20th century philosophy
|Full name||Michel Foucault|
|Born||15 October 1926
|Died||25 June 1984 (aged 57)
|School/tradition||Continental philosophy, structuralism, post-structuralism|
|Main interests||History of ideas, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy|
|Notable ideas||"Archaeology", "genealogy", "episteme", "dispositif", "biopower", "governmentality", "disciplinary institution", panopticism|
Michel Foucault (French pronunciation: [miʃɛl fuko]), born Paul-Michel Foucault (15 October, 1926 – 25 June, 1984), was a French philosopher, sociologist and historian. He held a chair at the Collège de France with the title "History of Systems of Thought," and also taught at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Berkeley.
Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences, and the prison system, as well as for his work on the history of human sexuality. His work on power, and the relationships among power, knowledge, and discourse has been widely discussed. In the 1960s Foucault was associated with Structuralism, a movement from which he distanced himself. Foucault also rejected the post-structuralist and postmodernist labels to which he was often later attributed, preferring to classify his thought as a critical history of modernity rooted in Kant. Foucault is particularly influenced by the work of Nietzsche; his "genealogy of knowledge" is a direct allusion to Nietzsche's genealogy of morals. In a late interview he definitively stated: "I am a Nietzschean."
In 2007 Foucault was listed as the most cited intellectual in the humanities by The Times Higher Education Guide.
Foucault was born on 15 October 1926 in Poitiers as Paul-Michel Foucault to a notable provincial family. His father, Paul Foucault, was an eminent surgeon and hoped his son would join him in the profession. His early education was a mix of success and mediocrity until he attended the Jesuit Collège Saint-Stanislas, where he excelled. During this period, Poitiers was part of Vichy France and later came under German occupation. After World War II, Foucault was admitted to the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (rue d'Ulm), the traditional gateway to an academic career in the humanities in France.
Foucault's personal life during the École Normale was difficult—he suffered from acute depression. As a result, he was taken to see a psychiatrist. During this time, Foucault became fascinated with psychology. He earned a licence (degree equivalent to BA) in psychology, a very new qualification in France at the time, in addition to a degree in philosophy, in 1952. He was involved in the clinical arm of psychology, which exposed him to thinkers such as Ludwig Binswanger.
Foucault was a member of the French Communist Party from 1950 to 1953. He was inducted into the party by his mentor Louis Althusser, but soon became disillusioned with both the politics and the philosophy of the party. Various people, such as historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, have reported that Foucault never actively participated in his cell, unlike many of his fellow party members.
Foucault failed at the agrégation in 1950 but took it again and succeeded the following year. After a brief period lecturing at the École Normale, he took up a position at the Université Lille Nord de France, where from 1953 to 1954 he taught psychology. In 1954 Foucault published his first book, Maladie mentale et personnalité, a work which he would later disavow. At this point, Foucault was not interested in a teaching career, and he undertook a lengthy exile from France. In 1954 he served France as a cultural delegate to the University of Uppsala in Sweden (a position arranged for him by Georges Dumézil, who was to become a friend and mentor). In 1958 Foucault left Uppsala and briefly held positions at Warsaw University and at the University of Hamburg.
Foucault returned to France in 1960 to complete his doctorate and take up a post in philosophy at the University of Clermont-Ferrand. There he met philosopher Daniel Defert, who would become his lover of twenty years. In 1961 he earned his doctorate by submitting two theses (as is customary in France): a "major" thesis entitled Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique (Madness and Insanity: History of Madness in the Classical Age) and a "secondary" thesis which involved a translation of, and commentary on Kant's Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. Folie et déraison (Madness and Insanity — published in an abridged edition in English as Madness and Civilization and finally published unabridged as "History of Madness" by Routledge in 2006) was extremely well-received. Foucault continued a vigorous publishing schedule. In 1963 he published Naissance de la Clinique (Birth of the Clinic), Raymond Roussel, and a reissue of his 1954 volume (now entitled Maladie mentale et psychologie or, in English, "Mental Illness and Psychology") which he would again disavow.
After Defert was posted to Tunisia for his military service, Foucault moved to a position at the University of Tunis in 1965. He published Les Mots et les choses (The Order of Things) during the height of interest in structuralism in 1966, and Foucault was quickly grouped with scholars such as Jacques Lacan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Roland Barthes as the newest, latest wave of thinkers set to topple the existentialism popularized by Jean-Paul Sartre. Foucault made a number of skeptical comments about Marxism, which outraged a number of left wing critics, but later firmly rejected the "structuralist" label. He was still in Tunis during the May 1968 student riots, where he was profoundly affected by a local student revolt earlier in the same year. In the Autumn of 1968 he returned to France, where he published L'archéologie du savoir (The Archaeology of Knowledge) — a methodological response to his critics — in 1969.
In the aftermath of 1968, the French government created a new experimental university, Paris VIII, at Vincennes and appointed Foucault the first head of its philosophy department in December of that year. Foucault appointed mostly young leftist academics (such as Judith Miller) whose radicalism provoked the Ministry of Education, who objected to the fact that many of the course titles contained the phrase "Marxist-Leninist," and who decreed that students from Vincennes would not be eligible to become secondary school teachers. Foucault notoriously also joined students in occupying administration buildings and fighting with police.
Foucault's tenure at Vincennes was short-lived, as in 1970 he was elected to France's most prestigious academic body, the Collège de France, as Professor of the History of Systems of Thought. His political involvement increased, and his partner Defert joined the ultra-Maoist Gauche Proletarienne (GP). Foucault helped found the Prison Information Group (French: Groupe d'Information sur les Prisons or GIP) to provide a way for prisoners to voice their concerns. This coincided with Foucault's turn to the study of disciplinary institutions, with a book, Surveiller et Punir (Discipline and Punish), which "narrates" the micro-power structures that developed in Western societies since the eighteenth century, with a special focus on prisons and schools.
In the late 1970s, political activism in France tailed off with the disillusionment of many left wing intellectuals. A number of young Maoists abandoned their beliefs to become the so-called New Philosophers, often citing Foucault as their major influence, a status about which Foucault had mixed feelings. Foucault in this period embarked on a six-volume project The History of Sexuality, which he never completed. Its first volume was published in French as La Volonté de Savoir (1976), then in English as The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (1978). The second and third volumes did not appear for another eight years, and they surprised readers by their subject matter (classical Greek and Latin texts), approach and style, particularly Foucault's focus on the human subject, a concept that some mistakenly believed he had previously neglected.
Foucault began to spend more time in the United States, at the University at Buffalo (where he had lectured on his first ever visit to the United States in 1970) and especially at UC Berkeley. In 1975 he took LSD at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park, later calling it the best experience of his life.
In 1979 Foucault made two tours of Iran, undertaking extensive interviews with political protagonists in support of the new interim government established soon after the Iranian Revolution. His many essays on Iran, published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, only appeared in French in 1994 and then in English in 2005. These essays caused some controversy, with some commentators arguing that Foucault was insufficiently critical of the new regime.
In the philosopher's later years, interpreters of Foucault's work attempted to engage with the problems presented by the fact that the late Foucault seemed in tension with the philosopher's earlier work. When this issue was raised in a 1982 interview, Foucault remarked "When people say, 'Well, you thought this a few years ago and now you say something else,' my answer is… [laughs] 'Well, do you think I have worked hard all those years to say the same thing and not to be changed?'" He refused to identify himself as a philosopher, historian, structuralist, or Marxist, maintaining that "The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning." In a similar vein, he preferred not to claim that he was presenting a coherent and timeless block of knowledge; he rather desired his books "to be a kind of tool-box which others can rummage through to find a tool which they can use however they wish in their own area… I don't write for an audience, I write for users, not readers."
Foucault died of an AIDS-related illness in Paris on 25 June, 1984. He was the first high-profile French personality who was reported to have AIDS. Little was known about the disease at the time and there has been some controversy since. In the front-page article of Le Monde announcing his death, there was no mention of AIDS, although it was implied that he died from a massive infection. Prior to his death, Foucault had destroyed most of his manuscripts, and in his will had prohibited the publication of what he might have overlooked.
The English edition of Madness and Civilization is an abridged version of Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique, originally published in 1961. A full English translation titled The History of Madness has since been published by Routledge in 2006. "Folie et deraison" originated as Foucault's doctoral dissertation; this was Foucault's first major book, mostly written while he was the Director of the Maison de France in Sweden. It examines ideas, practices, institutions, art and literature relating to madness in Western history.
Foucault begins his history in the Middle Ages, noting the social and physical exclusion of lepers. He argues that with the gradual disappearance of leprosy, madness came to occupy this excluded position. The ship of fools in the 15th century is a literary version of one such exclusionary practice, namely that of sending mad people away in ships. In 17th century Europe, in a movement which Foucault famously describes as the Great Confinement, "unreasonable" members of the population were locked away and institutionalised. In the eighteenth century, madness came to be seen as the reverse of Reason, and, finally, in the nineteenth century as mental illness.
