Janet, Pierre - Healing Irène and Justine’s terrifying hallucinations
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Janet as Psychotherapist . Unlike other psychotherapists of his era, who were content merely to suppress symptoms by means of suggestion, Janet sought to understand their genesis.
The basis of his clinical approach was “psychological analysis,” which consisted fundamentally in the identification of the root causes of the condition and, usually, in the “dissociation of fixed ideas” by using suggestion to suppress them.
Alternatively, should suggestion fail, other ideas might be substituted: for example, as he recounts in “Histoire d’une idée fixe” (1898), Janet gradually was able to change his patient Justine’s terrifying hallucinations of dead cholera victims into amusing visions, so that over the course of her treatment hysterical crises were replaced by fits of laughter.
Janet also—though much more rarely— succeeded, like Freud and Breuer, in effecting a cure through the retrieval of traumatic memories. This was true in the case of Irène, who had forgotten things about her mother’s agony and death and was reliving them in a hallucinatory way; since she refused to be hypnotized, Janet stimulated her memory until her amnesia was dispelled and she was able to recall her memories at will (Janet, 1904).