Nodet, Charles-Henri (1907-1982)

views updated


Charles-Henri Nodet, a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, was born July 5, 1907, and died on March 20, 1982, in Bourg-en-Bresse.

On both his mother's and father's side, Nodet came from five generations of doctors. His mother was the daughter of the sculptor Cabuchet, who had a reputation locally. Heir to a lengthy Catholic bourgeois tradition, Nodet attempted to gain some distance from his background.

He was a brilliant student at school in Bourgen-Bresse and later in the department of medicine in Lyon. He was first academically among his fellow medical clerks and, in 1932, obtained first place in the internship competition for the Asiles de la Seine, where his teachers were G. de Clérambault, P. Guiraud, and H. Claude, and his fellow students Henri Ey, Sacha Nacht, Daniel Lagache, Julien Rouart, and Jacques Lacan. Among the patients was Antonin Artaud, about whom Nodet wrote in a memo of April 1938: "His literary pretensions may be justified to the extent that the delusion may serve as an inspiration." His medical dissertation, completed in 1936, was on "chronic hallucinatory psychoses." He attended the philosophy courses given by Jacques Maritain. He received his license to practice psychiatry in 1937, again in first place. He married Isabelle Blanquet du Chayla at the end of 1943; they had three children.

When he returned to Bourg-en-Bresse in 1939 as a psychiatrist, he knew little about psychoanalysis. What changed his mind was a transference episode that was almost a caricature of the concept. While treating a hysterical paraplegic patient who was his mother's age, he claims he was amazed to find that, after the third interview, the patient was able to move her limbs, while stating to him, "You're a genius. I'm healed, but, I don't know how to say this, I'm in love with you!" From 1947 on Nodet began to undergo treatment with Charles Odier, Raymond de Saussure, and Michel Gressot, and in 1964 became the firstand the only one at the timeprovincial member of the Société psychanalytique de Paris (Paris Psychoanalytic Society). He practiced psychoanalysis from 1951 until 1982, the year of his death.

Nodet was a prolific author, some of whose articles were "pedagogical" in nature, designed to introduce psychoanalysis to members of the Catholic Church. His only book, published posthumously, is an anthology of his published essays together with some unpublished writing.

One of Nodet's major contributions was that, while the unconscious is always an integral part of every human activity, even the most apparently rational, analytic theory cannot be conceptualized "without reference to an implicit ideological presumption and a teleology of truth and ethics" (Oudot, R., 1982).

Nodet, more a clinician and practitioner than an innovative theorist, deserves a place in the history of French psychoanalysis for a number of reasons. Being the only provincial exemplar for years, he attracted a number of future analystssome of whom are fairly well knownto his practice. In 1958 he co-founded the Groupe Lyonnais de Psychanalyse (Lyon Group for Psychoanalysis). He conducted clinical and theoretical seminars and provided technical supervision to individuals and groups.

It has also been said that Nodet had "dedemonized" psychoanalysis among the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. But he remained true to his profession, and did so without making any concessions, without obscuring the theoretical content of the discipline.

Marcel Houser

See also: France; Religion and psychoanalysis.


Nodet, Charles-Henri. (1953).Á propos du journal de Nijinsky. L'Évolution Psychiatrique, 38, (4), 695-710.

. (1954). Névrose et vie religieuse: La névrose en tant qu'obstacleà la vie, et la névrose, conséquence de l'inhibition religieuse. Praxis, Revue Suisse de Médecine, 43, 32.

. (1957). Psychanalyse et sens du péché. Revue Française c de Psychanalyse, 21, 791-805.

. (1958). Quelques réflexions sur les valeurs engagées dans la cure psychanalytique. Revue Française de Psychanalyse, 22 (3), 343-359.

. (1982). Sciences humaines et religion. In Psychanalyse et expérience humaine. Paris: Le Cerf.