Pierre Janet à l’ICAP !
Article mis en ligne le 24 janvier 2016
dernière modification le 29 mars 2018

par Isabelle Saillot
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En 2014, le congrès quadriennal de l’Association Internationale de Psychologie Appliquée (IAAP) s’est tenu à Paris, sur le thème « De la crise au bien-être durable ». Plus de 4.500 participants d’une centaine de pays s’y sont retrouvés. Le congrès était co-organisé par la Société Française de Psychologie. J’ai organisé avec G. Lecocq un symposium d’histoire de la psychologie, comportant une intervention centrée sur les travaux de Pierre Janet.


Well-being and brief therapy : Janet’s heritage and actuality
Isabelle SAILLOT – Réseau Janet, Paris, France


This presentation will focus on a chapter of Pierre Janet’s book “The principles of Psychotherapy”, 1924, one of his few English translations. For Janet indeed psychotherapy was not necessarily a long-term process : well-being was readily possible. Janet’s too neglected heritage will be presented here, and will allow to draw some parallels with our modern approaches, especially from a methodological viewpoint.


For Janet, “the efficacity of a therapy depends on the diagnosis” : the more acute is the diagnosis, the sooner will be the patient’s recovery. The “first diagnosis” is to establish that the disease is “functional”, for “psychological therapy is always a functional therapy”. Among the functional diseases identified by Janet, are the cases of “fixed ideas” without significant lowering of “force” nor “tension” : this describes a beginning “hysteria” which psychological model is the Janetian concept of “dissociation”, based on a “retraction of the field of consciousness”.


The therapy focuses on the solution, aiming at recovering the altered function, mainly by what Janet calls, in a quite personal meaning, “suggestion” and “hypnosis” (these special meanings will be explained). According to Janet’s statistical report, in some cases less than 4 sessions are enough for immediate recovery followed by one-year of well-being. More cases, though, necessitate up to 40 sessions over 3 months for the same result. Both situations are what is now called Brief Therapy, though Janet’s princeps works are scarcely mentioned in historical reviews.


According to Janet, psychotherapy is one of the main fields of Applied Psychology. It means it is also a research discipline which must follow a rigorous methodology. The diagnosis leads to an indication and the indication to treatments. Diagnosis and indication are supported by a model of the psyche including psychological laws. These positions are still thoughts provoking in our current debates around research, psychotherapy, and the patients’ well-being.


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