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Observations placeholder

Edouard Claparède



Type of Spiritual Experience


Édouard Claparède (March 24, 1873 in Geneva, Switzerland– September 29, 1940 in Geneva) was a Swiss neurologist and child psychologist.

He studied science and medicine, then psychology under Théodore Flournoy and received his MD from the University of Geneva in 1897. From 1897-98, he practised at La Salpêtrière hospital in Paris; and in 1901 founded the Archives de psychologie with Flournoy, which he edited until his death. From 1904 onward he practised at the University of Geneva.  He founded the Rousseau Institute in 1912 and from 1915-1940 was professor of psychology at the University of Geneva in succession to Flournoy.

Claparède's most well known experiments were in the effect of trauma.  In one test case, for example, his experiment involved a woman who suffered from a form of amnesia. She had all of her old memories as well as her basic reasoning skills, but the recent past was not remembered. Claparède greeted her every day, each time she could not remember his face.

Then during one session of the experiment, Claparède hid a pin in his hand and reached to shake the woman's hand, pricking her. The next day, sure enough, she did not remember him. But when Claparède went to shake her hand, he found that she hesitated, recognizing a threat even though her memory had been severely damaged, thus indicating that a memory had been formed via learning but that memory recall was damaged.

This is an interesting observation in its own right, but I also have a fascinating quote from him.

A description of the experience

Edouard Claparède 1959

The child's mind is woven on two different looms, which are as it were placed one above the other. By far the most important during the first years is the work accomplished on the lower plane. This is the work done by the child himself, which attracts to him pell mell and crystalises round his wants all that is likely to satisfy these wants. It is the plane of subjectivity, of desires, games and whims...

The upper plane on the contrary, is built up little by little by the social environment, which presses more and more upon the child as time goes on. It is the plane of objectivity, speech and logical ideas, in a word the plane of reality. As soon as one overloads it, it bends, creaks, and collapses, and the elements of which it is composed fall on the lower plane and become mixed up with those that properly belong there.

Other pieces remain half way, suspended between Heaven and Earth. One can imagine that an observer whose point of view was such that he did not observe this duality of planes, and supposed the whole transition to be taking place on one plane would have an impression of extreme confusion, because each of the planes has a logic of its own which protests loudly at being coupled with the other.

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Home schooling



  • L’association des idées (1903)
  • Psychologie de l’enfant et pédagogie expérimentale (1909)
  • L’éducation fonctionnelle (1931)
  • La genèse de l’hypothèse (1933