CriticaLink | Lacan: The Mirror Stage | Terms


The French word méconnaissance means to "misconstrue" or "misrecognize," but in English versions of Lacan's work (and critical work on Lacan) it is rarely translated. Lacan stresses that in the mirror stage the image the infant sees in the mirror does not correspond to the actual physical reality the infant experiences. The infant's "recognition" of his or her reflection is in fact an instance of méconnaissance. Throughout the life of the individual, the ego sustains its sense of singularity and autonomy through an ongoing misrecognition of the actual conditions of its existence--in particular, of the fact that its existence depends on others and on the symbolic systems of culture.