Send to

Choose Destination
J Am Acad Psychoanal Dyn Psychiatry. 2005 Summer;33(2):249-73.

Free association reconsidered: the talking cure, the writing cure.


It has not been fully appreciated that psychoanalysis, in its origins, was both a talking and a writing cure. When Freud instructed his patients to say whatever came to mind, using words to verbalize that which was preconscious replaced the hypnotic technique as the "talking cure" and was the beginning of the psychoanalytic method. Freud used writing to an internal other in his self-analysis, and his free association writing has had an enormous influence on psychoanalysis. This author has introduced writing into the treatment of some patients and has found it invaluable with psychosomatic patients, including those who suffer from eating disorders and self-injury, because they tend to use their bodies rather than words to express emotions. Today's "widening scope" evokes a need to develop newer techniques, especially with patients who are unusually resistant to free associating or whose thinking is presymbolic. Caution must be taken that writing eases the resistance to free association and does not serve as a source of resistance itself, and that it serves creative rather than destructive aims. A little-known event in psychoanalytic history is instructive: E. Pickworth Farrow, a former psychoanalytic patient, devised a self-analytic process through writing down his free associations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center