Mirrors and Reflexive processes: From Looking Oneself in the Mirror to Sensemaking Processes of One’s Own Experience

  • Raffaele De Luca Picione
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 141)


The reflection is an activity of thinking that involves the ability of the subject to think about himself. Such a return on himself of the thinking has always been associated with mirror features – understood as a physical device that enables the process of reflection of an image. The pervasiveness of this specular object in the cultural human life is documented by myths, superstitions, rituals, folk traditions, habits, novels and literature, etc. They invite us to deal with the mirror (as a process of knowledge, truth, discorvering) but at the same time to be in alert from the risks and dangers connected to it (capture, illusion, lying, falsehood). Indeed looking in the mirror and recognize oneself is not a trivial psychic operation. Animal and comparative psychology, developmental psychology, cultural psychology and dynamic psychology have long expended on the importance for the human being of this acquisition. In this work by comparing the semiotic studies of the mirror and dynamic psychology (specifically some psychoanalytic theories) we intend to outline some characteristics of human reflection as an open (never-ending) process of sensemaking of his own experience. It implies: (1) the ability to recognize themselves; (2) the acquisition of a subjective position in the first person starting from relationship with otherness; (3) defining and modulating an epistemic perspective of observation about oneself and the surrounding world around; (4) being able to tolerate the impossibility to be (namely to coincide with) one’s own image; (5) crossing the present time of the specular image integrating it into a multi-temporal perspective, which is a plastic gestalt of the past (i.e. continuous reformulation of experiences by memory processes) and the future (as expectation of possible worlds by creative and imaginative processes). Finally, we discuss the psychological relevance of these five points in a therapeutic setting, inasmuch they are crucial knots to be taken into account in a psychotherapeutic path of psychodynamic orientation.


Dynamic psychology Sense-making Semiotics Psychoanalysis Reflexivity Alterity 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Raffaele De Luca Picione
    • 1
  1. 1.SInAPSI CenterUniversity Federico IINaplesItaly

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