In Security, Territory, Population Foucault provides an analysis of a number of themes of counter-conduct in relation to the Christian pastorate in the Middle Ages that “redistribute, reverse, nullify, and partially or totally discredit pastoral power in the systems of salvation, obedience, and truth”.
Foucault suggests that as a pastoral counter-conduct asceticism functions as an “exaggerated and exorbitant element” of obedience. Rather than disobedience against an authority, asceticism is an intimate work of the self on the self that excludes the pastor; “a sort of close combat of the individual with himself in which the authority, presence, and gaze of someone else is, if not impossible, at least unnecessary.” Through a hyper-obedience the ascetic is able to counter the conduct affected by the pastor. Ascetic produces a different conduct that “stifles obedience through the excess of prescriptions and challenges that the individual addresses to himself.”
see Foucault, Michel. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège De France 1977-78. Translated by Graham Burchell. Edited by Arnold I. Davidson. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. (p. 200 – 201)
Here is a contemporary example: