The Influence of an Idealized State of Discipline on Human Behavior
An idealized state of discipline attained by the use of Bentham’s ‘Panopticon’ stimulates the reader to reflect on the true nature of social institutions present today. It provides a novel outlook, in which one can observe similar motives, processes and outcomes in the functioning of establishments that are otherwise perceived as unrelated. In addition to Foucault’s description of the Panopticon’s structure and its vital role, the tendency towards political utopia occurs through the changes that take place in human behavior. The psychological effects that take place due to power that is ‘visible and unverifiable’ result in the orderliness desired (Foucault 227). Foucault describes the Panopticon as being able to, ‘…induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power’ (Foucault 226). My investigation of human behavior will lead to an argument involving the disciplinary mechanism in relation to progress of society. The analysis of leaders versus efficient workers will result in a conclusion on the relative importance of each. I feel that the motive of institutions is to psychologically mold a human being so that he or she may live by the moral and disciplinary standards set by society. Whether this is a correctional facility or educational institute sponsored by the state, it will attempt to alter behavior in a manner that is perceived as beneficial. This can be related to the individual that exercises power in the Panopticon, as ‘…he will be able to judge them continuously, alter their behavior, impose on them the methods he thinks best’ (Foucault 231). One’s behavior is often influenced by educational experiences, and frequently controls his or her sense of moral responsibility. Thus, the acts of an individual can be traced to the disciplinary mechanism. The way people respond to a situation is a function of the ideals they are exposed to, whether in an institution of higher learning, through family values, or religion. Expectations, the implementation of justice and a fallen image for people that choose to go against the norms prevent people from acting in a manner that is defined as unacceptable. Prisons seek to correct the behavior of their inmates through constant guidance and instillation of fear, thus leading to progress of society through psychological molding. Similarly, one is constantly guided through the process of schooling to learn cultural practices and laws that would be beneficial on a daily basis. During career training, society molds exceptional individuals by incentives to discover and inculcates the fear of failure in the masses. Due to the prestige gained by invention or service to humanity, the competitive nature of individuals to achieve, or merely an obligation to feed one’s family, society has created a disciplinary movement conducive to progress. This can clearly be related to Foucault’s argument, as the economic system and social attitudes maintain power over members of the entire human community. Personally, I feel that this process subtly contributes to my decision in pursuing a premedical degree. Unfortunately, a majority of the Indian community settled in the United States considers any degree other than a doctor of medicine to be inferior. If an Indian graduating from college decides to pursue an occupation other than medicine, it is assumed that he or she is incompetent, lacks focus, and will have a financially less secure future. This is partially the reason that parents pressure their children into attending medical school. Therefore, the desire to compete with others for admission, the finest residencies, and the highest six-figure salaries is almost second nature. Thus, the attitude of this community has shaped individuals into pursuing this occupation, regardless of their interest. The mechanism described above causes discipline in work...
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