Foucault also argues that madness was silenced by Reason, losing its power to signify the limits of social order and to point to the truth. He examines the rise of scientific and "humanitarian" treatments of the insane, notably at the hands of Philippe Pinel and Samuel Tuke who he suggests started the conceptualization of madness as 'mental illness'. He claims that these new treatments were in fact no less controlling than previous method. Pinel's treatment of the mad amounted to an extended aversion therapy, including such treatments as freezing showers and use of a straitjacket. In Foucault's view, this treatment amounted to repeated brutality until the pattern of judgment and punishment was internalized by the patient.
Foucault's second major book, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception (Naissance de la clinique: une archéologie du regard médical) was published in 1963 in France, and translated to English in 1973. Picking up from Madness and Civilization, The Birth of the Clinic traces the development of the medical profession, and specifically the institution of the clinique (translated as "clinic", but here largely referring to teaching hospitals). Its motif is the concept of the medical regard (translated by Alan Sheridan as "medical gaze"), traditionally limited to small, specialized institutions such as hospitals and prisons, but which Foucault examines as subjecting wider social spaces, governing the population en masse.
Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel was published in 1963, and translated into English in 1986. It is unique, being Foucault's only work on literature. For Foucault this was "by far the book I wrote most easily and with the greatest pleasure." Here, Foucault explores theory, criticism and psychology through the texts of Raymond Roussel, one of the fathers of experimental writing, whose work has been celebrated by the likes of Cocteau, Duchamp, Breton, Robbe-Grillet, Gide and Giacometti.
Foucault's Les Mots et les choses. Une archéologie des sciences humaines was published in 1966. It was translated into English and published by Pantheon Books in 1970 under the title The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. Foucault had preferred L'Ordre des Choses for the original French title, but changed the title as there was already another book of this title. The work broadly aims to provide an anti-humanist excavation of the human sciences, such as sociology and psychology. The book opens with an extended discussion of Diego Velázquez's painting Las Meninas and its complex arrangement of sight-lines, hiddenness and appearance. Then it develops its central thesis: all periods of history have possessed specific underlying conditions of truth that constituted what was acceptable as, for example, scientific discourse. Foucault argues that these conditions of discourse have changed over time, in major and relatively sudden shifts, from one period's episteme to another. Foucault's Nietzschean critique of Enlightenment values in Les mots et les choses has been very influential to cultural history, It is here Foucault's infamous claims that "man is only a recent invention" and that the "end of man" is at hand. The book made Foucault a prominent intellectual figure in France.
Published in 1969, this volume was Foucault's main excursion into methodology, written as an appendix of sorts to Les Mots et les choses. It makes references to Anglo-American analytical philosophy, particularly speech act theory.
Foucault directs his analysis toward the "statement" (énoncé), the basic unit of discourse. "Statement" has a very special meaning in the Archaeology: it denotes that which makes propositions, utterances, or speech acts meaningful. In contrast to classic structuralists, Foucault does not believe that the meaning of semantic elements is determined prior to their articulation. In this understanding, statements themselves are not propositions, utterances, or speech acts. Rather, statements constitute a network of rules establishing what is meaningful, and these rules are the preconditions for propositions, utterances, or speech acts to have meaning. However, statements are also 'events', because, like other rules, they appear at some time. Depending on whether or not it complies with these rules of meaning, a grammatically correct sentence may still lack meaning and, inversely, a grammatically incorrect sentence may still be meaningful. Statements depend on the conditions in which they emerge and exist within a field of discourse; the meaning of a statement is reliant on the succession of statements that precede and follow it. Foucault aims his analysis towards a huge organised dispersion of statements, called discursive formations. Foucault reiterates that the analysis he is outlining is only one possible procedure, and that he is not seeking to displace other ways of analysing discourse or render them as invalid.
According to Dreyfus and Rabinow, Foucault not only brackets out issues of truth (cf. Husserl), he also brackets out issues of meaning. Rather than looking for a deeper meaning underneath discourse or looking for the source of meaning in some transcendental subject, Foucault analyzes the discursive and practical conditions for the existence of truth and meaning. In order to show the principles of meaning and truth production in various discursive formations he details how truth claims emerge during various epochs on the basis of what was actually said and written during these periods of time. He particularly describes the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, and the 20th century. He strives to avoid all interpretation and to depart from the goals of hermeneutics. This does not mean that Foucault denounces truth and meaning, but just that truth and meaning depend on the historical discursive and practical means of truth and meaning production. For instance, although they were radically different during Enlightenment as opposed to Modernity, there were indeed meaning, truth and correct treatment of madness during both epochs (Madness and Civilization). This posture allows Foucault to denounce a priori concepts of the nature of the human subject and focus on the role of discursive practices in constituting subjectivity.
Dispensing with finding a deeper meaning behind discourse appears to lead Foucault toward structuralism. However, whereas structuralists search for homogeneity in a discursive entity, Foucault focuses on differences. Instead of asking what constitutes the specificity of European thought he asks what constitutes the differences developed within it and over time. Therefore, as a historical method, he refuses to examine statements outside of their historical context: the discursive formation. The meaning of a statement depends on the general rules that characterise the discursive formation to which it belongs. A discursive formation continually generates new statements, and some of these usher in changes in the discursive formation that may or may not be adopted. Therefore, to describe a discursive formation, Foucault also focuses on expelled and forgotten discourses that never happen to change the discursive formation. Their difference to the dominant discourse also describe it. In this way one can describe specific systems that determine which types of statements emerge. In his Foucault (1986), Deleuze describes The Archaeology of Knowledge as "the most decisive step yet taken in the theory-practice of multiplicities."
Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison was translated into English in 1977, from the French Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la prison, published in 1975. The book opens with a graphic description of the brutal public execution in 1757 of Robert-François Damiens, who attempted to kill Louis XV. Against this it juxtaposes a colourless prison timetable from just over 80 years later. Foucault then inquires how such a change in French society's punishment of convicts could have developed in such a short time. These are snapshots of two contrasting types of Foucault's "Technologies of Punishment". The first type, "Monarchical Punishment", involves the repression of the populace through brutal public displays of executions and torture. The second, "Disciplinary Punishment," is what Foucault says is practiced in the modern era. Disciplinary punishment gives "professionals" (psychologists, programme facilitators, parole officers, etc.) power over the prisoner, most notably in that the prisoner's length of stay depends on the professionals' judgment.
Foucault also compares modern society with Jeremy Bentham's "Panopticon" design for prisons (which was unrealized in its original form, but nonetheless influential): in the Panopticon, a single guard can watch over many prisoners while the guard remains unseen. The dark dungeon of pre-modernity has been replaced with the bright modern prison, but Foucault cautions that "visibility is a trap". It is through this visibility, Foucault writes, that modern society exercises its controlling systems of power and knowledge (terms which Foucault believed to be so fundamentally connected that he often combined them in a single hyphenated concept, "power-knowledge"). Increasing visibility leads to power located on an increasingly individualized level, shown by the possibility for institutions to track individuals throughout their lives. Foucault suggests that a "carceral continuum" runs through modern society, from the maximum security prison, through secure accommodation, probation, social workers, police, and teachers, to our everyday working and domestic lives. All are connected by the (witting or unwitting) supervision (surveillance, application of norms of acceptable behaviour) of some humans by others.
Three volumes of The History of Sexuality were published before Foucault's death in 1984. The first and most referenced volume, The Will to Knowledge (previously known as An Introduction in English — Histoire de la sexualité, 1: la volonté de savoir in French) was published in France in 1976, and translated in 1977, focusing primarily on the last two centuries, and the functioning of sexuality as an analytics of power related to the emergence of a science of sexuality (scientia sexualis) and the emergence of biopower in the West. In this volume he attacks the "repressive hypothesis," the widespread belief that we have, particularly since the nineteenth century, "repressed" our natural sexual drives. He proposes that what is thought of as "repression" of sexuality actually constituted sexuality as a core feature of human identities, and produced a proliferation of discourse on the subject.
The second two volumes, The Use of Pleasure (Histoire de la sexualite, II: l'usage des plaisirs) and The Care of the Self (Histoire de la sexualité, III: le souci de soi) dealt with the role of sex in Greek and Roman antiquity. Both were published in 1984, the year of Foucault's death, with the second volume being translated in 1985, and the third in 1986. In his lecture series from 1979 to 1980 Foucault extended his analysis of government to its 'wider sense of techniques and procedures designed to direct the behaviour of men', which involved a new consideration of the 'examination of conscience' and confession in early Christian literature. These themes of early Christian literature seemed to dominate Foucault's work, alongside his study of Greek and Roman literature, until the end of his life. However, Foucault's death left the work incomplete, and the planned fourth volume of his History of Sexuality on Christianity was never published. The fourth volume was to be entitled Confessions of the Flesh (Les aveux de la chair). The volume was almost complete before Foucault's death and a copy of it is privately held in the Foucault archive. It cannot be published under the restrictions of Foucault's estate.
