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In what way is the technique of 'Free Association' valuable for the practice of Psychotherapy.

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Introduction

In what way is the technique of 'Free Association' valuable for the practice of Psychotherapy. Introduction The method of free association is generally considered to be a cornerstone of psychoanalysis and one of the most important of Freud's discoveries. Freud abandoned hypnosis as a clinical technique and started to use 'free association' as another option. This technique consisted of asking patients to relax and relate anything that came into their minds, regardless of how irrelevant or embarassing the patient thought it to be. Freud's intention was to bring to consciousness possible repressed feelings and thoughts. According to (Rycroft,1979) the free association technique relies on three assumptions: (a) that all lines of thought tend to lead to what is significant; (b) that the patient's therapeutic needs and knowledge that he is in treatment will lead his associations towards what is significant except in so far as resistance operates; (c) that resistance is minimized by relaxation and maximized by concentration. Jung also brought out that associations produced in this way are determined by 'the totality of the ideas related to a specific event that is laden with emotional overtones (Laplanche and Pontalis, 1973). It might be said that the free-association method is meant to bring out the unconscious ideas or assumptions responsible for the presenting conflicts. In this paper I intend to relate how in my experience with a patient, the technique of free association in conjunction with other psychoanalytic techniques made a significant difference in the therapy process. ...read more.

Middle

The supervisor suggested that probably because of his emptiness and nothingness, I could well be just another nothing in his life. In other words, he was transfering 'nothing'to 'nothing'. It is interesting to note that when the supervisor asked me how I felt about being nothing to the patient, I simply replied that I felt 'nothing'. Later thinking about it, I became aware that the image of P. as a friendly, passive and angelic person was kind of a false self. I thought about Winnicott's theory of a false self (Winnicott, 1966). This patient was referred to me on account of his obsessional neurosis and his fear of becoming a warewolf and his lack of purpose in life. My perception of a warewolf was always of something destructive and agressive and that did not agree with his gentle and angelic profile. Nevertheless, I think it was important to explore what the idea of warewolf meant to him. He probably had a different perception from mine and I did not want to risk any interpretation yet. I had in my mind that his fears had something to do with his own agressiveness but this was at an unconscious level. I had doubts about him being ready to face his feelings and decided to leave any interpretation until later. Casting my mind back later, I remembered that a fantasy had come to me when I read the patient's notes before I met him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Since then P. started to admit his irritation with his mother's over protection and his father's obssession of being in control. P. was able to express his sadness at the death of his niece, which according to him he bottled up for four years. P. is still struggling with his lack of purpose and excitement in life but at least is not saying that he feels nothing. He was able to get in contact with his feelings of anger and sadness. I started to feel extremely maternal and protective towards P. but when my feelings were discussed in supervision I was able to identify my counter transference. I was like his mother, caring and overprotective. Being aware of the counter transference facilitated my work with P. and enabled me to interpretate the uncounscious communication with less difficulty. P. was my first patient and my inexperience with psychoanalysis made me feel inadequate sometimes when I was not able to interpretate the unsconscious communications. Nevertheless we did achieve something with the technique of free association. P. did not have to be a 'clown' with me and we will be working together in order that P. can be outside the sessions what he started to be during the therapy process. This would be the real P. (using his words) and not just what people want him to be. I am aware that it is a long process, but at least if trust was established, we can continue the therapy. ...read more.

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