The concept of the unity of the body

These joyful experiences, made through personal encounters, facilitate the child's feeling of unity, making her feel secure and comfortable. This pleasant feeling of unity comes and goes, it is never stable. Pain, for example, can lead to loss of unity- Physical pain caused by illness, accidents etc. and psychological pain caused by absence, separation from or unavailability of a carer.

Especially in the first few months the child reacts with anger, and, above all anxiety, if the slowly evolving feeling of unity is threatened. In this way deeply rooted anxieties, attributable to the first physical relationships, evolve. For example, fear of dissolving ( »agnoisse de dissolution«), anxiety of dispersion ( »agnoisse de dispersion), anxiety (agnoisse de ecorchage), anxiety of dismemberment ( »agnoisse de morcellement du corps«), or anxiety of falling (»agnoisse de chute«), etc.. These anxieties, on the whole, are related to the child's experiences in the first few years: food intake and excretion, how she was she held and carried by her parents, how she was put to bed and taken out, how she was handled in relation to space, how she was dressed and undressed etc.. Aucouturier calls these anxieties »archaic fear of loss of the body«. He is talking about loss of the body because these fears threaten the just newly evolving unity of the body.

Aucouturier assumes that the process - of having experienced a joyful relationship with another person, having then lost this unity, coupled with anxieties and yearning for the original feeling of unity- is the essential motivation for the development of symbolisation and representation: The child is searching for a joyful unity to reduce her anxiety. She is doing this by representing her unity. One could also say she is starting to hallucinate or phantasise about the joyful unity with the other person. Therefore the child is creating a phantasmic inner self. However, the child only wants to recreate her memories if she experienced the previous unity as joyful. The child only strives for an answer if she experienced absence of it. Factors that cause the dynamic of representation are anxiety, loss and the urge to find the lost unity.

For example: a child is hungry and starts crying, but nobody reacts. The child places an object in her mouth and sucks it. On one hand this behaviour restores her unity, well-being and relaxation. On the other hand the child re-actualises the body zone, in this case the mouth, in relation to an external object, the mother. By sucking the child also re-discovers the memory of the other person, especially the body of the other person. Aucouturier concludes: Action involves two, the object and the subject!