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Little, M.I. (1990). Miss Alice M and her dragon: Recovery of a hidden talent. Free Associations, 1U(20):7-48.

(1990). Free Associations, 1U(20):7-48

Miss Alice M and her dragon: Recovery of a hidden talent

Margaret I. Little

Foreword by F. Robert Rodman

From Dr Little's concise and richly drawn narrative, we gain a feeling for the long process (twenty years) by which the treatment of her patient's life became an integrated whole. The first phase of treatment (ten years) came to an end when, in response to the patient's constant concern with other people's opinions, Dr Little spontaneously said, ‘Oh bother other people.’ This gave Alice the courage to express herself more directly and soon she began to paint. Dr Little's comment is an example of a class of actions of which not much has been written — unguarded and unheralded psychoanalytic gestures that achieve several outcomes at once.

The patient had tended to equate the analyst with her very disturbed mother. Dr Little had been tolerating and interpreting this transference before she openly declared that she was not what the patient thought she was. The effect of announcing herself as entirely new, rather than a version of an already known person, was to give Alice a correspondingly new situation of liberty in which to express herself. She no longer felt required to protect the analyst against the presumed ill consequences of honest self-expression.


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