Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To open articles without exiting the current webpage…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To open articles without exiting your current search or webpage, press Ctrl + Left Mouse Button while hovering over the desired link. It will open in a new Tab in your internet browser.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Little, M.I. (1987). On the value of regression to dependence. Free Associations, 1(10):7-22.

(1987). Free Associations, 1(10):7-22

On the value of regression to dependence

Margaret I. Little

The hunter and the animals he seeks seem to join and become part of one another and of all the life there is.

James Houston, ‘Spirit Wrestler’


In my paper (1985) ‘Winnicott working in areas where psychotic anxieties predominate — a personal record’ I wrote of continued self-analysis after the termination with Winnicott in 1957, and of ‘reconsidering the value of the regression, seeing it… especially the time in hospital as a challenge to determine which would prove the stronger, the sickness or the health, which were both there’ (Little, 1985, p. 37).

This consideration has its validity, but beyond what the experience brought me for myself there is a much wider value: for my own patients, for Winnicott, and for those psychoanalysts who are willing to allow such regression in their treatment of psychotic patients.


Except for its concluding section on Winnicott as teacher, the paper (which I have to hope has been read and understood) was written from the viewpoint of a patient, a borderline psychotic. It contains little reference to the theoretical and practical considerations which concern the analyst.

From the analyst's point of view the value of regression to dependence can be stated very simply: it is a means by which areas where psychotic anxieties predominate can be explored, early experiences uncovered, and underlying delusional ideas recognized and resolved, via the transference/countertransference partnership of analyst and analysand, in both positive and negative phases. In practice, of course, it is not so simple.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.