Dreaming LifeDreaming Life

Free association is a means of interpreting dreams that psychoanalysts often use. It was pioneered by Freud. You can try this technique on your own. Begin by focusing on a small aspect of your dream. This might be, for example, an event, an image or a word spoken by one of the characters in your dream. Once you have done that, allow associated ideas - memories, words, images - to enter your mind freely.

Ideas will begin to bounce off each other. After you have been free associating for a while, deeper thoughts that have been lurking in your unconscious will emerge. Repressed memories will come to the surface. You may realize that you have been feeling guilty about something or that you regret something you have done. You may become aware of abilities you'd forgotten you had or successes you'd forgotten you had achieved.

Once you feel that you have done all the free associating you can around one aspect of the dream, think of another feature of the dream and free associate based on that. Repeat this process with as many different elements of the dream as you like. As you continue, you may find that you wish to revisit a feature of the dream you thought you were finished with. Go ahead and do so.

As you free associate, make sure that you are relaxed, and that you give yourself enough time to allow a succession of thoughts to flow into your conscious mind easily and naturally. If you suddenly gain an important insight about yourself, don't stop there. Continue to allow new thoughts to enter your consciousness, so that you can learn even more.

Jung's Modification of the Free Association Method

Jung modified Freud's method of dream interpretation, in which the dreamer free associates to arrive at a meaning. In the Jungian method of analysis, the dreamer and the psychoanalyst work together. The analyst adds direction to the process of free association. The analyst asks questions and focuses on aspects of the dream that seem to be important.