In this article, you will get to know about the popular essayist Jacques Lacan and the summary of his essay On Mirror Stage by Lacan, important from the perspective of both English Literature and Psychology.
Before we go through Lacan’s Mirror Stage explained, let us first attain a little info about the respective essayist Jacques Lacan.
About Jacques Lacan
Lacan’s full name was Jacques Marie Emile Lacan, born on 13 April 1901. Lacan is known as a famous French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. Since Freud, Lacan is believed to be the most controversial psychoanalyst ever.
On Mirror Stage By Lacan – Summary
Jacques Lacan Mirror Stage Summary –
In his paper “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience” Jacques Lacan tried to observe and interpret the experience of a child that looks in the mirror. Jacques related this expression to the movement of the child’s concepts of self.
Such experiences of looking into the mirror, according to Lacan, are helpful for a child to understand his/her construction of self more specifically. Lacan referred this self-construction to as “I”.
The kind of self-discovery play by children that is acted by looking into the mirror, observed usually in children between the age of six and eighteen months, greatly fascinated Jacques Lacan.
Lacan also used a typical example of a child that sits in a walker so as to learn to walk which gives the child a great view in the mirror. When the child sees his movements in the mirror, the child starts to realize that it is his own reflection and thus, starts forming his first impression of self.
The impression that the child forms of himself at this point is in two terms:
1. In terms of the appearance of the child.
2. In terms of the child’s mastery over the world around him.
This stage of development of a child where he begins to form his first impression is referred to as the Mirror Stage by Jacques Lacan.
So, according to Lacan, the origin of a fundamental alienation in the child’s sense of self is called the Mirror Stage.
While the child is originally uncoordinated, the mirror image that the child sees of itself lets the child see its self which the child idealizes, which the child wants to be like, which, according to the child, is unified and well-coordinated. According to Lacan, this is an illusion, a misperception that the child experiences.
After this, the child starts to identify itself in its imagination using objects and images and hence builds up the illusion of a unified self-hood.
According to Lacan, the mirror stage is an important part of the machine-like process of the psychological growth of an individual. This growth allows the individual to believe in paranoic knowledge.
This paranoic knowledge makes the individual believe in the formation of themselves that the individuals experienced while they looked in the mirror which works as the person’s drive to find sense in this world. Thus, the individual tries to create a rational view of the world.
Lacan believes that when an individual looks into the mirror, they picture themselves by assuming an image because they do this at an age when they have not learned any language or taking by the images that society has already perceived them in.
So, the mirror image of an individual is the very first image that a person takes on and is quite a unique experience for everyone. Only after when they have learned a language and started interacting with the people around them is when the other self-images occur to the individuals.
This means that all the self-images apart from that of the mirror stage are not an individual’s own but the constructs of other people.
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