Les 1ers mots de mon chapitre co-écrit avec Onno van der Hart.
2015 : Pathfinders in International Psychology. A volume in the series : International Psychology. Editor(s) : Uwe Gielen, St. Francis College. Senel Poyrazli. Harold Takooshian. : chapitre 3 sur la vie et l’œuvre de Pierre Janet (1859 – 1947).
PIERRE JANET (1859-1947)
Isabelle Saillot & Onno van der Hart
A propos the bicentennial of the French Revolution, the Editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, John Nemiah, wrote in December 1989 that the publication in 1889 of Pierre Janet’s L’automatisme psychologique [Psychological automatism] was, from a scientific point of view at least, perhaps of equal magnitude (Nemiah, 1989). Until recently this masterpiece has never been translated into English or any other language ; in 2013 an Italian edition was published : perhaps symbolic for the growing interest in Janet’s monumental work.
HISTORICAL AND INTELLECTUAL CONTEXT
Pierre Janet grew up in a period of intense intellectual activity in Europe. Around 1850, both rational and empirical psychology would undergo their revolution, thanks to a new knowledge production method : experimental research and its pair-reviewed publication system. Pierre Janet’s leitmotiv was to ground modern psychology on these new revolutionary foundations and his results were among the first ones of this psychological knowledge and methods renewal.
At the beginning of Pierre Janet’s career, the first psychology laboratories were just built in Europe. Wundt had created the first one in Leipzig, Germany in 1879. Beaunis founded the psychology laboratory of the Sorbonne university in 1889 ; he was succeeded by Bourdon, who founded the one of Rennes university in 1896.
When Janet started his career, a new psychology was challenging the old spiritualist one : Taine promoted experimental psychology, Ribot used within psychology the hierarchy of functions of neurologist Jackson and his law of functions dissolution. The first psychology Chair was created for Ribot at the College de France, Paris, in 1888, and psychology entered the academic world.
During Janet’s youth, Europe was marked by the popular success of a wild “spiritist movement”. While famous mediums were on the front page of all journals, some physicians engaged in rigorous studies : in 1840 Despine treated the famous case of Estelle by magnetism ; in 1859 Briquet wrote his book on hysteria and somnambulism ; around 1870, Taine discussed the two mental states of the “Macnish Lady" ; Azam published in 1876 one of the most famous cases of “double consciousness,” Félida X ; during the 1880s Louis Vivet’s multiple personalities were widely studied (cf., Faure, Kersten, Koopman, & Van der Hart, 1997).
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