Stultitia and Type 2 Diabetes: The Madness of Not Wanting to Care for the Self


  • Anders Kruse Ljungdalh Aarhus University



This paper explores the condition of stultitia, which is described by Michel Foucault in The Hermeneutics of the Subject as a condition one is in, before having started to care for the self.  The purpose is to shed light on one of the paradoxes of patient education by introducing and elaborating an aspect of Foucault’s literary activities, which has not, to my knowledge, been investigated empirically before.  To illustrate this condition, the paper targets the relation between type 2 diabetes, contemporary norms of healthy living, diabetes education, and the situation that sometimes occurs when individuals are not capable of, or motivated to, taking care of themselves.  It specifically targets a situation, which is both incomprehensible to health professionals and patients alike; when patients desire a healthy life, but at the same time do not pursue it according to the recommendations.  Thus, it is a condition of madness, which is investigated; madness in the sense that patients have internalised a rationality, against which their own behaviour rebels.

Author Biography

Anders Kruse Ljungdalh, Aarhus University

Anders Kruse Ljungdalh is postdoc at Aarhus University, The Department of Education (DPU) in Copenhagen. His research concerns the links between health and education. He has conducted qualitative, empirical research on contemporary health and lifestyle norms investigated through type 2 diabetes education and self-care practices, with a particular focus on the epistemological and methodological qualities of pathology (patho-epistemology). In 2009 he was a visiting research student at the BIOS Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science. Moreover, he has recently finalised a research project concerning concepts of children and young people’s participation and competence development in international research and Danish and Norwegian policy.




How to Cite

Ljungdalh, A. K. (2013). Stultitia and Type 2 Diabetes: The Madness of Not Wanting to Care for the Self. Foucault Studies, (16), 154–174.