re: madness

>Mental patients were released in the U.S. beginning in the 60s ..
>Now they can't incarcerate people who are a danger to themselves,
>or a public nuisance--only those who are a proven danger to others.
> So this societal change seems to be motivated by a self-
>imposed limitation of power over the "mentally ill." How
>does that effect Foucault's thesis?

It certainly fits well with his later excavations of biopolitics and the
take-off of liberal governmental rationality in the 19thC; a rationality
that always suspects that it 'governs too much'. It is from here, Foucault
describes, that we see a distinction drawn between state and civil society;
a 'schematization' particular to a specific technology of government
(self-regulating, panoptic, self-organizing) appropriate to the emergence
of 'society'. The state - and 'power' to an extent - can retreat (or this
at least is its rational conclusion), as the natural laws intrinsic to
society (which it created) come into force. A 'limitation' perhaps, but
only possible following 200 years of training (1600-1800), and a further
150 years of reproduction (self-constitution), by which the space of
madness would be separated from mainstream society to such an extent that
it would not longer pose a challenge - a possible alternative - to it's
organizing rationality and governmental practice.

Ian Robert Douglas,
Visiting Lecturer & Fulbright Scholar,
Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute of International Studies,
Brown University, Box 1831,
130 Hope Street,
Providence, RI 02912

tel: 401 863-2420 (direct line)
fax: 401 863-1270

"Is there something 'dangerous' in Foucault's thought
that also explains the passion it continues to arouse?"
- "Dangerous, yes, because there's a violence in Foucault.
An intense violence, mastered, controlled, and turned
into courage."

- Gilles Deleuze, 1986

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