My latest work is exploring a Lacanian approach to the discourse analysis of Evidence Based Medicine. It is looking at a discourse of (and the site of struggle around) what was called Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (or FII now, Fabricated Induced Illness) where mothers (usually) allegedly cause symptoms in their children to ‘attract’ medical attention for themselves, so it is said anyway.
The basic idea here is that we can use psychoanalysis to explore notions of Prohibition, Truth and Enjoyment as a tool to tackle ideology (after Parker, I, after Slavoj Zizek).
The analysis focuses on the activities of ‘superstar’ expert Paediatricians Roy Meadow and David Southall. They accused many mothers, in the late 1990s, early 2000s, of harming and even murdering their babies, and provided ‘evidence’ for courts, but several cases have now been overturned (Clark, Patel, Cannings, and others) and both Doctors have fallen from grace, discredited (though with some champions still) , and were struck off the medical register at different times for giving e.g. extreme prejudicial stereotyping, ‘simply wrong’ information, ‘grossly misleading evidence’ and showing’ ‘deep seated attitudinal problems’..
An account I am creating suggests these individuals, (frozen psychically as objects of jouissance for The Other, and horrified by the (m)Other’s lack of The Phallus) demonstrate the acting out of the clinical psychoanalytic structure of ‘perversion’ (using Lacan’s particular use of the term) , and that their extreme grandiose lawlessness as ‘Primal Fathers’ exposes the anxiety and auto-erotic drives of Medicine (its ‘obscene superego underbelly’) itself functioning as a ‘stable’ discursive formation which, (as a gendered masculine agent), demands subjects to “Be Normal!”, and which disavows ‘not-knowing’ (e.g the cause of ‘cot deaths’), so that Medicine, through discourses, situates subjects (gendered feminised agents) as that which must be known (possessed or enjoyed), firstly: reified objects (patients) and secondly: as possessing objects of desire they must hand over: such as the ‘murdering mother’s baby’, ‘the intoxicated addict’s heroin’, ‘the cancer-thief’s cancerous tissue’, ‘the dis-eased patient’s pathology’ etc.
I argue that this process (Evidence Based Medicine under Capitalism) is ‘Feeding The Beast’: our infinite capacity for medicalisation (or overdiagnosis). The transgressive, unstable, uncertain-gendered, and perverted rogue doctors make the exploitation (The Real) in this process visible to all.
Are the ‘medical perverts’ a necessary production of the antagonisms of the ideology that is Modern Medicine under Capitalism? If they are where are they today?