Paper presented at the 3rd Annual Qualitative Methods Conference: "Touch me I'm sick"
8 & 9 September 1997, University of South Africa Regional Office, Durban


The politics of psychotherapy: An historical surface of emergence

Derek Hook

University of the Witwatersrand

018HOD@muse.arts.wits.ac.za

"It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the working of institutions which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight them" (Michel Foucault, 1974, 171).

Introduction and Strategy

Speaking in the first of the Two Lectures (1980), Foucault speaks of the invaluable role of the emergence of historical content in critical work. It is only through the provision of such content that we are able to "rediscover the ruptural effects of conflict and struggle that the order imposed by functionalist or systematizing thought is designed to mask" (Foucault, 1980, p. 82). Pinning itself on this methodological injunction, this paper, the first in a series on the nature and workings of power within psychotherapy, aims, through a close reading of Foucault's Discipline & Punish (1979), not to analyze the early development or history of the discipline, but rather to destabilize the field of psychotherapy by considering its foundations, its prehistory. The objective is to provide a historical 'surface of emergence' from which the development of psychotherapy became a possibility. Such historical context will provide the basis from which substantial political criticism will later be written.

Fundamental to an overview of this sort is an understanding of the nature and workings of modern disciplinary power. Simply put, just as a proper understanding of the nature of the human sciences does not proceed without an understanding of modern disciplinary power, so, a sufficient understanding of disciplinary power does not proceed without a sense of the nature and functioning of the human sciences. Indeed, it is the complex interface of forms of power and knowledge, that, as Best & Kellner (1994) put it, have created new forms of domination in which the emergence of the human sciences, the formation of specific disciplinary apparatuses and the construction of the subject are all inextricably linked (p. 35).

Sovereign Power

Taking as his subject-matter power, Foucault begins Discipline and Punish with a vivid example of what was the paradigmatic form of punishment in the era of sovereignty: torture. In this early and crude order of power a breach of the law was like an act of war, requiring response from the king, whose body it was that had been attacked in the action of the crime (Foucault, 1979). Accordingly, the criminal had to be physically attacked, tortured, dismembered, destroyed, in a symbolic display of the sovereign's power - only thus was law restored. This form of power had several limitations however. Firstly each time the law was broken, such a display of ritual atrocity had to be re-enacted. Furthermore, this spectacular, brutal and discontinuous form of punishment left untouched and undeterred a wide-ranging and continuous illegality of less serious and less detected illegalities. Lastly, it was also at times something of an instable use of power in the sense that it risked the insurrection of the masses who'd sided with the punished criminal.

The Era of Humanist Reform

The form of power that succeeded monarchical law was that of the humanist reformers, which was essentially an art of manipulating representations so as to provide a technology for the correct re-ordering of social life (Foucault, 1979). Several aspects of this transformation of power are pertinent to us. Public torture was abolished firstly, the monarch lost absolute sovereignty in matters of punition secondly, and accordingly, criminal justice changed its objective from taking revenge to simply punishing (1979, p. 74). Crime was now an attack on society as a whole, and the responsibility to punish was now its; the standard of justice was now the 'humanity' which all parties of the social contract shared (Foucault, 1979). Hence begins one of the trajectories that Foucault (1979) follows right through to the development of the human sciences: that in which the technology of power is made the same principle as the very humanization of punitive mechanisms. As we shall see later, the technology of power is also, in a mutually reinforcing manner, to adopt the principle of the knowledge of 'man' as means of achieving its ends.

Serving primarily the principle of humanity, punishment now had to bring the offender 'back to their place in society'; had to basically requalify the juridical subject (Foucault, 1979). Keeping in mind also the humanity of society as a whole, punishments now needed be instrumental in deterring and preventing future crime (Foucault, 1979). In terms of both the demonstrative capacity of punishment and its efficacy in eradicating the root of the crime, punishment needed now to take into account 'the profound nature of the criminal' (Foucault, 1979). Hence the penalty (and its prospective modulation) came to consider that which hitherto they had never considered: the individual defendant themselves, their nature and way of life, their attitude of mind, their past, the 'quality' rather than the simple intention of their will (Foucault, 1979, p. 99).

What thus began to emerge was the parallel classification of crimes and punishments, the precise adaption of punishments to individual offenders, the individualization of sentences. Individualization appeared, as Foucault put it, as the ultimate aim of a precisely adapted code of punishment (1979, p. 99).

Two points here are vital to the critical pre-history we are propounding. One is that the first appearance of psychological knowledge occurs in a way that is intimately and inextricably tied to the enforcement of power. (Indeed it was from here that psychological knowledge increasingly came to take over the role of jurisprudence (Foucault, 1979)). The second is that the push toward individualization within practices of subjection led towards powerful collateral processes of objectification. The criminal became a species to be studied and understood, to be known, the crime something to be exhaustively coded and classified (Foucault, 1979). As Dreyfus & Rabinow (1982) put it, for proper intervention to be made, the object (be it criminal or crime) needed to be fixed as an individual and known in great detail. Knowledge, in short, and as eluded to before, became a key principle of power. It is here that the first step towards a study of 'man', and 'his' behaviour and social environment is taken, and taken in the direction of a science of society that would treat 'men' as objects (Dreyfus and Rabinow, 1982, p. 149).

