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During the note-writing method also one's mind may become apparently a blank. In this case write down, "My mind is now a blank.” After writing down this, the writer always found that something or other immediately came into his mind, which he then proceeded to write down. In this way, unpleasant material is approached gradually and by means of a very large number of free-associations with only gradual release of emotion. The large number of associations appears to contribute to the permanence of the beneficial results.
It might be thought that the possibility of a greater number of associations in reaching the repressed material would mean that notewriting would entail a greater time than analysis by an analyst; but the writer found the opposite to be the case. He found that he could write down material which was very unpleasant to him so very much more easily and quickly in the first place by himself than he could tell it to an analyst; but that when it had reached the stage of full consciousness by the method of free-associations sufficiently to be once written down in its proper order, then, after this, he would not mind telling it to anybody. Nevertheless he found it advisable and necessary to keep the notes already written locked up while he was continuing writing, in order to be sure that they were kept from other people's eyes and thus to avoid any unnecessary additional repression against further writing. It is also advisable to keep the notes already written locked up in order to feel that they are safely stored, and are actually in one's possession for a time (and can be read again if one desires to do so), while any remaining trace of affect associated with the particular material dealt with in them becomes worked off in daily life.
The writer determined to try dictating free-associations to an electric recording and dictating machine in the hope that this method might work equally as well as writing out the free-associations, and that much labour and time spent in writing might thus be saved. However, after dictating for a quarter of an hour or so to this machine, he found that this method was not having any therapeutic effect whatever or relieving his mind at all, so he gave it up. He also found far more difficulty in dictating actual words to the machine than in the note-writing of similar material owing to a partly unconscious feeling that "even walls have ears." All the material dictated to the machine came up again in note-writing immediately afterwards; which meant that the other method had not worked, and that the affect associated with this material had not been cleared off his mind by it, and apparently he might as well have dictated to a pillow, or to his desk, as to the machine.
The cause of the entirely different psychological effect of the two methods would be very interesting to find out and the writer thinks it probably arises as follows. He had noticed that he sometimes automatically wrote in his notes, for example, "Now your mind is trying to avoid something," instead of, as might have been expected, "Now my mind is trying to avoid something," and the automatic employment of the second person pronoun rather indicated to him the possibility that much of the effect of the presence of a second person may be actually introduced during the whole time when free-associations are being actually written down. It seems possible to the writer that the actual viewing of the notes which he has just written down may bring actually home to the fully conscious mind of a person the current of his thoughts in a very much clearer form than they were before; or, in other words, that the process of note-writing may be very similar to dictating to oneself, with oneself actually acting as a personal analyst; and if this be so, it may explain the remarkably and entirely different psychological effects of writing down free-associations on paper and of attempting to dictate them to an inanimate object such as a machine or a pillow.
When starting this note-writing method, possibly twenty or more recollections may flash through one's mind while one is writing down the first conscious thought which occurred to one; but no matter. If the first conscious thought has been written down exactly in the manner described it, anyhow, is apt to be done with, from this point of view, for ever. If the next thought to be written down is the next one most insistent in consciousness, this next thought will then be apt to be done with for ever; and the same with the next thought after that. Then only seventeen of the original twenty associations remain to be dealt with; and under these conditions and circumstances, a fresh or additional association is very apt to appear apparently from nowhere. The important thing is that this fresh association is apt to be something comparatively new, and one which would never have been thought of in consciousness again without the note-writing method having eliminated a few cover memories, and having run the mind comparatively short of them. The eighteen then existing associations gradually come up, and are written down as fully conscious thoughts, and eliminated, in odd turns, and along with much other associated (and apparently non-associated) material; and by that time, some repressions will probably have been unearthed, and an entirely new set of associations and cover-memories concealing other repressions will be present in the mind. These will gradually become eliminated in their turn and, with them, various addi
tional repressions, releasing still other associations and cover-memories concealing still further and deeper repressions and complexes.
The method of free-association as described is very different from the method of 'introspection' which has been known and practised for centuries. Very little indeed or comparatively nothing can be done by introspection-it simply gives one a large quantity of cover-memories lying almost solely in the upper layers of the mind, and in a comparatively fixed condition, and all the underlying material remains permanently concealed. Simple introspection also may lead to worry, as one does not get behind or underneath the various points, or split them up and dissolve them, but simply runs up hard and repeatedly against the same rather sore subjects. Analysis as ordinarily understood, or self-analysis by the method described herein, is something quite different from introspection, enabling one to penetrate deeper and deeper still into one's mind and to split up and entirely dissolve all superficial worrying material.
