ClassicContemporary/Exercises The Freudian Unconscious.html
“My Unconscious Made Me Do It!â€â€“ The Freudian Unconscious
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Free AssociationÂ was Freud’s major tool of investigation. It involves first clearing our minds of thoughts and then saying whatever comes to mind, no matter if it’s surprising or embarrassing. This technique was suggested to Freud by one of his patients, who (during a therapy session) told him to stop interrupting her and just let her talk.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The idea here is that we are temporarily bypassing the protective barrier to the unconscious (which Freud thought was theÂ censoring mechanismÂ of the ego). That is, unconscious forces determine the nature and direction the associations take. As one association leads to another, we get closer and closer to our unconscious urges and our “true feelings.” Freud believed that our random associations hold valuable psychological material.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Free association sometimes can be more structured and trickier than simply saying whatever comes to mind. For example, the therapist might run through a list of words and have the client report what comes to mind in response to each word.
An Example of Free Association
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Let’s try an example of free association. This exercise works better if you try it with another person. Ask someone (ideally, a person who is comfortable around you) to follow these instructions:
Please relax and close your eyesÂ [it is even better if the person reclines in a chair or on a couch].Â [Once the person is relaxed]Â Now, I’d like you to simply say the first thing that comes to mind when I say the following words. Don’t worry about what you say. In fact, purposely don’t think about the words! Just say whatever comes to mind automatically.
Are you ready?
Okay, let’s begin:Â [work through each word every 2-3 seconds]Â –Â â€œrock,â€ â€œfish,â€ â€œlove,â€ â€œnight,â€ â€œmother,â€ â€œsnakeâ€Â [feel free to use different words here!]
Normally, most people might respond with associations like “hard, â€œwater,â€ â€œmarriage,â€ “day,” â€œfather,â€ or “grass” but if the assessor moves quickly enough, some interesting exceptions (â€œfearâ€ or â€œshameâ€ or â€œkillâ€) might intrude.
Freudian Dream Interpretation
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â For Freud, dreams are the “royal road to the unconscious.”Â We have all had powerful dreams that strongly affected us in the past. Freud believed that dreams allow our id impulses to be safely expressed, and he thought of them as a form of symbolic wish fulfillment. That is, every dream represents an attempt to fulfill a wish of some kind. For Freud, dreams are carefully constructedÂ camouflagesÂ in which there is always aÂ concealedÂ wish and aÂ trueÂ meaning to be found.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In order to make sense out of what are often “nonsensical” dreams, Freud argued that we need to distinguish between a dream’sÂ manifest contentÂ (what is seen and remembered) and i