The Disruption of Health: Shaffer, Foucault, and 'the Normal' Academic Article uri icon


  • In this article the aurhtor explores the intimate connection between the concepts of health and normality in the fields of medicine and mental health by discerning Foucauldian themes in Peter Shaffers critically acclaimed drama Equus. Shaffers scrutiny of the mental health field pinpoints the same issue as Foucault does in his many works on medicine and psychiatry, namely, that operating behind any concept of health in these fields is nothing other than the notion of normality. By looking not only to the acumen of Foucaults research and critique, but also to the depiction of Foucauldian themes in Shaffers compelling dramatic work, this article is able to explore the implications of the relation between health and normality in concrete, human terms. In Equus, the effects of psychiatric discourse are written all over the face of a disturbed, young teenager, a fact which reminds us that the human beings subjected to the mental health care profession are all too real, precariously delicate, suffering individuals.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Medical Humanities

author list (cited authors)

  • George, T. D.

complete list of authors

  • George, Theodore D

publication date

  • January 1999