Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Guilfoyle, M.
Therapy and the aesthetics of the self
(2015) British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 11 p. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1080/03069885.2014.1002075

Post-structuralists argue that personal identity is a function of societal power dynamics. This becomes especially problematic for persons recruited into problem-saturated identities. In this paper, inspired by Foucault’s call for us to ‘create ourselves as a work of art’ (p. 262), I explore the therapeutic value of an aesthetic approach to identity. Instead of orienting to the client as one to be known and understood, we might envisage his or her life as an open-ended, never quite finalised oeuvre. Identity is therefore conceptualised not as something one ‘is’, but as a creative performance. A therapeutic case is presented to highlight some of the possibilities and challenges associated with such an approach.

Author Keywords
aesthetics of experience; Foucault; multiplicity; narrative therapy; therapy; values

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