L'Information Psychiatrique


From Lacan's “Looking-Glass Phase” to his “Mirror Stage”: An imposture? Volume 96, issue 2, Février 2020


Psychiatre des hôpitaux,
chercheur en éthologie humaine
(U70, Inserm Montpellier, Pr H. Montagner)
* Correspondance

One of Lacan's most influential ideas is that of the “Mirror Stage,” “Looking-Glass Phase” a groundbreaking concept that he first introduced at the Fourteenth International Psychoanalytical Congress in Marienbad in 1936. Much of his subsequent work was developed on the basis of this initial theory at its base. The “mirror stage” gave rise to the creation of the “L schema,” which can be considered as the primary Lacanian topic, insofar as all of his concepts derive from it: the “Other” (A); the “other” (a); the subject (S); the Imaginary (I); the Symbolic (S); and the Real (R). They allow for a new definition of the key psychoanalytic concepts, particularly the Unconscious (Ucs).

However, Lacan's theoretical and experimental demonstration can be criticized, first, because of its attribution to Baldwin, while in reality it is the work of Darwin, who published it in 1877. Second, Lacan uses an insect, a bird, and a primate to illustrate the universality of his discovery, which is both experimentally erroneous and poorly documented from a zoological perspective. Last, the adoption of Structuralism, influenced by Lévi-Strauss, by reducing the psyche to a symbolic and linguistic construct, is reductive and invalidating.

In conclusion, the majority of Lacan's extensive, rich work would benefit from criticism and re-evaluation in line with current thinking.