Foucault On Psychoanalysis: Missed Encounter or Gordian Knot?

  • Mark G. E. Kelly

Abstract

Foucault’s remarks concerning psychoanalysis are ambivalent and even prima facie contra-dictory, at times lauding Freud and Lacan as anti-humanists, at others being severely criti-cal of their imbrication within psychiatric power. This has allowed a profusion of interpretations of his position, between so-called ‘Freudo-Foucauldians’ at one extreme and Foucauldians who condemn psychoanalysis as such at the other. In this article, I begin by surveying Foucault’s biographical and theoretical relationship to psychoanalysis and the sec-ondary scholarship on this relationship to date. I pay particular attention to the discussion of the relationship in feminist scholarship and queer theory, and that by psychoanalytic thinkers, as well as attending to the particular focus in the secondary literature on Fou-cault’s late work and his relationship to the figure of Jacques Lacan. I conclude that Fou-cault’s attitude to psychoanalysis varies with context, and that some of his criticisms of psychoanalysis in part reflect an ignorance of the variety of psychoanalytic thought, partic-ularly in its Lacanian form. I thus argue that Foucault sometimes tended to overestimate the extent of the incompatibility of his approach with psychoanalytic ones and that there is ultimately no serious incompatibility there. Rather, psychoanalysis represents a substantively different mode of inquiry to Foucault’s work, which is neither straightforwardly ex-clusive nor inclusive of psychoanalytic insights.

Author Biography

Mark G. E. Kelly
Mark G. E. Kelly is Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University. He is the author of several books on the thought of Michel Foucault, most prominently The Political Philosophy of Michel Foucault (Routledge, 2009), as well as other Foucauldian works including, most recently, For Foucault: Against Normative Political Theory (SUNY, 2018).