Another fundamentally important point for this prehistory is that at which "souls" or minds started to be seen as the targets of power. Within this era of humanist reform the 'mind' began to be seen as an ideal surface for the inscription for power. The submission of bodies, it was now thought, would be assured through the control of ideas (Foucault, 1979, p. 102). Four major themes of power thus may be seen as emerging from the period of humanist reform: humanization, individualization, objectification, and the notion of the soul/mind.

It is important to emphasize that the humanizing initiatives within the penal system served not so much to establish a more equitable system, but rather to create a better 'economy' of the power to punish (Foucault, 1979, own emphasis). They rendered more effective, constant and detailed that power whilst diminishing its political and economic costs (Foucault, 1979). Rather than punishing less, they punished better - afforded a better distributed power, making the punishment of illegalities a regular function occurring with greater universality and necessity (Foucault, 1979, p. 82). Foucault's emphatic point is thus that humanism, in all its guises, has, more than anything, enabled the insertion of power ever more deeply into the social body (Foucault, 1979, p. 82). An example of this is given in the principle of the humanity of society, which now provided perpetual justification for the growth of the power to judge and punish. The expansion of such increasingly autonomous sectors of power (like that of criminal justice, and indeed also that of the normative social sciences to come), their broadening jurisdictions, the tactics they are increasingly able to prescribe, the very growth of their power over people, is enabled and safeguarded, paradoxically, by this principle of humanity.

Indeed, it would seem that it is principally upon the importance of the protection of the humanity of society that the deviant and the abnormal come to be so successfully produced as in need of rehabilitative intervention. Foucault: "[T]he criminal [is] designated as the enemy of all, whom it is in the interests of all to track...a wild fragment of nature, monster, madman, sick and before long 'abnormal' individual...one day he will belong to a scientific objectification and to the 'treatment' that is correlative to it" (1979, p. 101).

A Structure and Focus for an Emerging Science of 'Man'

Within such a power-relation, as between criminals and those in the position to punish them, one finds the blueprint of an object-relation; one in which is caught up an individual to be known according to specific criteria (here the criminal) and another object, to be established as a fact according to common norms (here the crime) (Foucault, 1979). This is the object-relation that would come to be duplicated throughout the social science disciplines (Foucault, 1979). There should be no misunderstanding here however - this object-relation is neither incidental nor external to the practice of these disciplines like psychology, or their more applied branches, like psychotherapy. This object-relation is not superimposed on what would otherwise be a set of equal relations - but is instead 'indigenous' to them. It has its point of origin in the expansion of practices of subjection, in the very tactics of power and the arrangement of its exercise (Foucault, 1979, p. 102).

This arrangement of power/knowledge, subjection/objectification, became increasingly solidified as the era of disciplinary power approached. Objectifying practices came to ever more indissociably accord prescriptions of intervention, and similarly, such subjections came to unfailing produce new knowledges, new and multi-levelled discourses of the former's validation. Concurrently, the role of psychological knowledge grew in importance. A decisive example of this is given in the changes in the legal system, changes that have remained in place until today, where, as Foucault (1979) remarks, judges soon began to do more than just judge. "A whole set of assessing, diagnosing, prognostic, normative judgements concerning the criminal...[became] lodged in the framework of penal judgement (Foucault, 1979, p. 19). Every offence came to carry with it the legitimate suspicion of insanity or anomaly. Every sentence, more than being a legal decision that lays down punishment, came to bear with it "an assessment of normality and a technical prescription for a possible normalization" (Foucault, 1979, pp. 20-21).

Parallel 'judges' multiplied around legal judgement (Foucault, 1979). Psychologists, psychiatrists, educationalists all came to share in its power. Not only where such personnel able to assist in juridical judgment (and to extend its powers beyond the sentence of the offender), but, in the form of various social science disciplines, they were able also to generalize its authority across ever wider and more inclusive populations (Foucault, 1979). There was a displacement in the very object of punitive operation, following on from which prohibitions and rules of punishment came to centre around supervision, surveillance, transformation - came to focus on altering criminal tendencies and making the above processes into permanent functions (Foucault, 1979, p. 18). The individual psychology of the offender, and its possible and desirous change, is now the object of punitive operation rather than simply that of the body of the criminal made to suffer.

