R : The analyst’s total response to his patient’s needs : 1957 : Margaret Little

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1957


International Journal for Psycho-Analysis, 1957: May – Aug 1957: Parts III – IV.

[Updated 7.1.2012] And republished as p51-80 of Margaret I. Little, ‘Transference Neurosis and Transference Psychosis: Towards Basic Unity’, Aronson, New York & London, 1981

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /authors a-z or authors by date

Some notes on Lacan’s use of Margaret Little’s texts in ‘Seminar X: The Anxiety or Dread: 1962-1963’ Created Tuesday 22nd November 2011, so have been in my ‘to do’ file for over 10 years.  I post them without checking them in case they are of use. JE January 2021

Jacques Lacan refers to this text in Seminar X : 30th January 1963 : pX 4 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : see Seminar X: The Anxiety (or Dread): 1962-1963: begins 14th November 1962: Jacques Lacan: Text in English & References : Available here

From Margaret Little’s text 

The Symbol “R” p52:  Humpty Dumpty said, “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less,” and when Alice questioned whether you can make words mean so many different things, he replied: “The question is, which is to be Master – that’s all.” Our difficulty here is to get one word not to mean as many different things as there are people using it.

P53  Definitions: Total response: Limitations can be imposed to make the amount of interpretation maximal and of other kinds of behavior minimal, but too great limitation leads to rigidity and stereotypy. Limitations cannot be absolute or standardized. It would not be desirable even if they could, as it would only too soon involve the negation of a basic principle – that of the value of the individual (both to himself and to society) whether that individual be the analyst or the patient.

P54 Responsibility: Responsibility in analysis is not a simple thing: the analyst has only a responsibility to his patient. He has also a responsibility to himself, to psychoanalysis, and to the community. There are many responsibilities which his patient or society would like to put on him, but there are also limits to his responsibility. …

There are roughly three classes of patient, the outlines of the classes being ill-defined and variable; any one patient at different stages of the analysis may pass from one to another. …

P56 Every patient needs at some point in the analysis to become aware of the responsibility which the analyst is taking (whether that includes the responsibility for his life, or his acting out, or not). It is surprising how few patients have any idea that the analyst takes any real responsibility whatever in regard to them. Various writers, from Freud and Ferenczi onwards, have described the way in which the patient uses the analyst as an ego; Phyllis Greenacre puts it: “The analyst acts like an extra function, or set of functions which is lent to the analyzand for the latter’s temporary use and benefit.” I think this is as true of the responsibility function of the analyst as of anything. Stability in the analysis depends upon it, and the patient’s ultimate capacity for taking his own responsibilities depends on his having a reliably responsible person with whom to identify.

Note 2021 : This could be Re-Evaluation of the Process of Working Through : 5th May 1956 : Phyllis Greenacre or here    https://lacanianworks.net/?p=12510 though there are others to choose from! for example  General Problems of Acting-out : May 1949 (Montreal, Canada) : Phyllis Greenacre or here https://lacanianworks.net/?p=12224

P56 Commitment: The taking of responsibility involves first of all the making of an accurate assessment of the patient, as regards both superficial levels and deeper ones. This does not, of course, mean immediate recognition of all that the deeper levels contain, but that they are there, and to what extent they are contributing to the success or failure of his life and relationships, i.e. to what extent and in what kind of way he is disturbed. This knowledge has to be gradually increased, widened, and deepened until the patient as an individual, a person; the realities of his childhood and his present life need to be understood, as well as his fantasies. The analyst both enters and becomes part of the patient’s inner world and remains outside it and separate from it.

P57 The full implication of this is that the analyst goes with the patient as far into the patient’s illness as it is possible for him to go.  There may have to be times – moments or split seconds even – when, psychically, for the analyst nothing exists but the patient, and nothing exists of himself apart from the patient. He allows the patient to enter his own inner world and become part of it.


Seminar I : 27th January 1954 : Ch III: Resistances and the defences : see Seminar I: Freud’s papers on technique: 1953-1954 : begins on 13th January 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here   

Countertransference and the Patient’s Response : 1951 : Margaret Little See  here 

Note from 2011 – may get round to researching this one day. JE January 2021 : Who is interpreting who?  Relationship between Winnicott and Little in R B Young.  


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 Julia Evans   

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst,  Sandwich in Kent & London


Further texts

Reading Seminar X  here 

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud  here 

By Jacques Lacan here 

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here  

Use of power here    

Of the clinic  here 

Lacanian Transmission  here  

Some Lacanian History  here 

Topology  here 

By Julia Evans here