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legendenary psychasthenia

A concept developed by the social theorist Roger Caillios, legendary psychasthenia refers to the ability of some animals to alter their appearance in response to their physical environment. A chameleon, for example, changes color in order to blend into its surroundings. Caillois compares this biological phenomenon to psychological experiences of subjects who perceive themselves becoming absorbed into, or mixed up with, the physical space surrounding them (one of his examples is the fear of the dark). Lacan, who associated with Caillois, is intrigued by this idea because it offers another model of a transformation in an individual through an encounter with an external stimulus.