restricted access "All in the Day's Work": Cold War Doctoring and Its Discontents in William Burroughs's Naked Lunch


In Naked Lunch, the institutions and practices of science and medicine, specifically with regard to psychiatry/psychology, are symptoms of a bureaucratic system of control that shapes, constructs, defines, and makes procrustean alterations to both the mind and body of human subjects. Using sickness and junk (or heroin) as convenient metaphors for both a Cold War binary mentality and the mandatory consumption of twentieth-century capitalism, Burroughs presents modern man as fundamentally alienated from any sense of a personal self. Through policing the health of citizens, the doctors are some of the novel's most overt "Senders," or agents of capital-C Control, commodifying and exploiting the individual's humanity (mind and body) as a raw material in the generation of a knowledge that functions only in the legitimation and reinforcement of itself as authoritative.