Paul Tournier was a physician and author from Switzerland; he is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s most eminent Christian physician. Paul Tournier was well-known for his spiritual and psychosocial treatment approach. He had a difficult childhood, as he was abandoned by both parents and raised by his uncle and aunt. He became a Christian at the age of 12 and was an active participant in church activities. When he began his career as a physician, he placed a premium on holistic treatment, which included not only treating physical ailments but also listening to their associated emotional and spiritual components. At the time, this mode of psychosomatic treatment was still relatively unknown. He was renowned for his ability to heal, and doctors frequently referred patients to him who responded to his treatment. Paul Tournier authored a number of books on this subject, which have been translated into more than a dozen languages. His works had a significant impact on how patients were treated spiritually and psychosocially.
Childhood & Adolescence
Paul Tournier was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on 12 May 1898, the son of Pastor Louis Tournier and Alisabeth Ormond. His father died three months after his birth, and he lost his mother to cancer when he was six years old.
Paul Tournier had an older sister, and following his mother’s death, his uncle and aunt raised him and his sister.
Paul Tournier was an introverted and shy child who excelled academically. He converted to Christianity at the age of 12 and grew up actively involved in church activities.
He earned his M.D. from the University of Geneva in 1923. Paul Tournier was the president of the Swiss movement ‘Zofingia’ during his university years and later served as a Red Cross delegate during the rehabilitation of prisoners of war in Vienna.
Career of Paul
In 1924, Paul Tournier began his career as an assistant medical doctor at Geneva’s Medical Polyclinic. He established his own private practice in Geneva the following year and began practicing as a general physician. During this time period, he was heavily involved in medical and civic organizations, and his faith in reformed Christianity, or Calvinism, grew significantly.
Paul Tournier joined the Christian organization ‘Oxford Group’ in 1932, where he emphasized the belief that man is more than his body and mind; he is also a spiritual being.
He began incorporating his beliefs into his medical career and was a firm believer that a patient could not be successfully treated if his entire reality was ignored. He converted his medical practice to counseling in 1937.
He began writing his first book, ‘Médecine de la Personne’, between 1938 and 1939. Following the success of his first book, Paul Tournier established himself as an expert in this field and authored numerous additional books in subsequent years.
He continued writing books and now has a total of more than 30 self-authored works to his credit.
Beginning in 1939, Paul Tournier combined his medical practice with military service in Switzerland. He served in the military until 1945.
Paul Tournier treated his patients in an unconventional manner. Rather than focusing exclusively on a person’s physical condition, he emphasized the importance of understanding their psychological and spiritual dimensions in order to provide holistic care.
This concept developed during a period when psychosomatic medicine was still relatively unknown in the field of medicine.
Paul Tournier founded the International study group ‘Médecine de la Personne’ in 1947 to foster further discussion along these lines.
This group met once a year and is still active in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Germany, and France. According to the Médecine de La Personne study group, Medicine of the Person is not a theoretical system but rather an attitude centered on an understanding of life’s purpose.
Paul Tournier delivered his first speech in 1950 in Athens, Greece. Since then, he has traveled to locations as diverse as the United States of America, Iran, Japan, South Africa, and Europe to deliver speeches and attend seminars. In 1986, he delivered his final speech in Strasbourg, France.
Significant Works of Paul
Paul Tournier was well-known as a physician who emphasized the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care, in contrast to the conventional approach of treating only physical problems.
He is the author of over thirty books on the subject. Among his works are ‘The Healing of Individuals,’ ‘The Meaning of Individuals,’ and ‘Creative Suffering,’ among others.
Personal History and Legacies
In 1924, Paul Tournier married Nelly Bouvier. The couple was blessed with two sons, Louis and Gabriel. His wife died in 1974 in Athens. He married Corinne O’Rama in Geneva in 1984. On 7 October 1986, in Troinex, Switzerland, he died of carcinoma.
In his honor, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations established the ‘Paul Tournier Institute’. Additional organizations have been formed to advance his ideas, including the Association Paul Tournier and the International Group of Whole Person Medicine.
Christianity Today magazine named his book ‘The Meaning of Persons’ among the top 50 books that influenced Evangelists in 2006.
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth of Paul is unknown.