Boarding School Syndrome

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What is Boarding School Syndrome?

Boarding School Syndrome describes disorganised patterns of emotional attachment that are (for some people), a consequence of the disruption of being sent away to boarding school. Left unchecked emotional life will suffer, relationships break down, leading to:

  • alienation
  • depression
  • drinking and
  • other addictive and destructive habits

As the syndrome becomes recognised it becomes possible to start to talk about it in a serious way.  This can help break the habitual alienating lifestyle choices and lead to improved quality of life. Boarding School syndrome is a term coined by Jungian analyst Joy Schaverien before her it was written about by Nick Duffell.

boarding school syndrome counselling

What clients say about Boarding School Syndrome

“I’ve never heard of boarding school syndrome… but I’ve probably got it”, says a client I will call Jack.

Jack came to see me when he was in his early 50s.  He explained “I was sent away to school when I was nine. Nothing had prepared me for it.  My father had just got a new job overseas.  I did not know what had hit me.  At first it was exciting but then I felt really homesick.  My sister who was a few years younger than me stayed with my parents and this made me feel very unhappy, I couldn’t see why they had taken her and not me.  That left a bit of a problem between me and my sister, she has been married a long time, has two children, her life seems to have been much simpler than mine.  I think I have always struggled with rejection since then.  I have struggled with relationships.  I find it hard to be close with women. I did have a marriage, but it didn’t work out very well, it was a struggle. I have one son from that marriage and it’s been very difficult for us to be close. I think boarding school left me feeling very alone and alienated.”

Jack tells me that at school he didn’t do very well.  He thinks the other boys knew he was a bit lonely and isolated and he got picked on and bullied for being overweight.  Jack says that boarding school left him with a few demons.  He stayed there until he was 16 and left after his O-levels which didn’t go very well.

Working with Boarding School Syndrome in counselling

Jack found it quite difficult to settle into counselling sessions but gradually built up trust in the process and in working with me.  He came because he had met someone he wanted to have a relationship with and knew that if he didn’t get some support it would probably fail.

Working with me

I have experience of working with people suffering from boarding school syndrome.  Please contact me for a free telephone consultation to find out how Counselling Buckinghamshire might be able to help you.