Free Association, Psychoanalysis and

The method of free association, developed by Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) to replace hypnosis in psychoanalytic treatment, is one of the grounding tools of psychoanalytic techniques. It implies that the patient communicates his or her unconstrained flow of thoughts together with ideas that seem to emerge spontaneously, during sessions, to the analyst, relinquishing the critical function of thought selection that is normally in operation. According to Freud, this was the only way to let unconscious wishes and pathogenic memories come forth and it was the only rule that had to be imparted to patients from the beginning of the treatment. Freud called it the “fundamental rule” or the “basic rule” of psychoanalysis. This entry reviews the origins, development, and theoretical framework of free association and ...

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