Tasting the Witches’ Brew: Foucault and Therapeutic Practices

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Abstract

Interaction is at the heart of most therapeutic practices, yet sociological work on the therapeutic has either tended to ignore this dimension or focused on it at the expense of understanding the wider social context within which such practices unfold. Not surprisingly, Foucauldian work on the therapeutic has, for different reasons, also tended not to concern itself with interaction. Yet there are those who argue not only that Foucault might be used in alliance with perspectives concerned with language as constitutive of social reality (Miller, 1997), but that such an alliance might be useful in analysing therapeutic practices (Silverman, 1997). In this article, I think through the theoretical and methodological possibilities and limitations of such an exercise by drawing on qualitative data from a specific set of therapeutic interactions. Bringing together an interest in therapeutic interaction and therapeutic government with a sociological interest in who is participating in which therapies could, it is argued, address the social context of the therapeutic while at the same time exploring the interaction through which therapy is constituted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-532
JournalSociology
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2004

Keywords

  • analytic bridging
  • Foucault
  • ineraction and qualitative data
  • therapeutic practices

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