The dynamic described by Cellerier lacks coherence because each option is a local choice that activates itself independently from other choices. Consciousness does not have a sufficiently powerful memory to remember all of the small choices made in a lifetime. The majority of the habits produced by these choices have not even gone through a psychological stage of learning. There are only functional accommodations of the body (nerve connections, muscle development, etc.) that have built up at the physiological level. As an individual, I have the conscious impression of being a coherent identity, but I cannot become aware of the millions of small habits that make up this impression. I am not able to achieve a conscious inventory of all of these built-up habits; I am even less able to perceive how they are coordinated. Thus, without my understanding how, one of my propensities can acquire a predominant role. I may suddenly discover that I am alcoholic, addicted to gambling, or so talented as a writer that editors and readers want me to write more my yoga blogs. Even when they have become public, such a propension is like an iceberg. Its mass and roots remain below the conscious surface of the mind. For example, alcoholism can have unconscious roots that may be elucidated in psychotherapy, but it has also created a form of equilibrium with metabolic dynamics that are more difficult to understand and integrate.
This implies that each little calibration develops almost independently of each other, sometimes in parallel fashion, that is, at the same time. The word almost makes reference to the constraints imposed by a choice. For example, once a connection between two neurons is fixed, these neurons are no longer available for other connections. Only constraints of this type can limit the number of physiological and psychological calibrations possible at any given moment.
AGENDAS AND PRIMING
I will now detail two models derived from this type of point of view that are often useful in psychotherapy: planning and priming.
The Agenda According to Cellerier. For Guy Cellerier, to the extent that a human organism is a heap of disorganized know-how, its needs necessarily impose an impossible agenda. This is unavoidable if we consider the following points:
1. The propensities are multiple and poorly coordinated.
2. Their calibration depends on the context.
3. The modalities by which a propensity obtains satisfaction are not entirely prewired.
To satisfy their need for food, the Chinese use an assortment of practices manifestly different than those used by Europeans. To become a couple, to have children, and to educate them corresponds to an instinctive and innate parental propensity, but the modalities vary in each social milieu, even for each couple. We are far from the standardized ritual behavior of fish like the stickleback, observed byTinbergen (1951).
The calibration of each propensity therefore requires such complex learning procedures that it is not possible to adequately develop all of its components. Take some of an individual’s few essential activities and try to discover a plausible agenda for them You will soon discover that it is an impossible task. Every expert will explain that it suffices to accomplish a certain number of simple acts to achieve the proper unfolding of the propensity he finds to be central for human well-being. Once you have made the round of the specialists (sexologist, nutritionist, body worker, physician, professional coach, artist, priest, etc.), you will find yourself faced with the necessity to make choices, each of which will have their advantages and their dangers.
This argument assumes that the selection of behavioral skills comes about through practice. The more a propensity is practiced, the better it functions in this particular way. Behaviors that are seldom used become inefficient and lose contact with the know-how that could support its insertion into social practices. It takes time to become a good lover, a good parent, to work well, to maintain a constructive social network, to have a mindset that gives us the desire to continue to live, and so on. But to properly develop all of these practices demands an amount of time (100-hour days) that is available to no one. Furthermore, this calibration depends not only on the number of times that the practice is carried out but also on the way it is done, and on how it is supported by the organismic dimensions.