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The Government of DesireA Genealogy of the Liberal Subject$
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Miguel de Beistegui

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226547374

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226547404.001.0001

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“Abnormal Desires” and “Barbarous Instincts”

“Abnormal Desires” and “Barbarous Instincts”

The Birth of the Sexual Pervert

Chapter:
(p.85) 4 “Abnormal Desires” and “Barbarous Instincts”
Source:
The Government of Desire
Author(s):

Miguel de Beistegui

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226547404.003.0005

This chapter turns to the birth of the homo sexualis, and of the discourse of sexuality, as the second pillar of liberalism investigated in the book. Its main (seemingly paradoxical) thesis is that the question of punishment as it arises in the liberal context also accounts for the emergence of a different discourse, that of forensic psychiatry and psychopathology which, very quickly, and as early as the 1840s, established itself as a science of sexuality. Faced with a number of criminal cases that resisted its rationality of crime and punishment, based on the notions of interest, utility, motive and efficiency, liberal governmentality found it necessary to supplement the rationality in question with another, based on the distinction between normal and abnormal (or pathological) individuals and instincts. Desire was thus inserted into a new rationality (that of psychopathology and the scientia sexualis), and a new family of concepts (that of natural, normal instincts or drives, and deviations or perversions).

Keywords:   homo sexualis, crime and punishment, normal and abnormal desires, sexual instincts and drives, perversions, psychopathology, scientia sexualis, sadism, onanism, Krafft-Ebing

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