How effective is the use of free association in psychology? Is it still in common practice today?

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Let’s begin with a definition. “Free Association” is a very basic technique used by psychoanalysts who ask their patients to say everything that comes to mind without censoring themselves or editing anything.

Freud pioneered the practice after becoming frustrated with his colleague, Josef Bruer. Bruer employed hypnosis to treat “hysterical” symptoms of his patients. Under hypnosis, these patients could recall traumatic experiences and some could recall emotional memories that had been repressed (and thus, forgotten). Freud, however, found hypnosis unsatisfactory and began trying other methods of catharsis. Free association was one of those techniques. By the 1890s, he was using free association to help his patients explore their unconscious minds. By doing so, these patients could access their repressed memories and become more aware of their full identities.

Freud would ask the patient to lie down on a couch in his office. He then directed them to reflect on a word or concept...

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