The mirror stage is among Lacan’s most important concepts. Human infants (6-18 months), Lacan proposed, see and experience their image reflected in a mirror or represented through the mother or caregiver. While Lacan initially proposed specifically timed developmental stages or moments, he later argued that the mirror is essential to the production of human subjectivity and becomes the organizing experience in the Imaginary register. From the very beginning the imagistic nucleus of the ego is suffused with caregiver narratives (i.e. ‘discourse of the Other’) and encouragements to recognize themselves in the mirror (e.g. ‘such a cute little nose, such cute blue eyes’). The ego is in this way not an organized, integrated or unitary accomplishment, nor the source of autonomous agency, an imagined place of the autonomous T; it is instead a site for projected desire and fantasy of Others. Here, according to Lacan, the ego is an object, not a subject, even though the senses suggest otherwise; it is not the site for autonomous agency, a free, true ‘I’, in control of its own destiny.
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