Dalbiez, Roland (1893-1976)

views updated

DALBIEZ, ROLAND (1893-1976)

Roland Dalbiez, a French philosopher, was born in Paris on June 23, 1893, and died in Rennes on March 14, 1976. He is best known for his Psychoanalytic Method and the Doctrine of Freud, a philosophical critique of psychoanalysis published in 1936. Dalbiez was born into an aristocratic Christian family (his father was a general in the army and his mother a Churchill) and entered the French naval academy in 1911. He was a naval officer during the First World War. After contracting pleurisy he was forced to abandon the military and turned to philosophy, graduating in 1921 and receiving his doctorate in 1936. He spent his entire career as a professor in the literature department of the University of Rennes.

His research involved the boundaries between biology and metaphysics. Together with Professor Rémy Collin of the University of Nancy, he founded Cahiers de philosophie de la nature (The philosophy of nature), and published several studies on the theory of evolution.

In the early 1930s he was part of the circle of people around Jacques Maritain, the neo-Thomist philosopher, where he met Emmanuel Mounier and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. It was Maritain who encouraged Dalbiez to write about Freud. His research was so extensive that it turned into a dissertation. He defended his dissertation at the Sorbonne and it was published the same year by Desclée de Brouwer, as La Méthode Psychanalytique et la Doctrine Freudienne (Psychoanalytic method and freudian theory). There were two volumes: The first included an account of Freud's ideas and the second a discussion. There was a preface by Henri Claude. Claude introduced Dalbiez as a student who had become personally acquainted with the psychoanalytic method through his study, together with several psychiatrists, of various cases over a period of years.

Dalbiez insists on the fact that his judgment is not only based on what he has read but also on what he has seen. "On a number of points, books leave us with a feeling of uncertainty, but the facts are convincing." (p. 8) The main thrust of his dissertation is that while Freudianism is wrong for many reasonsexaggeration, eccentricity, dogmatismthe method is excellent and fruitful. Dalbiez essentially reproaches Freud for lacking philosophic rigor and behaving "as if he were unaware of the idea of proof." His principal merit is to have emphasized the primacy of the unconscious in mental life.

Dalbiez's friendÉdouard Pichon provided a detailed review of the book in the Revue Française de Psychanalyse in 1936. He presents the work as "a milestone in psychoanalysis in France" and feels that the philosopher from Rennes will "convince even the most reluctant of philosophers that the psychoanalytic method represents a definite advance, something real and durable in the field of psychology." He fully accepted the distinction made by Dalbiez between Freudian doctrine, "about which we are free to accept what we wish," and method. Moreover, he claims to be the origin of this idea. At the beginning of the Second World War, Henri Ey also published an article entitled "Réflexions sur la Valeur Scientifique et Morale de la Psychanalyse (à propos de la Thèse de Roland Dalbiez)," which represented his first important statement about psychoanalysis.

The impact of Dalbiez's work on philosophy was less significant than it was in the analytic community. There was no mention of the book in philosophical reviews of the time and, as Dalbiez himself notes, the book aroused considerable hostility at the Sorbonne. It was only gradually that it became an important work on the application of philosophy to psychoanalysis, primarily through the efforts of Paul Ricoeur, who was a student of Dalbiez. His book, especially the distinction he made between theory and method, was the source of considerable misunderstanding.

See also: Philosophy and psychoanalysis.


Codet, Henri. (1936). La méthode psychanalytique et la doctrine freudienne, compte rendu. L'Évolution psychiatrique, 3, 92-96.

Dalbiez, Roland. (1972). Psychoanalytical method and the doctrine of Freud. (T. F. Lindsay, Trans.) Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press. (Original work published 1936)

Ey, Henri. (1939). Réflexions sur la valeur scientifique et morale de la psychanalyse:à propos de la thèse de Roland Dalbiez. Encéphale, 34, 189-220.

Pichon,Édouard. (1936). De Freudà Dalbiez. Revue Française c de Psychanalyse, 9, 4, 559-588.

About this article

Dalbiez, Roland (1893-1976)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article