Obsolete: The Background

See: The Mind’s Flaw

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Reference: Mindfulness Approach

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The background of free association in the West is found in mesmerism, hypnotism, psychoanalysis and Dianetics. It involves giving commands to the person in highly suggestive state. The Eastern background, however, is found in mindfulness of “seeing things as they are”. It involves clearing up the unassimilated nodes implanted in the mind by the environment and their effects down the line.

Mesmerism

Mesmerism became popular in the 18th century as it did provide some cures by addressing the mind of the person. Franz Mesmer was a German physician with a flamboyant personality. Wikipedia states:

“According to d’Eslon, Mesmer understood health as the free flow of the process of life through thousands of channels in our bodies. Illness was caused by obstacles to this flow. Overcoming these obstacles and restoring flow produced crises, which restored health. When Nature failed to do this spontaneously, contact with a conductor of animal magnetism was a necessary and sufficient remedy. Mesmer aimed to aid or provoke the efforts of Nature. To cure an insane person, for example, involved causing a fit of madness. The advantage of magnetism involved accelerating such crises without danger.”

Mesmer was able to produce crises in his patients by looking fixedly into their eyes using certain hand gestures, gently stroking their arms, and pressing abdominal area of the body with fingers. It appears that Mesmer was triggering hitherto suppressed experiences in people. It was the proper assimilation of those experiences by the person, which affected the cure. That process took place through natural free association.

Hypnotism

In 1841 James Braid claimed to produce the phenomenon of mesmerism without the proximity, acts, or influence of a second party. He defined the phenomenon as “a peculiar condition of the nervous system, induced by a fixed and abstracted attention of the mental and visual eye, on one object, not of an exciting nature. His theory of hypnotism dispelled many fallacies in the theory of Mesmer. Wikipedia states:

“In his later works, Braid reserved the term “hypnotism” for cases in which subjects entered a state of amnesia resembling sleep. For other cases, he spoke of a “mono-ideodynamic” principle to emphasize that the eye-fixation induction technique worked by narrowing the subject’s attention to a single idea or train of thought (“monoideism”), which amplified the effect of the consequent “dominant idea” upon the subject’s body by means of the ideo-dynamic principle.”

But hypnotism did not allow the free association of mesmerism. It did not affect any cures. It only explained the relationship of mental impulses with various systems of the body. This relationship was used by unassimilated nodes to generate illnesses in the person. Free association helped assimilate those nodes and remove their ill effects on the body.

In the course of his investigations Braid reached the conclusion that hypnotism was wholly a matter of suggestion, implying that cures were affected by suggestions. This was a wrong conclusion. The suggestions under hypnotism simply implanted ideas in the person that could not be assimilated into his mental matrix. Hypnotism explained only the problem and not the cure. The cure due to free association was ignored by hypnotism

Psychoanalysis

In early 1890s Freud came up with the system of psychoanalysis for treating mental disorders. He theorized that psychological disturbances are largely caused by personal conflicts existing at the unconscious level. Liberation from the effects of the “unconscious” is achieved by bringing this material into the conscious mind. This was done by patient talking to the therapist, and the therapist guiding the patient until the patient became aware of the hidden causes of his conflicts. Wikipedia states:

“During psychoanalytic sessions…the patient… may lie on a couch, with the analyst often sitting just behind and out of sight. The patient expresses his or her thoughts, including free associations, fantasies and dreams, from which the analyst infers the unconscious conflicts causing the patient’s symptoms and character problems. Through the analysis of these conflicts… the analyst confronts the patient’s pathological defenses to help the patient gain insight.”

Freud recognized the importance of free association. In psychoanalysis, “free association” is one of the techniques to draw unconscious material out of the patient. However, Freud also used hypnotic techniques. Significant liability exists in psychoanalysis in terms of the analyst interpreting that material and adding his own ideas, which may then act on the patient as hypnotic suggestions.

Dianetics

The next advance came in 1950, when Hubbard expounded the Dianetics process of auditing the mind. He theorized that the cause of all psychosomatic illnesses and irrational behavior was an unknown reactive mind that was always “conscious”. Relief came when a person analytically access the painful contents of the reactive mind.

Hubbard addressed the liabilities of psychoanalysis to a large degree, and came up with a much more efficient procedure. The preclear’s ability to freely associate is, however, limited to the “programming” of a person’s case by a Case Supervisor. Upper level procedures seem to condition the person to Hubbard’s esoteric beliefs of “thetan” and “past lives”. In addition there is abundant possibility of misuse of detailed personal information collected by Hubbard’s monopolistic organizations.

Mindfulness

When we look at the Eastern background we find an emphasis on the “therapist” being none other than the person himself. Thus mindfulness does not have the liabilities accrued in the Western systems.

Mindfulness was taught by Buddha 2600 years ago. The discipline of mindfulness requires that one does not avoid, resist, deny or suppress the activity of the mind, but looks at things as they are.

Buddha’s system empowered the individual to handle his psychosomatic illnesses and irrational behavior by his own efforts. It led to a grass roots movement that spread like wildfire. It not only cured but also uplifted a large number of people.

Present Effort

The present effort is to learn from both western and eastern experiences, and to work out techniques that can be applied very simply. The free association of mindfulness is natural.and, therefore, it is a much safer approach.

The next chapter describes the results of the mindfulness application of free association.

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