CriticaLink | Lacan: The Mirror Stage | Terms


In his research into how humans and animals learn and solve problems, Wolfgang Köhler observed that learners experience a moment in which the elements of their task or problem "come together"--in Kohler's terms, emerge as a gestalt--for them in ways that significantly advance their understanding and problem-solving success. This moment of insight is the ah-ha experience. Aha-Erlebnis is the German term to which Lacan alludes. The story of Archimedes of Syracus (287 - 212), who discovered the principle of bouyancy while taking a bath and then ran through the streets naked shouting "eureka!" offers a classical version of the ah-ha experience.

For Lacan, the ah-ha experience is analogous to the mirror stage, which also involves a moment of sudden insight that leads to a significant change in the subject's mental organization.