MIRROR STAGE (Lacan) : The young child's identification with his own image (what Lacan terms the "Ideal-I" or "ideal ego"), a stage that occurs anywhere from 6-18 months of age. For Lacan, this act marks the primordial recognition of one's self as "I," although at a point before entrance into language and the symbolic order. This stage's misrecognition or méconnaissance (seeing an ideal-I where there is a fragmented, chaotic body) subsequently "characterizes the ego in all its structures" (Écrits 6). In particular, this creation of an ideal version of the self gives pre-verbal impetus to the creation of narcissistic phantasies in the fully developed subject. That fantasy image of oneself can be filled in by others who we may want to emulate in our adult lives (role models, et cetera), anyone that we set up as a mirror for ourselves. The mirror stage establishes what Lacan terms the "imaginary order" and, through the imaginary, continues to assert its influence on the subject even after the subject enters the symbolic order. See the Lacan Module on Psychosexual Development.
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