Mirror Stage: 16th June 1936 (Paris), 3rd August 1936 (Marienbad), 1938, 17th July 1949 (Zurich), 1966: Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on June 16, 1936

For an introductory text, see : A Reader’s Guide to Écrits: 1982: John P. Muller and William J. Richardson or here  or : Introduction (The works of Jacques Lacan: an introduction): 1986: Bice Benvenuto & Roger Kennedy  or here


Time line

Published in English & Alan Sheridan/Jacques-Alain Miller’s Commentary

Bibliographical note pxiii of ‘Écrits, a selection’:


Published in French

References to the mirror stage:

Reference to Sigmund Freud

Other Commentaries

Further Reading


Note : Jacques Lacan delivered an early version of The Mirror Stage to the Fourteenth International Congress of Psychoanalysis in Marienbad (2nd to 8th 1936) with Ernest Jones presiding.  There is clearly a relation between Die zweierlei Mechanismen der Identifizierung : 26th April 1936 – Basel : Gustav Hans Graber  (See  here)   & Jacques Lacan’s presenting in Marienbad.  Both presentations are against a background of the politics in Germany & Switzerland in 1936.  Jacques Lacan, in choosing Graber to cite in Seminar IV : 6th February 1957 (See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here), is not acting in the off the cuff manner, he appears to suggest.

1936: The 1936 Mirror Stage paper, was first presented by Jacques Lacan on 16th June 1936 at the French Psychoanalytic Society [see the notes of Françoise Dolto below] , finalized on 20th July 1936, and then presented at the 14th IPA conference at Marienbad at 3:40 PM on 3rd August 1936, under the chairmanship of Ernest Jones.   He never presented the written text to the IPA. He later claimed that he lost it.

One of the traces of this text : the notes taken by Françoise Dolto during a preliminary conference given by Lacan to the SPP, on June 16, 1936. Françoise Dolto’s notes at the Société psychanalytique de Paris on 16thJune 1936 published in Gérald Guillerault: Le miroir et la psyché; Dolto, Lacan et le stade du miroir; Gallimard, Paris, 2003. Pages 267-272

1949 : The version presented at the 16th IPA conference on 17thJuly 1949 in Zürich and was published in Revue français de psychanalyse no.4 Oct-Dec 1949 and later published in 1966 in the Écrits.

What happened between 1936 and 1949?

The title of the paper changed.

1936 The Mirror Stage Theory of Structuring and Genetic Moment of the Constitution of Reality, conceived in relation to psychoanalytical experience and doctrine . [Le stade du miroir. Théorie d’un moment structurant et génétique de la constitution de la réalité, conçu en relation avec l’expérience et la doctrine psychanalytique]

1949 The Mirror Stage as a Formative Structuring of the ‘I’, as Revealed in the Psychoanalytic Experience. [Le stade du miroir comme formateur de la function du Je, telle qu’elle nous est révélée dans l’experience psychanalytique]

The 1936 “Structuring and Genetic Moment of the Constitution of Reality” became the 1949 “Formative Structuring of the Function of the ‘I’

The shifts are from ‘structuring and genetic moment’ to ‘formative structuring’ and from ’of the constitution reality’ to ‘ the Function of the I’.

Between 1936 and 1949, there is a series of articles referring to his findings:

1938: La famille in Encyclopedie française Vol 8, Paris, 1938 : See Family Complexes in the Formation of the Individual: 1938: Jacques Lacan or here

1945: Le temps logique et l’assertion de certitude anticipée : See Logical Time and the Assertion of Anticipated Certainty: A New Sophism : March 1945 : Jacques Lacan or here

1946 Propos sur la causalité psychique : Presentation on Psychical Causality : 28th September 1946 (Bonneval Hospital) : Jacques Lacan : Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /lacan

But in the 1949 Mirror Stage paper, the ‘je’ is something he articulated in 1945, in his “Logical Time and the Assertion of Anticipated Certainty”

The name changed— due to his development of the articulation of the Mirror Stage related to the notion of time and psychic causality.

In other words, in order to arrive from the 1936 developmental theory of the mirror stage to the 1949 structural theory of the mirror stage, Lacan had to pass through the two papers: Logical Time and On Psychic Causality.

1966: a revised version of this paper is published in in the Écrits

Published in English:

  1. The translation : The Mirror Stage. [Theory of Structuring and Genetic Moment of the Constitution of Reality, conceived in relation to psychoanalytical experience and doctrine] : 16th June 1936 (Paris) : Jacques Lacan

as noted by Françoise Dolts

translated by Anthony Chadwick :

Available at Richard G. Klein’s website www.Freud2Lacan.com or here

The Mirror Stage as a Formative Structuring of the ‘I’ : 17th July 1949 (Zurich) : Jacques Lacan

translation by Jean Roussel, Alan Sheridan & Bruce Fink, bilingual, published at www.Freud2Lacan.net  see  here

2.  Translated Jean Roussel:

2a) The Mirror-phase as Formative of the Function of the I: 1949: New Left Review: no 51: 1968: p71-77

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /lacan  

1b) Reprinted in Slavoj Žižek (ed) Mapping Ideology: Verso, London & New York: 1994: p93-99

3. Translated, from the 1966 edition of the Écrits, by Alan Sheridan:

3a) The Mirror-phase as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience: July 17th 1949 : Published: Écrits, a selection: London, Tavistock: 1977: p1-7 : see Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /lacan

3b) See Richard G. Klein’s website, www.Freud2Lacan.com, bilingual text available here

Commentaries : Translator’s note, Bibliography Note : 1977 : Alan Sheridan & Classified index of the major concepts, Commentary on the graphs : 1966 : Jacques-Alain Miller : from ‘Écrits: a selection’ or here

Bibliographical note pxiii of ‘Écrits, a selection’:

(Note: This is Alan Sheridan’s translation of the introductory note in the 1966 publication of ‘Écrits’.)

