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Pierre Janet

AKA Pierre Marie Félix Janet

Born: 30-May-1859
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: 24-Feb-1947
Location of death: Paris, France
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Psychologist, Philosopher

Nationality: France
Executive summary: Founder of Automatic Psychology

French neurologist, psychiatrist, and philosopher who, independently of Sigmund Freud, originated the idea that hysterical symptoms were the result of subconscious beliefs that have been isolated and forgotten, thus disassociated from the mainstream of the individual's consciousness. According to Janet these beliefs and feelings were typically the result of painful experiences. He is also credited with introducing the terms "subconscious" and "disassociation" into psychology, and his work was an important influence on the early theories of Carl Jung. In addition his extensive work on hypnotism and hysteria, which influenced both Freud and his mentor Josef Breuer, led Janet to assert that both hysteria and the susceptibility toward hypnosis arose from inherited tendencies that led toward imbalances of psychic (i.e. "mental") energy and tension. Janet was a tremendous advocate for uniting the efforts and knowledge of academic psychology with the clinical work of physicians in treating mental patients, and he helped bring about such considerable cooperation between these groups in both the U.S. and France.

At the invitation of Jean-Martin Charcot, Janet became director of the Salpêtrière, Paris' largest mental hospital, serving there from 1890 to 1898. He taught at the Sorbonne and was also professor of experimental and comparative psychology at the Collège de France from 1902. In 1904 he founded the Journal de Psychologie Normal et Pathologique with friend Georges Dumas. Janet's best known works include L'Automatisme psychologique (1889), which laid the groundwork for Automatic Psychology, and his Les Obsessions et la psychasthénie (1903), which contributed the first description of psychasthenia.

Author of books:
L'Automatisme psychologique (1889, psychology)
L'état mental des hystériques (1892, psychology)
Les Obsessions et la psychasthénie (1903, psychology)
Principles of Psychotherapy (1924, psychology)

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