In this article the author tries to problematize and to specify the place of free association within the psychoanalytic cure: this (free?) talking is fundamental to the psychoanalytic method. The starting point is the investigation of some problems in clinical practice, where the drive or jouissance appears in the act of speaking (or in the refusal to talk) – beyond the dimension of the signifier. This is the background for an investigation of the works of Freud and Lacan. First we try to specify the origin of the technique in Freuds works. Then we focus on Lacan’s reworking: from ‘saying everything’ to ‘say wathever comes to mind, say stupid things without hesitation’. The advantage of the latter is that it clarifies the connection between talking and the economy of pleasure or jouissance. This provides an opportunity to answer our questions in a new way. The accent shifts to the ethics of psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic act.
The author writes a long letter to a psychiatric patient with whom he has been corresponding for several years. The letter was written on the occasion of a Congress on chronicity as the central theme (“Psychoanalytic work with chronic patients, Gent, 16. April, 2008). It is primarily a personal letter covering some important themes in their conversations: time, the attitude towards psychiatry, life and death, the father and a woman. The author tries to describe their humane encounter and how this affects both author and patient.