Re: Freud & Foucault (was: post-isms)

At 3:47 PM 7/15/95, Penelope Ironstone-Catterall wrote:
>[quoting from Madness and Civilization, p276-278]
> ...
>He focussed upon this single
>presence--conncealed behind the patient and above him, in an absence tat is
>also a total presence--all the powers that had been distributed in the
>collecttive existence of the asylum; he transformed this into an absolute
>Observation, a pure and circumspect Silence, a Judge who punishes and rewards
>in a judgement that does not even condescend to language; he made it the
>Mirror in which madness, in an almost motionless movement, clings to and
>casts off itself.
> To the doctor, Freud transferred all the structures Pinel and Tuke
>had set up within confinement.

This, and similar polemics in La Volonte de savoir, are what I remember
about this particular connection (in the latter, the focus is on the
confessional aspects of psychoanalysis, and the resulting form of Power).

My response to this is that he can't be altogether serious that *these* are
the most interesting and significant aspects of Freud/psychoanalysis. This
is like reading Nietzsche and focusing only on the proto-Nazism which might
be said to inhere in a misunderstanding of the ubermensch concept.
Psychiatric therapy may sometimes work in the way Foucault describes; Freud
himself may have worked this (the case histories suggest that he did). But
there are many more implications to the theory than that, especially as
regards the construction of subjectivity, and the limits of Reason, topics
which seem to be of considerable interest to Foucault

>To the best of my knowledge, this is the only time that F. takes on Freud

Aside from Savoir and Madness, there are a few references to Freud and
psychoanalysis in interviews conducted around the time of the appearance of
Savoir. One section "The Confessions Of The Flesh" (in Power/Knowledge) has
some interesting things to say (see below). The interview is conducted by,
among others, Jacques-Alain Miller, Lacan's semi-official successor. Also
the last bit of the interview "The History Of Sexuality" (also in
Power/Knowledge) is worth a look.

There are also a couple of connections to psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche I
hadn't expected to find, probably because I didn't know Laplanche's work
when I read them the first time: "The Anxiety Of Judging" (in Foucault
Live), an interview by Laplanche; and "The Father's 'No'" (in Language
Counter-Memory and Practice), a review by Foucault of a book by Laplanche.
I haven't had time to reread these yet.

>Foucault does point to Freud as initiating an epistemic shift in the
>means and ends of psychiatry through the introduction of the psychoanalytic

I think he's implying something different: that Freud was a culmination of
the 19th century approaches to sexuality and that he simply took the theory
of that time more literally and more seriously than others, especially
Charcot, had done before. In "Confessions Of The Flesh", Foucault says

Everyone knows that..the problem of sexuality was massively and and
manifestly inscribed in the medicine and psychiatry of the nineteenth
century, and that basically Freud was only taking literally what he heard
Charcot say one evening: it is indeed all a question of sexuality.

He also says

It seems to me that the mere fact that I've adopted this course [the initial
course of The History Of Sexuality] undoubtedly excludes for me the
possibility of Freud figuring as a radical break.

Certainly the way psychoanalysis is presented in Savoir would exlude this
possibility. But in the same interview he also says that this "taking
literally" led to something different, and unexpected: "the logic of the
unconscious". Later he compares his own project to Freud's [!], in the
sense of taking literally "the apparatus of sexuality", in an attempt to
"get at something else". So it's not quite as simple as it seems at first

>Then we might ask the question: What does Foucault take from psychoanalysis?

The explicit references seem to suggest only that he has a hostile attitude
towards one fragment of psychoanalytic therapy (confession) and little
interest in any other aspect. But there are hints at something else.

>What status does
>Foucault give, or not, to the unconscious? What about desire? The drives?

These are very interesting questions, but I think the answers will have to
be teased out: we won't find them on the surface of Foucault's texts. And,
yes, I'm deliberately employing psychoanalytic metaphors here....

rs/macrshap@xxxxxxx or rshapiro@xxxxxxx


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