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Partridge, S. (2012). Boarding School Syndrome. Brit. J. Psychother., 28(1):129-131.

(2012). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 28(1):129-131

Boarding School Syndrome

Simon Partridge

Dear Editor

As the dissatisfied analysand ‘Partridge’ cited in Joy Schaverien's (2011) paper ‘Boarding school syndrome: Broken attachments a hidden trauma’, and picked up in Elizabeth Standish's response (BJP 27(4): 417-19), I would like the opportunity to reply. I do so from the perspective of one whose boarding school induced trauma was not addressed despite two analyses, and three analysts, spanning some 17 years in total.

Firstly, I applaud that Standish has had the temerity to step forward and give her views on a crucial yet still unresolved issue within the psychotherapeutic community across these islands. Like her I agree that the existence of boarding school syndrome (BSS) within the (mainly) upper class social grouping, and its associated privately-financed boarding pedagogy, poses far-reaching questions as regards the theory and practice of psychotherapy, and, I would say, the organization of our primary and secondary education systems.

Standish to her credit accepts the existence of what she calls ‘the trauma of early boarding’. Indeed, she writes as if it was self-evident and is clearly puzzled that in ‘some therapies it can pass “unnoticed”’. Yet she is dismissive of Schaverien's explanation of ‘confident presentation’ (by the ex-boarder patient/client) colluding with an ‘unconscious deference’ in the therapist. She undermines her own critique by recognizing that the ‘qualities’ credited to prep and public school educations are ‘leadership, discipline and detachment’.

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