This new object of punitive power affords a new field of expertise, a new system of knowledge-production and truth alongside a new set of skills and techniques of treatment. As Foucault puts it: beneath the increasing leniency of punishment lay a displacement of its point of application through which "a whole field of recent objects, a whole new system of truth...a corpus of knowledge, techniques, 'scientific' discourses is formed and becomes entangled with the practice of the power to punish" (1979, pp. 22-23). It is as such that psychological and psychiatric expertise (and their respective discourses) find one of their precise functions: "inscribing offenses in the field of objects susceptible of scientific knowledge...they provide the mechanisms of legal punishment with a justifiable hold...not only on offenses, but on individuals; not only on what they do, but also on what they are, will be, maybe" (Foucault, 1979, p. 18).

The Advent of the Disciplinary Era

The third era of power described by Foucault, the current order that is to say, of disciplinary power, continued certain themes of the reformist era, (namely those already emphasized of humanization, objectification, individuality and the soul) whilst definitively breaking with others. The first split concerned the aim of punition: whilst previously it had been public representation and didactic moral insight, the aim of preventative or normalising detention (the new paradigmatic form of punishment) now became that of behavioural modification - both of the body and soul - through the precise administration of techniques of knowledge and power (Dreyfus & ic objectification and to the 'treatment' that is correlative to it" (1979, p. 101).

A Structure and Focus for an Emerging Science of 'Man'

Within such a power-relation, as between criminals and those in the position to punish them, one finds the blueprint of an object-relation; one in which is caught up an individual to be known according to specific criteria (here the criminal) and another object, to be established as a fact according to common norms (here the crime) (Foucault, 1979). This is the object-relation that would come to be duplicated throughout the social science disciplines (Foucault, 1979). There should be no misunderstanding here however - this object-relation is neither incidental nor external to the practice of these disciplines like psychology, or their more applied branches, like psychotherapy. This object-relation is not superimposed on what would otherwise be a set of equal relations - but is instead 'indigenous' to them. It has its point of origin in the expansion of practices of subjection, in the very tactics of power and the arrangement of its exercise (Foucault, 1979, p. 102).

This arrangement of power/knowledge, subjection/objectification, became increasingly solidified as the era of disciplinary power approached. Objectifying practices came to ever more indissociably accord prescriptions of intervention, and similarly, such subjections came to unfailing produce new knowledges, new and multi-levelled discourses of the former's validation. Concurrently, the role of psychological knowledge grew in importance. A decisive example of this is given in the changes in the legal system, changes that have remained in place until today, where, as Foucault (1979) remarks, judges soon began to do more than just judge. "A whole set of assessing, diagnosing, prognostic, normative judgements concerning the criminal...[became] lodged in the framework of penal judgement (Foucault, 1979, p. 19). Every offence came to carry with it the legitimate suspicion of insanity or anomaly. Every sentence, more than being a legal decision that lays down punishment, came to bear with it "an assessment of normality and a technical prescription for a possible normalization" (Foucault, 1979, pp. 20-21).

Parallel 'judges' multiplied around legal judgement (Foucault, 1979). Psychologists, psychiatrists, educationalists all came to share in its power. Not only where such personnel able to assist in juridical judgment (and to extend its powers beyond the sentence of the offender), but, in the form of various social science disciplines, they were able also to generalize its authority across ever wider and more inclusive populations (Foucault, 1979). There was a displacement in the very object of punitive operation, following on from which prohibitions and rules of punishment came to centre around supervision, surveillance, transformation - came to focus on altering criminal tendencies and making the above processes into permanent functions (Foucault, 1979, p. 18). The individual psychology of the offender, and its possible and desirous change, is now the object of punitive operation rather than simply that of the body of the criminal made to suffer.

This new object of punitive power affords a new field of expertise, a new system of knowledge-production and truth alongside a new set of skills and techniques of treatment. As Foucault puts it: beneath the increasing leniency of punishment lay a displacement of its point of application through which "a whole field of recent objects, a whole new system of truth...a corpus of knowledge, techniques, 'scientific' discourses is formed and becomes entangled with the practice of the power to punish" (1979, pp. 22-23). It is as such that psychological and psychiatric expertise (and their respective discourses) find one of their precise functions: "inscribing offenses in the field of objects susceptible of scientific knowledge...they provide the mechanisms of legal punishment with a justifiable hold...not only on offenses, but on individuals; not only on what they do, but also on what they are, will be, maybe" (Foucault, 1979, p. 18).

The Advent of the Disciplinary Era

The third era of power described by Foucault, the current order that is to say, of disciplinary power, continued certain themes of the reformist era, (namely those already emphasized of humanization, objectification, individuality and the soul) whilst definitively breaking with others. The first split concerned the aim of punition: whilst previously it had been public representation and didactic moral insight, the aim of preventative or normalising detention (the new paradigmatic form of punishment) now became that of behavioural modification - both of the body and soul - through the precise administration of techniques of knowledge and power (Dreyfus & Rabinow, 1982, p. 152). Secondly, whereas both the ritual of torture (in the first order of power) and the punitive city of the reformers had been carried out in public - this new scheme of punition required secrecy and an increasing autonomy of operation (Dreyfus & Rabinow, 1982).

