10. Foucault and the Freudians

  1. Christopher Falzon2,
  2. Timothy O'Leary3 and
  3. Jana Sawicki4
  1. Wendy Grace

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch10

A Companion to Foucault

A Companion to Foucault

How to Cite

Grace, W. (2013) Foucault and the Freudians, in A Companion to Foucault (eds C. Falzon, T. O'Leary and J. Sawicki), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch10

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of Newcastle, Australia

  2. 3

    University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

  3. 4

    Williams College, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Western Australia, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 12 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444334067

Online ISBN: 9781118324905



  • ethnographic dissidence;
  • Foucault;
  • Freudian psychoanalysis;
  • madness;
  • sexuality


One of the most complex areas of Foucault's work is his relationship to Freudian psychoanalysis. Foucault consistently argued for the historical specificities of the two principal human objects of psychoanalysis – madness and sexuality. He now stands starkly removed from Freudian thought, which cannot countenance ethnographic or cultural versions of madness or sexuality. Foucault welcomed the extra-psychoanalytic potentials of the Freudian unconscious for undermining existentialist and phenomenological accounts of the subject and knowledge. Foucault in fact celebrated the political divergences of psychoanalysis as one of its strengths. The critique of desire is really the climax of Foucault's efforts to develop an alternative Nietzschean genealogy of the modern subject as a historical and cultural reality – a domain that had hitherto excluded sexual identity, while the Freudian and feminist traditions had perhaps seen only sexuality and not the wider political domains.