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BMJ. 2007 August 11; 335(7614): 309.
PMCID: PMC1941901

James Crawford Little of Morton Rig

James Crawford Little (“Johnnie”) trained in Newcastle upon Tyne under the highly formative influence of Professor (later Sir) Martin Roth. He was consultant psychiatrist at St James's Hospital, Leeds from 1959 to 1966 before moving to Dumfries. He opted for early retirement in 1981, in part to care for his disabled wife, Catherine.

Johnnie's early research focused on the specific vulnerability of “athletic neurotics.” These seemingly stable men placed excessive valuation on their physical fitness and integrity and, when their bodily wellbeing was threatened, often developed a crippling neurosis. In two influential papers published in the Lancet in 1963, and later in a coedited book, he advocated a shift from mental hospital to general hospital and community based psychiatry. His later interests included objectivity and reliability in clinical assessment and the problem of finding untreated depressed patients for drug trials.

As secretary of the Society of Clinical Psychiatrists, Johnnie campaigned for more democracy in psychiatry and was active in publicising the plight of consultants in all specialties subjected to prolonged suspension.

In retirement he founded the Clan Little Society, for which he created a tartan. After being granted land on the Scottish Borders by the Duke of Buccleuch, he was proud to be known as Dr J C Little of Morton Rig. His lovely garden and painting were his other passions. A man of energy, independence of mind, and intellectual curiosity, he remained active to the end. He was predeceased by his wife and is survived by his daughter, Alison, and son, Crawford.


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