Pierre Janet and the enchanted boundary of psychical research

Renaud Evrard, Erika Annabelle Pratte, Etzel Cardeña

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Among the founders of French psychology, Pierre Janet (1859 -1947) is recognized for both his scientific and institutional roles. The psychology born at the turn of the 20th century was initially partly receptive to, but then engaged in, a battle with the "psychical marvelous," and Janet was no exception. He was involved in the split between psychology and parapsychology (or "metapsychics" in France), developed at that time, playing several successive roles: the pioneer, the repentant, and the gatekeeper. At first, he was involved in so-called experimental parapsychology, but quickly chose not to engage directly in this kind of research any longer. Janet seemed to become embarrassed by his reputation as psychical researcher, so he increased his efforts to side with the more conventional thought of his time. Janet's attitude, in this, is an example of how French nascent psychology has explored "marvelous phenomena" before recanting. Yet this aspect of Janet's work has been rarely commented on by his followers. In this article, we describe the highlights of his epistemological journey.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-125
Number of pages26
JournalHistory of Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Charles Richet
  • Hypnotism at distance
  • Pierre Janet
  • Psychical research
  • Spiritism


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