The theory of the Detour
A theory of relativity in psychology


Theory of the Detour
by Michel Cariou


Basic safety


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

The 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.

The basic safety can be shaken in two very different ways: in a way of the economic situation due mainly to a modification of the circle or a failure of the current integrated activity (unemployment, departure of the children, placement in old people's home, loss of autonomy) or, more seriously, for structural reasons which return then to a deprived development of the psychological structure. The two reasons can, of course, combine. However, the distinction is important from the therapeutic point of view.

Anyway, the anguish is initially death’s anguish. But, death is not this blur representation of what will arrive to us one day. This objective death is supported on no lived and thus remains an external representation, even when, by the age, we approach some. The life does not function compared to what she does not know. On the other hand, death is correlative life; Death is the logical consequence of the loss, always possible, of this fragile balance which carries out, in its structure, any living being. It’s, thus, potentially represent all difficulties between the adaptive agreement and the circle. Paradoxically, the anguish of dead (adaptive rupture), can be given to the conscience as “life distresses”. She will then be lived like a feeling of concern on its becoming, of doubt about her capacity to continue her life satisfactorily. But that is only one disguise.

In fact, this anguish, which is a violent emotion, is seldom visible in its pure state. She hustles so much the symbolic drain systems of the emotion that she becomes intolerable. It is, perhaps, in what we call the puffs of anguish, or crises of panic that it is let perceive in the most stripped way. However, generally, she is disguised by the introduction of external contents (fear, phobias, etc) which return it relatively easier to manage. But, this camouflage can be also expressed by depressive reactions, which decrease the reactivity, or of somatisations, which make it possible to evacuate out of the conscience the psychological origin of the problem. This primary anguish can also be dissimulated under inappropriate passages to the act, behaviours of escape ahead, even suicides which, the manner of gribouille, make it possible to flee the anguish of dead so much this one is more real than physical death. In ageing, it can be an irrational evolution which, by the disintegration of the psychological structure and the connexion with reality, will make it possible to make conceal the anguish.

The state of basic safety is described in the fluctuations of what Erikson calls “the basic confidence” and of which he writes: “by confidence, I understand here the possibility of trusting with the faith of the others as well as the fundamental feeling to be oneself even worthy of the confidence of the others” (Erik H Erikson - Adolescence and crisis - 1972, p. 99).

This basic confidence, which is also an unconscious state of the psyche, will express all the life in the feeling of his own legitimacy and reliability, like in that of the others, normally. **********Manque1********************************************** Toutefois, au moins deux cas de figure peuvent se produire en fonction de l'étape développementale qui se serait trouvée carencée.


If the differentiation Me/Other was correctly carried out and that the deficiency is later, each one of these terms has sufficiently elaborate contents. **********MANQUE2********************************************* Cependant la légitimité du Moi peut être incertaine, mais pas celle de l'Autre. Au contraire l'individu aura tendance à trouver « normal » et légitime des comportements de l'Autre que, lui, ne s'autoriserait pas. Cela est une souffrance, un handicap.

Mais, si c'est l'élaboration de la différenciation du Moi et de l'Autre qui est carencée ou insuffisante, , on observe une rigidité du fonctionnement psychologique. Le Moi, dans sa relative vacuité, ne peut laisser accéder à la conscience ce sentiment intolérable d'illégitimité. *************************************************************** It must defer it on the Other (or the situations), to preserve, defensively, an positive image of oneself, a factitious basic confidence to some extent. But, even underground, the evil is visible. It can be a need for self-checking and control conscious of the other, which expresses distrust as for its own legitimacy and the little of faith placed in the other. It is also the origin of one intolerance to the difference and as a paranoid return to the similar one, making it possible to reassure itself at the price of the rejection and the exclusion of those which are different (sex, skin colour, handicap, religion, origin, etc) That serves to compensate for the chronic insecurity in which is held the life of the person. The anguish is then always latent.

Michel Cariou - Novembre 2008

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