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Little, M. (1957). 'R'—the Analyst's Total Response to his Patient's Needs. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 38:240-254.

(1957). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 38:240-254

'R'—the Analyst's Total Response to his Patient's Needs

Margaret Little


This paper contains a number of themes each of which requires a paper to itself. In considering them together in their relatedness I am having to condense, and am risking being misunderstood, owing to the inevitable distortion and loss of clarity; at the same time I am making the one paper long and weighty. I hope to do more justice to my themes later, when I can develop them further separately.

The ideas that I am putting forward follow on from those expressed in my previous paper, 'Counter-Transference and the Patient's Response to it'. They have come to me both through analyses of my patients and through my own analysis. I will illustrate them with some material from the analysis of one patient in particular.

Most of the patients I have analysed come into the category known as 'psychopaths' and 'character disorders', some of them being quite seriously ill and disturbed people, with a great deal of psychotic anxiety. Although much of what I have to say seems to apply mostly to patients of this kind, I do not think it is in any way limited to them, but can also apply to both neurotic and psychotic patients.


In my previous paper I tried to find an agreed definition of 'counter-transference', and found that 'The term is used to mean any or all of the following:

a. The analyst's unconscious attitude to the patient.

b. Repressed elements, hitherto unanalysed, in the analyst himself which attach to the patient in the same way as the patient "transfers" to the analyst affects, etc.

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