms of cognitive and emotional. The intimate real life experience one returns to one felt which is specific to each one, to its vital trajectory, it can thus only be approximate by one lived that the different one could have felt, and that it compares to that of the subject. But it is only one approximation. This intimate knowledge of our feelings, our sufferings and our joys, falls under the reflexive conscience and even appears to us to be the essence of our reality.

What is communicable, and can thus be divided, rises of the representation, whose Wallon says to us that it always keeps something of external. The reflexive conscience is thus a means for the individual of positioning, in his relation with the circle, through the characteristic action, that the language can express for the other. It gives to the individual the means of acting mentally on objects become internalized in his mental structure and thus to seek the best solutions with the problems raised by the adaptive 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., before acting on the concrete circle.

But it is also the means of hiding this activity in comparison with the other. It is the lie, which marks this progress of the individuation of the child. Because the lie is not from the start, will to mislead. It is initially average to try out and consolidate its conscience to be oneself, different from the other and subject from its life. It contributes to help the child to feel his internal unit, but also to test, and specify, the borders of Ego, reality and Other. Moreover, one can notice that the lies of the small child are often quite transparent in comparison with the adult and not adjusted always well compared to the plausible one. It is simply because the newborn does not know himself enough to hide effectively behind his lie and does not locate yet very well the borders of reality.

Still sensitive to the emotional participation of which it emerges, the child needs to take the opposite course to it by protecting his internal universe. He places the heart of his individuality in this incommunicable intimate real life experience. However, it does not control the language and can always fear that part of this intimacy is not revealed without it wanting it. With the lie, he thinks of controlling what he says of him.

But, which is also initiated with the reflexive conscience, it is what Piaget (in the development of the intelligence) calls self-centredness. However it is only one particular case of more general problems: anthropomorphism L'anthropomorphisme ne se limite pas à l’enfant et demeure la démarche spontanée de l’homme dans son rapport à tout objet de connaissance nouveau ou qu’il ne comprend pas. Et cela sera renforcé par la présence d’autres hommes qui partagent les mêmes idées.
De nos jours, nous admettons volontiers que c’est la rotation de la terre qui est à l’origine du mouvement apparent du soleil. Pourtant, pendant des siècles on a cru ce que l’on percevait : le soleil tourne autour de la terre. Et aujourd’hui encore, dans la vie pratique, on considère que le soleil se lève à l’Est et se couche à l’Ouest.
. The anthropomorphism is not a simple attribution of our subjectivity to the things or people. It is not either a defect of some. It is simply a remainder of the initial lack of differentiation and thus, a side effect of the process of individuation and subjectivity development: the expression of its limits. But as one grows, in any case for certain people, the anthropomorphism is reduced, is worked out in the intimate meeting with the other child, adult or animal.

L'anthropomorphisme n'est pas une simple attribution de notre subjectivité aux choses ou aux gens. Il n'est pas non plus un défaut de certains. Il est simplement un reliquat de l'indifférenciation initiale et donc, un effet secondaire du processus d'individuation et de subjectivation : l'expression de ses limites. Mais au fur et à mesure que l'on grandit, en tout cas pour certaines personnes, l'anthropomorphisme se réduit, s'élabore dans la rencontre intime à l'autre enfant, adulte ou animal.

Let us recall that it is by a long process in which the activity meets the answers of the circle that differentiations organism/circle are carried out and interiorise themselves. When the action and the object become internalized in the mental structure, it is the same unconscious process of differentiation/reorganisation which makes it possible the thought to be modelled on the object thanks to the concrete results that it obtains in the circle. The access to the differentiation of Ego and Other, like with the reflexive conscience, does not change of anything the process by which builds the individual and his relation with the world. The lack of differentiation Me/Physical environment and human confused (infant), Me/Other remains primitive and spontaneous as long as a work of development (differentiation/reorganisation) will not have made it possible to build the event, the object or lived of different in a relation with externality, and thus of difference, with Ego.

With the reflexive conscience, the situation becomes even more complicated. Admittedly, there is always a knowledge (unconscious) of its total operation, but was added there a knowledge (conscious) of intimate, singular and incommunicable sound real life experience.

In his effort to be distinguished from the Other, the child must privilege his intimate real life experience, his own emotions, not to succumb to the contagion of the emotion coming from the other. It is only by one patient work of differentiation/reorganisation, that it will become able to identify what is characteristic of him and what concerns the other or of the situation. Also, initially, privileging the coherency of his young person Me, the child will tend to allot to the other (of which he does not know not lived) what belongs to lived that he knows.

He will also pass by a phase of bulimia of possession, trying to allot itself what belongs to the Other, to continue to take part in the Other, to take it as to build itself (what does not go without squabble in the fraries).

But this lack of differentiation is not limited to the relation with the other and the emotional real life experience. It also relates, to any step of new knowledge, for which the work of development will not have been made yet.

The construction of the body, the object, space was carried out by a progressive adjustment of perceptions and action, under the control of the feedback obtained. Thus, many automatismsIn the first version of the theory, the automatism remains a process of management of the activity of relation (action clean), that Wallon defined as a working of the gesture compared to the external object, in opposition to working of the own body in the emotional expression.
In the theory of the Detour, with the access to the symbolic function system, the external object becomes mental (it is internalized) and the real action (activity of relation) becomes also mentalized. It is the operational activity (in the broad sense) of the thought compared to a representation of the object or a situation.
So the automatism is not confined the sensory-motor activity anymore, but these is a process which will continue to manage the real action, even mental, and up to the highest intellectual levels. All this finalised, voluntary mental activity and, at the groping beginning, is organised in an automatism which becomes unconscious and fast. The theory of Detour thus extends the concept of automatism until the high positions of the spirit. That makes it possible to include/understand by which process the psychological organisation adapts itself and incorporates in its structure, the human and social environment with which it must reach its adaptive agreement.
were built ensuring a good correspondence organism / circle. When the object and the action were internalized in the mental structure, these automatisms it’s developed again in a relation more mediatised with the concrete one. However, it is them which remain the base (unconscious) of the connexion between the act and the effect and of what, with the reflexive conscience, wants to be knowledge of the circle.

There thus nothing surprising so that all new meeting with an object of knowledge (not yet interiorised) gives place to a coarse mental gesture, solid mass which, being supported on already interiorised automatisms, will tend to bring back the new one to old and the unknown with oneself.

Again, we will need a patient work of differentiation/reorganisation of the mental act so that it is refined and is adjusted with the external reality which he intends to know. But the problem, since one reaches the register of the thought is that the feedbacks are also clear and immediate only in the concrete action. A mental or relational act coarse can, extremely well, not meet effective opposition in the external circle and, therefore, not of reason to continue its adjustment with a reality with more difficulty.

At the end of this phase, the child thus has one Me, structured by basic conduits, which carry out the synthesis between former internalizations (1° Detour) and social waiting’s which, on the one hand format them, but also widen the expression of it. Taking into account its bio-social importance, the control of kind becomes that which integrates all the others in a manner of being, total, which includes the body but also in manner implicit time (for example the baby pink, the little girl out of little skirt, the young girl out of dress, until the mother, etc, are as many concrete temporal methods of the female kind).

The child also has a reflexive conscience which becomes the psychological field in which will be able to reflect its relative adaptive circle. A part, increasingly great, of its adaptive step (and thus of its self-sufficiency) can then be carried out by the exercise of its cognitive functions on the problems which it encounters in this circle internalized in the mental structure.