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The Free Association and the Archeology of the Mind

The Free Association and the Archeology of the Mind

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The unconscious is only pathological because we live in disharmony with him and, in doing so, we live against our instincts, if a transcendental functioning is achieved, the lack of unity is resolved, and in this way the aspects can be exploited helpful of the unconscious with its unique subliminal psychic contents, it can put at our disposal something we had forgotten and give us access to wisdom" Carl G. Jung

The differentiation between the psychic in conscious and unconscious is the first fundamental premise of psychoanalysis, it allows the individual to reach the intelligence of the pathological processes of psychic life, so frequent, as important. A psychic element as a perception, for example, is not usually purely conscious. Conversely, consciousness is a state of transience, it can be said that it is latent.

The conflict between the three psychic instances: me, it and surpassed, generate anguish. The I Try to protect yourself, through defense mechanisms. Freud observed that there is an expectant anguish, freely floating and willing to connect temporarily to any emerging possibility, as in typical neuroses.

Sigmund Freud At first I thought, that the hypnotic method it offered him an excellent vehicle to dig up the buried unconscious material. Later, as he progressed in his practice, he felt dissatisfied with these processes, as the main means to that end.


  • 1 What is the "free association" method within psychoanalysis?
  • 2 Archeology of the mind through free association
  • 3 Association management, according to Sigmund Freud
  • 4 What are failed acts?
  • 5 Jokes, humor and the unconscious
  • 6 References

What is the "free association" method within psychoanalysis?

In this way, he proposes the method of free association, through which the patient expresses everything that occurs “without filters”, his ideas, thoughts, images and emotions can be exposed as presented, without selecting them, makeup or censor them in some way, no matter if they seem impertinent, incoherent, devoid of interest or are not socially accepted, unlike logical thinking; thus conscious prejudices can be released through speech, so it represents the analytical rule par excellence.

Carl Jung He also claimed that the neurotic eludes consciousness and reduces it by the fragmentation of the self, a process that he said is unfair to the potential of the individual:

Only a unified personality can experience life;not the one that is hidden in partial aspects”.

Carl Rogers said about it, that the patient who does “insight”, Develops aspects outside the consciousness that enter into it through “patient free expression ”.

The term "free", within the psychoanalytic context, highlights the following observations:

  1. The development of associations can be considered free to the extent that is not oriented and controlled by a selective intention or even some starting point.
  2. The word "freedom" should not be taken in the sense of an indeterminacy, the rule of free association tends above all to suppress the voluntary selection of thoughts, that is, in the terminology of the first Freudian topic to eliminate the intervention of the second censorship, located between the conscious and the preconscious, in this way unconscious defenses are revealed.
  3. The method of free associations aims to highlight a certain order of the unconscious, when unconscious representations are abandoned, the course of them becomes governed by previously hidden manifestations, often unexpectedly emanate pathogenic reminiscences from which the person spontaneously discharges through word or speech.

Archeology of the mind through free association

Free association represents a constituent of the psychoanalytic technique. These links can be induced by a word, an element of a dream or any other object of spontaneous thought. The person who is being psychoanalyzed has to be induced to remember something that he has experienced, that is repressed, generally, the patient can be asked to remember or refer to both recent and past events.

The work of the psychoanalyst is to make emerge what has been forgotten from the "traces" left behind by the event or its reminiscences, to "rebuild it." Reconstruction work is much like an archaeological excavation of a house or an old building that has been destroyed.

Just as the archaeologist reconstructs the walls of the building through the foundations that have remained, the psychoanalyst does the same when he deduces his conclusions from the fragments of memories, associations and behavior of the subject" Sigmund Freud

The technique of free association helps to bring to light what is hidden to be able to work on that, thus acting as psychoanalysts as “archaeologists of the mind" Although in these works: reconstruction only represents preliminary work.

Freud denounced the pernicious effects of self-censorship on intellectual productions, said that to be an original writer, for example, it was necessary to write everything that comes to mind without any objection, referring to free association method in writing.

That is why, many times, in psychotherapy the patient is asked to write about their dreams, since associative links can be discovered and they serve as an important reference for the discovery of the associative chains that will lead to other thoughts and to the interpretation of the dream itself.

It is common that within a psychotherapeutic process the person is asked to write about some other event, since in the writing they can be reflected, both the associative links of aspects that need to be treated, such as the graphology, through the traits of writing, psychological characteristics of people can be revealed.

You may be interested in: Basic Graphology Course

Association Management, according to Sigmund Freud

In some way, these associations are not free at all, but are the result of unconscious forces that determine the direction of the associations:

  1. The oral mistake and its subgroups: false hearing, error in reading or writing.
  2. The forgetting with its subdivisions corresponding to the forgotten object: proper names, foreign words, purposes or impressions.
  3. The wrong term acts, the impossibility of finding an object that is believed to be left in one place and cases of definitive loss.

What are failed acts?

The failed acts they are psychic acts that owe their origin to joint action, or perhaps, to the opposition of two different intentions. They occur when a person says one word for another, writes something different to what he intended, reads a text differently than it is written, when he hears something uneven to what is said, without any auditory condition.

Although failed acts are presented in many circumstances as "correct", simply they are called that way because they replace what the person intended or expected to say or do. In this way, the technique allows you to open the doors to the unconscious so that the psychotherapist can learn more about the motivations, the fantasies and what conflicts the patient.

Jokes, humor and the unconscious

Hidden or hidden aspects of the unconscious emerge from the joke, It's a playful trial as Fischer called it. On the other hand, Sigmund Freud was already talking about the importance of humor in order to succeed over real circumstances, he said that:

Humor is not resigned, but rebellious; which not only means triumph of the self, but also of the pleasure principle”.


Free association is a therapeutic and pillar method within psychoanalysis; where, the patient can express himself freely and without objection, which can be somewhat complex, since both logical and rational thinking, as well as surpassed and the I mainly, they will try to put obstacles to this process. Therefore, the psychoanalyst has to create an environment of trust and containment, so that the patient can feel more comfortable and be more willing to make their free associations, leaving behind schematizations and paradigms to which he is accustomed, when the patient He succeeds, psychotherapy progresses.

The psychotherapist as a "Archaeologist of the mind", through free association, you can find reminiscences about which you can help “rebuild” the individual and the latter in turn can generate changes in his own person.

Related Posts

Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychoanalysis and self defense mechanisms
The Repression and its masks

Bibliographic references

  • Freud, Sigmund (1981).Complete works of Sigmund Freud. Volume I, II and III. 4th. Edition. Spain: New Library Editorial.
  • Bleichmar, N. M .; Lieberman, C. and Cols. (1989).Psychoanalysis after Freud. Mexico: Eleia Editores.
  • Singer, Erwin. (1979). Fundamental concepts of Psychotherapy. Mexico: Economic Culture Fund.
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