Lacan, Jacques. 1949. "The Mirror Stage" (343-344).


  1. 1901-1981. Parisian born. Studied psychiatry and psychoanalysis after medicine. 1963 – École Pratique des Hautes Etudes. Founded École Freudienne de Paris—major school of psychoanalysis since 1960s.
  2. This work is “Lacan’s most famous concept” (343).
  3. “Child observes herself in a mirror and imagines herself more whole than any individual ‘I’ could possibly be” (Lemert 2010, 343).
  4. Children, even when lower in intelligence than chips, can recognize self in the mirror.
    1. “Indicated in the illuminative mimicry of the Aha-Erlebnis” (Köhler) (Lacan 1949, 343).
    2. “Expression of situational apperception” (Lacan 1949, 343).
  5. Apperception: “the mental process by which a person makes sense of an idea by assimilating it to the body of ideas he or she already possesses; fully conscious perception” (N.O. 2nd ed., 2005).
  6. The child learns/discovers through analyzing relations between “movements assumed” and what is reflected” (Lacan 1949, 343).
    1. Movements assumed = real subject.
  7. Children are unable to do anything else—walk, speak, stand, etc.—but can still participate in interactive mirror analysis.
    1. Beginning at six months, this mirror interaction can occur.
  8. The age of six to eighteen months is associated with “libidinal dynamism” (Lacan 1949, 343).
    1. Libidinal: “the energy of the sexual drive as a component of the life instinct” (N.O. 2nd ed., 2005).
  9. The mirror stage is an “identification” stage (Lacan 1949, 344).
  10. The imago is the transformation of the subject as he evolves into/reflects image (mirrored image).
  11. Mirror stage is indicative of a time in a child’s life when “I” has not been fully formed nor objectified.
  12. The “Ideal-I” is a secondary identification associated with libidinal normalization functions.
    1. Regards the ego, the out of control, barbaric insatiable urges.
  13. “Gestalt” is “more constituent that constituted” (Lacan 1949, 344), meaning it is a piece more than it is a larger whole that is made of pieces.
    1. The movements associated with gestalt are of the mirrored image and animate the subject.
    2. Is a symbol of “mental permanence of the I“ (Lacan 1949, 344).
    3. Simultaneously, it (the gestalt) has alienating abilities.


LACAN, JACQUES. 1949. "The Mirror Stage." Pp. 343-344 in Social Theory: The Multicultural Readings (2010) edited by C. Lemert. Philadelphia: Westview Press.

Original source: LACAN, JACQUES. 1949. Pp. 1-3 and 172-175 in Écrits: A Selection. New York: Taylor and Francis, 1977.

(See Lemert 2010, 343 for “original source” citation*)

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