What Makes Free Association Work and Why Does It Fail?

free association

If you’re looking for the mindset association with inner dynamics training, visit this page. 

Freud asked patients to free associate. We all know that.

But what’s the proper mindset for free associating effectively. Yes, there are ways to free associate correctly! Doing it wrong will impede progress. Let’s make sense of this.

Free Associating the Right Way

To free associate well, you need to understand the following:

  • Purpose of Free Association
  • The Goal of Free Associating
  • Free Association’s Mechanism

The Purpose of Free Association

The purpose of free association is to facilitate psychic healing. It’s a method used with intention and that intention is to increase mental wellness. Simple!

The Goal of Free Association

When you practice free association in a clinic setting, the goal is to discover unconscious information that had been forgotten or repressed.

Free association aims to uncover the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that operate outside of conscious awareness. When you’re emotionally suffering for no apparent reason, apparent is the operative word. It’s not apparent to you consciously.

Free Association’s Key Mechanism

Here’s the key to fulfilling the goal and purpose of free association. Get the mechanics right!

Anyone can free associate. All you do is relax and say out loud any thoughts or feelings that enter your mind, without editing any of them.

Without. Editing. 

Oh yes! We have the foundational healing mechanism. It’s something you don’t do. Do not edit your thoughts and feelings before expressing them.

Now, you may not know your unconscious mind. It’s powerful and opinionated and NOT concerned with what other people might think if you let some of it’s darker thoughts out.

You are concerned, of course!

What will the psychoanalyst think? Am I an awful person for feeling this way? If I say this out loud, does that make it true? It can’t be true!

Yet, if you’re doing true (not fake) free association, express those horrific, morbid, socially unacceptable thoughts and feelings just the same. Put them on the psychic table. If you don’t, you’re not free associating. You’re offering edited commentary, most of which will be useless in your healing.