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Frank, M.M. (2001). On Mirroring and Mirror Hunger. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 24(1):3-29.

(2001). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 24(1):3-29

On Mirroring and Mirror Hunger

Mitchell M. Frank, Psy.D.

The conceptual boundary between mirroring and interpreting is ambiguous, since verbally reflecting mental contents necessarily involves the consideration of meaning. Patients with mirror hunger, a condition of psychological fragmentation involving a chronic striving for self-consolidation through mirroring experiences, often find this ambiguity incomprehensible. They are often dissatisfied with anything but the most concrete mirroring of their verbal contents and fail to respond to another's empathic resonance. Their concreteness is analyzed as an incapacity to participate in an intersubjective field.

Intersubjective fields are cultural mediums in which meanings can expand. This expansion, for individuals, is predicated on formative, affective experiences characterized by simultaneous interpersonal connectedness and differentiation. The ontological coherence of simultaneous connectedness and differentiation is demonstrated through a review of relevant areas of philosophy and of the contemporary infancy research. One conclusion of this analysis is that intersubjective expansion promotes self-consolidation. In mirror hunger, by contrast, there is a heightened drive toward self-consolidation, in the absence of intersubjective processes.

Mirroring is defined in terms of Vygotsky's theory of the zone of proximal development. Winnicott's concept of the potential space is adapted to describe the therapeutic mirroring relationship.

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