The Gurdjieff Legacy Foundation Archives
James Carruthers Young (1888–1950)
James Carruthers Young, a psychiatrist by profession, had a lucrative Harley Street practice in London. He, along with Maurice Nicoll, studied with C. G. Jung in Zurich. They were members of A. O. Orage's psychosynthesis group, whose aim was to integrate psychoanalysis with religious perspectives. Others were E. M. Elder, an intimate of Sigmund Freud; J. M. Alcock and Havelock Ellis, psychologists; Roland Kenny, former editor of the Daily Herald; Clifford Sharp, editor of the New Statesman; and Dmitri Mitrinovic, a Serbian mystic and prophet, and attaché of the Serbian Legation in London.
In 1921 Orage introduced the group members to the writings of P. D. Uspenskii, and later Young and other members attended Uspenskii's lectures and meetings. Uspenskii spoke of Gurdjieff as a remarkable man whom he had known in Moscow as the composer of an original kind of ballet, and whom he had met again in Constantinople after the Revolution.1
The following year Gurdjieff twice traveled to London to give talks. The first talk was on February 13, 1922, at Warwick Gardens. Gurdjieff made a second visit in March 1922, giving a talk on March 5 and another on March 15. Young, Nicoll and other members of the Orage group attended.2
In August of 1922 Young traveled to France to study under Gurdjieff, first at the Dalcroze Institute in the Rue de Vaugirard, Paris, and later at the Prieuré in Fontainebleau-Avon. He came to the Institute because in his work as a psychiatrist he saw that analytic knowledge was not effective in making any sustained change in a person. He wanted to experience a work that would develop the will, which he viewed as essential.3
On October 14, 1922, Gurdjieff sent Dr. Young to examine Katherine Mansfield in Paris. Dr. Young reported that she did not have long to live. She later died at the Prieuré.4
During his attendance at the Prieuré Dr. Young became critical of Gurdjieff and of his students. Instead of working with his reactions and projections Dr. Young left the Prieuré in 1923, never to return.5
Dr. Young wrote an essay entitled "An Experiment at Fontainebleau, A Personal Reminiscence," in which the conflicted state of his mind at the time is shown.6
1. William Patrick Patterson, Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission (Fairfax, CA: Arete Communications, 2014), 105.
2. James Moore, Gurdjieff: The Anatomy of a Myth (Rockport, MA: Element Inc., 1991), 160.
3. Patterson, 145.
4. Ibid., 119.
5. Ibid., 145.
6. British Journal of Medical Psychology, Vol. 7, No. 4, December 1927.