Foucault in New England Journal of Medicine

How often do you see Foucault in a medical journal? Here he is cited in the New England Journal of Medicine in an article on doctors and capital punishment. The article begins:

Michel Foucault opened his 1975 book Discipline and Punish with a particularly gruesome account of a French execution in 1757 that involved tearing the flesh away with hot pincers and applying boiling oil to what remained, followed by drawing and quartering of the body by four horses.1 In the 18th century, the goals of torturing to death were retribution and deterrence by spectacle. Executions slowly moved away from violent torture to methods that were seen as being more humane, such as hanging, shooting by a firing squad, electrocution, and lethal gassing. Executions also became much less public.

The article concludes:

Physicians should not lend their medical expertise to the state to make executions more palatable to the public, even by advising on drug protocols, doses, and routes of administration. Even physicians who support the death penalty should stay out of its execution, because the problem that the state seeks to solve by using physicians is one of the state’s own making by its refusal to abolish capital punishment and its insistence on execution by lethal injection.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: