Articles

Gordon Knott and Thurstine Basset (2022) Sent Away

Gordon Knott and Thurstine Basset attended boarding schools before embarking on careers in mental health. In the first of a four-part series, they set the scene around surviving boarding school.

BACP Children, Young People and Families March 2022, 14-17.

This article first appeared in the March 2022 issue of BACP Children, Young People and Families published by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. BACP 2022©.

Justin Webb (2022) I Weep for any Child who, Like Me, is Sent to Boarding School at 11

His doting mother did it for love and to toughen him up… but the BBC radio host says it was a ‘crime’ to send him away

The Mail on Sunday 30 January 2022 – Read the article

Joy Schaverien (2021) Revisiting Boarding School Syndrome: The Anatomy of Psychological Traumas and Sexual Abuse

An update, ten years on, from the therapist who coined the term Boarding School Syndrome.

British Journal of Psychotherapy 37(4): 606-622 – Read the abstract

Joy Schaverien (2004) Boarding School: the trauma of the ‘privileged’ child

Discussion of working therapeutically with former boarders.

Journal of Analytical Psychology 49: 683-705 – Read the abstract

Simon Partridge (2007) Trauma at the Threshold: an eight-year-old goes to boarding school

Personal experience and reflections on a workshop for boarding school survivors.

Attachment 1(3): 310-312.

Mary Stack (2008) The Making of Her: my boarding school experience

Mary Stack writes about her experience of boarding school, responding to Nick Duffell’s book on the British attitude to children and the boarding school system entitled The Making of Them.

Attachment 2(3), 321-327 – Available here

Anne Power (2007) Discussion of Trauma at the Threshold: the impact of boarding school on attachment in young children

A discussion of Simon Partridge’s 2007 article examining issues of attachment in young children.

Attachment 1(3): 310-312 – Available here

Joy Schaverien (2011) Boarding School Syndrome: broken attachments a hidden trauma

Identification of a cluster of symptoms relating to trauma from early boarding and proposal for a syndrome.

British Journal of Psychotherapy 27(2): 138-155 – Read the abstract

Simon Partridge (2013) Boarding School Syndrome: disguised attachment-deficit and dissociation reinforced by institutional neglect and abuse

A paper is based on a talk given to the Inner City Centre Psychotherapy Charity on 26 January 2013. It was possibly the first time a boarding school survivor had addressed a group of therapists, counsellors and trainees as a survivor.

Attachment 7(2): 202-213.

Simon Partridge (2016) Boarding School Syndrome: the psychological trauma of the ‘privileged’ child (2015) by Joy Schaverien, published by Routledge

Review of Joy Schaverien’s ground-breaking book on Boarding School Syndrome.

Attachment 10(3): 269-274.

Felicity de Zeluta et al. (2014) Boarding Schools: pupils’ suffering has been ignored for too long

The ex-boarder may never develop emotional intelligence.

The Guardian 10 May 2014 – Read the article

Abigail Ashley-Gardner (2021) Does Boarding School Damage Children into Adulthood?

Boarding school education has been found to have a major impact on people’s long-term mental health and personal relationships. But, what exactly are these effects? Abigail spoke to Nick Duffell, an expert on the topic, as well as Chantal who experienced boarding school and its long-term impacts first-hand.

WellNews August 2021 – Read the article

Tanith Carey (2015) Scarred by Boarding School

We’ve all read of boys horribly abused, now meet the women who say emotional cruelty left them traumatised

It was supposed to be a luxury afforded only by privileged families, but the adverse effects of boarding schools are now being revealed. Experts say it can have severe effects on the mental health of children. Judith Okely, late 60s, and Margaret Laughton, 78, share their experiences.

The Daily Mail 23 July 2015 – Read the article

Alex Renton (2017) School of Hard Knocks: The Dark Underside to Boarding School Books

Violence, cruelty and sexual confusion are as much a part of boarding school literature as japes and cricket. Alex Renton surveys a troubled genre from Kipling to Rowling.

The Guardian 8 April 2017 – Read the article

Alex Renton (2014) Abuse in Britain’s Boarding Schools: why I decided to confront my demons

For generations of boys, sexual abuse was part of the everyday cruelty of boarding school. In this painfully honest report, writer Alex Renton confronts the demons of his past at Ashdown House, where some of Britain’s most powerful men were also educated – and reveals the scale of the outrage about to engulf the private education system.

