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Elkisch, P. (1957). The Psychological Significance of the Mirror. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 5:235-244.

(1957). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 5:235-244

The Psychological Significance of the Mirror

Paula Elkisch, Ph.D.

The topic of the mirror opens a wide and deep vista into the phenomenon of "the double." The shadow, the echo, the portrait, the twins are among the representatives of the "double"; so are the metaphors of speech that are related to "mirror" or "mirroring" as, for instance, "reflection" (connoting contemplation) or the "mirroring" relationship between people as Cassius expresses it to Brutus:

I your glass

Will modestly discover to yourself

That of yourself which you yet know not of.

—SHAKESPEARS: Julius Caesar, I:2

This presentation however, being a segment of a more comprehensive study, will not deal with all the aspects of the double but stay as closely as feasible with the phenomenon of the mirror. The mirror itself and the description of the behavior of psychotic patients in front of it are the substrata of the following discussion. These data, obtained through clinical observation and related to anthropological findings, will be seen in the light of psychoanalytic theory.



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