Foucault News

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

Foucault and Derrida in Couples Therapy with Freud

Parrhesia Berlin
Tuesdays 6-8 pm. Weekly from 18 October – 15 November (5 evenings)
Course by Dr. Leon Brenner

Where: Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding (courtyard). U-Bahn: U6 & U9 Leopoldplatz; S-Bahn: Wedding

Michel Foucault’s innovative approach to madness in History of Madness greatly impacted the antipsychiatry movement of the 1960s and gave rise to the contemporary field of ‘mad studies’. It ignited a long dispute with Jacques Derrida and eventually drove Foucault to harshly criticize Derrida in the second edition of his book, deeply affecting their friendship. In response, Derrida rebuked the novelty of Foucault’s project in a series of essays, finally subordinating it to the same discourse it came to denounce: psychoanalysis. In this lecture we will discuss key factors in Foucault and Derrida’s long polemical argument over the question of madness. ​​By doing so, the intersection of Foucault’s theory of madness with Freud’s psychoanalysis will be shown to be very fruitful territory. In particular, there will be a focus on Foucault’s philosophical elaboration of a constitutive exclusion underlying the discourse on reason and unreason, as well as his insistence on that exclusion’s singular relationship with madness. This notion will then be developed in psychoanalytic terms augmenting the constitutive gesture that Freud attributed to the plurality of subjective structures elaborated in his metapsychology.

Week 1, Tuesday 18 October: Foucault’s archaeology and the history of madness

Week 2, Tuesday 25 October: Structuralism, closed-sets and constitutive exclusions

Week 3, Tuesday 1 November: Derrida’s post-structural polemic and Foucault ‘strikes back’

Week 4, Tuesday 8 November: Freud’s hospitality to madness out of the hospital

Week 5, Tuesday 15 November: The future of madness—Lacan and subjectivity

Suggested course reading
(see website)

Dr. Leon S. Brenner is a psychoanalytic theorist and psychoanalyst from Berlin. Brenner’s work draws from the Freudian and Lacanian traditions of psychoanalysis, and his interest lies in the understanding of the relationship between culture and psychopathology. His book The Autistic Subject: On the Threshold of Language, is a bestseller in psychology in Palgrave Macmillan publishing in 2021. He is a founder of Lacanian Affinities Berlin and Unconscious Berlin and is currently a research fellow and lecturer at the International Psychoanalytic University (IPU) Berlin and the Hans Kilian und Lotte Köhler Centrum (KKC) at the Ruhr Universität Bochum. You can find more online lectures with Leon here.


Autumn School Programme
October-November 2022, Parrhesia, Berlin

One 10-hour course and two evening talks. For any questions please email

Payment may be made by credit card (via Paypal), Paypal or offline Bank Transfer. The two talks are also available via Eventbrite.

When: Tues 18 October – Tues 15 November 2022

Where: Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding (courtyard). U-Bahn: U6 & U9 Leopoldplatz; S-Bahn: Wedding

How: All courses are taught in hybrid format (in person and on Zoom). Video recordings are made available for those unable to attend. Course readings can be accessed online before the school begins. Links to the Zoom classroom are sent out prior to the course starting. All payment must be made via credit card or Paypal account during enrolment. Also it’s worth noting that Berlin (CMT+1) is 10 hours behind Melbourne time and 6 hours ahead of New York.

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