From 1970 until his death in 1984, from January to March of each year except 1977, Foucault gave a course of public lectures and seminars weekly at the Collège de France as the condition of his tenure as professor there. All these lectures were tape-recorded, and Foucault's transcripts also survive. In 1997 these lectures began to be published in French with six volumes having appeared so far. So far, six sets of lectures have appeared in English: Psychiatric Power 1973–1974, Abnormal 1974–1975, Society Must Be Defended 1975–1976, Security, Territory, Population 1977–1978, The Hermeneutics of the Subject 1981–1982 and The Birth of Biopolitics 1978-1979. Society Must Be Defended and Security, Territory, Population pursued an analysis of the broader relationship between security and biopolitics, explicitly politicizing the question of the birth of man raised in The Order of Things. In Security, Territory, Population, Foucault outlines his theory of governmentality, and demonstrates the distinction between sovereignty, discipline, and governmentality as distinct modalities of state power. He argues that governmental state power can be genealogically linked to the 17th century state philosophy of raison d'etat and, ultimately, to the medieval Christian 'pastoral' concept of power. Notes of some of Foucault's lectures from University of California, Berkeley in 1983 have also appeared as Fearless Speech.
Certain theorists have questioned the extent to which Foucault may be regarded as an ethical 'neo-anarchist', the self-appointed architect of a "new politics of truth", or, to the contrary, a nihilistic and disobligating 'neo-functionalist'. Jean-Paul Sartre, in a review of The Order of Things, described the non-Marxist Foucault as "the last rampart of the bourgeoisie."
Jürgen Habermas has described Foucault as a "crypto-normativist"; covertly reliant on the very Enlightenment principles he attempts to deconstruct. Central to this problem is the way in which Foucault seemingly attempts to remain both Kantian and Nietzschean in his approach:
Foucault discovers in Kant, as the first philosopher, an archer who aims his arrow at the heart of the most actual features of the present and so opens the discourse of modernity ... but Kant's philosophy of history, the speculation about a state of freedom, about world-citizenship and eternal peace, the interpretation of revolutionary enthusiasm as a sign of historical 'progress toward betterment' - must not each line provoke the scorn of Foucault, the theoretician of power? Has not history, under the stoic gaze of the archaeologist Foucault, frozen into an iceberg covered with the crystals of arbitrary formulations of discourse?
– Habermas Taking Aim at the Heart of the Present 1984, 
Richard Rorty has argued that Foucault's so-called 'archaeology of knowledge' is fundamentally negative, and thus fails to adequately establish any 'new' theory of knowledge per se. Rather, Foucault simply provides a few valuable maxims regarding the reading of history:
As far as I can see, all he has to offer are brilliant redescriptions of the past, supplemented by helpful hints on how to avoid being trapped by old historiographical assumptions. These hints consist largely of saying: do not look for progress or meaning in history; do not see the history of a given activity, of any segment of culture, as the development of rationality or of freedom; do not use any philosophical vocabulary to characterize the essence of such activity or the goal it serves; do not assume that the way this activity is presently conducted gives any clue to the goals it served in the past."
– Rorty Foucault and Epistemology, 1986, 
|This article may need to be wikified to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. Please help by adding relevant internal links, or by improving the article's layout. (November 2008)|
Ecogovernmentality, also spelled Eco-governmentality is a term used to denote the application of Foucault’s concepts of biopower and governmentality to the analysis of the regulation of social interactions with the natural world. Begun in the mid 1990s by a small body of theorists (Luke, Darier, and Rutherford) the literature on ecogovernmentality grew as a response to the perceived lack of Foucauldian analysis of environmentalism and in environmental studies.
Following Michel Foucault, writing on ecogovernmentality focuses on how government agencies, in combination with producers of expert knowledge, construct “The Environment.” This construction is viewed both in terms of the creation of an object of knowledge and a sphere within which certain types of intervention and management are created and deployed to further the government’s larger aim of managing the lives of its constituents. This governmental management is dependent on the dissemination and internalization of knowledge/power among individual actors. This creates a decentered network of self-regulating elements whose interests become integrated with those of the State.
Ecogovernmentality is part of the broader area of political ecology. It can be situated within the ongoing debates over how to balance concern with socio-natural relationships with attention to the actual environmental impact of specific interactions. The term is most useful to authors like Bryant, Watts and Peet who argue for the importance of a phenomenology of nature that builds from post-structuralist concerns with knowledge, power and discourse. In addition, it is of particular use to geographers because of its ability to link place based socio-environmental phenomena with the non-place based influences of both national and international systems of governance. Particularly, for studies of environmental changes that extend beyond the borders one particular region, ecogovernmentality can prove a useful analytical tool for tracing the manifestations of specific policy across scales ranging from the individual, the community, the state and on to larger structures of international environmental governance.
Work done by Rutherford, on US Environmental Impact Assessments, and by Agrawal on local forest governance in India, are examples of this method of analysis. Both illustrate how the production of specific types of expert knowledge (statistical models of pollution, or the economic productivity of forests) coupled with specific technologies of government (the EIA assessment regime or local Forest Stewardship Councils) can bring individual interest in line with those of the state. This, not through the imposition of specific outcomes, but by creating frameworks that rationalizes behavior in particular ways and involve individuals in the process of problem definition and intervention.
Within a geographical context, this type of analysis provides insight into how territory is brought under state control, and how the regulation of human interaction with this territory is achieved. Focusing on the evolution of techniques of cartography, systems of natural classification, and early attempts at scientific resource management in the 18th and 19th centuries, Braun (2000, 2003) and Scott (1998) show how new systems of knowledge extend systems of governmentality into the natural world. Fundamental to this analysis is a connection between the abstract utilitarian logic employed by states and the shape of the territory under their control. In Scott, for example, measuring nature in terms of concepts of production and natural resources “allowed the state to impose that logic on the very reality that was observed” (Scott, 14). The complex natural systems of a given place are first depicted as simplified sites of managed resource extraction. As part of this management their ecological composition is changed (through types of planting, harvesting and extraction) in an attempt to make them resemble more closely the simplified statistical systems with which they are measured.
In this manifestation, which focuses primarily on the administration of particular resources at a national level, ecogovernmentality is linked to the larger governmental aims identified by Foucault of securing the wellbeing of its inhabitants by managing “a complex composed of men and things” (93). Scott’s work on scientific forestry in early modern Europe shows how the rational models constructed by state foresters were part of the larger body of statistical knowledge created to manage population and facilitate “taxation, political control, and [[[conscription]]” (23). Likewise, Braun’s analysis of the Geological Survey of Canada creates a clear link between methods of measuring and representing the mineral composition of a territory, and the structures of government put in place both to create the concept of a unified nation and “to manage individuals, goods and wealth so as to improve the condition of the state’s population” (27).
Here, ecogovernmentality is seen as a subset of concerns within of the larger Foucauldian concept. But implicit in this is an important claim: that the types of knowledge produced in the process of making nature intelligible to the state have an important influence on the evolution of state rationality itself, an influence not adequately covered in Foucault’s original formulation. They seek to add to Foucault’s discussion of population and the operation of systems of knowledge/power that normalized certain ways of acting and being and marginalized others. Building on Foucault’s brief references to “resources, means of subsistence [and] the territory with its specific qualities”(93), their contribution is the investigation of the parallel systems of measuring and assigning value to the natural world (the “crop” and the “weed” (Scott, 13) acting as homologies to categories like “sanity” and “insanity” in Foucault’s work) and to give these their due in discussions of the formation of state rationality and structures of governmentality.
The work of Timothy Luke pushes the reach of this concept further, by envisaging a radically different relationship between governmentality and ecogovernmentality. He argues that the ecological domain has become the “ultimate domain of being”(150) the key location for the production of knowledge and power. Following Foucault, Luke traces this transformation back to a specific historical moment, the period of the early 70s encompassing the oil crisis and the détente between the USSR and the US. From these beginnings, environmental considerations grow, fertilized during the 1980s by the formation of international bodies, like the UN World Commission on Environment and Development, and increased concern and awareness over ecological limits to human development. The end result is the “environmentalization” of the production and exercise of knowledge and power. Reversing the earlier focus on the integration of environmental knowledge into broader state projects of socio-economic management, here it is these projects themselves which are reshaped by new forms of environmental knowledge (specifically the concepts of “ecology” and “sustainability”). It is this new structure that becomes known as Ecogovernmentality.
