Foucault’s Military Metaphors – Life as Experience and Science

In his lecture Le pouvoir psychiatrique Michel Foucault analyses the origin of psychiatric power based on military concepts and metaphors and specific political structures and functions. This article highlights three important facts concerning Foucault’s use of military metaphors. The first is the question of why, in his lectures, Foucault did not use concepts from the sociological and psychological knowledge area to explain the origin of psychiatric power, and how his lecture, both conceptually and historically, related to his earlier work Histoire de la Folie. The second concerns how his use of military concepts affected his analyses of psychiatric power. The third fact concerns the question of how it is that only after he had written his lecture did Foucault became aware of the knowledge area he had derived his ideas and concepts from. With the help of conceptual metaphor theories I explain how Foucault's use of military metaphors can be said to have originated in both conscious and unconscious war experiences, experiences which in turn helped him to shape and structure his ideas about the origin of psychiatric power.

Keywords: culture, history, knowledge era, life experience, metaphors, military power, -psychology, sociology, unconsciousness