Thursday, November 22, 2018

Was Foucault an anti-psychiatrist?

John Iliopoulos in his book History of reason in the age of madness, which I have mentioned in a previous post, has a chapter entitled ‘Is Foucault an anti-psychiatrist?’. As I said in my book chapter on ‘Historical perspectives on anti-psychiatry’, Foucault’s Madness and civilisation is included in anti-psychiatry because Foucault is said to have viewed the Enlightenment as oppressive.” Actually, I think Iliopoulos’ position is correct that Foucault was neither for or against the Enlightenment.

As Iliopoulos says, Foucault stresses he was ignorant of anti-psychiatry at the time of writing History of madness. Iliopoulos corrects the position of post-psychiatry (see previous post) that “Foucault is engaged in an anti-psychiatric endeavour using counter-Enlightenment discourse” (p.101). Instead, Foucault accepted the validity of the anthropological project of the late eighteenth century with its phenomenological diagnostic approach to madness. Where psychiatry went wrong was its positivist reduction of mental illness to brain disease in mid-nineteenth century. In Iliopoulos’ words:-
[T]he subjugated, disempowered status of current psychiatry authority and the value-laden and pseudo-scientific definition of mental illness are not the result of the infantile epistemological level of psychiatry, its axiological nature or its inherently coercive role, but the product of a new, all-encompassing rationality denying and suppressing the anthropological kernel of psychiatric discourse. (p.98)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a belief that schizophrenia, starts with a life event or trauma, which is then denied by the environment and also by psychiatry, which leads to a double bind:
- or you deny the environment
- or you come in conflict with the world
both of the options leading to psycosis.
Thank you for your blog.