CriticaLink | Lacan: The Mirror Stage | Terms

perception-consciousness system

Freud's account of the interactions of the psyche and external reality includes a technical description of the perception-consciousness system, the part of the psychic apparatus that takes in sensory impressions and "sorts" them according to their relation to instinctual impulses. Some of the material brought in through perception is immediately conscious, while some remains preconscious, available to consciousness by way of later recollection or in dreams.

In this essay on the mirror stage, Lacan criticizes versions of psychoanalysis that put too much emphasis on the perception-consciousness system and the capacity of the ego to correlate impulses from the id with the actual conditions of the subject's existence. His own model of the psyche suggests that our perceptions of reality are immediately caught up in méconnaissance, so that our understanding of reality is always filtered through (and distorted within) the internally divided ego.