Pierre Janet (30 May 1859 – 24 February 1947) was a French philosopher and psychologist who is known for coining the term "dissociation". He is also considered one of the founding fathers of psychology alongside William James and Wilhelm Wundt.
Dissociation is a psychological phenomena where one is detached from reality. Dissociation may range from mild detachment of immediate surroundings to severe detachment from physical and emotional experience. Janet claimed that dissociation occurred in persons who have weak mental functioning. As a result of this detachment, the persons would be in a state of hysteria when in a stressed condition. He did not believe that dissociation was a psychological defence against traumatic experiences. Instead, he claimed that dissociation was a mental or cognitive deficit which could be worsened by trauma.
Controversy with Freud Edit
At the 1913 Congress of Medicine in London, there was controversy as to whether Pierre Janet or Sigmund Freud came up with their ideas of hysterical phenomena first. Previously, Freud openly acknowledged the influence of Janet's works on his own works. However, Janet's report on psychoanalysis in 1913 argued that many of Freud's terms in his works were old concepts of Janet but renamed. For example, he argues how his own "psychological analysis" preceded Freud's "psychoanalysis". This led to criticism towards Freud. Although the allegations of plagiarism damaged Freud's reputation, he continued to deny that he had plagiarised Janet. He even refused to meet Janet in 1937 based on the reason that Janet refused to admit that the allegations of plagiarism were false.
Some defenders of Freud have argued that although he may have used Janet's ideas to start his own work, Freud subsequently developed these ideas further in his own fashion. For example, it was Freud's theory that dissociation was a psychological defence mechanism.