Michel Foucault's history of madness tries to discover the origins of modern psychiatric practice, and raises questions about its meaning and validity. At the center of his critique is Foucault's claim that modern psychiatry, while purporting to be grounded in scientific truths, is primarily a system of moral judgments. Indeed, what psychiatry presents as the 'liberation' of the mad from mental illness is in fact 'a gigantic moral imprisonment.' Foucault may [exaggerate], but his essential point requires serious consideration. Psychiatric practice does seem to be be based on implicit moral assumptions in addition to explicit empirical [e.g., scientific] considerations. And efforts to treat mental illness and be society's way of controlling what it views as immoral, or otherwise undesirable, behavior. Not long ago, homosexuals and women who rejected their stereotypical roles were judged "mentally ill." [Foucault showed that], while the term "normal" sometimes signifies merely what is usual or average, in discussions of mental illness, it most often has normative force." (Normative means it has the power to establish a social standard of behavior).
Your post should be a paragraph-long application of this idea to one patient in the novel. Are they "really" mentally ill (whatever that means) or are they victims of someone else's "normative force"? In other words, are they simply being denied the freedom of self-determination, and forced to conform to someone else's ideas of morality and normality? Foucault believe that "where there is power, there is [always] resistance" - so how do these characters resist the power of the psychiatric establishment in the hospital? Kesey wrote the novel around the same time Foucault was doing his analyses, so these ideas apply to the kind of asylum Nurse Ratched runs in the story. That should make it easy to find connections. A good post depends on using a particular character's situation to show them. Make sure you have two quotations in the post, one from the above quote and one from the novel. Good luck! THIS ASSIGNMENT IS DUE BY SATURDAY 8/30 @ 12:00!
Mr. Justin Biggs