Investigation of his own mind by this process is much the most interesting kind of scientific research which the writer has ever come across up to the present; but, until quite recently, he did not know the instrument or method required for this deep penetration of, and research into, his mind; but thought that any such process was quite impossible, and that his mind must necessarily and for ever remain a closed book to him since it was fairly apparent to him that only such a comparatively very little could be done by the method of introspection-the only method which he knew. As already indicated simple introspection, too, is apt to injure one's health, whereas the analytic process, on the contrary, tends to clear away repressed worry and improves the health.
It is advisable to realise fully at the start the great difficulty of sitting down to note-writing analysis, and of being perfectly frank with one's conscious thoughts from moment to moment. One must not attempt to minimise this difficulty and the strength of the initial surface repressions, nor be discouraged if-like the writer-one is only able at the start to keep one one-hour 'appointment' each week with the note-writing method, instead of perhaps seven.
If, in spite of all this, one nevertheless does one's very best to stick at it, and at keeping the 'appointments,' or at working at the method whenever one can, fairly soon, some of the worst surface repressions will be overcome, one will find one's health and happiness improving, and get quite keen on the method, and on the interesting and beneficial results. The analytical work will then go on apace.
Med. Psych. v
As indicated in the Introduction the writer kept on at the method of writing down his conscious thoughts from moment to moment at first simply because he found that it was continually clearing and relieving his mind-i.e. solely for the therapeutic results. He never thought that writing down only the thoughts most fully conscious at any time, and paying no particular or special attention whatever to dreams, for instance, would eventually lead to deep analytic results; in order to obtain the latter he thought that he ought to aim at paying attention chiefly to any unconscious thoughts which he might have. He now sees, however, that, on the contrary, the former method is right and the best for eventual scientific results, as well as for the clearing of one's mind, i.e. only pay attention to and write down the most fully conscious thoughts at any particular moment-if they happen to be about a dream or phantasy write them down-if they do not happen to be about a dream or phantasy, don't worry, but just write them down whatever they are about, and keep on writing down one's fully conscious thoughts from moment to moment as well and as fast as one can during the analytical period, no matter how rapidly they may wander from subject to subject and no matter how foolish, absurd or irrelevant they may from time to time appear to be.
The writer has heard that one of the chief disadvantages of analysis is the amount of the analyst's time taken, and the resulting expense, and the fact that there are far too few analysts to deal with the number of people who would probably be benefited by or interested in the process. It is very probable that a sound and experienced analyst would obtain results more quickly than they would be obtained by a note-writing method and that in many cases—where people lack determination—a personal analyst may be absolutely essential; but nevertheless the writer feels sure that, given persistence and determination, there is no reason why any mentally fairly healthy person should not become very deeply analysed no matter how far away he may live from any analyst, nor how impossible or inconvenient it may be for him to visit a distant town for this purpose, nor how incapable he may be of affording the usual high cost of analysis. Persistency is all that is required.
The chief benefits the writer received in relation to self-analysis from the analysts were the breaking down of his initial resistances and a clear and conscious realisation of the fact that none whatever of his thoughts were really absurd or irrelevant (no matter how much they might appear to be so on the surface of the mind) and he has already emphasised the importance of these points as strongly as he could.
One great advantage of the method described is that people who think they would be shy of telling their intimate thoughts to another person need not do so; but can just write down these thoughts for themselves, and keep them locked up until they have worked off the feeling regarding them. The writer has already mentioned that the absence of the need of overcoming the resistance of telling each new intimate thought to an analyst, greatly quickened up the process in his case, enabling much more work to be done in the same time.
Another advantage is that one is free from the idiosyncrasies of particular individual analysts—such as the peculiarity of the writer's first analyst, who tried to hold him solely to the analysis of particular individual dreams for several days at a time-no matter how much his conscious thoughts might wander away from it-to his great mental confusion and irritation and the delaying of good results.
It will be found that the getting of a large number of thoughts written down and off one's mind renders the mind clearer, and that one subsequently does the things of greatest importance first in one's daily life more readily than previously when a certain amount of confusion and repression was in the mind. The process also reduces any nervousness which may be present by eventually dissipating the underlying repressed emotion. In this respect it is much better than experimenting with the psycho-galvanic reflex or the word-association test, for the latter processes only indicate the presence of emotion without removing it to any great extent. Nevertheless the removal of emotion is painful, and thus this method requires far greater determination than merely experimenting with the other processes.
One advantage of the results obtained by self-analysis is that they are necessarily free from the generally unfounded criticism-so common in England and America-that the analyst reads the results into the mind of his patient.
SOME PRELIMINARY RESULTS OBTAINED BY NOTE-WRITING ANALYSIS.
In addition to the deep therapeutic recollections from early childhood published in The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis and The Medical Press, already referred to, going back to the ages of 3 years and 11 months respectively, it may be useful to give an account of one or two results obtained in the early stages of the work. This might assist other people to judge by analogy that the process was working properly in their own cases, and thus that they would probably ultimately remember incidents in their very early childhood by continuing