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From Dream Analysis to Behavior Analysis

It is not necessarily words that frighten children: certain attitudes, involuntary gestures, a hardly noticeable annoyance may sometimes have much more impact. (Georg Groddeck, 1923, The Book of the It, 217)

The Analysis of Verbal Associations

The interview of the patient must be as objective as possible. We limit ourselves to asking the patient to focus attentively on one of the images of the dream and to express the ideas that they evoke as they appear. (Jean Piaget, 1920, Psychoanalysis and Child

In the case of hysterical patients, free association had centers of clear attention because there was a crisis and manifest symptoms. By “center of attention,” I mean phenomena around which the associations organize themselves repeatedly and which facilitate the pinpointing of the themes that link the symptoms to the underlying mental dynamics. Each association becomes a note in yoga poses the musical score of the mental dynamics that the psychoanalyst is then able to apprehend. in yoga poses the case of neuroses that are not caused by a specific trauma, there are no clear symptoms that serve as a point of departure for the patient’s associations. The analyst is then inundated by associations with which he does not always know what to do. No musical form (fugue, sonata, etc.) allows for structuring all the notes that takes hold of the atmosphere in yoga poses the therapy room, of the soul of the patient and that of the therapist.

Each time a researcher is inundated with data, he follows Descartes’s method. He first concentrates on what can be most easily assimilated. There is hope that once the researcher has clarified the more simple mechanisms, he will be able to confront the increasing complexity. To achieve this, the psychoanalyst typically uses a small repertoire of sexual behaviors as a reference point for associations, because at least he has a theory to support this choice. The reference point is then a key instinctual drive for psychoanalysts. This repertoire of sexual metaphors (castration, primal scene, etc.) often activates strong explicit reactions in yoga poses the patient, which can be used like a symptom, like a reference for a wide range of associations.

Another manifestation that can serve as a center of organization for the associations is a dream. This is even one of the most useful centers, because the dream brings metaphors produced by the patient to the therapist. These metaphors can be used to build a ground of shared associations between the patient and the therapist.82 This is one of the reasons why I think that dreams remain a “royal road” to the unconscious.83

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