Foucault and the 'Anti-Oedipus movement': Psychoanalysis as disciplinary power

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What psychiatry was for the anti-psychiatry movement, psychoanalysis was for the French 'Anti-Oedipus movement' represented by Robert Castel, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Until now, the contribution of Foucault to this critical movement has been little known. In this paper I reconstruct in a systematic and exhaustive way Foucault's critique of psychoanalysis and, in particular, of the Oedipus-complex theory. I demonstrate that this critique presupposes a very specific epistemology and social theory. On an epistemological level, Foucault focuses on the power effects of psychoanalysis as a discourse of subjectivity. On a social-theoretical level, Foucault assumes a functionalist conception of society. These two aspects of Foucault's critique of psychoanalysis have not been adequately recognized in the discussion about his relationship to psychoanalysis (Derrida, Miller, Whitebook, among others). I argue that a fruitful dialogue between a Foucault-inspired critical social theory and psychoanalysis can take place only if these two distinct aspects are taken into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-359
Number of pages20
JournalHistory of Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • Anti-Oedipus movement
  • Critic of psychoanalysis
  • Foucauldian critical theory
  • Oedipus-complex
  • Truth and power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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