The TLS has a new letter on l’affaire Scull.
Sir, – Bravo! Andrew Scull did a masterful job of skewering Michel Foucault’s scholarly pretensions in “Scholarship of fools” (March 23). But at the risk of seeming ungrateful, one need not go to such lengths to discern how inflated Foucault’s reputation was. The central thesis of Madness and Civilization is simply untenable on the face of it. Foucault maintained that the discourse of reason about madness was at no point a dialogue with madness.
I cannot speak for Britain, but psychiatry in the United States is mostly about power, persuasion, politics and pharmaceuticals. It is as riddled with circular reasoning, lingering superstition and intellectual dishonesty as it was one (and two) hundred years ago. Much of routine, workaday psychiatry is bad medicine, based on bad science. To equate it with reason is, well, profoundly unreasonable.
So since psychiatry is not in fact about reason, but about power, this means Foucault is wrong? I see.