The Mirror Stage Theory

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The Mirror Stage in Lacanian Psychoanalysis Throughout his long career as a psychiatrist, Jaques Lacan had maintained a strong connection with Freudian psychoanalysis. In more than one occasion, he stressed the fact that his work was an attempt to revive Freud’s theory of the self which may have lost luster with time and to expand upon it. Taking this into consideration, Lacan often uses Freudian concepts as a starting point and by implementing new modes of interpretation manages to take his predecessor’s ideas to new dimensions. This tendency he calls the “Return to Freud” insisting that his hypotheses, though innovative, remain loyal to the original ideas of the father of psychoanalysis. There are however, some recognizable differences…show more content…
On August 3, 1936, at a conference of the International Psychoanalytical Association in Marienbad, Lacan presented a paper on the mirror stage. Thirteen years later, at another conference in Zurich, he delivered another version of the same paper. It came under the title “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience”. During this span of time Lacan's concept of the mirror stage evolved. The mirror stage was no longer considered a passing moment in an infant’s psychic development but rather an everlasting structure of…show more content…
The transition from the mirror stage occurs through the Oedipus complex whereby the individual moves towards adapting the conventional social structures influenced by the sexual relations within the family. It is through denial and suppression of the desire for the mother under the pressure of the father’s name that the subject is fully assimilated into ‘normal’ sexual orientations. However, the relationship between the infant and the ideal-I, which the mirror projects, continues throughout life. Lacan maintains that it is this relationship which forms the basis for social interactions and social self-image. Although the infant’s I has been established as a distinct entity, the child still depends upon others for coherence and stability. This he calls transitivism. He reaches the conclusion that the experience of the self is connected with the presence of others. For Lacan, our ‘being’ can only be measured in relation to other people. Even the private desires we harbour are shaped by the desires of others. This is clearly a structuralist view of psychology and social relations. It is of no surprise since Lacan was aware of the theoretical framework of structuralism and of Saussure’s writings in particular and it can be fairly said that his reinterpretation of Freud follows a structuralist
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