From: "Kevin Turner" <k_turner@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 2004 17:30:55 -0000
Foucault has stated that '[w]hen I think back now, I ask myself what else
was I talking about in Madness and Civilization or The Birth of the Clinic,
but power?' Yet I'm perfectly aware that I scarcely used the word and never
had such a field of analysis at my disposal' ('Truth and Power').
What i am doing in my thesis is taking this claim seriously by trying to
bring to the fore the analyses of power implicit in Foucault's so-called
As a point of entry into this endevor I think that if we comprehend the
Reichian hypothesis in the terms which Foucault characterised this in
Society Must be Defended: that is, as a model of power in which power is
thematised as being negative, dedutive, juridical (it says NO!), and
repressive; then i think we can superimpose this, retrospectively, onto
Madness and Civilisation and The Birth of the Clinic as being demonstrative
of one model of power that is implicitly operative in these texts.
I am not alone in thinking this:
Colin Gordon, for example, has stated that '[w]ith regard to Foucault's
later thought about the analysis of power, it certainly cannot be denied
that repression is a major and pervading topic in Madness and Civilisation,
and that the main historical mutation which it maps appears as a movment
from one regime of repression of the insane to another.' However, he also
goes on to note, and i would agree most emphatically with this point, that
this 'far from encapsulates the book's total approach,' that MC 'illustrates
rather convincingly that the repressive and the productive dimensions of
certain forms of power cannot easily be disjoined' (Gordon, C., 'Rewriting
the History of Madness').
Similarly, Michael Mahon has noted the in MC '[p]ower, manifest in the
practices of interning the mad [i.e. repression], functions positively by
constituting mental illness as a phenomena available to perception' (Mahon,
M. Foucault's Nietzschean Genealogy).
Again, Torbjörn Wandel points out that for Foucault, 'the opening of the
Hôpital Général in 1656...had little or nothing to do with medicine or
science' but was 'rather a sort of semi-juridical structure...an
administrative entity' (MC: 40), and that in MC foucault used a negative
model of power 'one that violates, censors, obstructs' (Wandel, T. 'The
Power of Discourse').
So, there's not one specific place which I can point you to and say here,
this is what I am talking about, because i think the whole of Foucault's
work from this time is pervaded with a notion of power understood as being
negative, dedutive, juridical, and repressive, that violates, censors, and
obstructs, etc., in shorth, all those elements with which Foucault later
characterised the Reichean hypothesis.
Regards - Kevin
----- Original Message -----
From: "Arianna" <ari@xxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, December 05, 2004 1:32 PM
Subject: Re: critique or criticism?
> Kevin Turner wrote:
> > I agree with what you say, but just because there was no "explicitly"
> > conceptualisation of power in these texts does not mean that there was
> > (operative) model of power. As I said, I think if one reads these texts
> > there is quite clearly a model of power being mobilised. This model,
> > one can retrospectively characterise as the Reichian hypothesis, was
> > unathematised, untheorised, and thus "implicit," but it was nonetheless
> > present.
> I can't find any implicit in Foucault's early work.
> can you point to where you feel this is the case?
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