A Hundred Years of Psychology, 1833-1933

By J. C. Flugel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
FRANCE AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY

THE way in which America seized hold of the German methods, adapted and acclimatized them so successfully that in ten years from the foundation of the first laboratory the American effort was at least equal to the German and was soon to surpass it, is one of the most interesting features of the whole history of psychology. America, however, was not quite alone in realizing the possibilities of experiment as applied to human mind and conduct. Several other countries were making a beginning, though in none of them did the movement flourish in any way at all comparable to the wave of success that carried it to triumph in America. The most important of these countries was France, and a reference to the French laboratories and those who founded and worked them affords a convenient means of transition to the subjects of brain physiology and abnormal psychology, with which we must conclude this review of our long second period-- convenient because in both these fields, and especially in the latter, France was one of the leading contributors to progress.

Modern psychology (as distinct from brain physiology) in France may be said to begin in 1870, when two important books were published, Taine De l'Intelligence and Ribot La Psychologie anglaise contemporaine in which the prevailing associationism was well and clearly expounded. Ribot followed up his book nine years later (the year in which Wundt's laboratory was founded) with another book on La Psychologie anglaise contemporaine in which he brought the new departures of Fechner, Helmholtz and Wundt to

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