Free Association and Analytic Neutrality
Title: Free association and analytic neutrality: The basic structure of the psychoanalytic situation
Authors: Elliot Adler and Janet L. Bachant
Abstract: This paper re-examines within a contemporary context an essential foundation of classical technique, the psychoanalytic situation. Defined in terms of basic elements of psychoanalytic relatedness which make possible the most profound exploration of human motivation, its core structure is viewed as an extraordinary interpersonal arrangement anchored by two clearly differentiated yet complimentary ways of relating: free-association and analytic neutrality. The patient’s role, organized by the prerequisites of expressive freedom, is counter posed with the psychoanalyst’s, which is structured to empower listening and understanding. Elaborating the parameters of this unique relationship, the authors emphasize the synergic effects of each participants’ activity in creating a vehicle for destabilizing neurotic equilibrium. An extensive discussion of analytic neutrality, conceived as guiding ideal that informs all the analyst’s attitudes and actions in the exploration of psychic reality, is presented. Specifically,
the authors distinguish three essential dimensions which bear upon the interactive process: neutrality with regard to conflict, neutrality with regard to sequence, and neutrality with regard to transference. In contrast to the rigid constraint on human responsiveness often caricatured in the literature, this vision of technical neutrality establishes its vital contribution to the integrity, depth, and tone of any analytic process that unfolds.