Re: Le pouvoir psychiatrique

Dear Stuart,

with regard to the case study of George III that you mention with respect to
Foucault's course, I'm wondering if it reveals more background knowledge on
Foucault's part regarding the Utilitarians than _Discipline and Punish_
seems to suggest. My own research as an intellectual historian working on
the period of George III and the Regency of George IV I'm aware that (what
we might now call) psychology (then discussed under the rubric of 'the
philosophy of mind') and the literary, epistenological, political, and
social significance of 'the imagination' were points of contention in this
period, with the Romantics on one side and the Utilitarians on the other (a
divide that J.S. Mill later tried to overcome, after liberalism had been
established in the 1830s). My impression of Foucault from texts such as D&P
is that his knowledge of the Utilitarians is restricted to Bentham, and that
he doesn't consider the processes of literary reproduction in which
Bentham's work produced its immediate effects (here I am thinking of the
works of James Mill, George Grote, and Charles Austin) or even how the
Bentham of the Panopticon period was transformed into the Philosophic
Radical of the Constitutional Code, but perhaps this lecture series might
reveal more depth in Foucault's research in this area. For example, he
doesn't discuss James Mill's essays (e.g., 'Education', 'Prisons and
Prison-Discipline') or books (e.g., _The History of British India_, _An
Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind_), even though these were the
main articulations of utilitarian thought in these areas during this period
and - especially the encyclopaedia articles mentioned and his work on
India - were works that both different significantly from Bentham's own
positions and framed the interpretation of Bentham's work in the period.
In any case I'd like to hear more about it, as no doubt would many others.
best wishes

----- Original Message -----
From: "Stuart Elden" <stuartelden@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "Durham Work" <stuart.elden@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 6:10 AM
Subject: Le pouvoir psychiatrique

> Some thoughts on Foucault's Le pouvoir psychiatrique - sorry, as I first
> promised this a while back. Comments welcome.
> Le pouvoir psychiatrique is the latest lecture course to appear in French,
> from 1973-74. As with the other courses this is based on the tape
> but it is worth noting that like L'hermeneutique du sujet the editor has
> made use of the course manuscripts as well.
> The first thing to say for me is to admit an error. Given the course
> I had assumed that the Rio lectures on medicine were part of this course,
> but this is not the case. In other words, I had thought Foucault had
> material from Paris in Brazil. Perhaps this was my attempt to rationalise
> his prodigious productivity. But this is wrong (the course summary doesn't
> reflect the content of the course in a number of ways) although the Rio
> lectures are a very useful context.
> The key way to understand Psychiatric Power is as a rewriting of Histoire
> la folie [Madness and Civilisation] from the perspective of Discipline and
> Punish, or at least with the tools of genealogy and the analytic of power.
> Foucault suggests that the History was the first chapter of a longer
> research project, and that this course is a kind of second volume. Robert
> Castel has called this course a 'second lecture' of HF, a reading we might
> suggest is guided by the insight that 'knowledge functions as power' (PP
> 187).
> The part reworked is principally the bit of HF on Tuke and Pinel and the
> 'liberation' of the mad for moral imprisonment. Foucault wants to revisit
> these issues with a certain number of differences, subjecting himself to
> self-criticism.
> Three displacements in relation to HF
> i. shift from analysis of representations to an analytic of power
> of dispositif to production of enonces)
> ii. from violence to the microphysics of power (admits ignorance of
> anti-psychiatry literature and recognises three terms that caused him
> problems - violence, the institution, the family)
> iii. from institutional regularities or state apparatus to 'dispositions'
> power (a critique of Althusser)
> An attempt to avoid psycho-sociological vocabulary and a recognition that
> has used 'a pseudo-military vocabulary' (PP 18).
> *Key themes*
> The role of the body and its relation to power.
> The source of this disciplinary model of power is, for Foucault,
> particularly found in religious institutions, especially those set up in
> colonies; and the military after the Thirty Years War. Here we find the
> control of time, surveillance, individualisation, a permanent penal
> An explicit politicising of the work of Order of Things on the birth of
> 'man' - the role of the human sciences in conjoining the juridical
> individual and the historical individual.
> Lots of interesting material on very dysfunctional families, where the
> are prostitutes or hysterical and the children are idiots or forever
> masturbating... More on hysterics and women generally than anywhere else
> Foucault's work. Women are especially important for the concept of the
> neurological body, and Foucault argues that the conflict between the body
> the mad and the psychiatrist is entirely sexual. Struggles of power and
> domination... 'this body, no longer the neurological body, it is the
> body' (PP 325). Hysterics effectively gave medicine power over sexuality.
> Idiot children are dangerous because they masturbate in public, commit
> sexual offences, set fire to things and because they lead to all sorts of
> problems in adulthood. 'Anomaly is the individual condition of possibility
> of madness' (PP 274).
> Some good case studies - I particularly liked the analysis of George III's
> madness as a model for the move from sovereign to disciplinary power.
> Lots of material about the control of space and time, of bodies and
> dressage, modes of disciplining and so on - familiar from Discipline and
> Punish, but here in the context more of the asylum and education. Relation
> of the architectural design of hospitals to the Panopticon.
> Lots of graphic detail about torture, and attempting to catalogue
> techniques - apparatuses of guarantee and proof (i.e. chastity belts); for
> extracting truth (water torture, strappado); of marking the body; and of
> training the body.
> The psychiatric hospital is a space of inquiry and inspection, a kind of
> inquisitorial place. It is a place for the production of truth. Foucault
> accordingly talks quite a bit about truth. His long term interest in
> confession is shown here particularly, although mainly juridical/medical
> confession rather than religious.
> Overall the course can be seen as relating power to some of Foucault's
> earlier concerns. Power and truth perhaps more than power and knowledge,
> although that plays an important role. One interesting formulation was
> the genealogy of connaissance is 'the indispensable historical reverse
> of the archaeology of savoir' (PP 239).
> It is clear from the course that Foucault has been reading Althusser (whom
> he critiques), Deleuze & Guattari's Anti-Oedipus, Robert Castel, writers
> the anti-psychiatry movement (i.e. Lucien Bonnafe, Cooper and Laing), and
> Canguilhem.
> Anti-psychiatry is a big theme in the course summary but not nearly as
> in the course itself. According to the editor the manuscript has a lengthy
> discussion of this but this is not delivered in the course itself.
> Hope this is of interest. I'm giving a lecture on this course in a couple
> weeks and hopefully a journal article will come from this in due course.
> sure where or what format it will be in yet.
> Stuart
> Dr Stuart Elden
> Lecturer in Political Geography
> Department of Geography
> University of Durham
> Durham, DH1 3LE

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