Luke argues that heightened awareness of social vulnerability to environmental factors coupled with the increased importance of macro-economic competition (rather than Cold-War military confrontation) in geo-political power struggles led to the rise of sustainable development as the synthesis of these two interrelated concerns. The disciplinary power of governmentality is refigured as “enviro-discipline”, a broader concept that “expresses the authority of eco-knowledgeable, geo-powered forces to police the fitness of all biological organisms and the health of their natural environments” (146). This constitutes an important expansion of the object of governmental rule and the area to be managed. Foucault’s focus on “population” now includes “all of life’s biodiversity” (Luke, 122) and, given the interconnected nature of environmental systems, states must now seek to extend their control far outside of their territorial boundaries to ensure the security and productivity of their population (Luke 134).
Uniting both broad and narrow definitions of Ecogovernmentality is the attention paid to environmental subject formation, or the creation of environmental subject positions. Definitions of these subject positions vary from Darrier’s (1999) construction of the environmental subject as a site for resistance to consumerism and the commodification of the relationship between the individual and the environment, through Agrawal’s broadly neutral concept of “environmentality” which denotes an acceptance on the part of the individual that nature is an object to be managed and their accompanying involvement in this process, to Luke’s (1999) assertion that “the environment emerges as a ground for normalizing individual behavior” that supersedes the previous influences of “the ethical concerns of family, community and nation” (149). Underlying these divergent definitions, is the common claim that the relationship between individual and environment is key to current analysis of systems of state management and governmentality.
The Foucault/Habermas Debate is a dispute concerning whether Michel Foucault's ideas of "power analytics" and "genealogy" or Jürgen Habermas's ideas of "communicative rationality" and "discourse ethics" provide a better critique of the nature of power within society. The debate compares and evaluates the central ideas of Habermas and Foucault as they pertain to questions of power, reason, ethics, modernity, democracy, civil society, and social action.
The debate was a dialogue between texts and followers, Foucault and Habermas did not actually debate in person though they were considering a formal one in the US before Foucault's death. Habermas' essay, Taking Aim at the Heart of the Present (1984) was respectfully altered before release in order to account for Foucault's inability to reply.
Foucault discovers in Kant, as the first philosopher, an archer who aims his arrow at the heart of the most actual features of the present and so opens the discourse of modernity ... but Kant's philosophy of history, the speculation about a state of freedom, about world-citizenship and eternal peace, the interpretation of revolutionary enthusiasm as a sign of historical 'progress toward betterment' - must not each line provoke the scorn of Foucault, the theoretician of power? Has not history, under the stoic gaze of the archaeologist Foucault, frozen into an iceberg covered with the crystals of arbitrary formulations of discourse?
– Habermas Taking Aim at the Heart of the Present 1984, 
Power-knowledge is a concept coined by the French philosopher Michel Foucault.
== Definition of power-of lund
Power is based on knowledge and makes use of knowledge; on the other hand, power reproduces knowledge by shaping it in accordance with its anonymous intentions. Power (re-) creates its own fields of exercise through knowledge.
Foucault incorporates this inevitable mutual inherence in his neologism power-knowledge, the most important part of which is the hyphen that links the two aspects of the integrated concept together.
It is helpful noting that Foucault has a textual understanding of both power and knowledge. Both power and knowledge are to be seen as de-centralised, relativistic, ubiquitous, and unstable (dynamic) systemic phenomena. Thus Foucault’s concept of power draws on micro-relations without falling into reductionism because it does not neglect, but emphasizes, the systemic (or structural) aspect of the phenomenon.
However, he does not actually define knowledge.
According to this understanding, knowledge is never neutral, as it determines force relations. The notion of power-knowledge is therefore likely to be employed in critical, normative contexts.
In his later works, Foucault replaced his
notion of power-knowledge with the term governmentality which points to a specific
mentality of governance.
Biopower was a term originally coined by French philosopher Michel Foucault to refer to the practice of modern states and their regulation of their subjects through "an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations." Foucault first used it in his courses at the Collège de France, but the term first appeared in The Will To Knowledge, Foucault's first volume of The History of Sexuality . In both Foucault's work and the work of later theorists it has been used to refer to practices of public health, regulation of heredity, and risk regulation (François Ewald), among many other things often linked less directly with literal physical health. It is closely related to a term he uses much less frequently, but which subsequent thinkers have taken up independently, biopolitics.
For Foucault, biopower is a technology of power, which is a way of managing people as a group. For Foucault, the distinctive quality of this political technology is that it allows for the control of entire populations. It is thus essential to the emergence of the modern nation state, modern capitalism, etc. Biopower is literally having power over other bodies, "an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations" . It relates to the government's concern with fostering the life of the population, and centers on the poles of discipline ("an anatomo-politics of the human body") and regulatory controls ("a biopolitics of the population").
Biopower for Foucault contrasts with traditional modes of power based on the threat of death from a sovereign. In an era where power must be justified rationally, biopower is utilized by an emphasis on the protection of life rather than the threat of death, on the regulation of the body, and the production of other technologies of power, such as the notion of sexuality. Regulation of customs, habits, health, reproductive practices, family, "blood", and "well-being" would be straightforward examples of biopower, as would any conception of the state as a "body" and the use of state power as essential to its "life". Hence the conceived relationship between biopower, eugenics and state racism.
With the concept of "biopower", which first appears in courses concerning the discourse of "race struggle", Foucault develops a holistic account of power, in opposition to the classic understanding of power as basically negative, limitative and akin to censorship. Sexuality, he argues, far from having been reduced to silence during the Victorian Era, was in fact subjected to a "sexuality dispositif" (or "mechanism"), which incites and even forced the subject to speak about their sex. Thus, "sexuality does not exist", it is a discursive creation, which makes us believe that sexuality contains our personal truth (in the same way that the discourse of "race struggle" sees the truth of politics and history in the everlasting subterranean war which takes place beneath the so-called peace).
Furthermore, the exercise of power in the service of maximizing life carries a dark underside. When the state is invested in protecting the life of the population, when the stakes are life itself, anything can be justified. Groups identified as the threat to the existence of the life of the nation or of humanity can be eradicated with impunity. "If genocide is indeed the dream of modern power, this is not because of the recent return to the ancient right to kill; it is because power is situated and exercised at the level of life, the species, the race, and the large-scale phenomena of the population." 
|This article needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (October 2007)
|Ronald David Laing|
The author of Knots (1970) perusing in 1983
The Ashley Book of Knots
|Born||7 October 1927(1927-10-07)
Govanhill, Glasgow, Scotland.
|Died||23 August 1989 (aged 61)
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Known for||Author of psychiatry books|
Ronald David Laing (7 October 1927 – 23 August 1989), was a Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness – in particular, the experience of psychosis. Laing's views on the causes and treatment of serious mental dysfunction, greatly influenced by existential philosophy, ran counter to the psychiatric orthodoxy of the day by taking the expressed feelings of the individual patient or client as valid descriptions of lived experience rather than simply as symptoms of some separate or underlying disorder. Often associated with the anti-psychiatry movement, he himself rejected the label as such, as did certain others critical of conventional psychiatry at the time.
Laing was born in the Govanhill district of Glasgow on 7 October 1927 to David Park MacNair Laing and Amelia Glen Laing (née Kirkwood). He was educated at Hutchesons' Grammar School, going on to study medicine at the University of Glasgow failing his exams on his first attempt, in 1950, but passing in a subsequent re-sit.
Laing spent a couple of years as a psychiatrist in the British Army (Royal Army Medical Corps; drafted despite his asthma that made him unfit for combat), where he found an interest in communicating with mentally distressed people. In 1953 Laing left the Army and worked at Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Glasgow. During this period he also participated in an existentialism-oriented discussion group in Glasgow, organised by Karl Abenheimer and Joe Schorstein. In 1956 Laing went on to train on a grant at the Tavistock Clinic in London, widely known as a centre for the study and practice of psychotherapy (particularly psychoanalysis). At this time, he was associated with John Bowlby, D. W. Winnicott and Charles Rycroft. He remained at the Tavistock Institute until 1964.
In 1965, Laing and a group of colleagues created the Philadelphia Association and started a psychiatric community project at Kingsley Hall, where patients and therapists lived together. The Norwegian author Axel Jensen became a close friend and Laing often visited him onboard his ship, Shanti Devi, in Stockholm.
Inspired by the work of American psychotherapist Elizabeth Fehr, Laing began to develop a team offering 'rebirthing workshops' in which one designated person chooses to re-experience the struggle of trying to break out of the birth canal represented by the remaining members of the group who surround him/her.
Laing is regarded as an important figure in the anti-psychiatry movement, along with David Cooper, though he never denied the value of treating mental distress. He wanted to challenge the core values of a psychiatry which considers mental illness as primarily a biological phenomenon, without any social, intellectual or political significance.
Laing was a critic of psychiatric diagnosis, arguing that diagnosis of a mental disorder contradicted accepted medical procedure: diagnosis was made on the basis of behavior or conduct, and examination and ancillary tests that traditionally precede diagnosis of viable pathologies like broken bones or pneumonia occurred after (if at all) the diagnosis of mental disorder. Hence, according to Laing, psychiatry was founded on a false epistemology: illness diagnosed by conduct but treated biologically.
The fact that medical doctors had annexed mental disorders did not mean they were practicing medicine; hence, the popular term "medical model of mental illness" is oxymoronic, since, according to Laing, diagnosis of mental illness did not follow the traditional medical model. The notion that biological psychiatry is a real science or a genuine branch of medicine has been challenged by other critics as well.
Laing's personal life can be seen as an extreme example of how each generation of a family has consequences for the next. His parents led a life of extreme denial, exhibiting bizarre behaviour. His father David, an electrical engineer, seems often to have come to blows with his own brother, and himself had a breakdown when Laing was a teenager. His mother Amelia was described as "still more psychologically peculiar". According to one friend and neighbour, "everyone in the street knew she was mad".
Laing was troubled by his own personal problems, suffering from both episodic alcoholism and clinical depression, according to his self-diagnosis in his 1983 BBC Radio interview with Dr. Anthony Clare, although he reportedly was free of both in the years before his death. He died at age 61 of a heart attack while playing tennis with his colleague and friend Robert W. Firestone.
Laing fathered six sons and four daughters by four women. His son Adrian, speaking in 2008 said, "It was ironic that my father became well-known as a family psychiatrist, when, in the meantime, he had nothing to do with his own family."
Adam, his oldest son by his second marriage, was found dead in May 2008, in a tent on a Mediterranean island, following what might have been a "suicidal binge" following the breakup of a long-term relationship with his girlfriend Janina. He had died of a heart attack, aged 41.
His daughter Susan died in March 1976, aged 21, of leukemia.
Laing argued that the strange behavior and seemingly confused speech of people undergoing a psychotic episode were ultimately understandable as an attempt to communicate worries and concerns, often in situations where this was not possible or not permitted. Laing stressed the role of society, and particularly the family, in the development of "madness" (his term). He argued that individuals can often be put in impossible situations, where they are unable to conform to the conflicting expectations of their peers, leading to a "lose-lose situation" and immense mental distress for the individuals concerned. (In 1956, in Palo Alto, Gregory Bateson and his colleagues Paul Watzlawick, Donald Jackson, and Jay Haley articulated a related theory of schizophrenia as stemming from double bind situations where a person receives different or contradictory messages.) The perceived symptoms of schizophrenia were therefore an expression of this distress, and should be valued as a cathartic and trans-formative experience.
Psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers had previously pronounced, in his work General Psychopathology, that many of the symptoms of mental illness (and particularly of delusions) were "un-understandable", and therefore were worthy of little consideration except as a sign of some other underlying primary disorder. Laing saw psychopathology as being seated not in biological or psychic organs – whereby environment is relegated to playing at most only an accidental role as immediate trigger of disease (the "stress diathasis model" of the nature and causes of psychopathology) – but rather in the social cradle, the urban home, which cultivates it, the very crucible in which selves are forged. This re-evaluation of the locus of the disease process – and consequent shift in forms of treatment – was in stark contrast to psychiatric orthodoxy (in the broadest sense we have of ourselves as psychological subjects and pathological selves). Laing was revolutionary in valuing the content of psychotic behavior and speech as a valid expression of distress, albeit wrapped in an enigmatic language of personal symbolism which is meaningful only from within their situation. According to Laing, if a therapist can better understand his or her patient, the therapist can begin to make sense of the symbolism of the patient's psychosis, and therefore start addressing the concerns which are the root cause of the distress.
Laing expanded the view of the "double bind" hypothesis put forth by Bateson and other anthropologists, and came up with a new concept to describe the highly complex situation that unfolds in the process of "going mad" - an "incompatible knot". Laing compared this to a situation where your right hand can exist but your left hand cannot. In this untenable position, something has got to give, and more often than not, what gives is psychological stability; a self-destruction sequence is set in motion.
Laing never denied the existence of mental illness, but viewed it in a radically different light from his contemporaries. For Laing, mental illness could be a trans-formative episode whereby the process of undergoing mental distress was compared to a shamanic journey. The traveler could return from the journey with (supposedly) important insights, and may have become (in the views of Laing and his followers) a wiser and more grounded person as a result. This was consistent with the critique of the alleged dubious validity of "value judgements" prevalent in Western society, which was common amongst academics in the 1960s and 1970s (for example, the views of Michel Foucault).
In The Divided Self (1960), Laing contrasted the experience of the "ontologically secure" person with that of a person who "cannot take the realness, aliveness, autonomy and identity of himself and others for granted" and who consequently contrives strategies to avoid "losing his self".  Laing explains how we all exist in the world as beings, defined by others who carry a model of us in their heads, just as we carry models of them in our heads. In later writings he often takes this to deeper levels, laboriously spelling out how "A knows that B knows that A knows that B knows ..."! Our feelings and motivations derive very much from this condition of "being in the world" in the sense of existing for others, who exist for us. Without this we suffer "ontological insecurity", a condition often expressed in terms of "being dead" by people who are clearly still physically alive.
In Self and Others (1961), Laing's definition of normality shifted somewhat.
In Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964), Laing and Esterton give accounts of several families, analysing how their members see each other and what they actually communicate to each other. The startling way in which lies are perpetuated in the interest of family politics rings true to many readers from 'normal' families, and Laing's view is that in some cases these lies are so strongly maintained as to make it impossible for a vulnerable child to be able to determine what truth actually is, let alone what the truth of their situation is.
He uses the term 'family nexus' to describe the consensus view within the family, but from there on much of his writing appears ambivalent, as Andrew Collier has pointed out in The Philosophy and Politics of Psychotherapy (with a contribution from Laing, 1977). One strand of Laing's thinking, traceable to Marx and Sartre, condemns society for shackling humankind against its will, taking away individual freedom. Left to their own devices, people are healthy, and people with so-called mental illness are just trying to find their way back to their natural state. This was the basis for his approach to psychotherapy, as in the case of his most famous "patient" Mary Barnes. An idea typical of his work is the following quote in his book, The Politics of Experience, "We are effectively destroying ourselves with violence masquerading as love."
A paradox arising from Laing's interpretations is that it is the very need for ontological security Laing discussed in his first book that is the driving force that builds societies. Laing characterised the family nexus as often placing children in a 'double bind', unable to obey conflicting injunctions from family members, but he does not 'blame' those family members. The family members are usually unaware that they are doing such things, and are just as confused as the children within the situation. The Preface to the Second Edition and Introduction to Sanity, Madness and the Family offer a concise articulation of this issue.
Laing's ideas are not currently generally espoused by the psychiatric establishment. Significant critiques of his ideas have been published by contemporary psychiatric authorities. Lack of perceived success of "care in the community" programmes for the mental health patients in the UK, and the absence of clear evidence that patients can be practically assisted, or their lives significantly enhanced, by Laingian therapies (especially without the use of pharmaceuticals) has impeded their acceptability.
In 1965 Laing co-founded the UK charity the Philadelphia Association, which he also chaired. His work influenced the wider movement of therapeutic communities, operating in less "confrontational" (in a Laingian perspective) psychiatric settings. Other organizations created in a Laingian tradition are the Arbours Association  and the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling in London .
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: R. D. Laing|
||This article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (May 2009)|
David Graham Cooper (1931, Capetown — 1986, Paris) was a British psychiatrist, noted theorist and leader in the anti-psychiatry movement, along with R. D. Laing, Thomas Szasz and Michel Foucault. Cooper was born in South Africa and graduated from the University of Cape Town in 1955. He moved to London, where he worked at several hospitals and directed an experimental unit for young schizophrenics called Villa 21. In 1965, he was involved with Laing and others in establishing the Philadelphia Association. An "existential Marxist", he left the Philadelphia Association in the 1970s in a disagreement over its growing interest in spiritualism over politics.
Cooper believed that madness and psychosis were a product of society and that its ultimate solution was through a revolution. To this end, Cooper travelled to Argentina as he felt the country was rife with revolutionary potential. He later returned to England before moving to France where he spent the last years of his life.
Cooper coined the term anti-psychiatry (see below) to describe opposition and opposing methods to the orthodox psychiatry of the time, although the term could easily describe the anti-psychiatrists' view of orthodox psychiatry, i.e., anti-psychic healing.
He coordinated the Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation, held in London at The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm from 15 July to 30 July 1967 Participants included R. D. Laing, Paul Goodman, Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Marcuse and the Black Panthers' Stokely Carmichael. Jean-Paul Sartre was scheduled to appear but cancelled at the last moment. The term "anti-psychiatry" was first used by David Cooper in 1967.
He was a founding member of the Philadelphia Association, London, and director of the Institute of Phenomenological Studies.
Critical psychiatry is a critical theory based approach to psychiatry, related to but distinct from anti-psychiatry.
The Critical Psychiatry Network was established to "create a forum where doctors can consider different ways of viewing mental illness and implications for practising psychiatry". It is a group of psychiatrists which provides a network to develop a critique of the contemporary psychiatric system. It first met in Bradford in 1999, to discuss changes to UK Mental Health legislation, and was previously known as the Bradford Group.
Critical Psychiatry has been described as "an alliance around" four themes:
The book Critical Psychiatry: the Politics of Mental Health (1984) edited by David Ingleby, was an early work introducing the term "Critical psychiatry". It comprises seven papers, including the editor's Understanding mental illness. It was republished in 2004 (ISBN 978-1853437939).
Modern-day psychiatry relies too much on the "medical model" and emphasises diagnostic decisions. If psychiatrists adopted a more social or therapeutic community approach treatments would be more effective.
The categorisation of psychiatric illness is not as clear as most psychiatrists believe. Assessment of aetiology too often fails to take personal and social factors into account.
There is too much emphasis on the scientific possibilities of randomised controlled trials. The evidence of these trials is biased.
Clotaire Rapaille is a French-born American market researcher and author. He is the author of The Culture Code, 7 Secrets of Marketing in a Multi-Cultural World. His marketing work is based on his background as a psychiatrist and in Medical Anthropology. He received a Masters of Political Science, a Masters of Psychology, and a Doctorate of Medical Anthropology from the Universite De Paris - Sorbonne.
In addition to his books, he is known for advising politicians and advertisers on how to influence people's unconscious decision making.
Rapaille claims that the majority of decision making is unconscious and therefore that is where you should target your advertising message.
See bibliography at Random House 
How did you get started in this field?
Originally I'm a child psychiatrist. I used to work with autistic children, children that don't speak, and I was just trying to find a cure. I made several little discoveries of the way the brain functions at the time. For example, these children are usually quite intelligent -- some kind of "intelligent." I don't know if you remember Rain Man, that [in the Dustin Hoffman character] Rain Man you had this kind of computer intelligence, but they have a little problem with emotions.
One of my discoveries was that in order to create the first imprint of a word -- when you learn a word, whatever it is, "coffee," "love," "mother," there is always a first time. There's a first time to learn everything. The first time you understand, you imprint the meaning of this word; you create a mental connection that you're going to keep using the rest of your life. And to create this mental connection, you need some emotions. Without emotion, there is no production of neurotransmitters in the brain, and you don't create the connection. So actually every word has a mental highway. I call that a code, an unconscious code in the brain.
Part of my work was in Switzerland, and I was working with children trying to learn French, Italian or German. And my second discovery at the time was that there's a different imprint for these different cultures. What I discovered was that the code for each culture was different. "Coffee" in Italy doesn't mean "coffee" in America. I mean, if you drink American coffee the way you do, and [then] you switch, and instead of American coffee you drink that much coffee, but it's Italian coffee, you're dead at the end of the day. So obviously with the same word, we have a completely different relationship with what the word means, what is behind this word, and so on.
And so I was lecturing at Geneva University, and one of my students asked his father to come to my lecture. And at the end of the lecture the father told me, "You know, doctor, I have a client for you." And I said, "Is it a little boy, little girl, doesn't speak?" [He said], "No, no, this is Nestlé." And I was very surprised. I say: "Nestlé? What can I do for Nestlé?" "Well, we try to sell instant coffee to the Japanese, and obviously we might have the wrong code, because we're not very successful." Today, more than 30 years later, it sounds obvious, but at the time they were trying to get Japanese people to switch from tea to coffee. And of course when you know that there's a very strong imprint of tea in Japan -- it's almost a religious dimension there -- you cannot really have a strategy to get them switch from tea to coffee.
So I took a sabbatical, went to Japan, and discovered the code for coffee in Japan, shared that to the company, and they started implementing it immediately. My frustration working with autistic children was, I never got much results. It's just, unfortunately, very hard work, but you don't really get results. And I was becoming very frustrated that my American side -- I was already American, you know, in my mind -- wanted results. Then I went to Japan, worked with Nestlé, and [a] few months later, bang, got results. I say: "Wow, results already? Whoa." I never went back to psychiatry. I started my first company in Japan, then in Switzerland, in France and in America -- that's it.
What did your work for Nestlé look like?
It was really to tell them, for example, that the Japanese don't have a first imprint of coffee. What first imprint they have is tea. And so when you go into this category, in what we call taxonomy, mental taxonomy, it's like a mental category they have, and you cannot compete with this category. So you have to create the category. And so we started, for example, with a dessert for children with a taste of coffee. We created an imprint of the taste of coffee. And then we acknowledge the Japanese want to do one thing at a time, and the Swiss understood that very well. They start with this kind of a product. They start selling coffee, but through dessert, things that were sweet, get the people accustomed to the taste of coffee, and after that they followed the generations. And when they were teenagers they start selling coffee, and first there was coffee with milk at the beginning, and then they went to coffee, and now they have a big market for coffee in Japan.
Do these imprints have to happen as a child?
Well, yes. They don't have to, but if you don't have an imprint when you are a child, and if you get the first imprint later -- for example, I'm trying to speak English, but my first imprint of language was French, because I was born during the war in France. When I start learning English it was later. I was already also grown up, so I will never have the same imprints with English that I have with French. Most of the time, when children don't learn a foreign language before they are 7, they always have some kind of an accent. The brain is very available if you want at an early age to create this mental connection.
When we [are] born, we have the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain is there already. It's part of survival; it's breathing, eating, going to the bathroom. But then, in relationship with the mother, we develop the second brain, which is the limbic brain -- emotions -- and these emotions vary from one culture to another. In the relationship with your mother, you're going to imprint, make mental connection about what means love, what means mother, what means being fed, what means a home, what means all the things that are very basic for survival. [These] are transmitted by the mother to you, and you create this mental connection in the brain -- like a reference system, if you want, that you keep using. After a while, this system becomes unconscious. You do not even think about it. You know "Oh, this is a house; of course this is a house." Well, for a lot of people around the world, this is not a house. A house might be a tent or made of ice or whatever, but this is not their reference system. It might be different for others.
Then, after 7, we have in place the cortex. The cortex is the last part of the brain that we develop, and that's what we suppose to be "intelligent." We are scientists, you know -- numbers and stuff like that. Now, what is interesting is the cortex, we [are] kind of aware of that. We try to be intelligent, but the reptilian [part] we are not very much aware of it, and the limbic is more or less completely unconscious.
These levels are very different from one culture to another. Some cultures are very reptilian, which means very basic instinct. American culture is a very basic instinct: I want to be reached now; let's do it. [There's a] bias for action. Just now, [America is] very adolescent when other cultures are more cortex, very control, control, control. The German, the French are very controlled. They want the government to control everything, the state, the bureaucracy, the administration. The ideal life for a German person is when they just have to obey; the administration is in charge of everything and controls everything, and you don't have to worry about anything. We don't like that. We Americans, we like to have choices: My own life, I want to become whatever I am; whatever it is doesn't matter, but I want to become myself -- not something else, not what people tell me. So I'm not telling you one culture is good or bad, but just different.
What are codes?
Once you understand the code, you understand why people do what they do. For example, the code for the French -- once you understand the code, you may understand why [French president Jacques] Chirac reacted this way to Bush, because for the French, the code is "to think." That's it: to think. "I think, therefore I am" -- not "I do," "I think." The French believe [that they are] the only thinkers of the world and that they think for the rest of the world. They believe that Americans never think; they just do things without knowing why. And so in this situation, where Bush say[s], "Let's do it," the French say, "No, wait, think; we need to think."
Now, what you have to understand about the French culture is "to think" is enough. You don't need to do anything with your thinking. The French philosopher would say, "I think, therefore I am," where in America you have Nextel, this campaign, fantastic, "I do, therefore I am," not "I think." I think they're right on target with the American code.
What's wrong with traditional market research?
They are too cortex, which means that they think too much, and then they ask people to think and to tell them what they think. Now, my experience is that most of the time, people have no idea why they're doing what they're doing. They have no idea, so they're going to try to make up something that makes sense. Why do you need a Hummer to go shopping? "Well, you see, because in case there is a snowstorm." No. Why [do] you buy four wheel drive? "Well, you know, in case I need to go off-road." Well, you live in Manhattan; why do you need four wheel drive in Manhattan? "Well, you know, sometime[s] I go out, and I go -- " You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that this is disconnected. This is nothing to do with what the real reason is for people to do what they do. So there are many limits in traditional market research.
I will not criticize too much marketing research. I would say some people are good, like everywhere. Some people are not that good. But in terms of the way they approach people's behavior, I think you need to go beyond words, and my training with autistic children is that I had to understand what these kids were trying to tell me with no words. So that's part of my training.
How can I decode this kind of behavior which is not a word? My theory is very simple: The reptilian always wins. I don't care what you're going to tell me intellectually. I don't care. Give me the reptilian. Why? Because the reptilian always wins.
One example I can give you about reptilian: mothers. I've done a lot of work for people that market products to mothers, right? Women in America have a different program that starts kicking in when they become mothers. When a woman becomes a mother, the reptilians take over. Suddenly she is a mother first. The husband is second; the baby is first. Suddenly she feels at the gut level that she has to be permanently aware, in charge, protecting this child, for the child to stay alive. And this is like a divine mission, so this has become a very strong priority which is very reptilian. The code for mothers, for me, is total paranoia. Total paranoia. Mothers know that you can't stop watching, being careful, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They feel the danger before anybody else. Now, sometime[s] they behave in a very irrational way, so if you try to ask them, "Tell me how you behave in this situation," and so on, well, they're going to tell you something that makes sense. But if you are really right there when something happens, you see suddenly the reptilians take over -- bingo. And that what is interesting.
How do CEOs recognize or understand this phenomena?
It's absolutely crucial for anybody in communication -- and that could be journalists, TV, media, all of it, or marketing people -- if you want to appeal to people, it's absolutely crucial to understand what I call the reptilian hot button. If you don't have a reptilian hot button, then you have to deal with the cortex; you have to work on price issues and stuff like that.
Example: You didn't eat for two weeks, right, and suddenly there is some food here. Are you going to negotiate the price? Your reptilian brain says, "I need to eat, I need to eat," so you don't negotiate the price. The reptilian always wins. You cannot impose something that goes against people's reptilian.
In the kind of communication I'm developing and using, with 50 of the Fortune 100 companies who are my clients, almost full time, it is not enough to give a cortex message. "Buy my product because it's 10 percent cheaper": That's cortex. Well, if the other is 15 percent cheaper, I move to the others. You don't buy loyalty with percentages. That is key. It's not a question of numbers; it's the first reptilian reaction.
I want to give you an example. When I start[ed] working with Chrysler, they told me: "We have done all the research. We have all the questionnaires and focus groups and everything, and we know Americans don't want cars anymore. They want trucks; they want big SUVs; they want minivans. They don't want cars." And I told them, "I think that maybe you are making a mistake here, because you listen to what people say; I don't." So I suggested to Chrysler: "Let's do some kind of work the way I do this. Let's try to break the code, understand what is the code. What I believe is they are not buying cars because you're not delivering the reptilian car they want, but if you find out the reptilian code for car and you make a car, you create a car like that, you're going to sell it."
So we did this kind of work. We went back to the first imprint. The result is the PT Cruiser. The PT Cruiser is a car [that] when people see it, they say, "Wow, I want it." Some people hate it; we don't care. There is enough people that say, "Wow, I want it," to make a big success. And then when we tested that, and we say, "How much will you pay for this kind of car?," people say, "Oh, we'll pay $15,000 or $35,000." You know that when you have a product where people say $15,000 or $35,000, the price is irrelevant.
What is it that make[s] the PT Cruiser a reptilian car? First, the car has a strong identity. What people told us is that "We're tired of these cars that have no identity. I have good quality, good gas mileage, good everything else, but when I see the car from a distance, I have to wait till the car gets close to know what it is, and I have to read the name." When you go to see your mother, she doesn't need to read your name to know who you are, you see? We want this reptilian connection. And so this notion of identity, absolutely key, was very reptilian for a car.
Are marketing people muddling their messages?
Some people are getting there now. Some people understand the power of the reptilian in a very gutsy way. They don't do all the analysis of the three brains, but [they get it]. For example, the Nextel campaign, "I do, therefore I am." Right, bingo. This is not "I think, therefore I am." And the campaign for the Hummer -- the Hummer is a car with a strong identity. It's a car in a uniform. I told them, put four stars on the shoulder of the Hummer, you will sell better. If you look at the campaign, brilliant. I have no credit for it, just so you know, but brilliant. They say, "You give us the money, we give you the car, nobody gets hurt." I love it! It's like the mafia speaking to you. For women, they say it's a new way to scare men. Wow. And women love the Hummer. They're not telling you, "Buy a Hummer because you get better gas mileage." You don't. This is cortex things. They address your reptilian brain.
They appeal to the logic of emotion.
Right. This is the connection between the limbic and the reptilian, what I call the logic of emotion, which is how the emotions deal with the urges, the instincts, the needs we have. One example I can think [of] is seduction. I was lucky to study seduction in eight cultures for L'Oréal. I couldn't believe I was paid to do that. It was fantastic.
Now, seduction is like there are numbers on the doors, and you have to punch the numbers to open the doors. Even if you know the numbers, if you don't know the proper order of these numbers, you're not going to open the door. Well, that's seduction. There are things that you can do, and the code is different from one culture to another. You know, if you start with A and A is fine, you can go to B and B is fine; you can go to C, C is fine. But in another culture, if you start with A, they think you're dumb. You can start directly with D, but then you have to go to A. So [it's] the order of things, what can you do, and that can be as simple as when can you hold the hand of the girl or when can the girl tell you, "Come pick me up," or things that people are supposed to say or not to do.
There is an order, and it's different in Japan; it's different in France; it's different in America; it's different in South America. That's what you have to understand. If you try to sell a product or service, not understanding this proper order, this logic of emotion, you turn people off. They say, "These people are ridiculous." And I have to say that many, many American companies make these kind of mistakes, because they don't understand. They think that oh, our logic of emotions should be universal; everybody should feel this way. And they don't.
So how do you discover these reptilian codes, if they are unconscious?
I believe that people have unspoken needs. They're not even aware of these needs, but they have these needs which come from the reptilian, but they're not conscious needs. You cannot just ask them, "Tell me what is unconscious." I mean, this is ridiculous; they can't tell you. So you need to have a way. I say, "If you don't have the microscope, you don't discover the microbes."
In my work, I don't discover the code alone; I use my clients. We call that the core team. The clients are with me and together with the people that we want to understand. We go to the bathroom with them. We spend three hours with them, you know, 30 of them at the same time. It's not a focus group; we call it an imprinting session. And my clients are just like one of them. As long as they are American, born and raised in America, they qualify, too. And so they go to the bathroom with these people, and there is no nametag; they don't know who they are. And it's amazing what we discover most of the time.
What are the steps you take?
Because of the three brains -- the cortex, the limbic and the reptilian -- I've designed a session where we started with the cortex, because people want to show how intelligent they are, so [we] give them a chance. We call that a purge or washout session. We don't care what they say; we don't believe what they say. And usually they give us all the cliché. They tell us everything that we have told them already through advertising, communication, the media, the newspaper.
And then we have a break. They're usually very happy with themselves. They say, "Oh, we did a good job," and so on. And when they come back, now we're going to the limbic, to the emotions. I tell them: "You're going to tell me a little story like if I was a 5-year-old from another planet. I'm 5, which means I can only understand things that are very simple. I'm from another planet, which means I don't know anything about your planet, so you're free to tell me anything you want." They don't understand what they're doing anymore. Good, that's what I want. They get paid to do that, so they do it; they tell me little stories. The stories have to start with "Once upon a time." Suddenly they are into a mind-set that is completely different. They don't try to be logical or intelligent; they just try to please a 5-year-old from another planet, and they tell little stories.
At the end of the second hour, when we go to the break, and my clients go with them to the bathroom, they say: "This guy is crazy. What is he doing?"; "I thought I understood what we were doing -- now I don't understand anything"; "I mean, I get paid to do that?"; "Wow, what is he going to do with that stuff?" This is excellent; this is what I want. I want to disconnect the cortex. The cortex is control, control, control, try to be intelligent, so on. But when you don't know what I'm looking for, you can't really influence anything.
Then when they come back for the third hour, then there are no more chairs. "Uh-oh, what is going on here? How come no chairs?" I explain to them that I would like them to try to go back to the very first time that they experienced what we're trying to understand -- could be coffee, a car, an insurance, anything. So we want your first experience, and I would like you to try to go back to this very first experience, which is usually when you are a child. In order to do that, I want you to be in a mind-set a little bit like the one you had when you wake up in the morning. Why? Because when we wake up in the morning, the cortex brain is the last one to come to work. When he's not there yet, you still have access to a lot of things that happened in your unconscious during your sleep. But then when the cortex arrives, it cleans the place. If I recreate a situation that is very similar to the one you have when you wake up in the morning, you'll be surprised to see that things come back to your mind that you forgot, sometimes for 20, 30 years. That's what I'm explaining to these people. I say: "You know it's on a voluntary basis. If you don't want to do it, you don't have to do it. You get paid anyway." They sign a waiver at the beginning; they know what we're going to do.
One thing that is key here is that they know that this process is completely anonymous. They don't have to speak up. People share with us because at the end we give them a pad, a pen, and they write. They know it's anonymous; they don't have to put their name. Imagine that you're going to be invited to a focus group to speak for two hours with 12 strangers on the way you use toilet paper. I mean, that's not a very comfortable situation. When I worked on toilet paper with P&G [Procter & Gamble], they said, "Oh, we know there is no emotion with toilet paper." I say: "Well, I'm not so sure, because [if] you don't use a microscope, you cannot see the microbe. You don't get it because you don't have the right tools." But when we did this work on toilet paper, people, knowing that this is completely anonymous, going back to the first imprint and so on, wow, we discovered a lot of emotion. It was incredible how much emotion we got there. But that was completely disconnected [from] the traditional way to do market research.
You know, when we get this very first imprint, there is no need for interpretation. At a certain time, my clients and I do the analysis together. At a certain time, they go, "Wow -- oh, I knew it." The "wow" is when they discover the code. For the first time they get the code of coffee, [they] say, "Wow." Because they're American, they use the code all the time. They have the code in their mind, so of course they knew it. And that's a big difference in marketing research. We're not doing studies, not doing research. What I do is discovery. That's why my company is called Archetype Discoveries. We discover, because once we get the code, the code was there; we just didn't see it.
Now, the limit of what I do versus other marketing research is once I discover the code of coffee, [it's] done; I cannot do it twice. I've done coffee for Folgers. Folgers owns it; it has been using it for 12 years. I can't do coffee again. It's done. It's a discovery, and once you get the code, suddenly everything starts making sense, and now we understand why the Americans behave like this. Now we understand why coffee this way works and coffee this way doesn't work. I understand why a small $29,000 Cadillac cannot sell. I understand why -- because it's off code.
How does Folgers go about owning it?
That's a very interesting question, because at the beginning they told me: "Coffee is a commodity. How can we own something that the others do not own?" My experience is that when there is a code, it's more complex than that. There is a code and a consistency checklist. Everything has to be on code. Everything you do should reinforce the code; not just the packaging or the communication should be on code. The leaflet, the brochures, everything should be on code. And if you are the first one to position yourself like that, knowing all the different aspects, you have a competitive edge. They might try to copy, but they don't know the formula; they don't know the code behind it.
For example, aroma is number one. Why? Because we imprint the aroma first, not the taste. Aroma is imprinted at a very early age, when you are around 2. Ah, and it means home, mother, feeding you, love and so on. A large majority, 90-something percent of Americans, love the aroma of coffee. Only 47 percent like the taste.
I don't know if you remember this commercial, but it was really on code. You have a young guy coming from the Army in a uniform. Mother is upstairs asleep. He goes directly to the kitchen, "Psssst," open the coffee, and the smell -- you know, because we designed the packaging to make sure that you smelled it right away. He prepares coffee; coffee goes up; the smell goes upstairs; the mother is asleep; she wakes up; she smiles. And we know the word she is going to say, because the code for aroma is "home." So she is going to say, "Oh, he is home." She rushed down the stairs, hugged the boy. I mean, we tested it. At P&G they test everything 400 times. People were crying. Why? Because we got the logic of emotion right.
"Home" hit the reptilian brain.
That was the reptilian brain, because that's your genes. If he was a neighbor, it would not have been the same impact. It was her son. He was coming back from the Army where he might have been killed. That's another key element of the reptilian -- survival, right? He is home, which means he's alive. He's my genes back home, back to my tummy, back to my mother. And that's why she hugs him. She doesn't just say, "Hello, how are you?" She puts him back to where he comes from. That's reptilian.
The creatives who wrote that --
They were with me on the team all the way. They discovered the code with me.
They understood what "mother" means.
They had more than understanding; they got a gut feeling about it. That's the beauty of what I do, if I may say, is that I don't tell them the code. We discover it together. I want people to have the gut feeling: "This is it; now this is going to change my life; this is going to change my brain; this is going to change my product." And because they discover it with me -- discover, right? -- immediately they put it in practice.
When I worked with Chrysler, for example, we discovered that Jeeps should not have square headlights. That's a very practical thing: no square headlights. Why? I don't want to go into anything secret, but let's suppose the code for a Jeep is an animal like a horse. You don't see a horse with square eyes. The Jeep people didn't say that; they said, "Yes, I want round headlights, like a face." And we use the face of the Jeep with the grille as a logo for Jeep. So when I discovered that, that was like a very reptilian dimension. And since then, no Jeep Wranglers have square headlights.
What is the difference between good and bad marketing research? It works. Good marketing research works. When we say it works, it means that marketers understand the real need of the customers -- sometimes unspoken -- and they deliver. Right now you have a whole industry -- the airline industry -- that doesn't understand at all their customers. They're making big, big mistake. They still don't understand. Why? Because they have marketing research that goes to the people and says: "What do you want? Do you want cheaper or more expensive?" And of course people say cheaper. So they say, "You see, they want cheaper, so we're going to give them cheaper airlines, cheaper, cheaper." Now this is how, in terms of reptilian, [cheaper is interpreted]: "I can't breathe; I can't move; they don't feed me." This is awful, right? So I'm not flying anymore. I drive my car. Why? Because they've not taken care of my reptilian. And then emotionally they treat me like, you know, [I'm] checking [into] a high-security prison.
I don't know if you know that, but within a couple of years, 35 percent of all the airplanes flying in America are going to be small planes, because it's cheaper. This is hell, right? Ninety-nine dollars to go to Los Angeles? I don't care -- cheap hell is still hell. So that all these airlines are in a coma, and they're still alive because we keep feeding them with money coming from the government, but they're dead.
Do marketing departments ever react badly to your work?
They hate me. They hate me, of course, because how come I'm doing something that they're not aware of? There is a challenge all the time: "Who is this guy? What does he say?" At the very beginning, I had a very difficult time. Today, because I have a lot of success stories from Folgers coffee, the PT Cruiser and so on, they cannot reject me right away. So at the beginning usually they feel challenged. But because of the process, where they get involved with me and they discover the things together with me, at the end they love me. Once I can go through the process with these people, they say, "Wow, this is fantastic, this is great, and let's use it." I've done 35 of these discoveries for P&G alone -- 35. Reordering 35 times. Wow, it means they got something; otherwise they don't reorder. I had more than 20 for GM.
Do you think that, ultimately, people can be figured out?
Part of my theory is that in the human world, nothing happens by chance, nothing. When you see people doing something, there is always a reason why, a code. I don't pretend I know all the codes, but when I work with a client and we try to break the code, then we understand why people do that. Nothing happens by accident in the human world. It's fascinating to try to understand, to break the code.
I'm not telling you that everybody is the same. No, I'm not telling you every human being is the same. It's not that. We are all unique. Even twins are different. Everyone is unique. But we have in common some structures that come from biology. For example, we are all human; we all come from a woman, which is what I call a biological scheme. We all come from a woman, not from a man. OK, so that's a structure. But then after that, we have things that are acquired that come from the culture. But then after that, the third level is your own structure, your identity. And you are unique. Everyone is unique.
So now we have three structures: You have your unique script, what I call personal script; then you have the cultural archetype; then you have the biological scheme. Now let's suppose you are in harmony with these three levels: Then you are happy. Let's suppose there is a disconnect between the three levels: Then you're very unhappy, right? So that the problem comes from the disconnect between you own script -- the way you function as a person -- your culture and your biology. That is a key dimension here. But people's behavior can be understood, definitely. I think that once you understand the power of code, then you can decode. Once you have the code, everything that people do start[s] making sense.
And the codes can be translated into practical marketing strategies.
Yes, and those can be, of course, translated into how to address the real needs of the consumer, which means marketing practice and marketing strategies. For example, if I know that in America the cheese is dead, which means is pasteurized, which means legally dead and scientifically dead, and we don't want any cheese that is alive, then I have to put that up front. I have to say this cheese is safe, is pasteurized, is wrapped up in plastic. I know that plastic is a body bag. You can put it in the fridge. I know the fridge is the morgue; that's where you put the dead bodies. And so once you know that, this is the way you market cheese in America.
I started working with a French company in America, and they were trying to sell French cheese to the Americans. And they didn't understand, because in France the cheese is alive, which means that you can buy it young, mature or old, and that's why you have to read the age of the cheese when you go to buy the cheese. So you smell, you touch, you poke. If you need cheese for today, you want to buy a mature cheese. If you want cheese for next week, you buy a young cheese. And when you buy young cheese for next week, you go home, [but] you never put the cheese in the refrigerator, because you don't put your cat in the refrigerator. It's the same; it's alive. We are very afraid of getting sick with cheese. By the way, more French people die eating cheese than Americans die. But the priority is different; the logic of emotion is different. The French like the taste before safety. Americans want safety before the taste.