In a total reversal of the situation in sovereign power, in which power was constantly and spectacularly put on display (and where the masses were by contrast 'kept in the shadows'), disciplinary power is 'exercised through its invisibility' (Foucault, 1979, p. 187), and it is the subjects of power who are exposed to constant visibility. The importance of such an 'optics of power' is not to be under-estimated. One of the prime goals of a disciplinary system is to make surveillance an integral part of its production and control such that the individual worker, patient or schoolboy can be precisely observed and compared to others (Dreyfus & Rabinow, 1982). The subject's awareness of their own visibility is a fundamental factor here; this awareness is what makes subjects themselves come to assume responsibility for the constraints of power. It is in this way that they inscribe in themselves the power relation in which they are the principle of their own subjection (Foucault, 1979, p. 203).

A further characteristic of the new disciplinary, or 'correctional' apparatuses was their increasing autonomy in the discrete sectors of what was becoming their specialist domains. The right to punishment was now entrusted only to the correct and most suitable authorities (Foucault, 1979). Convicts, for example, 'were to be reclaimed individually, through a concerted orthopaedy exerted upon them and isolated both from the social body and juridical power in the strict sense' (Foucault, 1979, p. 130). In this way advancements in the treatment of deviance were accompanied by an incontrovertible growth in the sovereignty of the disciplinary agent. The efficacy of such treatments was contingent on the fact that the disciplinary agent had to exercise a total power, undisturbed by any third party, which would entirely envelop its subject (Foucault, 1979). Within such power, furthermore, secrecy and autonomy, particularly in relation to matters of technique, were imperative (Foucault, 1979). Such a disciplinary power needed to maintain its own functioning, its own rules, its own techniques, its own knowledge; it needed be able to fix its own norms, decide its own results (Foucault, 1979, p. 129).

It was in this way that disciplinary political technology advanced, by taking what were essentially political problems (problems of control), removing them from the domain of political discourse, recasting them in the neutral language of science (or that of its associated applications) and transforming them into technical problems for the sole attention of specialists and experts (Dreyfus & Rabinow, 1982, p. 196). The constitutive role that power has played in such problems, (problems which are problems basically because they represent deviances to the objectives of power) is thus elided in the humanist attention to the development of the various specialist technical domains of 'treatment'.

'Moral Orthopaedics'

Perhaps the most dramatic break with the humanist reformers concerned the body. The body, that had become increasingly unimportant in the previous order, returned now as the primary template, the surface upon which disciplinary power would operate, at least, as Dreyfus & Rabinow (1982) note, in the early stages of its deployment. This body was not the focus of a power bent on destroying it, but rather that of a power intent on training, moulding, exercising and supervising it (Foucault, 1979). There was hence a remarkable refinement of punitive measures, which came to be essentially corrective, orthopaedic, therapeutic (Foucault, 1979). Each such correction was like an investment that needed to have a direct return of sorts; that needed, from the perspective of the operative power, to represent an increase in 'the body's productive forces' (Foucault, 1979). Each rehabilitative measure had to result in a proportional increase of dominance and obedience, docility and aptitude (Foucault, 1979).

Within this return to the body though, the 'mind' or 'soul' was not forgotten. The 'soul' in fact became far more instrumental in disciplinary power than it had been in previous orders of power. Indeed it was power exercised upon the body that had given rise to the soul in the first place (Foucault, 1979). It was the refined, technically elaborated return to the body, the surplus power exercised upon it, that most substantially gave to it a reality (Foucault, 1979). Rather than being an illusion or an ideological effect, the soul is the present correlative of a certain technology of power over the body "produced permanently around, on, within the body by the functioning of a power that is exercised on those punished - and, in a more general way, on those one supervises, trains and corrects, over madmen, children at home and at school...." (Foucault, 1979, p. 29). The production of such souls is thus diffusely managed; more than simply an orthopaedics of the bodily order, the 'moral orthopaedics' of disciplinary technology became the form of diverse treatments, operating not only through punishment and constraints, but also through healings, treatments, therapies, medical interventions and the advisings of experts.

Not only was it disciplinary power's objective to root subjection in a psychological substrate of sorts (the 'soul', the 'mind'), this power proceeded furthermore to consolidate and expand this subjection with an increasing generation of knowledge and technique surrounding just this entity. Not only is the soul "the element in which are articulated the effects of a certain power", it is also the "reference to a certain type of knowledge, the machinery by which power gives rise to a possible corpus of knowledge, and knowledge extends and reinforces the effects of this power" (Foucault, 1979, p. 29). The soul is the reality-reference upon which various concepts and domains of analysis have been constructed (Foucault, 1979). The psyche, subjectivity, personality and consciousness number amongst these constructions (Foucault, 1979). Moreover, upon such a variously articulated 'soul' have been built scientific techniques and the discourses and moral claims of humanism (Foucault, 1979, p. 30).

