Richet, Professor Charles Robert

Richet, Professor Charles Robert(1850–1935)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Nobel Prize winner Charles Robert Richet was born in Paris, France, on August 26, 1850. His father was Louis Dominique Alfred Richet, Professor of Clinical Surgery in the Facility of Medicine, Paris. His mother was Eugenie (Renouard) Richet.

Richet studied in Paris and became a Doctor of Medicine in 1869 and Doctor of Sciences in 1878. He was Professor of Physiology at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, from 1887 to 1927. In 1877, he married Amélie Aubry; They had five sons, Georges, Jacques, Charles, Albert and Alfred, and two daughters, Louise and Adèle.

For twenty-four years, from 1878 to 1902, Richet was editor of the Revue Scientifique and from 1917 until his death in 1935, co-editor of the Journal de Physiologie et de Pathologie Générale. He published numerous papers in a wide variety of journals and wrote a large number of books. In 1913, he was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for physiology “in recognition of his work on anaphylaxis.”

Richet was a man of many talents and many interests. He was attracted to aviation through Professor Etienne J. Marey’s experiments and publication of his La Machine Animale (1873). He also became greatly interested in Spiritualism, becoming one of the foremost psychical researchers of his day, coining the term meta-physique for parapsychological research. He sat with William Eglinton and Madame d’Esperance. He founded the Annales des Sciences Psychique in 1890 with Dr. Dariex, and took part in the investigation of the Milan Commission with Eusapia Paladino in 1892. In 1895, he was elected president of the Society for Psychical Research.

Experimenting with medium Marthe Beraud, in Algiers, Richet became convinced of the reality of materialization, though he called the phenomena of it “absurd.” He explained,

Spiritualists have blamed me for using this word “absurd;” and have not been able to understand that to admit the reality of these phenomena was to me actual pain; but to ask a physiologist, a physicist, or a chemist to admit that a form that has a circulation of blood, warmth, and muscles, that exhales carbonic acid, has weight, speaks, and thinks, can issue from a human body is to ask him of an intellectual effort that is really painful.

Richet became President of the institut Metapsychique. He stated,

Metaphysics is not yet officially a science, recognized as such. But it is going to be … At Edinburgh, I was able to affirm before one hundred physiologists that our five senses are not our only means of knowledge and that a fragment of reality sometimes reaches the intelligence in other ways … Because a fact is rare is no reason that it does not exist. Because a study is difficult, is that a reason for not understanding it? … Those who have railed at metaphysics as an occult science will be as ashamed of themselves as those who railed at chemistry on the ground that pursuit of the philosopher’s stone was illusory … Greetings, then, to the new science which is going to change the orientation of human thought.

In 1923, Richet’s book Traité de Métapsychique summarized all of his experiments. He dedicated the book to Sir William Crookes and Frederick W. H. Myers. Richet died in Paris on December 4, 1935.


Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism. New York: Doran, 1926
Charles Richet Biography:
Charles Robert Richet Biography:
Shepard, Leslie A: Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. New York: Avon Books, 1978
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