Janet, Pierre

Janet, Pierre

(pyĕr zhänā`), 1859–1947, French physician and psychologist. As director (1890–98) of the laboratory of pathological psychology at Salpêtrière and as professor of experimental and comparative psychology at the Collège de France from 1902, he made important contributions to the knowledge of mental pathology and the origins of hysteria through the use of hypnosis. In 1904 he founded the Journal de psychologie normal et pathologique, to which he contributed numerous articles. Among his important works were L'Automatisme psychologique (1889), in which he founded automatic psychology, and Les Obsessions et la psychasthénie (1903), which contains the first description of psychasthenia. Major Symptoms of Hysteria (1907) contains lectures delivered at Harvard. He wrote also Principles of Psychotherapy (1924), Psychological Healing (1925), and Cours sur l'amour et la haine (1933).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Janet, Pierre


Born May 30, 1859, in Paris; died there Feb. 24, 1947. French psychologist and psychopathologist.

Janet became director of the psychology laboratory at the Salpetriere Hospital in 1890 and was professor of psychology at the College de France from 1902 to 1936. Continuing the work of the French doctor J. M. Charcot, Janet developed the psychological concept of neuroses, at the basis of which, according to Janet, are disturbances of the synthetic functions of consciousness and the loss of equilibrium between higher and lower psychic functions. In contrast to psychoanalysis, Janet regards psychic conflicts not as the source of neuroses but as a secondary formation that is connected with the disturbance of higher psychic functions. He restricts the sphere of the unconscious to the simplest forms of psychic automatism.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Janet developed a general psychological theory, proceeding from his conception of psychology as the science of behavior. In contrast to behaviorism, however, he did not reduce behavior to elementary acts and included consciousness within the scope of psychology. Janet continued to adhere to his views on the psyche as an energy system with a number of levels of tension, each of them corresponding to the degree of complexity of the relevant psychic functions. On this basis, Janet worked out a complex hierarchical system of forms of behavior ranging from the simplest reflex action to the highest intellectual action. Janet developed the historical approach to the psychology of man, singling out in particular the social level of behavior and its derivatives—will, memory, thought, and self-consciousness. Janet related the origin of language to the development of memory and of notions of time. He held thought to be a substitute for real action, functioning in the form of internal speech.

Janet had considerable influence on the development of psychology, especially the French psychologists J. Piaget and P. Fraisse.


L ‘Évolution de la mémoire et de la notion du temps, [vols.] 1–3. Paris [1928].
De I’Angoisse à I’extase, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1926–28.
Les Débuts de {‘intelligence. Paris, 1935.
In Russian translation:
Nevrozy i fiksirovannye idei, part 1. St. Petersburg, 1903.
Nevrozy. Moscow, 1911.
Psikhicheskii avtomatizm. Moscow, 1913.


Rogovin, M. S. Vvedenie v psikhologiiu. Moscow, 1969. Pages 329–58.
Antsyferova, L. I. “Psikhologicheskaia kontseptsiia P’era Zhane.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1969, no. 5.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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