It is this 'soul' in any of its variously constructed forms, that is the prison of the body; it is ultimately both the instrument and effect of a certain political technology (Foucault, 1979). Foucault here thus leaves little room for doubt regarding psychology's complicity in the procedures and agendas of modern power. This 'soul' whose manipulation and continued substantiation is so central to disciplinary control, is both the subject and object of psychology. Psychology's subject, "knowable man (sic) (soul, individuality, the self, consciousness, conduct, whatever it is called), is the object-effect of this analytic-investment, of this domination-observation" (Foucault, 1979, p. 305). In this way we are granted a vivid sense of how discipline makes individuals: "Discipline...is the specific technique of a power that regards individuals both as objects and as instruments of its exercise" (Foucault, 1979, p. 170).

Disciplinary power is as such operative on, and the constitutive element within, not only individuality, but on all the senses of autonomy, responsibility, subjectivity and personality predicated upon it. These are all object-effects of disciplinary power, that in their objectifiable nature will directly inform the ongoing production of knowledge about individuals. (Their centrality of such above mentioned object-effects to psychology barely needs be mentioned). Moreover, these object-effects are, in their subjective nature, also the internalized instruments (power-effects) adopted by subjects who come to take responsibility for making them play upon themselves. It is in this sense that we can understand Foucault's deliberate ambiguity in speaking of how disciplinary power produces 'subjects', subjects that is both in the sense of being subject to control, and in being tied to their own identity through self-knowledge or conscience (Foucault, 1982).

The ability, and overwhelming priority of disciplinary power, is to ensure that subjects adopt certain fundamental subject-positions in which reflexive, surveilling and judgemental relationships to the self are enforced. This self-surveilling and self-policing quality is famously exemplified by Foucault (1979) in the figure of the Panopticon - a watchtower structure within the prison, into which the outsider cannot see, and that thus assures that prisoners know at all times that they may well be under surveillance. In this way power-relations are reproduced, implemented from within the internal position of the subject. Hence Foucault's reference to the modern subject as one who becomes the principle of their own subjection (Foucault, 1979).

It is in this way that disciplinary technology functions in a non-corporeal manner, and is hence far more flexible, constant, profound and permanent in effect than earlier technologies of power (Foucault, 1979). The modern individual thus becomes inseparable from the forces of disciplinary technology that come to have increasing bearing upon their nature, upon what they most essentially are, will be, or may become. As Best & Kellner succinctly put (1994) it, borrowing from Foucault (1979): "the modern individual became both an object and subject of knowledge, not 'repressed', but positively shaped and formed within the matrices of 'scientifico-disciplinary mechanisms', a moral/legal/psychological/medical/sexual being 'carefully fabricated....according to a whole technique of force and bodies'.

Normalizing Technology

Having spoken of the seeming breadth and generalizability of disciplinary power, it seems now pertinent to address the question as to what holds all these different moral orthopaedic projects together. How are all their site-specific objectives actually the same? An answer is provided by Best & Kellner (1994), in a way that rounds up the last major characterising aspect of disciplinary power: "[t]he ultimate goal and effect of discipline is 'normalization', the elimination of all social and psychological irregularities and the production of useful and docile subjects through a refashioning of minds and bodies" (p. 47). It was the possibility of comparison between subjects, enabled through surveillance, and later through their own confessions, this kind of knowledge of individuals informed also by the knowledge of whole populations, of individuals broadly, that unified the operations of disciplinary power, that enabled a kind of 'normalizing judgement'.

This kind of normalization, made up of a combination of themes of individualization, objectification and surveillance, was able to solidify the punishments of the disciplinary order down to ever finer levels of specification (Foucault, 1979). Indeed, it operated a 'micro-penality' in which infractions too trivial to have been granted a legal status now become captured by power; the slightest deviations from the norm were now made punishable (Foucault, 1979, p. 178). Not only were errors and wrong-doings punishable - so was failing to attain a certain standard; the whole domain of non-conformity now became punishable (Foucault, 1979). Through the specification of the most detailed aspects of everyday behaviour and the establishment of a rigorous set of social norms, the nonconformist, even the temporary one, became the object of disciplinary attention (Dreyfus & Rabinow, 1982).

It is the norm thus that comes to replace the law in disciplinary societies (Foucault, 1979). Far more extensive in effect than a simple binary opposition of permitted and forbidden, the norm brings into existence a far wider continuum of judgement. It is no longer good enough to be judged right or wrong, good or evil: one is now locked within a perpetual relationship to the standard of the norm (Foucault, 1979). And, moreover, this normalizing tendency secretes a perpetual penality which "traverses all points and supervises every instant in the disciplinary institution...compares, differentiates, hierarchizes, homogenizes, excludes" (Foucault, 1979, p. 183). Subjects can thus be hierarchized, not in terms of their acts, but in terms of individuals themselves, their nature, their potentialities, levels or values (Foucault, 1979).

Here the assessing and diagnostic functions of psychology spring immediately to mind. These are functions that essentially inhabit psychotherapeutic practice. It is thus, by assessing with precision, that disciplines judges individuals 'in truth' and further integrates its penalties into the cycle of knowledge of individuals (Foucault, 1979, p. 181). This value-giving measure, this principle of coercion of the norm was at the base of a whole new functioning of punishment, was 'one of the great instruments of power' (Foucault, 1979, p. 185). It is important to be clear here though - this normalizing technology did not originate as some side-effect of the super-imposition of the human sciences onto criminal justice, nor was it simply an offshoot of the humanism accompanying them (Foucault, 1979). It came about rather as a disciplinary technique and is as such intrinsic to the procedure and practice of the human and social sciences (Foucault, 1979).

Confessional Technology

Having pointed to the importance of knowledge about subjects, of the surveillance of, and comparison between them, it is necessary to take into account the role of confession. Indeed the confession is the normalising mechanism most apparently overt in the practice of psychotherapy. Its underlying logic is basic: the more one speaks, the more one will know oneself, the freer one will be (Foucault, 1980a). The irony of the deployment of this power to elicit confession is, as Foucault says, that it would have us believe that it is our liberation that is in the balance (Foucault, 1980a). As opposed to the liberation it promises, the ultimate effect of this confessional technology is the cultivation, within the individual, of the role of the speaking subject that comes to admit their deepest secrets and desires (Foucault, 1980a).

It is through confession that the speaking subject tells the disciplinary agent that which they may not have otherwise been able to see or know; through its 'therapeutic' process that the subject's fantasies, secret problems and issues of sexuality are elicited and subjected to the scrutiny of disciplinary surveillance (Dreyfus & Rabinow, 1982). Indeed, the importance of disciplinary experts in this regard only grows. It is increasingly only through the mediation of doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists (such expert interpreters) that the individual can properly know the truth of their own psyche, sexuality, nature (Foucault, 1980a).

Beyond the fact that this confessional procedure provides a way for subjects to further produce knowledge about, and hence objectify, themselves, it also 'subjectifies' them. It places them in the role of the self-examinatory, self-reflective subject who needs recognize and tell the truth about their innermost qualities. As such the confession stands as a central component in the expanding technologies for the discipline and control of individuals, populations and society itself (Dreyfus & Rabinow, 1982). It is furthermore, a route of the objectifying and subjectifying work of disciplinary power that has very little reliance upon the actual body of its subjects.

A wide range of interpretative sciences emerged with the spread of confessional technology and they constituted a vital augmentation of the various interventions enacted on mute and docile bodies (Dreyfus & Rabinow, 1982). Whereas the latter were basically corrective, the former were essentially therapeutic (Foucault, 1980a). This should not confuse or deny the fact that the interpretative sciences maintain a powerful modificatory objective, it is just that they take as their route the 'therapy' of the speaking subject. Indeed, to paraphrase Dreyfus & Rabinow (1982), as long as the interpretative sciences continue to search for deep truth, proceeding on the assumption that have privileged access to meaning, whilst insisting that the truths they uncover lie outside the sphere of power (and its application), as long as this continues, these sciences remain vital strategies of disciplinary power, despite the privileged externality they would pretend (1982, p. 181).

Summing-up:

The Profile of A Disciplinary Apparatus - The Rudiments of a Psychotherapeutic Technology

We are now in the position to sketch the profile of a typical disciplinary apparatus, and alongside it, in a schematic way, the profile of psychotherapy as disciplinary apparatus. A summary of this sort, furthermore, will enable us to bring to the surface Foucault's central critical thesis, that lays scattered across the foregoing discussion, as to why psychotherapeutic practice is absolutely, and irreconcilably in accordance with the overall project of disciplinary power.

The first characterizing element of disciplinary power is that it functions in modes of treatment or supervision in which individuals (and individuals with increasingly sophisticated case-studies and histories) are simultaneously the level of intervention and observation, and the fonts of ever-increasing knowledge production. This is clearly the case in psychotherapy, where individual treatment is the typical form of practice,

and where history-taking and case-studies form an integral part of how psychological knowledge is acquired.

Secondly, the disciplinary apparatus is one with a primarily modificatory function which requires a particular technology (comprised of a discrete knowledges, techniques and the functions of experts) generated by it. This technology maintains, in addition to that apparatus' autonomy, also the secrecy of its internal functioning. Psychotherapy's objective of facilitating beneficial change or development with its patients or clients certainly qualifies it as party to disciplinary power's modificatory objectives. That it has an autonomous 'technology' is guaranteed by several factors. Firstly, psychotherapy is an application of the academic social science of psychology, which, of course, has as its responsibility a certain knowledge-production. Secondly, psychotherapists make use of techniques and procedures not commonly understood or taught outside of the confines of its practice. That this technology is secret, and that it keeps itself secret is made apparent in the selection processes that its candidates need undergo and that are presided over by its senior practitioners. (It is interesting to note here that in psychodynamic and person-centred models of therapeutic intervention, the personal qualities of would-be therapists are considered as of prime importance regards their efficacious wielding of therapeutic technique). The autonomy of psychotherapy, lastly, is secured by the fact that whilst psychologists may be drawn upon to establish the psychiatric or psychological condition of a felon, say for example, no other expert can reasonably challenge the psychiatrist or psychologist within the realm of their expertise. Hence psychologists and psychiatrists are, as Gergen (1992) notes, in the privileged and largely uncontested position of operating the discourses of pathology.

