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5. Behavior

We have seen the psychism as coordinator of relations between different environments: the body’s internal environment, and the external or surrounding environment. The psychism gets information from both environments through the senses; it stores experience through the memory, and proceeds to make adjustments through the centers. This adjustment between environments is what we call “behavior,” and we consider it as a specific case of expression of the psychism. Its base mechanisms are the instincts of individual preservation and of conservation), of the species, and the intentional tendencies.

Behavior is structured over the base of the innate qualities of the biological structure itself that the individual belongs to, and of acquired qualities codified over a base of trial-and-error experiences, with their accompanying registers of pleasure or displeasure. The innate qualities set down the coordinator’s biological condition; the coordinator relies on these innate qualities and cannot isolate them without detriment. This biological base has an inertia expressed in the conservation and attainment of conditions that are apt for its expansion.

The acquired qualities arise from individual learning as the psychophysical structure displaces itself through space and time. Learning goes about modifying behavior in relation to the experiences of trial and error. These assays then provide guidelines for the individual’s improved adaptation, achieved with the minimum resistance from the environment, the least effort in work, and the least energetic consumption. This form of adaptation allows for an energetic surplus (free energy that can be used in new steps of growing adaptation.

In every process of adaptation, the psychophysical structure orients itself through the indicators of pleasure and displeasure. Displeasure is configured as the signal of what endangers life, what is toxic, repressive, or is generally harmful for the psychophysical structure. Pleasure, at the same time that it stimulates and motivates the psychism, traces the optimal directions to follow. On the other hand, behavior encounters limits in the possibilities of the psychism, in the possibilities of the body, and the possibilities offered by different circumstances. The psychism’s limits expand on the basis of the acquired qualities, but corporal limits cannot expand in the same proportion—in fact, these limitations increase with age. This does not mean the body doesn’t have all the faculties for acting effectively in the environment; rather that the body imposes limits and conditions that the psychism cannot disregard without harming itself. In the relations between psychism, body and environment, the body will perform its objectal operations with lesser or greater success. In the first case there will be adaptation and in the second, non-adaptation.

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