Catherine Heule – Silence, identify and neutralise


Lacan was foreshadowing it during his conference in Louvain in 1972: “If it is to be seen at the moment, it is because something is manifest which is nevertheless strictly inserted in the order of discourse, it is because there has been a discourse which is in the process of proliferating thus generating innumerable offshoots that become terribly inconvenient to each and every one of you and to me too, namely the scientific discourse which, more and more, is imminent, menacing by its presence, by the idea that all this will be finally settled in mechanical terms, of ballistics, of balancing, of currents and then, the more we will know, the better it off we’ll be, and soon in the end we will know how to produce such or such a type of individual who will know how to march with everyone else, is it not? [1]”

We’re here: advances in biology and digital technologies give the possibility to create “augmented” beings and for governments to punish “non-conforming” individuals, thus shaping individuals who “march”, and particularly so in a straight line. The science-fiction stories of our childhood are at hand and already a reality in certain countries [2]. But there is no need to go as far as China in order to experience the impact of science on the daily life of citizens, on their governance and their “re-education” [3]. France is at the forefront in Europe in the utilization of video surveillance, behavior analysis and emotion recognition technologies via algorithms. When it is not for treating psychical suffering, it can be seen to be brought into play for the benefit of the “research”. Indeed, France has recently launched a vast research program in mental health based on neurology and brain imaging, calling for daily brain MRIs with a view to “improving quality of care.” In concrete terms, this has the effect of disengaging psychiatric care and the negation of the speech based relations. This is disquieting when we know that many patients are currently entering into psychiatric care with the diagnosis of “maladaptive disorder [trouble de l’adaptation]”.

To know a little more about the situation of psychiatry in France, I invite you to read the articles below: (Mathieu Bellahsen, Mental Health, Towards Happiness Under Control)

Translation: Raphael Montague

[1] LACAN J., “Conférence de Louvain “, text established by Jacques-Alain Miller, La Cause du désir, n°96, June 2017, p. 27.

 [2] RAPHAEL R. and LING XI, “Bons et mauvais Chinois. Quand l’État organise la notation de ses citoyens [Good and Bad Chinese, When the State carries out a Rating of its Citizens]”, in Le Monde diplomatique, January 2019, p. 4-5.

[3] TREGUER F., “Laville sûre ou la gouvernance par les algorithms [Safe cities or governance by algorithms]”, in Le Monde diplomatique, June 2019, p. 22-23.

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