Théodore Flournoy

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Théodore Flournoy
Born (1854-08-15)15 August 1854
Geneva, Switzerland
Died 5 November 1920(1920-11-05) (aged 66)
Geneva, Switzerland
Nationality Swiss
Fields Psychology
Institutions University of Geneva
Known for Study of spiritism & psychic phenomena

Théodore Flournoy (15 August 1854 – 5 November 1920)[1] was a professor of psychology at the University of Geneva and author of books on spiritism and psychic phenomena.


He is most known for his study of the medium Helen Smith (or Hélène Smith - a pseudonym for Catherine Muller) who relayed information about past lives through a trance state,[2] entitled From India To The Planet Mars (1899). He proposed this information as 'romances of the subliminal imagination,' and a product of the unconscious mind (Stevens 1994). Flournoy was a contemporary of Freud, and his work influenced C. G. Jung's study of another medium - his cousin Héléne Preiswerk - which was turned into Jung's doctoral dissertation in 1902.[3] Flournoy in his book Spiritism and psychology (1911) had claimed that mediumship could be explained by suggestion and telepathy from the mediums subconscious mind and that there was no evidence for the spirit hypothesis.

Flournoy was also one of the few scholars of his time to embrace William James' view of the prime reality of non-dual consciousness (which he dubbed "sciousness") as expressed in his essay, Radical Empiricism.[4]


  1. ^ Witzig, J.S. (1982), "Theodore Flournoy: A friend Indeed", J. Anal. Psychol. 27: 131–148, retrieved 31 October 2009 
  2. ^ Randi, James (1995), An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-15119-5  (under "automatic writing")
  3. ^ Stevens, Anthony (1994): Jung, A very short introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford & N.Y.
  4. ^ Bricklin, Jonathan, Ed. (2006): Sciousness, Guilford, CT: Eirini Press, ISBN 978-0-9799989-0-4