Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: June 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963978 | Print ISBN: 9781412909280 | Online ISBN: 9781412963978| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Free association is an inadequate translation into English of the German term freier Einfall (meaning “free irruption”), which Sigmund Freud used to characterize ideas that irrupt into consciousness. Freud first described this irruption when he was investigating the causes of symptoms, parapraxes (slips of the tongue), and dreams. As a precondition of analyzing these phenomena, Freud required his patients to attend to what was being analyzed while at the same time suspending their judgment and reporting everything that came to mind. Seemingly irrelevant ideas then often forced themselves into consciousness. The candor required of the patient constituted the fundamental rule of psychoanalysis, and the patient's reporting what came to mind was the method of free association. The thoughts and associations reported by the patient were not complete, continuous, or orderly, ...