Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory – the Origin of Freud’s “Free Association” and “Dream Analysis”


It is impossible to talk about hypnosis without mentioning Freud (Father of Psychoanalysis) in the early 20th century, and his expertise in dream interpretation, free association therapy and the treatment of hysteria. How did Freud learn hypnotherapy? In the field of self-development and potential learning, he would have to rank behind Messmore and Lippert, because the first two had been self-taught, and Freud had learned it by taking hypnotherapy courses in medical school. His teacher was Dr. Jean-martin Charcot, a professor of neurology specializing in hysteria. Charcot specializes in hypnotic techniques, but doesn’t like to write books or reason, nor does he answer questions about therapeutic mechanisms. Perhaps it was the style of Charcot that made Freud so uncomfortable that he struggled to write after learning hypnotism. Freud and his colleagues not only wrote a book called “Studies on Hysteria”, also created a lot of description or explain the phenomenon of hypnosis nouns, such as “death instinct”, “survival instinct” and “unconscious” and “free association” and “dream analysis” and so on, thus became the first person to hypnosis in the treatment of psychological problems, also won the title of “Psychoanalysis Master” and “Father of Psychoanalysis”.

Freud’s hypnosis treatment is very special. He will ask the patient to take a comfortable hot bath before performing hypnotherapy, and then massage by a special person. After the body and mind relax, he will begin to practice hypnotherapy. Because the patient feels too comfortable and the treatment site is in a hidden mental hospital or private clinic, some enthusiastic female patients have a good impression on him, and even have a lot of scandals. Even his students have ever seen Freud and the female patient enthusiasm, although Freud denied it, and finally stopped the treatment.


However, there are different opinions on what made Freud willing to give up the “hypnosis” therapy of fame and fortune. There are about five reasons:

(1) Although with hypnotic treatment hysterical symptom is effective, but the time that maintains is not long, easy relapse, or after original symptom disappears, metastasize, produce new symptom, make a person feel troubled. Therefore under the pressure of the psychological community to abandon hypnotic treatment.

(2) Freud discovered that his hypnosis technique was not very good, so he gave up hypnosis and turned to what scholars call “fundamental techniques of therapy”, such as free association or dream interpretation.

(3) Some people think that Freud had to wear false teeth to speak clearly, but at that time the manufacturing technology was not good, he also reluctant to change a pair of false teeth, so when using language skills to guide a case into a hypnotic state, often because of unclear pronunciation or speech, and finally give up. It is well documented that Freud did suffer from oral cancer in his later years and that he had several surgeries.

(4) Freud found that the hypnotized person is prone to strong empathy after waking up, and thus inadvertently falls in love with the surgeon. This is his strength and the most vulnerable part: because he is afraid to deal with his own emotional problems caused by the “anti-empathy effect.” Freud had to turn to the “blank projection technique”, hiding behind the case, avoiding contact with the body or eyes as much as possible, and asking the case to talk more and the therapist to talk less, so as to avoid the chance of having a scandal.

(5) The academic community is reluctant to admit that this is the result of the factional struggle within the psychoanalytic school. It is said that a female patient who gave Freud a very warm hug after hypnosis was caught by one of his students. After the news came out, the academic community criticized him for violating the custom “avoid physical contact with individual cases”. His students have also distanced themselves from him in order to protect themselves. Under the major blow, he had to claim to give up “hypnosis”.

In fact, Freud turned hypnosis treatment skills into “free association” and “dream analysis” theory, and continued to glow. However, it is a pity that future generations of psychotherapists, whether doctors, scholars or psychotherapists, think that Freud has abandoned the theory of hypnosis, thus causing misunderstanding and doubt on the effect of hypnosis and affecting the subsequent development. In fact, anyone who knows hypnotherapy well knows that Freud’s later “free association” and “dream analysis” were variations on hypnotherapy techniques. In other words, “hypnotic psychoanalytic treatment” was the “orthodox psychotherapy” that Freud, the father of psychotherapy, insisted on all his life.


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