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Michel Foucault Madness and Civilisation. Discourse Theory Binary of reason and unreason –Historicity –Conditions –Normativity.

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Presentation on theme: "Michel Foucault Madness and Civilisation. Discourse Theory Binary of reason and unreason –Historicity –Conditions –Normativity."— Presentation transcript:

1 Michel Foucault Madness and Civilisation

2 Discourse Theory Binary of reason and unreason –Historicity –Conditions –Normativity

3 Periodisation of Madness 1. Stultifera Navis or Ship of Fools (15-16 th Centuries) 2. The Great Confinement (17-18 th centuries) 3. The Birth of the Asylum (late 18 th -21 st centuries)

4 Ship of Fools The Ship of Fools is not about other people, it is about us.


6 Ship of Fools `Madness circulates, was part of common decor and language, a daily experience that one seeks to exalt rather than master'.

7 Erasmus In Praise of Folly Lastly, the mind of man is so framed that it is rather taken with the false colors than truth; of which if anyone has a mind to make the experiment, let him go to church and hear sermons, in which if there be anything serious delivered, the audience is either asleep, yawning, or weary of it; but if the preacher--pardon my mistake, I would have said declaimer--as too often it happens, fall but into an old wives' story, they're presently awake, prick up their ears and gape after it. In like manner, if there be any poetical saint, or one of whom there goes more stories than ordinary, as for example, a George, a Christopher, or a Barbara, you shall see him more religiously worshipped than Peter, Paul, or even Christ himself. But these things are not for this place.

8 Age of Confinement / Age of Reason In France Hôpitale Générale in Germany Zuchthausen in Holland Rasphuis In England Houses of Correction

9 Age of Confinement or Age of Reason Exclusion from society Animality of conditions Heterogeneity of populations Labour as punishment Spectacle of madness

10 Age of Confinement –famed keeper of the insane in Scotland was a farmer named Gregory, renowned for his excellent treatment of the mad. His method consisted in forcing the insane to perform the most difficult tasks of farming, in using them as beasts of burden, as servants, in reducing them to an ultimate obedience with a barrage of blows at the least act of revolt. –“The animal in man no longer has any value as the sign of a beyond; it has become madness without relation to anything but itself.”

11 Age of Reason Bourgeois normative order –Labour and Idleness –Human and the inhuman –Reason and unreason –Man and animal

12 Bethlem or Bedlam

13 Age of Confinement “no longer men whose minds had wandered, but beasts preyed upon by a natural frenzy” (Foucault) “In the reduction to animality, madness finds both its truth and its cure; when the madman has become a beast, the presence of the animal in man, a presence which constituted the scandal of madness, is eliminated; not that the animal is silenced but man himself is abolished.” (Foucault)

14 Age of Confinement “Madness was no longer talkative and manifest. It enters a silence from which it will not emerge. It is stripped of its language and if one could continue to speak of it, it would be impossible for it to speak of itself.”

15 Birth of the Asylum The liberation of the insane The legend of Pinel and Tuke Natural Liberty ‘smiling countryside’

16 Pinel – Releasing Lunatics



19 Pinel’s moral treatment

20 “The problem is to impose a morality that will prevail from within upon those who are strangers to it… Silence (the guilt is shifted inside), Recognition by Mirror (self- imprisonment), Perpetual Judgment (recognition of guilt)

21 The meaning of reform “We must re-evaluate the meanings assigned to the liberation of the insane, abolition of constraint, constitution of a human milieu – these are only justifications. In fact Tuke created an asylum where he substituted for the free terror of madness the stifling anguish of responsibility… The asylum no longer punished the madman’s guilt, it organised that guilt.” (Foucault)

22 Age of Positivism The mad were turned into objects of the keeper's gaze, subjected to a system of rewards and punishments for the detail of their behaviour. The keeper was to be no longer a flogger of animals, but a moral authority and judge. The inmate was like a child handed over to the steady gaze of the man of reason. This ‘moral’ system of power, based on an objectifying observation, denied validity to the voice of the mad.

23 Power and Knowledge Psychiatry and the asylum Objectification and mental illness Positivism obscures link between theory and practice The life of unreason no longer manifests itself except…

24 Foucault’s understanding of modernity Debt to Marx's analysis of the class origins of the modern state. Debt to Weber's analysis of asceticism and the Protestant Ethic. Debt to Durkheim’s analysis of punishment and the ‘conscience collective’ Turn inside out binary of reason and unreason

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