Boarding school syndrome broken attachments a hidden trauma

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boarding school syndrome broken attachments a hidden trauma

Boarding School Syndrome: The psychological trauma of the privileged child by Joy Schaverien

Like other kids who read Enid Blytons Malory Towers series, I grew up idealizing boarding schools. They seemed so utterly fascinating and idyllic. Blytons St. Clare series, which I re-read recently, is a fictional hint at the crueler side of boarding schools which I probably didnt pick up on as a kid: with accounts of the culture of ragging, the societal class snobbery, and outright bullying. The reality of boarding schools -- as illustrated in this great study of trauma of the boarding school experience -- is far different than the world of lacrosse and dorms and tuck boxes. Imagine Jane Eyres boarding school experience as a non-fiction book, and that mirrors some of the accounts in this book. Would highly recommend reading this, even if you dont have an interest in boarding schools, because it provides a good understanding of trauma and how it develops in childhood.
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Published 11.06.2019

Boarding school at an early age is child abuse - George Monbiot - Comment is Free

The Long-Term Impact of Boarding School

Joy Schaverien argues that there is a need for theory to help in recognising and validating the boarding school experience as a particular form of psychological trauma. Psychotherapy is about the making of meaning. It helps to give people a language for otherwise inexpressible feelings. This is never more important than with the boarding school graduate. This is because many who attended boarding schools, especially those who went to prep schools from an early age, have lasting problems with communication and intimate relationships. This is not immediately apparent in psychotherapy but it can be observed in certain behaviour patterns. This has led me to conclude that these constitute a recognisable set of patterns, which I have identified as boarding school syndrome.

Click here to read the article. In the British Journal of Psychotherapy Vol. These patterns are observable in many of the adult patients, with a history of early boarding, who come to psychotherapy. Children sent away to school at an early age suffer the sudden and often irrevocable loss of their primary attachments; for many this constitutes a significant trauma. Bullying and sexual abuse, by staff or other children, may follow and so new attachment figures may become unsafe. In order to adapt to the system, a defensive and protective encapsulation of the self may be acquired; the true identity of the person then remains hidden. This pattern distorts intimate relationships and may continue into adult life.

Boarding School Syndrome is not a medical category, but a proposal that there is an identifiable cluster of learned behaviours and emotional states that may follow growing up in boarding school, which can lead to serious psychological distress. These can include depression, difficulties in forming relationships, and emotional numbness. Attending boarding school is a unique and alternative upbringing which impacts heavily on long-term development. Understanding the nuances of boarding school experience is important for understanding where many symptoms stem from. The lasting effects of early boarding is a hidden trauma. A young child sent away from home to live with strangers, and in the process loses their attachment figures and their home.

Request PDF on ResearchGate | Boarding School Syndrome: Broken attachments a hidden trauma | abstractThe aim of this paper is to identify a cluster of.
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What are the psychological events that may lead to boarding school syndrome?

I once knew an American psychoanalyst who worked in a Bangkok practice, specialising in expats. He never went home: there was more than enough work. In the 20th century a clutch of authors, from George Orwell to Roald Dahl, wrote in their different ways about the systemic cruelty, psychological and physical, and of its wider effects. Naturally, as the proven best way to educate a ruling caste, the system spread across the English-speaking world. Given the importance the boarding-school class had and still has in running modern Britain from the City to Westminster, not forgetting the BBC that seems to have been an omission.

Boarding School Syndrome is increasingly recognized as a specific syndrome by psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors. Many adults are suffering long-term emotional or behavioural difficulties, which stem from having lost normal family life through being sent away to boarding school as children. When a child is brought up at home, the family adapts to accommodate it: growing up involves a constant negotiation between parents and children. But an institution cannot rebuild itself around one child. Instead, the child must adapt to the system.



  1. Diana Z. says:

    In British society we take for granted that a proportion of children attend boarding schools but rarely do we notice the tremendous heartbreak associated with it.

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