Methodological evolution and clinical application of C.G. Jung's Word Association Experiment: A follow-up study

Caterina Vezzoli, Cinzia Bressi, Giorgio Tricarico, Paolo Boato, Chiara Cattaneo, Umberto Visentin, Giordano Invernizzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We became interested in the clinical application of the Word Association Experiment (AE) when we decided to use Jung's theory of complexes in the psycho-diagnostic evaluation and treatment of patients applying to our Psychotherapy Out-patients Unit (Psychiatric Clinic, Milan University). In psychopathological situations, complexes with a particularly high emotional charge become autonomous and disturbing, inhibiting the ego's functions. The representations and affective states corresponding to these complexes become dominant, conditioning the expression of symptoms and the subject's relational modes. In this experimental study we started out from the basic theory that our psycho-therapeutic work should lead to a progressive change in the patient's initial complex set up. Jung's Word Association Experiment allows us to identify those words which indicate and stimulate a specific activation of the complexes for each subject via specific markers of complexes. We therefore decided to determine whether AE, administered during the first phase of clinical-diagnostic evaluation and after one year of treatment, revealed any changes occurring in the patients' set up of complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-108
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Analytical Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


  • Archetypal nucleus
  • Complexes
  • Psychodiagnostic evaluation
  • Relational modes
  • Shadow aspects
  • Word Association Experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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