Félix Guattari

From No Subject - Encyclopedia of Psychoanalysis
Jump to: navigation, search

82-3, 151 Conversations

Pierre-Félix Guattari' (April 30, 1930 – August 29, 1992) was a French pioneer of institutional psychotherapy, as well as the founder of both Schizoanalysis and Ecosophy.


Clinic of La Borde

Not very well known to the general public, Pierre Félix Guattari was in the 1960s to become a central figure defining the events of May 1968 and its aftermath. Born in Villeneuve-les-Sablons, Oise, France, Guattari first made his way into the history of Psychiatry, Philosophy, and French Militancy with the meeting of Fernand Oury, a craftsman engaged in the future movement of institutional Pedagogy. Encouraged by the brother of Fernand, Jean Oury, psychiatrist, the young Guattari became impassioned from 1950 towards the practice of psychiatry. Due to his frustrations with the theories and methods of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan -- in relation to whom he was both student and patient (analysand) in the 1950s -- Guattari was further convinced that he needed to continue exploring as vast an array of domains as possible (philosophy, ethnology, linguistics, architecture, etc.,) in order to better define the orientation, delimitation and psychiatric efficacity of the practice. Psychoanalysis was too authoritarian in its insistence that the analyst was somehow closer to the Truth than the patient. Beyond this, as Guattari would later proclaim, psychoanalysis is "the best capitalist drug" because in it desire is confined to a couch: desire, in Lacanian psychoanalysis, is an energy that is contained rather than one that, if freed, could militantly engage itself in something different. He continued this research, collaborating in Jean Oury's private clinic of La Borde at Court-Cheverny, one of the main centers of institutional psychotherapy at the time. La Borde was a venue for conversation amongst innumerable students of philosophy, psychology, ethnology, and social work. La Borde was Félix Guattari's principal anchoring -- a refusal to be anchored! -- until his death in 1992.

1960s to 1970s

From 1955 to 1965, Félix Guattari animated the trotskyist group Voie Communiste ("Communist Way"). He would then support anticolonialist struggles as well as the Italian Autonomists. Guattari also took part in the movement of the psychological G.T., which gathered many psychiatrists at the beginning of the sixties and created the Association of Institutional Psychotherapy in November 1965. It was at the same time that he founded, along with other militants, the F.G.E.R.I. (Federation of Groups for Institutional Study & Research) and its review research, working on philosophy, mathematics, psychoanalysis, education, architecture, ethnology, etc. The F.G.E.R.I. came to represent aspects of the multiple political and cultural engagements of Félix Guattari: the Group for Young Hispanics, the Franco-Chinese Friendships (in the times of the popular communes), the opposition activities with the wars in Algeria and Vietnam, the participation in the M.N.E.F., with the U.N.E.F., the policy of the offices of psychological academic aid (B.A.P.U.), the organisation of the University Working Groups (G.T.U.), but also the reorganizations of the training courses with the Centers of Training to the Methods of Education Activities (C.E.M.E.A.) for psychiatric male nurses, as well as the formation of Friendly Male Nurses (Amicales d'infirmiers)(in 1958), the studies on architecture and the projects of construction of a day hospital of for "students and young workers".

Although heavily influenced by the work of Lacan, he would later come to take many distances with respect to the theoretical elaboration of certain concepts and practices. He was one of the actors in the events of May 1968, starting from the Movement of March 22. It was at this time that Guattari met Gilles Deleuze at the University of Vincennes and began to lay the ground-work for the soon to be infamous Anti-Oedipus (1972). Throughout his career it may be said that his writings were at all times correspondent in one fashion or another with sociopolitical and cultural engagements. In 1967, he appeared as one of the founders of OSARLA (Organization of solidarity and Aid to the Latin-American Revolution). It was with the head office of the F.G.E.R.I. that he meet, in 1968, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Jean-Jacques Lebel, and Julian Beck. In 1970, he created C.E.R.F.I. (Center for the Study and Research of Institutional Formation), which takes the direction of the Recherches review. In 1977, he created the CINEL for "new spaces of freedom" before joigning in the 1980s the ecological movement with his "ecosophy".

1980s to 1990s

In his last book, Chaosmose (1992), the topic of which is already partially developed in What is Philosophy? (1991, with Deleuze), Félix Guattari takes again his essential topic: the question of subjectivity. "How to produce it, collect it, enrich it, reinvent it permanently in order to make it compatible with mutant Universes of value?" This idea returns like a leitmotiv, from Psychanalyse and transversality (a regrouping of articles from 1957 to 1972) through Années d'hiver (1980 - 1986) and Cartographies Schizoanalytique (1989). He insists on the function of "a-signification", which plays the role of support for a subjectivity in act, starting from four parameters: "significative and semiotic flows, Phylum of Machanic Propositions, Existential Territories and Incorporeal Universes of Reference."

In 1995, the posthumous release Chaosophy featured Guattari's first collection of essays and interviews focuses on the French anti-psychiatrist and theorist's work as director of the experimental La Borde clinic and collaborator of philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Chaosophy is a groundbreaking introduction to Guattari's theories on "schizo-analysis", a process meant to replace Sigmund Freud's interpretation with a more pragmatic, experimental, and collective approach rooted in reality. Unlike Freud, Guattari believes that schizophrenia is an extreme mental state co-existent with the capitalist system itself. But capitalism keeps enforcing neurosis as a way of maintaining normality. Guattari's post-Marxist vision of capitalism provides a new definition not only of mental illness, but also of micropolitical means of subversion. It includes key essays such as "Balance-Sheet Program for Desiring Machines," cosigned by Deleuze (with whom he coauthored Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus), and the provocative "Everybody Wants To Be a Fascist."

Soft Subversions is another collection of Félix Guattari's essays, lectures, and interviews traces the militant anti-psychiatrist and theorist's thought and activity throughout the 1980s ("the winter years"). Concepts such as "micropolitics," "schizoanalysis," and "becoming-woman" open up new horizons for political and creative resistance in the "postmedia era." Guattari's energetic analyses of art, cinema, youth culture, economics, and power formations introduce a radically inventive thought process engaged in liberating subjectivity from the standardizing and homogenizing processes of global capitalism.


  • Molecular Revolution

Books written in collaboration with Gilles Deleuze:

(these are the English translations; dates are from French editions.)

Other books

External links