The Image In Front Of The Mirror

Submitted by: Kadence Buchanan

In pursuit for the true meaning entailed in Freud’s attempts to comprehend human cognition, Jacques Lacan elaborates in Ecrits on the relationship between the signifier and the signified as a method of asserting reality, while challenging the reader to seek the meaningful question that needs to be answered. “Who am I?” Using more or less the Socrates methodology of an imaginary dialog between the reader and himself, Lacan enters the world of reality using as his tools the algorithms of metonymic and metaphoric structures. By defining their interrelated existence along with their opposing role in a person’s understanding about what he defines as “nature” and oneself, Lacan penetrates the eternal battle between conscious and unconscious thought.

Beginning his journey with the fundamental notion of “I think, therefore I am”, directs the reader to accept a revised definition of the same principle, through the use of negation. Specifically, he asserts that: “I am not, where I am the plaything of my thought; I think about what I am where I do not think I am thinking”. Through this belief, Lacan introduces the power of negating oneself in order to define existential affirmation. It seems like the mirroring result of the “reality principle” on which he refers to in “The Mirror Stage” is actually the identification of a concrete whole through the realization of the surrounding context in which one lives in. The mirror in his unfolding is the unavoidable truth that cannot be disputed and the first thing that reveals one’s existence prior to the actual realization of that mere cognitive self. Although language, signs and all kinds of discourse have made this identification procedure easier for individuals to comprehend, Lacan disputes their initial role in the theoretical perspectives of psychoanalysis and constructs a new environment for them to flourish. They become the artifacts through which sane or insane people conceptualize the world around them and interpret their own intentions.


Continuing his quest in realizing this battlefield between truth and reality, Lacan refers to the connection between dreams and unconscious representation, subjecting himself in different views regarding true intentions and actual desires. Using Freud’s initial attempt to foresee one’s inclinations and the ego’s role in the superstructure of dreams, Lacan manages to derive an interesting conclusion regarding this process. “…we cannot confine ourselves to giving a new truth its rightful place, for the point is to take up our place in it. The truth requires us to go out of our way. We cannot do so by simply getting used to it. We get used to reality. The truth we repress.” Then if reality is the truth we repress so as to hold on to our role in this process, what do we see when we look ourselves in the mirror? A lie perhaps? Or just the unknown reality that challenges our comprehension so much that makes us unable to search the deeper source of this truth?

Whatever the answer is for each and every one of us, the issue still remains whether we want to compromise the next time we look in the mirror. “Ignoring the self’s radical eccentricity”, according to Freud and Lacan, “is a resorting to compromise which disorients all psychoanalytic action and plunges it into darkness.” Although the initial desire is that of inner freedom and truth, traveling towards this goal can become the actual prize one gains and the process that makes us consider reaching a mature state of self-actualization and attain self-respect. As Homer has revealed centuries ago, Ithaca is not the issue in this journey, it is the voyage itself that counts. From what it seems, all we humans can do in the meanwhile, is take the risk of continuing our own journey and look from time to time into the mirror of our lives.

About the Author: Kadence Buchanan writes articles on many topics including




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