Foucault News

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

Fabienne de Bilbao, Paola Bonavitacola, The abuses of a certain knowledge
The International Journal of Psychoanalysis,
First published: 5 April 2016

DOI: 10.1111/1745-8315.12493

In the psychiatric institution, the sex act is a matter of controversy, all the more so when elderly patients with dementia are concerned. Yet, a question imposes itself: thinking beyond the biomedical model, the current governing paradigm for explaining senile dementia, what effects does the repression of the sex act have on the symptoms of the demented patient? The psychoanalytic exploration of the institutional situation described here suggests that the sexual demands of the patient suffering from dementia would not be meaningless, but would constitute a defensive modality against the return of a former threat of castration. Their repression, by means of practices that impede the libido in its search of an object, would reinforce the process of dementia by encouraging a regression toward earlier stages of development. More generally, the authors argue that unconscious dynamic processes might play a major role in the development of senile dementia. They show that psychoanalysis constitutes an essential method for the understanding of dementia and challenges the predominance of the biomedical model and its therapeutic arsenal in this context.

Alzheimer disease;institution;sex act;biological psychiatry;incest taboo;castration anxiety;repressive measures;regression;treatment;psychotropic drugs;morality

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