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Barratt, B.B. (2013). Free-associating with the bodymind. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 22(3):161-175.

(2013). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 22(3):161-175

Free-associating with the bodymind

Barnaby B. Barratt


The history of attitudes toward Freud's adoption of free-associative discourse, as well as toward the significance of the clinical significance of the free-associative method, is critically reviewed. It is argued that, if one takes the re-inviting of repressed contents back into self-consciousness to be the defining process of psychoanalysis as a discipline (distinguishing it even from those psychotherapies that are based on psychoanalytic models of the mind), then free-associating is indeed the sine qua non of the psychoanalysis process. It is further suggested that whereas Freud's notion of libidinality radically subverts Cartesian dualism, our thinking about the significance of free-associative discourse has too frequently lapsed into the mistaken assumption that free-associating should only be about what “comes to mind.” In this context, a way of free-associating with the “bodymind” is described as an addendum to customary psychoanalytic practices. This augmented method remains faithful to Freud's practice of allowing the voice of sensuality to “join the conversation,” at the same time that its clinical implementation incorporates some of the wisdom concerning “breathwork” that comes from the yogic procedures for cultivating awareness.

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