Symptoms of Former Boarders

Former boarders are not always aware that their boarding experiences have affected them as adults.

It might start with a feeling that all is not right: a comment from a friend, a partner, a loved one, a colleague, a child. But where to start?

Then the resistance kicks in:

Wasn’t it the making of me? Do I really have Boarding School Syndrome? Surely it was a privilege to board?

The varied and complex symptoms of Boarding School Syndrome include:

  • difficulties with relationships and parenting
  • workaholism
  • substance abuse
  • isolation
  • irritability
  • an inability to relax
  • a sense of failure
  • physical, sleep and sexual problems
  • bullying or emotionally-absent behaviour with loved ones
  • unable to process the grief from the loss of a parent
  • disquiet at seeing our own children at the same age we were sent away to boarding school

These and other problems stem from the process of having survived exile from home in an institution at an early age. They are compounded by an inner sense of shame for not appreciating a “privileged” education.

For many, boarding is a poor training for life, and an inadequate preparation for intimate relationships with partners and children. It is only relatively recently that such symptoms can be attributed with confidence to childhood boarding experiences.

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