The essential writings of Jacques Lacan are primarily concerned with his seminal development of the “mirror stage” of psychology. Lacan’s introduction of that psychological concept is steeped in the inescapable fact that we all create an illusory self-image during the earliest mechanics of the creation of personality in our youth. The problem for the future is that this mirror image of the self becomes our defining sense of self-awareness that guides us through the rest of our life.
Lacan’s major contribution to psychology are forwarded in his writings that are essential to fully developing an understanding that this “mirror stage” actually disengages a person from their psyche to the point that the image presented to the world become in essence a sort of semi-autobiographical fictional persona. This fictional persona gains the strength within our mind of being irretrievably intertwined with the actual psychological persona that guides our subconscious motivations, thus placing the false self in a conflict with the real self. The ultimate revelation when it comes—if it ever does arrive—is that that image we have created for ourselves is mostly an illusion that is incomplete at best and an instance of completely falsity under the worst conditions of personality development.
While it may be equally impossible to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of Lacanian dynamics, the closest one can get to a guarantee of a full understanding is to work one’s way through these essential writings chronologically. One is definitely helped along to understanding what Lacan is developing by taking the same journey through development of those ideas as he himself confronted them through a career that helped these works establish Lacan as one of the most important and influential figures in applying psychology to critical thought if not necessarily applying his concepts directly to psychoanalysis.