Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

“Not Boundaries Not to be Crossed”: Little Hans, Power, and Spatial Discipline

In her article “The Taming of Michel Foucault: New Historicism, Psychoanalysis, and the Subversion of Power,” Suzanne Gearhart describes what she calls “Foucault’s critical ‘dialogue’ with Freud,” specifically in his “analysis of the relation between pleasure and power” (459-60). Interestingly, she notes that, in Discipline and Punish, Foucault mentions “the subjects of two of Freud’s most famous case studies—Little Hans and Judge Schreber” (469). Gearhart, however, does not fully explore Foucault’s understanding of the “Little Hans” case study. Foucault cites Little Hans as an exemplary object of the discipline of both his father and Freud; in many instances in the case study, however, rather than acting as a subject to Foucault’s ideas of discipline, Hans in fact actively engages with, questions, and challenges them. In both transgressing the spatial boundaries that his parents set for him, and in the complex ways in which he simultaneously confines and empowers Hanna, Hans attempts to assert both power over his family and his newly emergent sexual desires. In fact, his manipulation of spatial enclosures and his disciplinary interactions with Hanna allow Hans to become “the master of the household,” affirming his desires and...

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