Book chapter

De la clinique à la méthode : le normal et le pathologique chez Jean Piaget (1920-1927)

Published inLe normal et le pathologique : des catégories périmées ?, Editors Mathieu Arminjon, Céline Cherici, Pierre-Olivier Méthot, p. 163-183
PublisherParis : Éditions Matériologiques
Publication date2022

Between 1920 and 1921 in Paris, the young Jean Piaget developed a method of semi-directed interviewing of children in order to capture their spontaneous thinking, known as the clinical method. This method has become one of the heuristic foundations of the research culture that characterizes the Geneva School and is known to have been the origin of much research on non-clinical child, the term used in contemporary psychology to describe subjects formerly referred to as "normal". If this method, particularly in its use of the term "clinical," seems rooted in the pathological, how much of it received influences? In order to identify them, we will concentrate on three points: 1. First, we will clarify the relationship between the invention of this method and the medical-psychological context that Piaget appropriated in Zurich, Geneva, and Paris. On the basis of new sources, the aim was to question the historiography which considers the practice of clinical interviewing and psychoanalysis by authors with whom Piaget was in contact, such as Bleuler, Janet and Blondel, as the origin of the method. 2. Within this framework, Piaget's pathological preoccupation was present, as he also studied subjects classified as "abnormal" and "weakened". However, his aim was to use them to understand the deficiencies of logical operations, which were considered to be the paradigm of normality during the 1920s. Using this method had consequences on Piaget's analogical reasoning schemes in the interwar period, particularly between autism and logic. The notion of autism, as Piaget applied it to childhood on the basis of Bleuler's conception, preceded his experiments in Paris and gradually gave way to the notion of egocentrism. Finally, from the mid-1920s, the practice of the clinical method was accompanied by the abandonment of the notion of autism. Piaget gradually moved from a model in which the pathological of autism was opposed to the normal of logic to one in which the egocentric logic of the child had simply become less powerful than that of the adult. Cognitive analysis thus replaced the normal-pathological scheme.

  • Jean Piaget
  • Research culture
  • Normal vs pathological
  • Clinical method
  • Psychological development
  • History of psychology
Citation (ISO format)
RATCLIFF, Marc, MORELLI RIBEIRO, André Elias. De la clinique à la méthode : le normal et le pathologique chez Jean Piaget (1920-1927). In: Le normal et le pathologique : des catégories périmées ? Paris : Éditions Matériologiques, 2022. p. 163–183.
Main files (1)
Book chapter (Published version)
  • PID : unige:175384

Technical informations

Creation02/28/2024 4:01:20 PM
First validation03/04/2024 4:18:34 PM
Update time03/04/2024 4:18:34 PM
Status update03/04/2024 4:18:34 PM
Last indexation03/04/2024 4:18:54 PM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack