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The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I

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The conception of the mirror-phase which I introduced at our last congress, thirteen years ago, has since become more or less established in the practice of the French group; I think it nevertheless worthwhile to bring it again to your attention, especially today, for the light that it sheds on the formation of the I as we experience it in psychoanalysis.<ref>''Translator's note'': '<i>I</i>' is used here and throughout to translate Lacan's '<i>je</i>', in 'le <i>je</i>', 'la fonction du <i>je</i>', etc. '<i>Ego</i>' translates 'le <i>moi</i>' and is used in the normal sense of psychoanalytic literature. On '<i>je<i>', see Note 2 below.</ref> It is an experience which leads us to oppose any philosophy directly issuing from the ''Cogito''.
The conception Some of the mirror stage that I introduced [. . .] has since become more or less established you may perhaps remember our starting point in the practice a feature of human behaviour illuminated by a fact of the French [psychoanalytic] groupcomparative psychology. HoweverThe human offspring, I think it worthwhile to bring it again to your attentionat an age when he is for a time, especially todayhowever short, for outdone by the light it sheds on chimpanzee in instrumental intelligence, can nevertheless already recognize as such his own image in a mirror. This recognition manifests itself in the formation illuminatory mimicry of the <i>I</i> ''AhaErlebnis'', which Köhler sees as we experience it in psychoanalysis. It is the expression of situational apperception, an experience that leads us to oppose any philosophy directly issuing from essential moment of the <i>Cogito</i> [reference is to the tradition stemming from Descartes : I think, therefore I am etcact of intelligence.]
Some This act, far from exhausting itself, as with the chimpanzee, once the image has been mastered and found empty, in the child immediately rebounds in a series of you may recall that this conception originated gestures in a feature which he playfully experiences the relations of the assumed movements of human behavior illuminated by a fact the image to the reflected environment, and of comparative psychology. The this virtual complex to the reality it reduplicates the child's own body, at an age when he is for a time, however short, outdone by and the chimpanzee persons or even things in instrumental intelligence, can nevertheless already recognize as such his own image in a mirror. [. . proximity.]
This actevent can take place, as we have known since Baldwin, far from exhausting itself, as in the case age of the monkeysix months, once the image and its repetition has been mastered and found empty, immediately rebounds in often compelled us to ponder over the case startling spectacle of the child nurseling in a series front of gestures the mirror. Unable as yet to walk, or even to stand up, and narrowly confined as he is within some support, human or artificial (what, in which France, we call a ''trotte-bébé''), he experiences nevertheless surmounts, in play a flutter of jubilant activity, the relation between the movements assumed obstructions of his support in order to fix his attitude in the image and the reflected environmenta more or less leaning-forward position, and between this virtual complex and bring back an instantaneous aspect of the reality image to hold it reduplicates --the child's own body, and the persons and things around himin his gaze.
This event can take place [. . .] from For us, this activity retains the meaning we have given it up to the age of six eighteen months. This meaning discloses a libidinal dynamism, and its repetition which has often made me reflect upon the startling spectacle of the infant in front of the mirror. Unable hitherto remained problematic, as yet to walk, or even to stand up, and held tightly well as he is by some support, human or artificial [. . .], he nevertheless overcomes, in a flutter of jubilant activity, the obstructions of his support and, fixing his attitude I a slightly leaning-forward position, in order to hold it in his gaze, brings back an instantaneous aspect ontological structure of the imagehuman world which accords with our reflections on paranoiac knowledge.
For meWe have only to understand the mirror-phase ''as an identification'', this activity retains in the meaning I have given it up full sense which analysis gives to the age of eighteen months. This meaning discloses a libidinal dynamismterm: namely, the transformation which has hitherto remained problematictakes place in the subject when he assumes an image -whose predestination to this phase-effect is sufficiently indicated by the use, in analytical theory, as well as an ontological structure of the human world that accords with my reflections on paranoiac knowledgeold term ''imago''.
We have only to understand This jubilant assumption of his mirror-image by the little man, at the mirror ''infans'' stage <i>as an identification</i>, still sunk in his motor incapacity and nurseling dependency, would seem to exhibit in an exemplary situation the full sense that analysis gives to symbolic matrix in which the term: namelyI is precipitated in a primordial form, before it is objectified in the transformation that takes place in dialectic of identification with the subject when he assumes an image - whose predestination other, and before language restores to this phase-effect is sufficiently indicated by the useit, in analytic theorythe universal, of the ancient term <i>imago</i> [this is also a term from Jungian psychology]its function as subject.
This jubilant assumption of his specular image by form would have to be called the child at ''Ideal-I''<ref>Throughout this article we leave in its peculiarity the translation we have adopted for Freud's <i>infansIdeal-Ich</i>stage, still sunk in his motor incapacity and nursling dependence, would seem to exhibit in an exemplary situation the symbolic matrix in which the (i.e. '<i>Ije-idéal</i> is precipitated in '), without further comment, save that we have not maintained it since.</ref>, if we wanted to restore it to a primordial formfamiliar scheme, before in the sense that it will also be the root-stock for secondary identifications, among which we place the functions of libidinal normalization. But the important point is objectified in that this form situates the dialectic instance of identification with the other''ego'', and before language restores to itits social determination, in a fictional direction, which will always remain irreducible for the universalindividual alone, or rather, its function which will rejoin the development of the subject only asymptotically, whatever the success of the dialectical syntheses by which he must resolve as subject''I'' his discordance with his own reality.
This form would have to be called the Ideal-I [. . .]. But the important point is that this form situates the agency of the ego, before its social determination, in a fictional direction, which will always remain irreducible for the individual alone, or rather, which will only rejoin the coming-into-being of the subject asymptotically, whatever the success of the dialectical syntheses by which he must resolve ==The Body as <i>I</i> his discordance with his own reality. Gestalt==
The fact is that the total form of the body by which the subject anticipates in a mirage the maturation of his power is given to him only as <i>''Gestalt</i> [an image of a whole]'', that is to say, in an exteriority in which this form is certainly more constituent than constituted, but in which it appears to him above all in a contrasting size that fixes it and in a symmetry that inverts it, which are in contrast conflict with the turbulent movements that turbulence of the motions which the subject feels are animating him. Thus, this <i>''Gestalt</i> '' -- whose pregnancy should be regarded as bound up with linked to the species, though its motor style remains scarcely recognizable unrecognizable -- by these two twin aspects of its appearance, symbolizes the mental permanence of the <i>''I</i>'', at the same time as it prefigures its alienating destination; it is still pregnant with the correspondences that which unite the <i>''I</i> '' with the statue in which man projects himself, with the phantoms that which dominate him, or finally, with the automation automaton in which, in an ambiguous relation, the world of his own making fabrication tends to find completion.
[Indeed, where ''imagos'' are concerned -- whose veiled faces it is our privilege to see in outline in our daily experience and the penumbra of symbolic efficacity<ref>Cf. Claude Lévi-Strauss, ''Structural Anthropology'', London 1968, Chapter X. . T]he </ref> -- the mirror-image would seem to be the threshold of the visible world, if we go by the mirror disposition that which the <i>''imago of one's our own body</i> '' presents in hallucinations or dreams [. . .] , whether it concerns its individual features, or even its infirmities, or its object-projections; or if we observe notice the role of the mirror apparatus in the appearances of the <i>''double</i>'', in which the psychical psychic realities, however heterogeneous, are manifestedmanifest themselves.
That a <i>''Gestalt</i> '' should be capable of formative effects in the organism is attested by a piece of biological experimentation that which is itself so alien to the idea of psychical psychic causality that it cannot bring itself to formulate its results in these terms. It nevertheless recognizes that it is a necessary condition for the maturation of the gonad of the female pigeon that it should see another member of its species, of either sex: ; so sufficient in itself is this condition that the desired effect may be obtained merely by placing the individual [pigeon] within reach of the field of reflection of a mirror. Similarly, in the case of the migratory locust, the transition within a generation from the solitary to the gregarious form can be obtained by exposing the exposure of the individual, at a certain stage, to the exclusively visual action of a similar image, provided it is animated by movements of a style sufficiently close to that characteristic of the species. Such facts are inscribed in an order of homeomorphic identification that which would itself fall within the larger question of the meaning of beauty as both formative and erogenicerotogenic.