The typical disciplinary apparatus has, thirdly, a functioning ensured and supported by discourses both of humanity and knowledge, which further sanction its activities and impel its capacities to generate truth and further prescribe intervention. That the discourses of psychotherapy's ongoing validation are entwined with the discourses of knowledge and humanity is ensured by the very proliferation of academic literature on psychotherapy on the one hand, and by the calls to increasingly individualize its treatment on the other. Indeed, recent trends towards more eclectic or integrative models of psychotherapeutic intervention may be understood on the basis of the latter, as may the attempts to displace the importance of theory with that of the client's own narrative. The whole of the client-centred focus advocated by Rogers' humanism (1961), is a clear and obvious example of contemporary psychotherapy's debt to humanizing discourse.

Fourthly, as discussed under the rubric of 'moral orthopaedics', disciplinary activity needs to implement a 'soul-effect' of sorts, which not only contributes a knowable entity (the mind, the psyche, personality) but also something subjectively experienced (the self, the soul, subjectivity) and co-inhabited by various self-reflexive, self-surveilling subject-positions. Such soul-effects stem from either subjections enacted on the level of body or on other strategies that require the body to a lesser extent, but that by no doubt leave their traces upon the subject. (Education, forms of supervision, of therapy, the advisings of experts, all of these may be taken as possessing this function). The efficacy of this 'soul-effect' as instrument of power relies crucially upon regimes of surveillance and comparison, implemented from external and/or internal positions (and of which confessional practice may be seen as a vital augmentor), which, above all, function to normalize. Psychotherapy certainly makes for fertile terrain for examination in these terms. Indeed, as mentioned above, such 'soul-effects' may be taken to be both the objects and the subjects of psychotherapeutic practice. An across-schools smattering of key concepts and objectives re the patient/client of psychotherapeutic practice reads like a wish-list of disciplinary power: 'increasing ego strength', 'putting patients more in control of themselves', 'becoming true to oneself' (van Deurzen-Smith, 1993), 'changing behaviour' (O'Sullican, 1993), 'building more adaptive techniques inter and intra-personally' (Freeman, 1983), 're-educating perceptions, social values and modifying motivation' (Clifford, 1993) 'assisting the autonomous and self-responsible client to attain their true fully-functional, self-actualizing potential'(Rogers, 1961), 'encourgaing the person to recognize that they're the author of their own life, their own 'author-ity'' (Parlett & Page, 1993). That psychologists are agents of normalizing influence through their role of experts to whom confessions are made, is barely disputable. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual through which psychologists' and psychiatrists' diagnoses are made is a veritable catalogue of unallowable deviances from socially and historically contingent norms.

The Final Critical Analysis

Here then starts to surface Foucault's main critical thesis: although achieved through more individualizing and indeed more sophisticated means, the normalizing, modificatory function of psychotherapy is in fact intrinsically the same as that of the school, the clinic, the prison. The fundamental task of all of these apparatuses (whether basically therapeutic or basically corrective) is to rehabilitate subject-positions that have failed, to (re)institute normalizing subject-positions that entail a fundamental structure of observant, reflexive and judgemental relations to self. It is, as Dreyfus & Rabinow (1982) put it, in this attempt to eliminate behavioural, social, psychological deviances of all sorts that such disciplinary apparatuses have broken fundamentally with neither the aim nor the methods of the prison. Foucault's assertion here is in fact that such disciplinary apparatuses increasingly come to do the work of prisons, albeit in a more preventative capacity:

"In the subtle gradation of the apparatuses of discipline....the prison does not at all represent the unleashing of a different kind of power...[b]etween the latest institution of 'rehabilitation', where one is taken to avoid prison, and the prison....the difference is (and must be) scarcely perceptible...Prison continues, on those who are entrusted to it, a work begun elsewhere, which the whole of society pursues on each individual through innumerable mechanisms of discipline" (1979, pp. 302-303).

The role of specialized disciplinary apparatuses, like that of psychotherapy, is to extend the range of disciplinary power's influence to ever smaller fragments of life and the body. Through the influence of such apparatuses every individual now may be described, judged, measured, compared with others; considered in potential need of correction, classification, normalization (Foucault, 1979).