The Observer 4 May 2014 – Read the article

Nick Duffell (1995) Boarding School Survivors

Nick Duffell reflects on the impact of identifying and elaborating the concept of ‘Boarding School Survivors’.

Self & Society 23(3): 20-23 – Read the abstract

Nick Duffell (2000) Gender Difference and Boarding School

In this article, Nick Duffell offers some notes on the difference in effects of boarding on men and women.

Self & Society 28(3): 29-33 – Read the abstract

Nick Duffell (2011) Old School Ties

Despite having been described by George Monbiot as ‘Britain’s most overt form of child abuse’, Nick Duffell wonders why we are resistant to acknowledging the problems associated with sending children to boarding school.

Therapy Today 22(3): 11-15 – Read the article

Nick Duffell (2014) Wounded Leaders

Nick Duffell argues that the emotional damage caused by the British boarding school system can be clearly seen in the attitudes and decisions  of its political elite.

Therapy Today 25(6): July 2014 – Read the article

Nick Duffell (2014) Why Boarding Schools Produce Bad Leaders

The elite tradition is to send children away at a young age to be educated. But future politicians who suffer this ‘privileged abandonment’ often turn out as bullies or bumblers. A psychotherapist explains why.

The Guardian 9 June 2014 – Read the article

George Monbiot (2019) Boarding Schools Warp our Political Class – I know because I went to one

Boarding school, a peculiarly British form of abuse, has devastating impacts not only on the boarders, but on those they grow up to dominate.

The Guardian 7 November 2019; and now on his website.

Richard Beard (2021) Why public schoolboys like me and Boris Johnson aren’t fit to run our country

Our elite schools foster emotional austerity and fierce clique loyalty. Here a privately educated writer of the prime minister’s generation reveals the lasting damage public schools do.

The Observer 8 Aug 2021 – Read the article

Joy Schaverien (2016) Exiled: the girls’ school boarders

An examination of the less often explored impact on women of being sent away to boarding school at an early age.

Therapy Today 27(9): 20-23.

Scott Poynting & Mike Donaldson (2005) Snakes and Leaders: hegemonic masculinity in ruling-class boys’ boarding schools

Brutalisation and “hardening” in Australian “ruling-class” boarding schools preparing boys for leadesrhip.

Men and Masculinities 7(4): 325-346 – Read abstract

Simon Partridge (2011) British Upper-Class Complex Trauma Syndrome: the case of Charles Rycroft, psychoanalyst and psychotherapist

Explores the troubled man behind the upper-class exterior. Looks to Rycroft’s early familial and boarding school environment to help explain his lack of fulfilment – despite his therapeutic and literary achievements.

Attachment 5(2): 154-153

Jane Palmer (2006) Boarding School: a place of privilege or sanctioned persecution?

This article explores the emotional and psychological effects of boarding in the context of (a) how authority operates in boarding schools; and (b) the implications for the boarder of the parental sanctioning of the experience.

Self & Society 33(5): 27-36 – Read the abstract

George Monbiot (1998) Acceptable Cruelty

Why is it still acceptable to send young children to boarding school?

Published in The Guardian and now on his website.

George Monbiot (2012) The British Boarding School Remains a Bastion of Cruelty

While condemning global injustices against children, we fail to examine the ethics of removing seven-year-olds from their families. The sudden and repeated loss of parents can cause children to shut themselves off from the need for intimacy.

The Guardian 16 January 2012 – Read the article

David Mair (2005) The Best Years of Your Life?

An exploration of the psychological damage of being sent away to board at a young age.

Therapy Today 16(7): 7-9 – Reproduced here

Susanna Hoare (2014) Boarding School, the Happiest Days of Your Life?

Shock and trauma in connection with boarding school.

Self & Society 42(1-2): 42-43

Marcus Gottlieb (2005) Working with Gay Boarding School Survivors

A psychotherapist reflects on running workshops for those gay men who struggled to come to terms with their boarding school experience. Examines the negative impact boarding had on their lives.

Self & Society 33(3): 16-23 – Read the abstract

Thurstine Basset (2006) Emotional Courage

50 years on – the impact of a boarding school experience

The author prepares to revisit his prep school 50 years after he first boarded and reflects on its impact on his life.

