Foucault Versus Freud: Oedipal Theory and the Deployment of Sexuality

Author(s) : Jerome C. Wakefield

Part of Psychological Issues series - more in this series

Foucault Versus Freud: Oedipal Theory and the Deployment of Sexuality

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : July 2024
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 362
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 97703
  • ISBN 13 : 9781032769233
  • ISBN 10 : 1032769238
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In Foucault Versus Freud, Jerome C. Wakefield offers a novel analysis of one of the great intellectual clashes of our times, the attack on Sigmund Freud's influential sexual theories by the eminent French philosopher and historian of ideas Michel Foucault.

Starting from Foucault's question, "What makes the psychoanalytic theory of incest acceptable to the bourgeois family?", and drawing on Foucault's relatively unexplored published lectures as well as his celebrated History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, Wakefield evaluates Foucault's argument that there is a continuity between the two-century medical anti-masturbation crusade and Freud's theory, providing the reader with an accessible introduction to Foucault's conceptual innovations including power/knowledge, the deployment of sexuality, and the use of surveillance and confession as tactics in medicalizing sexuality and reshaping family life.

Rather than allowing the argument to stay at the evidentially uncertain level one often finds in Foucault's writings, Wakefield undertakes close readings of both Freud's "seduction-theory" texts and later Oedipal-period texts to test whether Foucault's provocative arguments find support or disconfirmation. Despite identifying weaknesses in Foucault's position, Wakefield argues that a careful look at Freud's sexual theories through Foucault's theoretical lens changes forever the way one sees Freud's theory—and has the potential to help psychoanalysis move forward in a constructive way.

This book is written to be understandable for those who are not steeped in philosophy or familiar with Foucault's philosophy, offering a lucid introduction to Foucault's ideas and his clash with Freud that will be of interest to clinicians, students, and scholars alike.

Reviews and Endorsements

Mr J. Wakefield's philosophical training seemed to me very solid, it enables him to reflect upon the methodological framework of his research, and to control its conceptualization. Moreover, Mr J. Wakefield has a vast and thorough knowledge of the medical and philosophical thinking on sexuality. He enjoys a good command of the classic works on this topic, and he is really knowledgeable about contemporary research. His analytic capacities and his excellent ability to articulate his ideas make him a truly talented researcher.
Michel Foucault, from a translated letter of reference written for the author on January 15th 1984

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Foucault Versus Freud
2. The Appeal of the Oedipus Complex
3. The Masturbation Crusade
4. Surveillance, Confession, Medicalization: Foucault on the Masturbation Crusade
5. The Preservation of Victorianism: Freud's Early Theories as Extension of the Masturbation Crusade
6. Foucault on the Ease of Transition from the Masturbation Crusade to the Oedipal Theory
7. The Dangers of Fantasy: Masturbation and Incestuous Desire in the Little Hans Case
8. Foucault's Critique of Freud's Oedipal Theory: Conclusions and Implications

About the Author(s)

Jerome C. Wakefield is university professor, professor of social work, affiliate professor of philosophy, professor of the conceptual foundations of psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry (2007–2019), associate faculty in the Center for Bioethics in the School of Global Public Health, and honorary faculty in the Psychoanalytic Association of New York Affiliated with NYU Grossman School of Medicine, at New York University.

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