But the fact facts of mimicry are no less instructive when conceived as cases of heteromorphic identification, in as much inasmuch as they raise the problem of the signification significance of space for the living organism - ; psychological concepts hardly seem less appropriate for shedding light on these matters than ridiculous attempts to reduce them to the supposedly supreme law of adaptation. [. . Let us only recall how Roger Caillois (who was then very young, and still fresh from his breach with the sociological school of his training) illuminated the subject by using the term '<i>legendary psychasthenia</i>' to classify morphological mimicry as an obsession with space in its derealizing effect.]
I am ledWe have ourselves shown in the social dialectic which structures human knowledge as paranoiac<ref>See Jacques Lacan, therefore''Écrits, Paris 1966'', pp. 111, 180.</ref> why human knowledge has greater autonomy than animal knowledge in relation to regard the function field of force of desire, but also why it is determined in the direction of that 'lack of reality' which surrealist dissatisfaction denounces in it. These reflections lead us to recognize in the spatial ensnarement exhibited in the mirror-stage as a particular case of the function of phase, even before the <i>imago</i>social dialectic, which is to establish a relation between the organism and its effect in man of an organic insufficiency in his natural reality - or- in so far, that is, as they say, between we attach any meaning to the <i>Innenwelt</i> [interior world] and the <i>Umwelt</i> [exterior world]word 'nature'.
In man, however, this relation We are therefore led to nature is altered by a certain dehiscence at regard the heart function of the organism, mirror-phase as a primordial Discord betrayed by the signs of uneasiness and motor uncoordination particular case of the neo-natal months. The objective notion function of the anatomical incompleteness [''imago'', which is to establish a relation of humans[ and likewise the presence of certain humoral residues organism to its reality -- or, as they say, of the maternal organism confirm the view I have formulated as ''Innenwelt'' to the fact of a real <i>specific prematurity of birth</i> in man''Umwelt''.
It is worth notingIn man, incidentallyhowever, that this relation to nature is impaired by a kind of dehiscence of the organism in fact recognized as such by embryologiststhe womb, a primordial Discord betrayed by the term <i>foetalization</i> [. . signs of discomfort and motor inco-ordination of the neonatal months. The objective notion of the anatomical incompleteness of the pyramidal system and likewise the presence of certain humoral residues of the maternal organism confirm the view we have formulated as the fact of a real ''specific prematurity of birth'' in man. ]
This development is experienced as a temporal dialectic Let us note, incidentally, that decisively projects the formation of the individual into history. The <i>mirror stage</i> this is a drama whose internal thrust is precipitated from insufficiency to anticipation - and which manufactures for fact fully recognized by embryologists, by the subjectterm ''foetalization'', caught up in which determines the lure prevalence of spatial identification, the succession of phantasies that extends from a fragmented bodyso-image to a form called superior apparatus of its totality that I shall call orthopaedic - the neurax, and, lastly, to the assumption especially of the armour of an alienating identitycortex, which will mark with its rigid structure the subject's entire mental development. Thus, psycho-surgical operations lead us to break out of regard as the circle of the <i>Innenwelt</i> into the <i>Umwelt</i> generates the inexhaustible quadrature of the ego's verificationsintra-organic mirror.
This fragmented body - development is lived as a temporal dialectic which terms I have also introduced into our system decisively projects the formation of theoretical references - usually manifests itself in dreams when the movement of individual into history; the analysis encounters ''mirror-phase'' is a certain level of aggressive disintegration in drama whose internal impulse rushes from insufficiency to anticipation and which manufactures for the individual. It then appears in subject, captive to the form lure of disjointed limbsspatial identification, or the succession of those organs represented in exoscopy, growing wings phantasies from a fragmented body-image to a form of its totality which we shall call orthopaedic -and taking up arms for intestinal persecutions - to the very same that the visionary Hieronymus Bosch has fixedassumption, for all timefinally, in paintingof the armour of an alienating identity, in their ascent (p. 5) from which will stamp with the fifteenth century to rigidity of its structure the imaginary zenith whole of modern manthe subject's mental development. But this form is even tangibly revealed at the organic levelThus, in to break out of the lines circle of the ''Innenwelt''fragilizationinto the ' that define 'Umwelt'' generates the anatomy endless quadrature of phantasy, as exhibited in the schizoid and spasmodic symptoms inventorying of hysteriathe ego.
Correlatively, the formation of the <i>I</i> is symbolized in dreams by a fortress, or a stadium - its inner arena and enclosure, surrounded by marshes and rubbish-tips, dividing it into two opposed fields of contest where the subject flounders in quest of the lefty, remote inner castle whose form (sometimes juxtaposed in the same scenario) symbolizes the id in a quite startling way. Similarly, on the mental plane, we find realized the structures of fortified works, the metaphor of which arises spontaneously, as if issuing from the symptoms themselves, to designate the mechanisms of obsessional neurosis - inversion, isolation, reduplication, cancellation and displacement. ==The Fragmented Body==
But if we were to build on these subjective givens alone - however little we free them from This fragmented body, the term for which I have introduced into our theoretical frame of reference, regularly manifests itself in dreams when the condition movement of experience that makes us see them as partaking the analysis encounters a certain level of aggressive disintegration in the individual. It then appears in the nature form of disjointed limbs, or of a linguistic technique those organs figured in exoscopy, growing wings and taking up arms for intestinal persecutions -- our theoretical attempts would remain exposed the very same that the visionary Hieronymus Bosch has fixed, for all time, in painting, as they climbed, in the fifteenth century, to the charge imaginary zenith of projecting themselves into the unthinkable of an absolute subject. This modern man, but this form is why I have sought in even tangibly revealed at the present hypothesisorganic level, grounded in a conjunction the lines of 'fragilization' which define the anatomy of objective dataphantasy, as exhibited in the guiding grid for a method schizoid and spasmodic symptoms of symbolic reductionhysteria.
It establishes in Correlatively, the defenses formation of the ego ''I'' is symbolized in dreams by a genetic order [. . . ] and situates (as against fortress, or a frequently expressed prejudice) hysterical repression and stadium -- its returns at a more archaic stage than obsessional inversion inner arena and its isolating processesenclosure, surrounded by marshes and rubbish-tips, dividing it into two opposed fields of contest where the latter subject flounders in turn as preliminary to paranoiac alienationquest of the haughty and remote inner castle, which dates from , in its shape (sometimes juxtaposed in the same scenario), symbolizes the ''id'' in startling fashion. Similarly, on the mental plane, we find realized the structures of fortified works, the deflection metaphor of which arises spontaneously, and as if issuing from the specular I into symptoms themselves, to describe the social Imechanisms of obsessional neurosis -- inversion, isolation, reduplication, cancellation and displacement.
This moment in But were we to build on this merely subjective data, and should this be detached from the experiential condition which the mirror stage comes would make us derive it from a language technique, our theoretical enterprise would remain exposed to an end inaugurates by the identification with the imago of the counterpart and the drama charge of primordial jealousy (so well brought out by projecting itself into the school unthinkable of Charlotte Bühler an absolute subject. That is why we have to find in the phenomenon present hypothesis, grounded in a conjunction of infantile transitivism)objective data, the dialectic that will henceforth link the I to socially elaborated situationsguiding grid for a ''method of symbolic reduction''.
It is this moment that decisively tips establishes in the whole ''defences of human knowledge into mediatization through the desire of ego'' a genetic order, in accordance with the otherwish formulated by Miss Anna Freud, constitutes its objects in an abstract equivalence by the co-operation first part of othersher great work, and turns the I into that apparatus for which every instinctual thrust constitutes situates (as against a frequently expressed prejudice) hysterical repression and its returns at a dangermore archaic stage than obsessional inversion and its isolating processes, even though it should correspond to a natural maturation - and the very normalization of this maturation being henceforth dependent, latter in man, on a cultural mediation turn as exemplifiedpreliminary to paranoiac alienation, in which dates from the case deflection of the sexual object, by mirror ''I'' into the Oedipus complexsocial ''I''.
[. . .] We can thus understand This moment in which the inertia characteristic of mirror-phase comes to an end inaugurates, by the identification with the formations ''imago'' of the I, fellow and find there the most extensive definition drama of neurosis primordial jealousy (so well high- just as lighted by the captation school of Charlotte Bühler in the subject by the situation gives us the most general formula for madness, not only the madness that lies behind the walls phenomenon of asylumsinfantile ''transitivism''), but also the madness that deafens dialectic which will henceforth link the world with its sound and furyI to socially elaborated situations.
