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Muller, J. (1985). Lacan's Mirror Stage. Psychoanal. Inq., 5(2):233-252.

(1985). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 5(2):233-252

Lacan's Mirror Stage

John Muller, Ph.D.

Mirror phenomena are increasingly receiving more consideration, but with the increased attention has come a diffusion of meaning. Dervin (1980) sees mirroring as perhaps “a quite natural phenomenon that contributes to both self and object representations” (p. 138). On the other hand, Goldberg (1984) treats the double as a mirror phenomenon and views the double as a second self but, at the same time, also a counter-self and a “mirror” of unacknowledged, even unattainable aspects of oneself. Thus, what is mirrored can include what is visible at the surface as well as what is not visible, disavowed, and even impossible. (In this usage, the mirror becomes not a reflector but a kind of magical window). While Goldberg rightly stresses how mirror phenomena cast doubt on the notion (and experience) of the self's unity and identity, Pines (1984) wants to show the mirror conveying identity, whereas, in contrast, the mirroring responses of others reflect differences. Pines emphasizes that the mother's selective responses to the child's behaviors reinforce certain behaviors and thereby promote an identity; “basically the same invariant personal theme of identity has been laid down in a mirroring relationship to mother” (p. 32). But under the category of the mirroring response, Pines includes a wide variety of responses and in the process seems to equate feedback and responsiveness of any sort with a mirroring response.

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