The Impact of Clinical Gaze Techniques on the Emergence of Psychology: Revisiting Michael Foucault's History of Madness

Associate Professor, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tehran, Iran


When we talk about observation, an abundance of theories in science come to our mind whose discussions are on how observation of natural sciences is susceptible or non-susceptible to observers' objectives and their previous experiences epistemologically, semantically, psychologically, or socially. The objects of observation in these schools are natural objects and phenomena the subject matter of which is something other than the human being. However, it is not merely natural objects which are the human being in the history of development and evolution of knowledge; the human being has also become his own object and has been studied. The body has become the object of human being in medicine and psyche, and individual and social behaviors the object of research of the human being himself in human sciences. As the object of observation is the psyche of the human being, the characteristics of observation are examined in this article from Foucault's view since its object is also the psyche of the human being. It is also shown that observation in this domain is not only a political act but an identity-making one. Due to this characteristic, "observation" was used as a technique for the treatment of psychological diseases, especially in the case of madness, until the 19th century. This led to the emergence of psychology.


  • Observation
  • Gaze
  • Madness
  • Object
  • Subject
  • Power techniques

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