Foucault on Psychoanalysis

Online two-day course with Keith Barrett.

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11 July, 1:30 pm - 12 July, 5:00 pm


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All registrants will receive their link to join via ZOOM. Attendees will also receive access to the recording on the Monday after the course, available to watch back for 1 month.

Michel Foucault was one of the most profound and influential critics of contemporary society and its defining institutions. We will study three of his most important works: ‘History of Madness’ (1961); ‘Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison’ (1975); and ‘The History of Sexuality’ (1976 – 84).

In ‘History of Madness’ he gives a critical history of the understanding and treatment of ‘madness’ in Europe from the middle ages to the present time focusing especially on the development of a supposedly ‘scientific’ psychiatry in the 19th and 20th centuries. We will set out his critique of modern psychiatry and highlight his view of psychoanalysis and how he sees its relationship to psychiatry.

In ‘Disciple and Punish’ Foucault develops a theory of contemporary society based on a completely new understanding of how power operates in the modern world – and this forms the basis for his analysis of ‘sexuality’ in the ‘The History of Sexuality’. In the first volume of the latter work, he argues – contra Freud – that sexuality must be understood as a social and historical construct, rather than an extra-social phenomenon of ‘biological drives’. We will explore Foucault’s notion of ‘disciplinary power’ and carefully examine his account of the emergence at the end of the 19th century of our contemporary experience of ‘sexuality’ – again highlighting the role he sees psychoanalysis playing in this process. Finally, we will review his analysis (in the later volumes) of the very different experience of ‘sexuality’ that he finds in his studies of the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.

Keith Barrett BA PhD received his first degree in philosophy from Oxford University after having spent three years working as a nursing assistant in psychiatric hospitals. It was in this practical context that Keith first encountered existentialism and psychoanalysis. He then began postgraduate studies on both Freud and Heidegger, leading finally to a PhD from the Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL for a dissertation on ‘Freud’s Self-Analysis’. Keith has been a philosophy teacher for over 20 years, and has been delivering courses at the Freud Museum for over a decade, where he has developed a series of introductory lectures on Freud, psychoanalysis after Freud, and exploring the overlap of philosophy and psychoanalysis.


This course will take place over 2 days: 11 and 12 July 2024, from 13.30 – 17.00 each day (time includes a tea break). All attendees will also receive access to the recording.

Tickets £ 45

Members’ Discount: Freud Museum Members will be able to receive a 20% discount on tickets with a special promocode. Details will be circulated to all Members via email.

Bursary: A limited number of £15 bursary places will be available for those under financial hardship. Priority will be given to UK unemployed and PIP/ESA claimants. Please email [email protected] to apply for a bursary.

The purpose of this course is to raise funds for the Freud Museum London, which receives no regular public income.


11 July, 1:30 pm
12 July, 5:00 pm
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