Federico Soldani, The Lancet’s Editor-in-Chief: “We will be transformed into biopolitical citizens” Psypolitics blog 3 August 2021
Topics that readers of PsyPolitics might already be familiar with such as the concepts of power, for instance as discussed by Michel Foucault, the transformation “from citizens to patients” – formulated for the first time in 2019 – or the psychologization and medicalization of the global political discourse are present in the latest book by Richard Horton, a long time Editor-in-Chief of the medical journal ‘The Lancet’.
In the second edition of the book Horton also quotes from his own article, a sort of editorial, from an issue of the Lancet in November 2020 entitled “Covid-19: a crisis of power” which included a photo of Michel Foucault and an emphasis on Foucault’s series of lectures at the College de France during the 70s and early 80s.
Horton, by writing about Foucault, indirectly highlights the fact that in the Anglophone world Foucault is completely ignored in medical circles. In my experience, for instance, when I sent to some colleagues in academic medicine in Boston a 2019 London talk of mine about the rise of medical and psychological global power, although the content was largely appreciated, the choice of a Foucauldian approach was criticized as “post modern.” This is in my view a label usually employed, especially in the U.S., to disqualify Foucault’s work as if he did not believe in a distinction between true vs. false facts, seen as basic in modern science in the Anglo-American medical world.
From my perspective, about the knowledge of Foucault’s oeuvre in the Anglo-American medical world, it took me twenty years in the medical and scientific fields, including doctoral studies in Boston and work at the FDA in the Washington, D.C. area as a medical reviewer and epidemiologist, to properly encounter Foucault’s work and to appreciate its relevance to modern medicine and politics.