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This thesis was forcefully challenged in 1977 by the psychiatrist Gladys Swain in co-authored with the philosopher Marcel Gauchet.
Both of these writers considered, unlike Foucault, that the founder of the discipline of psychiatry in France, Philippe Pinel, had genuinely sought to find the conditions in which a dialogue with insanity would be possible, believing that there was always a human core within the insane individual.
They offer surveys of the field from a methodological and historiographical point of view; they demonstrate how visions of the body and sexual identity have changed; and they also underline the fact that medical science is not neutral, all the less so since its object of study is the human being, and the scientist-physician has therefore been both the subject and the object of his/her own research.
Some historians and sociologists have, to be sure, been pointing out for years that doctors, whether male and female, shaped by the modes of thought of their times and sensitive to contemporary demands, may differ on many issues, participating, at whatever their degree of power, in the construction of interpretative systems and representations likely to be subjects of controversy and debate.
Chaperon 2007; Dorlin 2006; Edelman 2003; Edelman,... They are often associated with anthropological and sociological research, and are prepared to rub shoulders with philosophy, as the articles collected here suggest.
The important contributions by Thomas Laqueur to this debate, as well as criticisms of his work, have often been referred to in past issues of In the first decades of the nineteenth century, medical discourse was concerned to re-define a hierarchy between men and women in the context of the clinical revolution and the new discoveries in physiology, anatomy and pathology.
It tended for instance to represent as the essential basis for a specific pathology, in a marked dimorphism.
In France, philosophy has played an important role, since Georges Canguilhem shifted the history of science in France away from the pure terrain of mathematics, physics and astronomy where Gaston Bachelard had located it, and towards medicine and biology: he advanced the proposition that there was a discontinuity between different forms of rationality, rather than a single concept of reason as an invariant anthropological entity.
Michel Foucault reappropriated this legacy, and he too abandoned the idea of history of science as a history of truth, developing the idea of discourses purporting to tell the truth; in his , 1965] Foucault provided a template for the analysis of such discontinuities, by studying the case of insanity.