Foucault News

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

Joranger, L.
Individual perception and cultural development: Foucault’s 1954 Approach to Mental Illness and Its History
(2016) History of Psychology, 19 (1), pp. 40-51.

DOI: 10.1037/hop0000014

Abstract
In his 1954 book Mental Illness and Personality Foucault combines the subjective experience of the mentally ill person with a sociocultural historical approach to mental illness and suggests that there exists a reciprocal connection between individual perception and sociocultural development. This article examines the ramifications of these connections in Foucault’s 1954 works and the connection with his later historical works. The article also examines the similarities between Foucault’s 1954 thoughts and contemporary intellectual thought, such as those outlined in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s existential phenomenology and in Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem’s historical epistemology. In sum, my study shows that Foucault’s historical analysis began long before his 1961 dissertation History of Madness. It also shows that, more than announcing the “death” of the subject, Foucault’s historical analysis may have contributed to saving it.

Author Keywords
Environment; Epistemology; Experience; Mental illness; Phenomenology

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