References

Allen, Amy, “Foucault, Psychoanalysis, and Critique: Two Aspects of Problematization,” Angelaki 23:2, 2018, 170–186.
Badiou, Alain, Pocket Pantheon [2008]. London: Verso, 2009.
Bernauer, James W, Michel Foucault's Force of Flight: Toward an Ethics for Thought. New York: Prometheus, 1992
Birman, Joel, Foucault et la psychanalyse. Lyon: Parangon, 2007.
Birman, Joel, ”Le dire vrai et la psychanalyse : à propos de Foucault et Lacan,” Recherches en psychanalyse 2010/1 n° 9, 63-72.
Bersani, Leo, (1987) “Is the rectum a grave?” October 43, 197–222.
Bersani, Leo, Homos. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.
Blanchot, Maurice, “Michel Foucault as I Imagine Him” [1986] in Foucault/Blanchot, 61–109. New York: Zone Books, 1987.
Brockelman, Thomas, “The other side of the canvas: Lacan flips Foucault over Velázquez,” Continental Philosophy Review 46: 271, 2013.
Butler, Judith, The Psychic Life of Power. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997
Chiesa, Lorenzo, “Author, Subject, Structure: Lacan Contra Foucault,” in Lacan Contra Fou-cault: Subjectivity, Sex, and Politics, ed. Nadia Bou Ali and Rohit Goel. London: Blooms-bury, 2019.
Cook, Deborah, “Foucault, Freud, and the Repressive Hypothesis,” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 45:2 (2014), 148–161.
Copjec, Joan, Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists. Boston: MIT Press, 1994.
Davidson, Arnold I, “Foucault, Psychoanalysis, and Pleasure” in Homosexuality & Psycho-analysis, ed. Tim Dean and Christopher Lane, 43–50. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Dean, Tim, “The Biopolitics of Pleasure,” South Atlantic Quarterly 111:3 (2012), 477–496 DOI 10.1215/00382876-1596245
Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, London: Athlone, 1984.
Derrida, Jacques, “‘To Do Justice to Freud’: The History of Madness in the Age of Psycho-analysis,” Critical Inquiry, 20:2 (1994), 227-266.
Dolar, Milan, “Cutting Off the King’s Head,” in Lacan Contra Foucault: Subjectivity, Sex, and Politics, ed. Nadia Bou Ali and Rohit Goel. London: Bloomsbury, 2019.
Dreyfus, Hubert, “Introduction to the California Edition,” in Mental Illness and Psychology, (author) Michel Foucault. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.
Eribon, Didier, Michel Foucault [1989]. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.
Eribon, Didier, “Toward an Ethics of Subjectivation: French Resistances to Psychoanalysis in the 1970s,” in Foucault Now, ed. James Faubion, 71–87. Cambridge: Polity, 2014.
Foucault, Michel, The Archaeology of Knowledge [1969]. Abingdon: Routledge, 2002.
Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things [1966]. London: Tavistock, 1970.
Foucault, Michel, History of Sexuality 1 [1976]. New York: Pantheon, 1978.
Foucault, Michel, Power/Knowledge, ed. Colin Gordon. New York: Pantheon, 1980.
Foucault, Michel, Mental Illness and Psychology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.
Foucault, Michel, Remarks on Marx [1981]. New York: Semiotext(e), 1991.
Foucault, Michel, Dits et écrits 1. Paris: Gallimard, 1994.
Foucault, Michel, Dits et écrits 2. Paris: Gallimard, 1994.
Foucault, Michel, “Lacan, le «libérateur» de la psychanalyse” [1981], in Dits et écrits 4, ed. Daniel Defert and François Ewald, 204–205. Paris: Gallimard, 1994.
Foucault, Michel, “Sexuality and Power” in Religion and Culture by Michel Foucault, ed. Jer-emy Carette, 115–130. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Foucault, Michel, The Hermeneutics of the Subject. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
Foucault, Michel, Abnormal [1999]. New York: Picador, 2004.
Foucault, Michel, History of Madness [1961]. Abingdon: Routledge, 2006.
Foucault, Michel, Psychiatric Power. New York: Picador, 2008.
Foucault, Michel, “What is an Author?” in The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology, ed. Donald Preziosi, 321–337. Oxford: OUP, 2009.
Foucault, Michel, “The Gay Science,” Critical Inquiry 37:3 (2011), 385–403.
Foucault, Michel and Ludwig Binswanger, Dream and Existence, Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1993
Freud, Sigmund, The Question of Lay Analysis. New York: W. W. Norton, 1969.
Grieveson, Lee, “The death of psychoanalysis? Foucault on Lacan,” New Formations 31 (1997).
Huffer, Lynne, Mad for Foucault. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.
Huffer, Lynne, “Freudo-Foucauldian Politics and the Problem of History,” Contemporary Political Theory 15:1 (2016), 130–138.
Hutton, Patrick H, “Foucault, Freud, and the Technologies of the Self,” in Technologies of the Self, ed. Luther H Martin, Huck Gutman and Patrick H Hutton. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988.
Kelly, Mark G E, The Political Philosophy of Michel Foucault, New York: Routledge, 2009.
Kelly, Mark G E, “Foucault, Subjectivity, and Technologies of the Self,” in A Companion to Foucault, ed. Chris Falzon, Timothy O’Leary, and Jana Sawicki. Oxford: Blackwell, 2013.
Kelly, Mark G E, “Foucault Contra Honneth: Resistance or Recognition?” Critical Horizons 18:3 (2017), 214–230. https://doi.org/10.1080/14409917.2017.1293895
Lacan, Jacques, The Triumph of Religion [2005]. Cambridge: Polity, 2013.
Lane, Christopher, “The Experience of the Outside: Foucault and Psychoanalysis” in Lacan in America, ed. Jean-Michel Rabaté. New York: The Other Press, 2000.
De Lauretis, Teresa, Freud’s Drive. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
Luxon, Nancy, Crisis of Authority: Politics, Trust, and Truth-Telling in Freud and Foucault. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Macey, David, The Lives of Michel Foucault. New York: Vintage, 1993.
Miller, Jacques-Alain, “Michel Foucault and Psychoanalysis” [1989] in Michel Foucault: Phi-losopher, ed. Timothy J Armstrong, 58–64. New York: Routledge, 1992.
O’Sullivan, Simon, “Lacan’s Ethics and Foucault’s ‘Care Of The Self’: Two Diagrams of the Production of Subjectivity (and of the Subject’s Relation to Truth),” Parrhesia 10 (2010), 51–73.
Stavrakakis, Yannis, Lacan and the Political. London: Routledge, 1999.
Switzer, Adrian, “Psychoanalysis” in The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon, ed. Leonard Lawlor and John Nale. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Taylor, Chloë, (2009) The Culture of Confession. New York: Routledge.
Toews, John E, “Foucault and the Freudian Subject: Archaeology, Genealogy, and the His-toricization of Psychoanalysis,” in Foucault and the Writing of History, ed. Jan Goldstein, 116–134. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.
Tomšič, Samo, “Better Failures: Science and Psychoanalysis” in Lacan Contra Foucault: Sub-jectivity, Sex, and Politics, ed. Nadia Bou Ali and Rohit Goel. London: Bloomsbury, 2019.
Van Haute, Philippe, “Michel Foucault: Psychoanalysis and the Problem of the Law,” Epo-ché 2:2 (1994), 47-73.
Whitebook, Joel, “Against Interiority: Foucault’s Study with Psychoanalysis” in The Cam-bridge Companion to Foucault, ed. Gary Gutting, 312–347. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni-versity Press, 2005.
Whitebook, Joel, “Freud, Foucault and ‘the dialogue with unreason’,” Philosophy & Social Criticism 25:6 (1999), 29–66.
Published
2020-09-27