Odier, Charles (1886-1954)

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ODIER, CHARLES (1886-1954)

Charles Odier, a Swiss psychoanalyst, was born in Geneva in 1886 and died in Lausanne in 1954.

Born into a family of shopkeepers and musicians, Odier completed his secondary education in Geneva before going on to study medicine, and training as a neurologist and psychiatrist in Geneva, Vienna, and Paris. In 1920 he set up in Geneva as a general practitioner. He devoted himself increasingly to psychoanalysis until 1929, when he left for Paris.

As early as 1914 Odier took an interest in Freud's ideas, and in 1923 he went into analysis with Van Ophuijsen in the Netherlands before going on to work for one semester in the Berlin polyclinic with Franz Alexander (to which he returned for a second period in 1927). He joined the Swiss Psychoanalytic Society (founded in 1919) and in 1920 he was among the founding members of the short-lived Geneva Psychoanalytic Society withÉdouard Claparède as its president.

Between 1920 and 1929 Odier worked on developing Freud's ideas, not only in French-speaking Switzerland but also in Paris where, along with Raymond de Saussure, he was one of the founding members of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society. We also find him among the initiators of the Conference for French-Speaking Psychoanalysts, which met for the first time in Geneva in 1926. The following year, in 1927, he played an active role in the creation of the Revue française de psychanalyse, being a member of the directing committee from 1927 until 1938. In 1929 Odier settled in Paris where he practiced psychoanalysis until 1939. He returned to Switzerland when war broke out and worked in Lausanne as a psychoanalyst until his death in 1954.

His "Contributionà l'étude du Surmoi et du phénomène moral" (Contribution to the study of the superego and the moral phenomenon) was a congress report that was destined to present Freud's recently-elaborated (1927) notions of the ego, superego, and id to French-speaking psychoanalysts. In his essay Les Deux Sources consciente et inconsciente de la vie morale (The twin sources, conscious and unconscious, of moral life; 1943) he sought to shed light on the connections between conscious moral judgments and the unconscious relations between the ego and the superego. L'Angoisse et la pensée magique (Anxiety and magical thought; 1948) and L'Homme esclave de son infériorité (Man as slave of his own inferiority; 1950) are an effort to conceptualize the ego's problems of insecurity and anxiety both in terms of psychoanalysis and Jean Piaget's psychogenetics. He published some sixty papers, more than forty of them being devoted to psychoanalysis.

Jean-Michel Quinodoz

See also: Congrès des psychanalystes de langue française des pays romans; France; Revue française de psychanalyse ; Société psychanalytique de Genève; Société psychanalytique de Paris et Institut de psychanalyse de Paris; Switzerland (French-speaking); Switzerland (German-speaking).


Flammer, J.-A. (1995). Le psychanalyste: Ch. Odier. In C. Müller (Ed.), Portraits de psychiatres romands (pp. 103-157). Lausanne, France: Payot.

Odier, Charles. (1927). Contribution à l'étude du Surmoi et du phénomène moral. Revue française de psychanalyse, 1 (1), 4-75.

. (1943). Les Deux Sources consciente et inconsciente de la vie morale. Neuchâtel, France: La Baconnière.

. (1950). L'Homme esclave de son infériorité. Neuchâtel, France: Delachaux & Niestlé.

Roch, Marcel. (1967). L'œuvre de Charles Odier, médecin et psychanalyste. Bulletin de la Société suisse de psychanalyse, 6, 5-7.

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Odier, Charles (1886-1954)

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