Forwarded mail....

>From skogan@xxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Sat, 3 Feb 1996 08:46:01 -0500
From: steve kogan <skogan@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: the subject and privileging lived experience

Dear Foucauldian Friends,

I wish to ask for your h*lp and insight into some issues regarding Foucault
(and other post-structuralist thinkers) and individual subjects lives.
Coming from family therapy, postmodernism and Foucault (in the work of
Australian therapist Michael White) have been used to shift from an
instrumental and objectifying stance by the therapist as "expert" to one
that privileges "the lived experience" of the client (White & Epston,
1990). Narrative therapies thus eschew psyhcological or family systems
constructs, centering the individual client as expert on the meanings
generated in their own lives.
This stance has been critiqued at least twice in press regarding
the postmodern view of the subject. Basically, that Foucault and others
have declared the "death" of the authorial centered subject of western
epistemology in favor of a subject whose identity is emergent in discourse.
So why privilege meaning construction of individuals? Part of White's
work is also assisting clients through listening to their unique stories to
problematize the meanings within the constraints of various social
discourses (around, gender, class, etc).
My take on this issue is that by privileging lived experience the
post modern therapist constructs a clearing to decenter the western
instrumental perspective that is manifest through the subject whose
identity is pinned to that discourse. In a sense there are (at least) two
levels to the decentering phenomena, I as a postmodern therapist will
decenter from the research traditions that objectify and reify individual
psyche's by viewing each human I encounter as unique and their own expert.
Also I can address the extent to which peoples's problems are related to
emerging identity from western androcentric metanarratives. I'm not sure
I'm making sense, I will try some questions:
1. Do you believe a Foucauldian therapy would would privilege lived experience?
2. If a therapist acts in a heterosexual couples session, to assist the
woman to experience her life from her own center rather than say taking
care of others, is this centering, actually a de-centering from the
dominant discourse of caring for others needs first?
3. If in that same session the male partner is asssisted to see more of
his partner's perspective, to privilege her experience (a typical
difficulty for men), would he also be de-centered from his authorial
position which is a manifestation of the larger androcentric metanarrative?
4. To sum, when is something or someone de-centered, is this a text device
that may not make sense to therapy?

Hope ya'll can h*lp and find this issue of interest. Please go easy on the
philosophical references I'm only a therapist. SteveK

Steven M. Kogan Ed.S. skogan@xxxxxxxxxxx
University of Georgia
Child and Family Development


Partial thread listing: