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Camille Robcis (History, Cornell)

Mar 10, 2017 @ 3:30 pm

The Politics of the Psyche

In this talk, Camille Robcis traces the history of institutional psychotherapy, a psychiatric reform movement born in France after World War II that had an important influence on many doctors and intellectuals, including Félix Guattari, Frantz Fanon, Georges Canguilhem, and Michel Foucault.

Anchored in Marxism and in Lacanian psychoanalysis, institutional psychotherapy advocated a radical transformation of the theory and practice of psychiatric care to ultimately revolutionize society. As the war, fascism, and colonialism had made clear, occupation was not just a physical condition: it was also a state of mind. To quote Foucault, fascism was not only a political system: it was also “in our heads,” what “causes us to love power, to desire the thing that dominates and exploits us.” In this process of psychic and political “dis-alienation,” these thinkers argued that psychiatry—and a politics of the psyche more generally—could play a key role.

Brown bag lunch discussion

Friday, March 10
12 noon Curtin 939
Reading: Camille Robcis, “The Biopolitics of Dignity” (PDF), The South Atlantic Quarterly 115, no. 2 (April 2016): 313–30.

Camille Robcis is an associate professor of history at Cornell University. She is the author of The Law of Kinship: Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, and the Family in France (2013).


Mar 10, 2017
3:30 pm
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Curtin 175
3243 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211 United States
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