New article – Burkhart Brückner, Lukas Iwer and Samuel Thoma, Die Existenz, Abwesenheit und Macht des Wahnsinns. Eine kritische Übersicht zu Michel Foucaults Arbeiten zur Geschichte und Philosophie der Psychiatrie.

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The first 2017 issue of NTM – Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin includes one article that could be of interest to H-madness readers. Burkhart Brückner, Lukas Iwer and Samuel Thoma, Die Existenz, Abwesenheit und Macht des Wahnsinns. Eine kritische Übersicht zu Michel Foucaults Arbeiten zur Geschichte und Philosophie der Psychiatrie. The abstract reads:

This article discusses Michel Foucault’s main writings on “madness and psychiatry” from his early works up to the 1970s. On the one hand, we reconstruct the overall theoretical and methodological development of his positions over the course of the different periods in his oeuvre. On the other hand, we also take a closer look at Foucault’s philosophical considerations regarding the subjects of his investigations. After an initial introduction of our conceptual approach, we draw on the most recent research on Foucault to show to what extent the phenomenological description of the topic at hand and the historical-critical perspective that are reflected in his early writings of 1954 (the Introduction to Binswanger’s Dream and Existence and Mental Illness and Personality) laid the ground for his later work. Moving on to Foucault’s work during the 1960s, we look at the core features and methodological bases of his 1961 classic Folie et déraison (History of Madness). His propositions regarding the “absence of madness” in modernity are conceptualized as an inherently contradictory attempt to liberate the topic under study from the common assumptions at that time. We then situate his 1973/74 lectures on Psychiatric Power in the context of his shift towards analyzing the dynamics of power and highlight the renewed shift of focus in his statements on the “productivity” of madness as an effect of power. Finally, we sum up our critique by taking into account the history of the reception of Foucault’s writings and ask about their potential significance for the contemporary philosophy and history of psychiatry.

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