The Mirror-phase as Formative of the Function of the I

‘Le stade du mirroir comme formateur de la fonction du Je’.  An earlier version, entitled simply ‘Le stade du miroir, was delivered at the fourteenth International Psychoanalytical Congress, held at Marienbad in August 1936 under the Chairmanship of Ernest Jones. An English translation of this version appeared in ‘The International Journal of Psychoanalysis’: vol 18, part 1: January 1937, under the title, ‘The Looking-Glass Phase’. A much later version was delivered at the sixteenth International Psychoanalytical Congress, in Zurich on July 17, 1949. It was published in the ‘Revue française de psychanalyse: no 4: October-December 1949: p449-55. The present translation is of the later version.


This version is disputed by Jane Gallop (see p75 of ‘Reading Lacan’: Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985 & Lacan’s “Mirror Stage”: Where to Begin: Jane Gallop: published in SubStance (see below): 1982-1983) and by David Ross Fryer (p45 of The intervention of the other: ethical subjectivity in Levinas and Lacan: New York: Other Press, 2005 and available here…….) Apparently, although Jacques Lacan did give the paper at the Marienbad conference, he never submitted it for publication. There is no paper by Lacan in the IJP: 1937 though reference is made to Lacan’s presentation by title.

2b) Reprinted in Dan Latimer (Ed): Contemporary Critical Theory: 1989: Harcourt Brace, New York: p500 – 509

2c) Reprinted in Robert Con Davis and Ronald Schleifer (eds): Contemporary Literary Criticism: Literary and Cultural Studies: 3rd Edition: Longman, NY & London: 1994: p381-386

3) Translated by Bruce Fink:

3a)  Published: ‘Écrits: the first complete edition in English’, W.W. Norton & Company, 2006

Published in French:

a)  Revue française de psychanalyse: no 4: October-December 1949: p449-55

b)  Le stade du mirroir comme formateur de la fonction du Je telle qu’elle nous est révélée dans l’expérience psychanalytique: Écrits: Paris, du Suiel: 1966: p93-100

c)  In French, Published by École Lacanienne de la Psychanalyse (pastoutLacan),here and available here. This is dated the 17th July 1949.

4c) From Gerard Guillerault’s book Le miroir et la psyche, see Richard G. Klein’s website, www.Freud2Lacan.com, available here

References to the mirror stage:

Sem X:  Session of 28th November 1962 at Jacques Lacan: Seminar X: The Anxiety (or Dread): 1962- 1963: Text in English & References

References to Sigmund Freud

Probably  The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here : From SE V p536 : Part VII The Psychology of the Dream-Process, Section B. Regression :

What is presented to us in these words is the idea of psychical locality. I shall entirely disregard the fact that the mental apparatus with which we are here concerned is also known to us in the form of an anatomical preparation, and I shall carefully avoid the temptation to determine psychical locality in any anatomical fashion. I shall remain upon psychological ground, and I propose simply to follow the suggestion that we should picture the instrument which carries out our mental functions as resembling a compound microscope or a photographic apparatus, or something of the kind. On that basis, psychical locality will correspond to a point inside the apparatus at which one of the preliminary stages of an image comes into being. In the microscope and telescope, as we know, these occur in part at ideal points, regions in which no tangible component of the apparatus is situated. I see no necessity to apologize for the imperfections of this or of any similar imagery. Analogies of this kind are only intended to assist us in our attempt to make the complications of mental functioning intelligible by dissecting the function and assigning its different constituent parts different component parts of the apparatus. So far as I know, the experiment has not hitherto been made of using this method of dissection in order to investigate the way in which the mental instrument is put together, and I can see no harm in it. We are justified, in my view, in giving free rein to our speculations so long as we retain the coolness of our judgement and do not mistake the scaffolding for the building.


i)  Ch 1: The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience: A Reader’s Guide to Écrits: John P. Muller & William J. Richardson: Published by International Universities Press, NY, USA: 1982:

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /lacan

Background information & commentaries : A Reader’s Guide to Écrits: 1982: John P. Muller and William J. Richardson or here

ii) ‘Lacan’s “Mirror Stage”: Where to Begin’: Author – Jane Gallop: published in ‘SubStance’: Vol. 11/12, Vol. 11, no. 4 – Vol. 12, no. 1, Issue 37-38: A Special Issue from the Center for Twentieth Century Studies (1982/1983): pp. 118-128: Available here

iii)  p75 of ‘Reading Lacan’: Jane Gallop: Ithaca: Cornell University Press: 1985

iv)  Chapter 2 The Mirror Stage (1936): p47 to 62 of ‘The works of Jacques Lacan: an introduction’: Bice Benvenuto & Roger Kennedy : Free Association Books, London: 1986 : see The works of Jacques Lacan: an introduction : 1986 : Bice Benvenuto & Roger Kennedy  or here

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /lacan

Benvenuto Bice & Roger Kennedy: Content & Introduction of ‘The works of Jacques Lacan: an introduction’:1986: p0 to 27 of ‘The works of Jacques Lacan: an introduction’ Free association Books, London, 1986: Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /authors a-z – Benvenuto or Kennedy

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London

Note : If links to any required text do not work, check www.LacanianWorksExchange.net. If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans.

Other texts

Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan or here

Of the clinic here

Use of power here

Some Lacanian History here

Topology here

Lacanian Transmission here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

By Julia Evans here