Foucault and the birth of psychopolitics : Towards a genealogy of crisis governance
Prozorov, S. (2021). Foucault and the birth of psychopolitics : Towards a genealogy of crisis governance. Security Dialogue, 52(5), 436-451. https://doi.org/10.1177/0967010620968345
Published inSecurity Dialogue
© The Author(s) 2020
The article contributes to the genealogy of current tendencies in crisis governance by reconstructing Michel Foucault’s analysis of the application of the notion of crisis in 19th-century psychiatry. This analysis complements and corrects Reinhart Koselleck’s history that viewed crisis as originally a medical, judicial or theological concept that was transferred to the political domain in the 18th century. In contrast, Foucault highlights how the psychiatric application of the concept of crisis was itself political, conditioned by the disciplinary power of the psychiatrist. Unlike the ancient medical concept of crisis that emphasized the doctor’s judgement in observing the event of truth in the course of the disease, psychiatric crisis is explicitly forced by the doctor in order to elicit the desired symptoms in the patient and convert their power of disciplinary confinement into medical diagnosis. The article argues that this notion of crisis resonates with the tendencies observed in contemporary crisis governance in Western societies. While these tendencies are often addressed in terms of ‘psychopolitics’ that presumably succeeds Foucault’s ‘biopolitics’, we suggest that Foucault’s own work on psychiatric power offers a valuable genealogical perspective on the contemporary governance of crises. ...
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Additional information about fundingThe author received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
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