CriticaLink | Lacan: The Mirror Stage | Terms

defenses of the ego

After it emerges in the mirror stage, the ego maintains a precarious position in relation to the instinctual forces of the id. In response to impulses that pose an apparent threat to its equilibrium, the ego develops defenses, among them repression and sublimation. While some degree of defense is needed in order to prevent the person from acting on every instinct, the defenses of the ego are also responsible for forms of psychic distress. Like Freud, Lacan sees the bodily symptoms of hysteria as the physical manifestations of repressed desires, and associates obsessional neurosis and paranoia with the ego's attempts to reconcile pressures from the id with the demands of social life.