Janet (1859-1947) a opposé deux activités fondamentales de l'esprit : l'activité de synthèse (la conscience) et l'activité conservatrice (l'automatisme). Ces deux activités subsistent ordinairement ensemble tant que l'être est vivant ; de leur bon accord et de leur équilibre dépendent la santé du corps et l'harmonie de l'esprit. Quand l'esprit est normal, il n'abandonne à l'automatisme que certains actes inférieurs. Ce sont tous ces désordres petits ou grands résultant de la prédominance de l'automatisme que Janet a étudiés.
On the occasion of the inauguration of the new buildings of the Medical School of Harvard University in Boston, President Eliot and Dr. J.J. Putnam, professor of the diseases of the nervous system, asked me to deliver before the students some lectures about pathological psychology. I greatly appreciated this honour, and tried to sum up before the American students some elementary psychological researches about a well-known disease, hysteria, in order to show them how the study of the mental state of the patient can sometimes be useful to explain many disturbances and to give some unity to apparently discordant symptoms. The fifteen lectures presented in this book were given in the Harvard Medical School between the fifteenth of October and the end of November, 1906. Some of these lectures were also delivered in Johns Hopkins University at Baltimore, at the request of Professor J.M. Baldwin, and in the medical school of Columbia University in New York, at that of Professor Allen Starr. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved).
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