John Flügel

John Carl Flügel (13 June 1884 – 6 August 1955), was a British experimental psychologist and a practising psychoanalyst.

Training and careerEdit

Flügel was born in Liverpool on 13 June 1884.[1] His father was German and his mother English, and the family also had close ties with France, and so Flügel learned all three languages as he grew up. Because of a congenital malformation of his feet, however, he did not follow a normal pattern of secondary education.

Aged only 17 he attended Oxford University where he took a doctorate in philosophy, and grew interested in hypnotism, becoming a member of Frederic W. H. Myers' Society for Psychical Research. He also became interested in experimental psychology under the influence of William McDougall, and spent some time studying it in Wűrzburg before joining Charles Spearman at the University of London.[2] There he took a doctorate of science and taught as an Auxiliary Professor between 1929 and 1944.

Flügel was Honorary Secretary of the British Psychological Society from 1911 to 1920, Honorary Librarian from 1911 to 1932, and its President from 1932 to 1935. During the First World War he made a number of important contributions to the society, of which he became an Honorary Fellow. He was also an Honorary Member of the Indian Psychological Association, and became President of the Programme Committee of the International Congress on Mental Health in 1948, and of the psychology section of the British Medical Association in 1950.

Psychoanalytic career and writingsEdit

After undergoing psychoanalysis with Ernest Jones, the two men became friends; and Flügel (with Jones) helped in the re-founding of the British Psychoanalytical Society and 1919, as well as the re-organisation of the British Psychological Society.[3] Flügel was also secretary of the International Psychoanalytic Association from 1919 to 1924, and, again with Jones, helped create the International Journal of Psychoanalysis in 1920.[4] He also helped translate Sigmund Freud's Vorlesungen (Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis; 1916-1917a [1915-1917]).

Flügel's book Psychoanalytic Study of the Family (1921) was acclaimed by Eric Berne for its insights into the Oedipus complex.[5] He also published Men and their Motives (1934) and The Psychology of Clothes (1930),[6] the latter continuing to influence thinking on the subject into the 21st century.[7]

In Man, Morals and Society (1945), Flugel charted a movement from egocentrism to social awareness by way of what he saw as a hierarchy of expanding loyalties.[8] Reaching back to his old mentor, he also highlighted “the distinction that McDougall has sometimes made between an 'ideal', which is little more than an intellectual assent to a moral proposition, and a 'sentiment', which involves a real mobilisation”.[9]

Marriage and deathEdit

In 1913 Flügel married Ingeborg Klingberg, who also became a psychoanalyst. They had one daughter. Flügel died in London on 17 August 1955.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Graham Richards, 'Flügel, John Carl (1884–1955)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004 [1]
  2. ^ O. L. Zangwill, 'Flugel, John Charles', in R. Gregory ed., The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) p. 264
  3. ^ Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 487
  4. ^ Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 502
  5. ^ Eric Berne, A Layman's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (1976) p. 134
  6. ^ O. L. Zangwill, 'Flugel, John Charles', in R. Gregory ed., The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) p. 264
  7. ^ R. Koppen, Virginia Woolf, Fashion and Literary Modernism (2009) p. 59
  8. ^ J. C. Flugel, Man, Morals and Society (1973) p. 242-3 and p. 317
  9. ^ J. C. Flugel, Man, Morals and Society (1973) p. 67

Further readingEdit