Binet was born on July 8, 1857, in Nice, France. He was the only child of a father who was a physician and a mother who dabbled in art. His wealthy parents separated when he was young, leaving his mother, Moïna Binet, with most of the responsibility for raising him. Until age 15, Binet attended school in Nice. He also spent some summers at a boardinghouse in England, where he undoubtedly improved his fluency in English. This paid off later, when he was able to read the English and American psychological literature.
Once Binet turned 15, his mother took him to Paris so that he could attend a renowned school, the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. Binet studied there for three years. Upon graduating, he had trouble deciding what career path he wanted to pursue. He first earned a law license in 1878; however, he seems to have almost immediately concluded that practicing law was not for him. Next came a brief stint studying medicine. There was a strong medical tradition in his family; his father and both of his grandfathers had been physicians. This choice, too, proved short-lived. Binet suffered an emotional breakdown and dropped out of medical school.
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