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Translated by Soline Lacroix


Inhibition is an essential adaptative mechanism because it is essential for a great adjustment of the motricity. But it becomes pathological only when in excess it is going to limit the integration of the reality and express a latent suffering.

Wallon: “Inhibition is deleting what could be useless in the act. ”

Carric: “Inhibition is essential to concentrate the attention, to adapt the answer and to decrease the parasitic movements.”



Inhibition are associated to the notion of limitation, the braking notion, even the stop notion of the function but this stays temporary and expresses itself in various degrees.

The symptoms of inhibition are:


  • Intellectual (difficulties to think, to memorize, to concentrate oneself) : the intellectual inhibition has a different signification according to the age and the structure of personality (neurotic, psychotic, borderline). Inhibition may be lived as a parasistic phenomenon of the thought (obsession) or as an accident coming from the outside (hysteria and phobia), or identified as an impairment of the person related to a depressive state. In addition an incapacity to make choices may be observed.


  • Motor: loss or decrease of the motor initiative often with a drop of the range of movement and with a stiffness or at least tonus disorders (hypertonia, hypotonia, paratonia…)

  •  Instinctual: loss of appetite, of sleep.


  • Affective : trouble to release emotions


  • Verbal 


The clinical signs

They are basically centered on the tonic-emotional disharmony with a hypertonia of context. It consists of deviations in the tonic-emotional reactions/attitudes (tonus adaptation according to emotions).

  • The troubles of the body representation may be discerned in the pejorative investment of the body illustrating inhibition.

  • The recreational activity is hard to choose by the fear of expression.

  • The praxis activities are great but inhibition may disturb them.


 Inhibated child characteristics:

  • Rigid attitude

  • Few movements

  • Difficulties engaging the body in the action under the look of others

  • Little occupation of space

  • Attention disorder

  • Verbal reduction

  • Few initiatives


There are organics reasons: dysfunction of the nervous system, influence of genetics and heredity, mental deficiency;

And psychosocial reasons: emotional deprivation (abandonment, separation and mourning), overprotective or too severe environment.

All these reasons are anxiety factors.


The psychomotor treatment

Considering the definitions and the various forms taken by inhibition, a work on the corporeality is particularly indicated, especially dealing with the body scheme and the space investment.


For this purpose, the breathing may mediate because it is under the subject control and when he will reach full control, he will feel honoured. On the other hand, the breathing makes possible to work on the bodily volums when moving. The awereness of the interns moves of the body releases the sensation of oppression aroused by the anxiety.

The breathing could be associated to the relaxation for the awareness of the anxiety and the amelioration of tonus disorders.

A work on the tonic background and the interpersonal skills is also tackled in order to restore the gestural and verbal communication. For that purpose, techniques of expression such as the theater, the physical activities, the graphic activities could be used as mediators. These activities are also useful for the exploration and the investment of the own space and of the surrounding space.

The child has to be in a motivating situation of action. 


Translated by Audrey Athlan


Unstable psychomotor child (seen above) cannot keep a motor control or his attention for a long time. Therefore impulsivity is recurrent : the child interrupts others, neither can’t wait for his turn nor anticipate action. Consequently, he hardly controls his feeling and his behavior. His respect for authority or constraint is complicated and interspersed with misunderstanding, hence his disputes with others or his anger.  

Therefore, it’s firstly from collectivity or the family that complaints to this behavior are expressed who is tired and powerless to calm down, satisfy or make the child independent.

Unstable child is more into movements than thoughts. Instability is a behavior apart from representation, that means the subject doesn’t see himself constantly moving, doesn’t hear himself uninterruptedly and sometimes impertinent talking. He doesn’t represent his way of being, doesn’t suffer of it, doesn’t realize how it can hampered in his learning and became visual and hearing overload for the others.

The age of appearance is variable. Some children have a first symptom very early, the absence of post prandial rest after suckling. Sometimes it’s around six-eight month, or during the walking that instability appears. In other situations, it’s during the first school’s constraints. The male predominance is classic.

The first specialist to consult that will help in the diagnosis and take the main charge is generally the psychomotor.




Several reasons can be the cause of psychological instability, we must never forget that those children minimum suffers not to be able canalizing this motor energy, to be in opposition phase with others despite their will, and certainly in some of the following points.

This suffering is often masked by the irritation and the attrition that the child causes to others.


First of all, the risk of instability is cognitive, therefore at school. Learning since kindergarten then in primary school ask to children to sit still and being attentive, then a moment in the evening for their homework which is hardly compatible with instability. The child misses a lot of learning and soon the risks to be confronted to the spiral of failure.


The risk is also emotional and social because those children have difficulty to take part in a group because of their impulsivity. It can result to a reject from other children, from educational institutions or even from some family members who are exhausted or exceeded by the child's behavior.


- In a short run, behavioral difficulties are complicated because the child is heedless, disorganized or easily inattentive: restless, exaggeratedly noisy or in perpetual movement, impulsive or impatient, they facilitate physical aggression, aggravate difficulties of learning and make the bed of social rejection,  while in a long run, they predict a faster and unfavorable evolution of aggressive and disruptive behavior.


Although these are not really aggressive children, but whose aggressiveness reacts to the accumulation of frustrations and rejection from others, attention and instability problems will complicate the development of personality, especially demeanor during adolescence.




-These behavioral disorders are sometimes a reaction to a difficult family or school context. Therefore, they can reveal a depressive or anxious background which has to be diagnosed and solved with the help of psychotherapy.


-Immaturity or precocity can incidentally be the origin of psychomotor instability. A meeting with a psychologist and an IQ test will objectify those points.


-Instability can result from a maladjusted « parental control ». A better comprehension of their child will help the parents to have better answers. Then, a parental guidance is useful from lax to excess of authority, passing the difficulty of managing love and constraint especially for separated parents or monoparental family.


-A serious look on the children said aggressive or violent show that the majority of them are normal children, although their behavior can be particularly noisy and might significantly disrupt their entourage. These children enter a vicious circle which they fail to get out. Aggressiveness is rarely a symptom that dominates and persists when an appropriate management is set up. Essentially, children who attack others have important emotional or self-esteem issues (or a language delay, or they don’t know how to defend themselves…) and can be help, whether they suffer from pervasive disorders of development which belong to a whole other register.


-Finally, instability can be synonymous of hyperactivity with or without attention disorders (Attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity, ADD/H). This real hyperactivity only represents 5% of restless children. In this case, premature children are shown on. It can be associated with learning disorders like dyslexia… And this applies to boys four times more than girls. A full diagnosis must be made with several specialists (particularly in referral centers), in order to monitor diligently the child and in several areas that may be associated (psychological, speech therapy, psychomotor, occupational therapy, or orthoptics…). Medical treatments are sometimes needed. Hyperactivity’s origin is complex and uncertain. It is probably at the crossroads of a complex etiology combining genetics, physiology and psychology.

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