The Independent Practitioner Winter 2006: 10-13

Thurstine Basset (2018) Reflections of a Survivor

This article is a personal reflection on being able to tell a story through writing a book about surviving boarding school. It pays tribute to the journal Self and Society in its role of publishing innovative work. The author makes a plea for ‘home sickness’ to be renamed as ‘school sickness’ and for boarding issues to be incorporated into the training of therapists and counsellors.

Self & Society 46(1): 75-77

Bob Arnold and Thurstine Basset (2005) Stiff Upper Lip?

Describes the authors’ experience of attending a Boarding School Survivors workshop.

Openmind 131(Jan/Feb): 16-17

Nick Duffell (2005) Surviving the Privilege of Boarding School

An article from psychotherapist and Boarding School Survivors founder Nick Duffell, based on an article which appeared in The Journal of the Mental Health Association, Queensland, Australia in 2005.

Hilary Jacobs Hendel (2020) What is the Change Triangle?

The Change Triangle® tool for emotional health is a guide to carry you from a place of disconnection back to your true Self. It’s a step-by-step process for simply feeling better. It works by getting you reacquainted with core emotions like joy, anger, sadness, fear, and excitement. To my own joy and satisfaction, it has helped me and many people I have worked with recover a vital, more engaged, more authentic Self.

Read the article on the author’s website.

See here for the book.

New bibliography – updated November 2021

A new bibliography about the psychological issues associated with boarding schools. Prepared by Thurstine Basset.

Sophie Kesteven and Chris Bullock (2020) As Children they went to Boarding School: as adults they’re still dealing with the trauma

Christine Jack and others talk about the long-lasting effects on them of boarding.

Follow-up to the radio interview of Christine Jack on Australia’s ABC News.

ABC News (Australia) 3 September 2020 – Read the article

Sam Barber et al. (2020) A Letter Concerned about National Boarding Week

NATIONAL BOARDING WEEK (22 – 28 June 2020)

We, a growing group of healthcare professionals, can see no reason to celebrate National Boarding Week, but instead we would like to highlight the damage to the health and well-being of young children that can be caused by sending them to boarding school.

The adverse psychological and social effects of this practice are well documented. This evidence should be acknowledged and the time is surely right to ‘follow the science’.

During the current worldwide pandemic, all parents are now weighing up the benefits and risks of sending their children back to school. For most parents this relates to a 6-hour day but parents of children at boarding schools have to consider that their children are at school for 24 hours a day.

In the UK we can see the impact of a culture that is fostered in boarding schools and is very apparent in social and political contexts. This culture is one that values the social status of a privileged education above the emotional security and healthy development of young children.

Sam Barber, Director BSS-Support
Frances Basset, Psychotherapist
Thurstine Basset, Author
Nick Duffell, Psychotherapist and Author
Pippa Foster, Psychotherapist
Marcus Gottlieb, Psychotherapist
Darrel Hunneybell, Psychotherapist
Gordon Knott, Director Youth Counselling Service
Margaret Laughton, Director BSS-Support
Sam Milford, Psychotherapist
Nicola Miller, Psychotherapist
Alex Renton, Journalist and Author
Joy Schaverien, Psychoanalyst and Author
Allison Ujejski, Director BSS-Support
Sara Warner, Psychotherapist

James Scudamore (2020) The Dark Side of Boarding School

As background to his novel English Monsters, the article covers the work of Joy Schaverien, Nick Duffell and Alex Renton.

The Telegraph 22 February 2020 – Read the article

Jörg Schindler (2019) Britain’s Elite-School Problem

A Clique of ‘Pseudo-Adults’

Boris Johnson is the 20th prime minister to come out of Eton College. The school represents a system in which the elite stay among themselves and fail to see the problems of others. And it is becoming a serious problem for the country.

Spiegel International 9 August 2019 – Read the article

Catherine Baab-Muguira (2019) Was Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Inspired by an Edgar Allan Poe Story?

In William Wilson, the most autobiographical of his tales, Poe may have been portraying his own unspeakable boarding school experience.

Us – a film by Jordan Peele
Poe’s William Wilson – 1909 illustration

The Millions 22 May 2019 – Read the article

Jane Barclay (2011) The Trauma of Boarding at School

Jane Barclay describes her experience of therapy as a boarding school survivor – as both client and therapist.

Self & Society 38(3): 27-34 – Read the abstract

Follow-on article in BSS-S newsletter – PDF download

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