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Palombo, S.R. (1973). The Associative Memory Tree. Psychoanal. Contemp. Sci., 2(1):205-219.

(1973). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Science, 2(1):205-219

5 Models Derived from Information-Processing Theory

The Associative Memory Tree

Stanley R. Palombo, M.D.

In one of his last technical papers, “Constructions in Analysis,” Freud reiterated his view that the patient “must be brought to recollect certain experiences and the affective impulses called up by them which he has for the time being forgotten” (1937, pp. 257-258). In this paper I shall examine some ways of thinking about the process through which the patient is enabled to achieve this recollection.

Freud went on to say:

We know that his present symptoms and inhibitions are the consequences of repressions of this kind: thus that they are a substitute for these things that he has forgotten. What sort of material does he put at our disposal which we can make use of to put him on the way to recovering the lost memories? All kinds of things. He gives us fragments of these memories in his dreams, invaluable in themselves but seriously distorted as a rule by all the factors concerned in the formation of dreams. Again, he produces ideas, if he gives himself up to “free association,” in which we can discover allusions to the repressed experiences and derivatives of the suppressed affective impulses as well as of the reactions against them. And, finally, there are hints of repetitions of the affects belonging to the repressed material to be found in actions performed by the patient, some fairly important, some trivial, both inside and outside the analytic situation. Our experience has shown that the relation of transference, which becomes established towards the analyst, is particularly calculated to favour the return of these emotional connections. It is out of such raw material—if we may so describe it—that we have to put together what we are in search of (p. 258).

In what follows Freud described not so much a process of searching as the process of reconstruction by the analyst of a coherent understanding of the patient's life experience from these raw materials.

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