Favez-Boutonier, Juliette (1903-1994)

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A psychoanalyst and teacher, Juliette Favez-Boutonier was born near Grasse, France, in 1903, and died in Paris on April 13, 1994.

The daughter of teachers in the Alpes-Maritimes, to which she returned nearly every year until her death, Favez-Boutonier studied in Grasse and Nice. She later traveled to Paris to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, for a while with Léon Brunschvicg. In 1926 she was one of the first women ever to take the state doctoral exam in philosophy. She was only twenty-three at the time.

She taught at schools in Chartres and Dijon, while studying medicine, which was a required preparation for anyone who wanted to practice psychology at the time. In 1930 she wrote to Sigmund Freud, who responded personally on April 11 that "philosophical problems and their formulation were so foreign to him that he didn't know what to say." In 1938 she wrote her doctoral dissertation on ambivalence (La notion d'ambivalence); the text was reprinted in 1972. In 1935 she obtained a job in Paris teaching philosophy and it is here that she met Daniel Lagache and began analysis with René Laforgue, with whom she remained friends for many years. During the Occupation, Laforgue entrusted Favez-Boutonier with the Freud letters he had preserved.

At this time she met with members of the Société Psychanalytique de Paris (SPP, Paris Psychoanalytic Society) who had remained in Paris. John Leuba wrote to Ernest Jones on December 31, 1944, the day after the Liberation, that new analysts were now beginning to appear, including "Mlle Boutonier, a gifted physician and philosopher with a sound technique; she was monitored by me and I can confirm that she will be one of the first recruits."

For Favez-Boutonier the relations between psychoanalysis and philosophy were complex and, in 1985, for the reprint of the memorable session held January 25, 1955, by the Société Française de Philosophie (French Philosophy Society), Juliette Favez-Boutonier wrote about her experience writing her thesis. Her thesis director was Gaston Bachelard, who was using psychoanalysis as a therapeutic method as well as a philosophy. She had said after the publication of her thesis that she was the first to explore Freudian psychoanalysis in a noncritical way, and she was grateful to Bachelard who allowed her to express her experience in psychoanalysis within her interest for psychology and philosophy. Her thesis, Anxiety, was published in 1945 by Presses Universitaires de France and, in 1947, was awarded the Prix Paul Pelliot "Junior." The "Senior" prize went to Henri Wallon.

While working for the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) she presented several papers to the SPP and was elected a member in 1946. Having trained in clinical psychopathology at the Sainte-Anne Hospital with Georges Heuyer, she was put in charge of the Centre Psychopédagogique Claude-Bernard, which had been created by Georges Mauco. She was soon replaced by André Berge, for that same year she was appointed professor in the humanities department at the University of Strasbourg.

Close to the circle of analysts around René Laforgue, she participated in meetings and contributed to Psyché, the review founded by Marie Choisy in 1946. She argued in favor of "assistant psychologists," participated in the Section des Psychanalystes d'Enfants, and tried to promote the creation of psychoanalytic groups throughout the country, especially in Strasbourg. This led to a conflict with those who were setting up the future Institut de Psychanalyse de Paris (Paris Institute for Psychoanalysis). In 1952 she married Georges Favez, one of the future presidents of the Association Psychanalytique de France (French Psychoanalytic Association).

She intervened on behalf of Mrs. Clark-Williams during her trial in 1951-1952, believing that "psychoanalysis was a psychological technique." This position, joined to her opposition to what she referred to as the "dictatorship" of Sacha Nacht, grouped her with Daniel Lagache and Françoise Dolto at the beginning of the 1953 split in the French psychoanalytic establishment and subsequent creation of the Société FrançaisedePsychanalyse (French Society for Psychoanalysis), of which she would become the first vice president. For ten years she shared the trials and tribulations of the Society in its attempts to join the International Psychoanalytic Association, and was president during its dissolution following the second split in 1964.

Along with her membership activities, she had her own practice and taught psychoanalysis. However, some of her most important work was done within the French school system. She was appointed a professor at the Sorbonne in 1955, where she held the chair of general psychology. Didier Anzieu succeeded her at the University of Strasbourg. Although she encouraged work on group psychology, her own interest was clinical psychology, basing many of her ideas on the subject on those of Daniel Lagache. She appointed Laforgue the head of her laboratory in 1958. Along with Jacques Gagey, Claude Prévost, and Pierre Fédida, she was recognized as a "clinical psychologist" in 1968 after helping with the creation of the department "des Sciences Humaines Cliniques," which was opened at the University of Paris VII.

Favez-Boutonier's long life and career were characterized by an intellectual depth and richness that drew from the wellsprings of philosophy and psychoanalysis, which helped to enrich her clinical work in psychology and psychopathology.

Bernard Golse

See also: Association psychanalytique de France; Centre psychopédagogique Claude-Bernard; France; Société française de psychanalyse.


Boutonier, Juliette. (1945) L'Angoisse. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

. (1955). Séance du 25 janvier 1955 de la Société fran-çaise de philosophie. In F. Pasche (Ed.), Métapsychologie et Philosophie, Paris: Les Belles Lettres.