This paper consists of a critical revision and detailed account of Freudian references above all, although other authors are also taken into account, concerning the use of the rule of free association in the analyzing and of free-floating attention in the analyst, both essential components of the psychoanalytic dialogue. Also broached is the current situation concerning the application of these therapeutic tools in psychoanalytic treatment and psychoanalytic psychotherapies. Due to its length, the paper has been divided into two parts. The first, herein presented, is totally dedicated to free association. The second, the publication of which is foreseen in the next issue of this journal, refers to free-floating attention. The two describe the metapsychological foundations of the application of these peculiar forms of communication and how they operate in the mind of the analyzing and analyst. Personal contributions of the author are also provided as well as some of the controversies and misunderstandings that the use of these tools has raised. Clinical vignettes that illustrate the various aspects of the subject are also presented.
psychoanalytic dialogue, free association, free-floating attention, metapsychology, controversies, resistances, counter-resistances.
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