The birth of the subjectivity in the person was exemplified by Lacan in his writing in the `Mirror Stage´ (Lacan, 1977). In this paper, he describes how a child’s and a chimpanzee’s reactions in front of the mirror are similar until some stage in their maturity- approximately six months old- when the child develops an interest in the mirror image whereas the chimpanzee does not.
What in fact happens here is that the child starts to be captivated by his specular reflection in the mirror, and he finds in this reflection that he is watching something new, something that gives him a hypnotic fascination: Himself.
Thus, this image gives him a visualisation of his body as a whole, offering to the child the image of a primordial symbolic matrix where the I of him is precipitated. At the same time, such an image introduces the child to a relationship of symmetry and reciprocity, but also to a relationship of frustration or fullness with himself. From that moment on, the child will be impregnated by his own figure, with the phantoms of its reality and with his imagination.
Part of the hypnotism of the image can be explained “due to the imaginary triumph in anticipating a degree of muscular development he has not yet reached” (Lacan, 1977:11). In this way, the image in the mirror reconstructs the whole in the face of the limitations that the child feels with respect of his own body, which at this stage can only give him/her a feeling of fragmentation and a lack of corporal coordination, typical of the development that it is undergoing.
©Sebastian Guerrini, 2009