CriticaLink | Lacan: The Mirror Stage | Terms

fragmented body

In Lacan's presentation of the mirror stage, the infant experiences his or her body as uncoordinated, vulnerable, and insufficient. This sense of frustration with physical limitations propels the infant toward identificaiton with the (apparently) unified and stable imago of the mirror reflection or of the caregiver. The "I" that forms as a result of this identification continues to be haunted by the contrary image of the fragmented body, or of the fundamental vulnerability of the body, which crops up in dreams of losing body parts (such as teeth) or of suffering mutilating injuries. Lacan mentions the Renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch in connection with the fragmented body; Bosch's paintings depict a variety of pierced, wounded, and dismembered human figures.