For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Psychiatric power: Lectures at the college de france, 1973--1974

by Foucault, Michel (2008)

Key Passage

Here again, as a starting point, I think we can take the very subtle, very curious version that Leuret gives of this principle.His patient, M. Dupre, did not want to work on the grounds that he did not believe in the value of money: "Money has no value; there is nothing but counterfeit money" said Dupre,51 since I, Napoleon, am theonly person who has the right to mint coins. Consequently, the money given to him is counterfeit money: It's pointless to work! Now, the problem is precisely that of getting Dupre to understand the need forthis money. One day he is forced to work, but he hardly does any work. At the end of the day it is suggested that he take a salary corresponding to his day's work; he refuses, giving as his reason that "money has no value."52 He is seized and money forced into his pocket, but he is confined "without food or drink" tor the night and following day as punishment for having resisted. A nurse however, who has been dulyprepared in advance, is sent to him, and says: "Ah! Monsieur Dupre, how I pity you not eating! II I was not afraid of Monsieur Leuret's authority and punishment I would bring you something to eat; I amprepared to take this risk if you give me a little reward." So in order to eat M. Dupre is obliged to take from his pocket three of the eight sous he had been given.No doubt the meaning or, at least, the usefulness of money is already beginning to emerge for him on the basis of this artificially created need. He is well fed and, here again, a "dozen grains of calomel" are mixed inwith "the vegetables eaten by M. Dupre who, quickly feeling the need to go to the lavatory, calls the servant and begs her to give him a free hand. A new pecuniary arrangement."^ The following day Dupre goes to work and "seeks the price for his day's work." This is, says Leuret, "the first reasonable act, made voluntarily and with reflection, that I have got from him."Of course, we might wonder about this astonishing relationship Leuret establishes between money and defecation, but, as you can see, in the form of an imperative intervention. You can see that it is not a symbolicrelationship of two terms—money-excrement—but a tactical relationship between four terms: food, defecation, work, and money, and in which the fifth term, which runs through the four points of the tactical rectangle, is medical power. I think we see the relationship between money and defecation, which, as you know, was to have a well known future, emerging here for the first time and it is established through thisgame of medical power passing between these four terms.55 It seems to me that generally, and here again in a particularly (p.152)


Foucault, Postmodernism, Psychiatric Power, Power, Resistance, Labour, Wages, Medicine, Clinic, Psychiatrization


Psychiatric Power, Foucault Citations



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