Billy Graham Center

Ephemera of Paul Tournier - Collection 183

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent.]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Paul Tournier

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Record)

Brief Description.
Two taped segments translated from the French, in which psychiatrist Paul Torunier discusses medicine as personal dialogue as well as scientific knowledge and the importance of including the spiritual as part of the dialogue. Also includes biographical details which illustrate this aspect of medicine.

Collection 183 [April 3, 2001]
Tournier, Paul; 1898-
Ephemera; 1961
2 Reels of Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Paul Tournier, born May 12, 1898, in Geneva, Switzerland, was the son of Alisabeth (Ormond) and Louis Tournier, who was a clergyman and poet. His seventy-year-old father died shortly after Paul's birth and the death of his mother orphaned him by the time he was six. He was educated at the University of Geneva, where he received an M.D. degree in 1923. On October 4, 1924, he married Nelly Bouvier and became the father in subsequent years of two children, Jena-Louis and Gabriel. His private practice was interrupted by military service for the Swiss Army between 1939 and 1945.

Tournier became deeply interested in Calvinism and the Reformed faith in his post-university years, along with his extensive involvement in civic and medical groups. As a result of his interest in religion, he began to delve more deeply into the relationship between medicine, counseling, and spiritual values. For a period of time, he seriously considered giving up medicine for counseling but decided instead to combine the two, breaking away from the pattern established for psychiatry by Freud.

He became a prolific writer of books dealing with these subjects. Among the best-known are The Healing of Persons, translated from the 1945 French edition in 1965, and English translations of The Meaning of Persons, 1957, A Doctor's Casebook in the Light of the Bible, 1960, Guilt and Grace, 1962, and The Whole Person in the Broken World, 1965. His books were translated into thirteen languages including Chinese and Greek.

Scope and Content

Tapes T1 and T2 are recordings made of lectures given by Paul Tournier for the Graduate School at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, on April 13 and 14, 1961. They record the simultaneous translation into English from the French. Each tape is approximately 25 minutes long. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The recorder makes approximately 12 turns a minute.

Tape T1

00:45 Introduction
01:20 Medicine as a one-to-one encounter
02:20 Need of divine biblical revelation in this encounter
02:35 Tension between physical and spiritual nature
03:30 Dialogue between God and man as spiritual nature; spiritual path vs. scientific path
04:45 Union of natures in personhood rooted in relationship to God; symbolism of name
05:50 Request for abortion altered significance of naming the unborn child
07:00 Individual man as a unique creation in God's eyes; biblical examples
08:00 Perfect harmony of original direct communication with God broken; sin introduces fear, tension, false personhood
09:45 Horizontal man-to-man communication also broken
10:15 Prophets as instruments of restoration
11:10 Christ as direct communicator to God and man
12:45 Holy Spirit as symbol of restoration of communion
13:15 Inability of science to measure spiritual communication
14:10 Paths of philosophy in search of communication
14:35 Existential need for more than abstractions
14:50 Biblical guides and requirement of choice, rejection of dichotomy of body
15:50 Biblical emphasis on men, not mankind; anecdotal quality stresses individuality
16:35 Discovery of our individual relationship with God
17:45 All of life of concern to God; biblical history as one history, not sacred or secular
18:30 Science as first reading of reality in objects, second reading sees God in all
19:15 Patient's story inclusive of both science and relationship to God
20:45 Camus; great influence on French youth
21:30 Experience of agnostic French girl
22:35 Visit to Tournier for counsel
23:00 Meaning of life found in encounter with God
23:40 Greek meanings for word for life
24:30 End of lecture

Tape T2

00:50 American audience response; effect on speaker
01:30 Personal encounters of Tournier
02:00 Initial response to request for interview always fear
02:20 Death of seventy-year-old father shortly after Paul's birth
02:40 Mother's death; orphaned at five-six years of age
03:00 Timid, fearful childhood, inhibited others; loneliness
03:40 Reality not always what it seems
03:55 Personal interest of Greek professor; intellectual life in Europe
05:10 Consciousness of human nature gave entrance in society
05:35 Leader of many civic, medical groups
06:00 Church work included on friend's suggestion
06:20 Intense interest in reviving Calvinism in personal religious evolution
06:45 Troubled by church divisions; activities not necessarily productive of friendships
07:50 Inability of medicine to fill the void
08:30 Beginning of deeper personal communication beyond level of ideas and theory
09:35 Integration as person beyond ideas
10:30 Confession as dialogue
11:05 Subsequent entrance to new world of persons
11:40 To be needful of help as key to helping others
12:20 From theory to personality as prerequisite
12:40 Former adversary reveals personal suffering behind clash of ideas
13:30 Shift to personal counseling with patients
14:35 Healings through communication
15:30 Uncertainty of personal future in medicine
16:00 Decision to include both aspects in personal practice
16:45 Freud's emphasis on patient's monologue
17:45 Followers of Freud add dialogue
18:20 Tournier's decision to discard religious neutrality
18:45 Tournier as psychiatry's "black sheep"; negative attitude of psychiatry toward religion not neutrality
19:40 Necessity for inclusion of God in medical-personal dialogue
20:35 Therapist's conversation with Christ as part of dialogue with patient
21:00 American emphasis on methodology
21:20 Personal contact with Christ draws dialogue; Christ's own sharing of personal experiences
22:10 Greater importance of personal sharing over advice
23:45 Final contact with Greek professor
24:55 Reading of chapter of Tournier's book accomplish conversion of professor; request to recount this experience at professor's funeral
26:15 End of lecture



The materials for this collection were received by the Center in June 1980 from Joan Moyle of the Wheaton Graduate School. After copying, original tapes were returned to the donor.

Accession 80-78
December 7, 1981
Frances L. Brocker
J. Nasgowitz

Accession 80-78
Type of material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE. Request by the T# at the beginning of each entry below.

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 25 minutes. Lecture by Paul Tournier at the Wheaton Graduate School, recorded on April 13, 1961. Copied from cassette original.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 25 minutes. Lecture by Paul Tournier at the Wheaton Graduate School, recorded on April 14, 1961. Copied from cassette original.

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Last Revised: 4/3/01
Expiration: indefinite