Pierre Marie Félix Janet

A French psychologist particularly well-known for his work on psychopathology and psychotherapy.

Born in Paris on May 28, 1859, Pierre Janet spent his childhood and youth in that city. His bent for natural sciences led him to pursue studies in physiology at the Sorbonne at the same time that he was studying philosophy, for which he received a master's degree in 1882. Janet then left Paris for Le Havre and for seven years taught philosophy there in the lyce´ e.

Janet, however, wanted to study medicine and at the hospital of Le Havre began to do research in hypnosis, using the well-known medium Le´ onie. Through these studies, the first of this sort, Janet came into contact with Jean Martin Charcot, but after reading Charcot and Hippolyte Bernheim he thought these investigators did not sufficiently take into consideration the psychological factors involved in neurotic phenomena. This forced Janet to undertake a deep psychological study of the neuroses, in particular of hysterical neurosis.

Janet's works are numerous, and many of his writings have been translated into English. Among his books one can cite Névroses et idées fixes (1902); Les Obsessions et la psychasténie (1903); The Major Symptoms of Hysteria (1907, symposium undertaken in the United States); Les Médications psychologiques (1919); De l'angoisse àl'extase (1926); Les Débuts de l'intelligence (1935); and L'Intelligence avant le langage (1936).

Janet characterized his dynamic psychology as being a psychology of conduct, accepting the schema of a psychology of behavior while integrating in his schema conscious processes acting as regulators of action. Janet's work has often been compared to the work of Freud, and his influence has been great in both North and South America.

Well after Janet had retired, he continued to teach and to give conferences, manifesting a great vitality until the time of his death on February 23, 1947.