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Stone, M. (2016). Schaverien, Joy. Boarding School Syndrome: The Psychological Trauma of the ‘Privileged’ Child. London: Routledge. 2015. Pp. 247. Hbk. £110. Pbk. £27.99.. J. Anal. Psychol., 61(3):391-395.

(2016). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 61(3):391-395

Schaverien, Joy. Boarding School Syndrome: The Psychological Trauma of the ‘Privileged’ Child. London: Routledge. 2015. Pp. 247. Hbk. £110. Pbk. £27.99.

Review by:
Martin Stone

Joy Schaverien has written this book primarily, but not solely, for psychotherapists, many of whom have patients who have been to boarding school and need greater insight into their experience at school as well as at home. The majority of therapists know that boarding school can be damaging, but this book reveals the depth of the trauma. Ex-boarders too could benefit from greater understanding of the conscious and unconscious effects of boarding. Not everyone is damaged by the experience, and Schaverien acknowledges that it can be a haven for those from an unstable or abusive home environment. Moreover, it is rarely the presenting problem in therapy, as one of its manifestations is that ex-boarders have learned to hide their feelings and function with a well-developed persona. It is precisely these well-constructed defences that often cause difficulties later in life. Many ex-boarders do not realize until they become parents themselves how they have been affected by the experience, and the effect it has had on their ability to be genuinely intimate. Schaverien writes: ‘This forms the basis for the cut-off feelings of ex-boarders. The emotional implications of such events cannot be processed at the time and so are repressed, often emerging to consciousness only decades later’.

This book will also be of interest to the general public. Private schools are in a minority in the UK, around 13 per cent of the total, and the numbers of pupils boarding has fallen to 15 per cent of this.

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