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(1982). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 27(2):131-148
Theodore Flournoy: —A Friend Indeed
James S. Witzig, Ph.D., M.D.
Readers of Memories, Dreams, Reflections may note a reference by Jung to ‘my revered and fatherly friend, Theodore Flournoy’ (JUNG 21, p. 162). He makes just one other passing reference to Flournoy in the same publication (Ibid., p. 117), but the body of the text offers no hint whatsoever as to why the author should make such a personal remark in this otherwise impersonal autobiography. An appendix to the Swiss edition, however, gives some explanation. This apparent afterthought at least identifies Flournoy as a personality important to Jung in the early days of his professional career (JUNG 20, p. 378).
Barbara Hannah, in her published reminiscences of Jung, rightfully chides the editors of the English edition for their omission of the Flournoy appendix, and remarks: ‘I often heard Jung speak of Flournoy with the greatest affection and respect’ (HANNAH 9, p. 48). She then relates in her own words how Flournoy had provided the necessary support to enable him to break from Freud and how he was a person with whom he could speak freely on such subjects as somnambulism, parapsychology and religion. This point is reiterated by Jung in response to a question put to him about William James by Kurt Wolff, the publisher no less, of Memories, Dreams, Reflections: ‘… Aside from Theodore Flournoy he [James] was the only outstanding mind with whom I could conduct an uncomplicated conversation’ (JUNG 23, p. 452).
Such an accolade can only make one wonder what there was about Flournoy to deserve these comments, particularly in view of the limited reference Jung himself makes to the man. A review of Flournoy's life, career and influence on Jung seems therefore in order. It is also my opinion that this study reveals the derivation of some of Jung's most significant theoretical positions.
Theodore Flournoy was born in Geneva on 15 August, 1854 and died in that city on 5 November, 1920 (CLAPARÈDE 1) and (LE CLAIR 25). His forebears had emigrated to Geneva in 1600 as Protestant refugees from France. By the mid-nineteenth century, the Flournoys had achieved considerable prominence in the professions as well as in financial circles. Theodore's father, Alexandre, was a banker. His mother, Caroline Claparède, came from an equally distinguished French refugee family. She is described as having a delicate and neuropathic nature.
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