The history of the free association movement is one that offers great insight, but limited depth, due to the lack of studies over the past century. – Patrick Mahony
Defining free association is a simple task, but attempting to place it in the proper context with respect to psychoanalysis can be a difficult endeavor. That’s because the number of comments that can be elicited from a patient, which can then be used to further treatment, run the gamut from benign to potentially life-changing.
The basis of this approach is to help bring out everything that’s going on in the mind of the patient, while doing so in a non-judgmental atmosphere. The latter point is especially relevant to achieving the best results, since the thinking is that unconscious or previously repressed memories can come out and expose the root of a particular problem.
Despite Sigmund Freud essentially being the father of the free association movement, Patrick Mahony discovered through his exhaustive research that Freud spent little time expanding on his original thoughts.
In the latter part of 1907, Freud first discussed the topic, but over the remaining 32 years of his life, Patrick Mahony found that any further discussion by Freud merely offered an evolving interpretation of the process.
Some in the field of psychoanalysis believe that using free association becomes too personal for a patient and invests too much authority in the analyst to discover the issue at hand. Others remain adherents to this approach, stating that it’s one of the few ways to reach the unconscious state of a patient.
Regardless of where one lies on the matter, Patrick Mahony found that material discussing the process has been offered in a haphazard manner over the years. That presents boundaries as to how much can be understood about the topic.