The sufferings It is this moment that decisively shakes the whole of neurosis and psychosis are for us a schooling human knowledge in the passions mediatization by the desire of the soulother, just as constitutes its objects in an abstract equivalence by virtue of the beam competition of the psychoanalytic scalesother, when we calculate and makes the tilt ''I'' into that system for which every instinctual thrust constitutes a danger, even though it should correspond to a natural maturation -- the very normalization of its threat to entire communitiesthis maturation being henceforth dependent, in man, on a cultural go-between, as exemplified, provides us with an indication in the case of the deadening of sexual object, by the passions in societyOedipus complex.
At In the light of this junction conception, the term primary narcissism, by which analytical doctrine denotes the libidinal investment characteristic of nature that moment, reveals in those who invented it the most profound awareness of semantic latencies. But it also illuminates the dynamic opposition of that libido to sexual libido, which they tried to define when they invoked destructive and culture, so persistently examined by modern anthropologyindeed, death instincts, psychoanalysis alone recognizes this knot in order to explain the evident connection between narcissistic libido and the alienating function of imaginary servitude the ''I'', the aggressiveness which it releases in any relation to the other, albeit that love must always undo again, or severof the most Samaritan aid.
For such a task, we place no trust in altruistic feeling, we who lay bare the aggressivity that underlies the activity of the philanthropist, the idealist, the pedagogue, and even the reformer. ==Existentialism==
They were encountering that existential negativity whose reality is so warmly advocated by the contemporary philosophy of being and nothingness. But unfortunately that philosophy grasps negativity only within the confines of a self-sufficiency of consciousness, which, as one of its premisses, links to the constitutive mis-recognitions of the ego, the illusion of autonomy to which it entrusts itself. This flight of fancy, for all that it draws, to an unusual extent, on borrowings from psychoanalytic experience, culminates in the pretension to provide an existential psychoanalysis. At the climax of the historical attempt of a society to refuse to recognize that it has any function other than the utilitarian one, and in the anguish of the individual confronting the concentrational form of the social bond which seems to arise to crown this attempt, existentialism must be judged by the account it gives of the subjective dilemmas which it has indeed given rise to: the freedom which never claims more authenticity than when it is within the walls of a prison; the demand for commitment, expressing the impotence of a pure consciousness to master any situation; the voyeuristic-sadistic idealization of the sexual relationship; the personality which realizes itself only in suicide; the awareness of the other which can be satisfied only by Hegelian murder. These propositions are denied by all our experience, inasmuch as it teaches us not to regard the ego as centred on the ''perception-consciousness system'', or as organized by the 'reality principle' -- a principle which is the expression of a scientistic prejudice most hostile to the dialectic of knowledge. Our experience shows that we should start instead from the ''function of misrecognition'' which characterizes the ego in all its structures, so markedly articulated by Miss Anna Freud. For, if the ''Verneinung'' represents the patent form of that function, its effects will, for the most part, remain latent, so long as they are not illuminated by a light reflected in the plane of fatality, where the ''id'' is revealed.  We can thus understand the inertia characteristic of the formations of the ''I'', and find there the most extensive definition of neurosis -- even as the ensnarement of the subject by the situation which gives us the most general formula for madness, not only the madness which lies behind the walls of asylums, but also the madness which deafens the world with its sound and fury. The sufferings of neurosis and psychosis are for us the school of the passions of the soul, just as the scourge of the psychoanalytic scales, when we compute the tilt of their threat to entire communities, gives us the index of the deadening of the passions of the city. At this junction of nature and culture which is so persistently scanned by modern anthropology, psychoanalysis alone recognizes this knot of imaginary servitude which love must always undo again, or sever. For such a task we place no reliance on altruistic feeling, we who lay bare the aggressiveness that underlies the activity of the philanthropist, the idealist, the pedagogue, and even the reformer. In the recourse of subject to subject that which we preserverpreserve, psychoanalysis may can accompany the patient to the ecstatic limit of the "Thous 'Thou art that" in which ', wherein is revealed to him the cipher of his mortal destiny, but it is not in our mere power as practitioners to bring him to that point where the real journey beingsbegins( 1949 -- ''translated'' by Jean Roussel)  ==Notes==<references/>
[[Category:Works by Jacques Lacan]]
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