As opposed to the situation prior to modernity where individualization remained 'below the threshold of description', it stands now, in the disciplinary era, as one of the strongest instrument-effects of a power that has become increasingly anonymous, functional and insidiously infiltrative (Foucault, 1979). All the details of individual biography that had previously escaped the web of the formal legal system, the most mundane activities and thoughts are now, in the disciplinary era, given up to potential attention, transcription, investigation (Foucault, 1979). As power has become more anonymous and more functional, those on whom it is exercised have tended to be more strongly individualized: the child more than the adult, the patient more than the healthy man, the madman and delinquent more than the normal and non-delinquent (Foucault, 1979, p. 193).

"All the sciences, analyses or practices employing the root 'psycho-' have their origin in this historical reversal of the procedures of individualization. The moment that saw the transition of historico-ritual mechanisms for the formation of individuality to the scientifico-disciplinary mechanisms, when the normal took over from the ancestral and measurement from status...that moment when a sciences of man (sic) became possible is the moment when a new technology of power...[came to be] implemented (Foucault, 1979, p. 193).

In concluding it is important to re-emphasize the fact that it is not only the case that the disciplinary apparatus of psychotherapy shares the objectives and the broadly understood means of the other modificatory institutions. It is also the case that it can never exist apart from the overarching technology of power from which it originated (as much as it may like to pretend that it can) and to which it has proved, along with all the other social sciences, so indispensable. Indeed, it has only been through the variously articulated marriages of observation and technique, of investigation and intervention, knowledge and method, study and subjugating practice, that the 'man' of modern humanism, social science's subject, was born in the first place (Foucault, 1979). This overlapping of subjection and objectification, so frequently recurring in the proceeding discussion, is the crucial juxtaposition that has created the historical surface of emergence from which the human and social sciences have developed (Foucault, 1979). This overlapping of subjectification and objectification is also the condition of possibility that underlies all psychotherapeutic practice, and that proves unremovable, irreducible in the context of its overall project.

All the social sciences (psychology, statistics, demography, criminology, social hygiene, etc.) emerged first from institutions, from the context of relations of power, through practices of exclusion, surveillance, objectification and confinement, and are as such rightly called "disciplines" (Foucault, 1979). From such institutional bases they have grown to new levels of specification, from which their own rules of evidence, modes of recruitment and exclusion, from which their own disciplinary practices and operationalized discourses have been developed within larger disciplinary technologies (Foucault, 1979, p. 191). Indeed, the psychiatric, sociological, psychological and criminological disciplines continue to contribute to the development, refinement and spreading of new techniques of power (Best & Kellner, 1994). Similarly, institutions like the asylum, the school, the hospital and the psychotherapeutic arena all function as laboratories for experimentation with correctional techniques, for the acquisition of knowledge for social control (Best & Kellner, 1991, p. 50).

It is on the basis of this disruptive, historical analysis that further work critical of the nature and power at work within contemporary psychotherapeutic practice should (and by this author, indeed will) proceed.

References

Best, S. & Kellner, D. (1991). Postmodern Theory Critical Interrogations. Hong Kong: Macmillan.

Clifford, J. (1993). Adlerian Therapy. In Dryden, W (ed), Individual Therapy: a Handbook. Open University Press: Milton Keynes, Philadelphia.

Dreyfus, H.L. & Rabinow, P. (1982). Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Foucault, M. (1974). Human nature: justice versus power, in Fons, E (ed) Reflexive Water: The Basic Concerns of Mankind, London: Souvenir Press.

Foucault, M. (1979). Discipline and Punish : the Birth of the Prison. England: Penguin.

Foucault, M. (1980). Two Lectures. In Gordon, C. (ed) Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings by Michel Foucault, 1972-1977. New York: Pantheon Books.

Foucault, M. (1980a). The History of Sexuality An Introduction. New York: Vintage House.

Foucault, M. (1982). The Subject and Power. In Dreyfus, H.L. &

Freeman, A. (1983). Conitive therapy: an overview, in Freeman and V. Greenwood (eds) Cognitive Therapy: Applications in Psychiatric and Medical Settings, New York: Human Sciences Press.

Gergen, K. (1992). Towards a postmodern psychology. In Kvale, S (ed). Psychology and postmodernism. Sage : London.

O'Sullivan, G. (1993). Behavioural therapy. In Dryden, W (ed), Individual Therapy: a Handbook. Open University Press: Milton Keynes, Philadelphia.

Parlett, M. & Page, F. (1993). Gestalt Therapy. In Dryden, W (ed), Individual Therapy: a Handbook. Open University Press: Milton Keynes, Philadelphia.

Rogers, C. (1961). On Becoming a Person, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Van Deuzen-Smith. (1993). Existential therapy. In Dryden, W (ed), Individual Therapy: a Handbook. Open University Press: Milton Keynes, Philadelphia.


Paper presented at the 3rd Annual Qualitative Methods Conference: "Touch me I'm sick"
8 & 9 September 1997, University of South Africa Regional Office, Durban
critical methods society - www.criticalmethods.org - info@criticalmethods.org