#164 Surviving Boarding School: The trauma at the core of the British & Commonwealth Pysche – Nick Duffell

 

This week, I on a personal journey and deep dive into Boarding School Syndrome with one of the world’s leading experts, Nick Duffell.

Whether you, or a loved one, attended boarding school or not, there is a lot to take on board and consider in this conversation.

Why?

Because to understand boarding school survivorship is to understand:

  • one of the core fundamental elements of the British psyche that also spreads across what was the Empire and is now a Commonwealth
  • a very clean example of early developmental trauma and the defence mechanism of splitting to create a survival self-survival personality away from what Nick refers to as our inner indigenous or natural self.

In this conversation we cover:

  • Reconciling the concept of linking ‘trauma’ with the privilege of a private education
  • The mechanics and dynamics of boarding schools school syndrome and how that’s plays out in creating a Strategic Survivor Personality
  • How that plays out as the ex-boarder then goes out into the world.
  • The inevitable collapse of the Strategic Survivor Personality that has been created by a very young child
  • The process of normalisation that perpetuates this cycle

From this, we then go further into the wider implications on the British psyche, and leadership and culture and how that spread across the world.

As said above, there is a lot to learn from this conversation; even more if you yourself were a boarder and there’s aspects of how you ‘do life’ that you still struggle to truly understand.

Read Full Transcript

Bryn 

This week, I went another deep dive into a particular area boarding school syndrome with one of the world’s leading experts, Nick Duffell.

 

Now, at this point for many it would be you’ve either been to boarding school had a brother or sister, or been a parent of somebody who’s been to boarding school. Or this might be something just completely foreign and alien to you. And you think what, why would I be interested in this?

 

But as we found in this podcast to understand boarding school syndrome or boarding school, survivorship is to understand one of the core fundamental elements of the British psyche. And when I say the British psyche that also spreads across what was the Empire and is now a Commonwealth and so has a significant impact upon a lot of the world that we see today.

 

To understand boarding school syndrome is also to understand a very clean and clinical example of early developmental trauma and the splitting to create a survival self-survival personality from what Nick refers to as either indigenous or natural self. And then to understand how that much later in life can become a real beautiful gift.

 

So in this podcast, Nick explains the history behind boarding schools. He’s quite the psycho historian.

 

And we talked about the mechanics and dynamics of boarding schools school syndrome, and how that’s formed in early life, and then how that then plays out as ex boarder then go into the world. We discuss normalisation and how, as he says, fish can’t see the water that they swim in, and how no key issues within our sauce society, we don’t see because we’re in and amongst them, we then have a really interesting discussion about what happens when the wheels come off. And there is the inevitable collapse of this survival personality that is really been created by a very young child, whether it’s eight, nine or 10. And so there’s a certain amount of inevitability about that. And then what needs to happen in terms of retraining in later life.

 

From this, we then further go into the wider implications on the British psyche, and leadership and culture and how that spread across the world and that’s where it gets really fascinating.

 

Look, this topic is quite a not very well known topic. And the first thing that’s brings to mind and we discussed this is how can you link a syndrome or a trauma to a privileged opportunity or privileged education and we talked about that. And Nick gives some very good reasons why it’s worth entertaining this and entertaining this topic. Not just as a research for somebody who went to boarding school, but anybody who lives in a within the Commonwealth.

 

So, enjoy, Nick.

 

Bryn

Hello, and welcome back to WA Real. I’m your host, Bryn Edwards. Today we have the privilege of my guest, Nick DFL. Nick, welcome to the show.

 

Nick Duffell 

Thank you very much friend.

 

Bryn

So, for the for listeners today, what we’re going to dive into is the impact of attending boarding schools. And not just on the individual but also society is large and how that has impacted things. Nick is a psychotherapist and written many books on the topics and appeared in many documentaries. So Nick, welcome to the show.

 

Nick Duffell 

Thanks very much. That’s great to give me a chance to appear in Western Australia without having to leave my leave my idea here I’m in southwest France where it’s ridiculously hot. And so we’re going to have a conversation about what’s now being called boarding school syndrome. No, in the beginning, I there wasn’t my invention. That word. It was a colleague of mine, Joe Shadowrun. Yeah, yes. I started talking about boarding school survivors. Yeah, I did that deliberately. It’s just kind of shocked people. So people think, wait a minute. You have to survive this costly privilege education.

 

Bryn 

Exactly. Yeah, just before we dive into it, one of the questions I always like to ask my guests especially and they are particular experts. like yourself is why was this important to you?

 

Nick Duffell 

Well, I mean, you know, the thing about life I find is that that at the time, you don’t know why something is important to you, you end up sort of working on a particular subject. And that only becomes clear on in retrospect, so anything I say now is not going to explain it. But what I could say is that because my family moved around a lot after the this was, you know, in the 50s when I went to my first boarding school, I mean, I you know, I was always going to go to a an English public school because my father was a boy from Hackney, which for those of you down under don’t know where that is. That’s, it used to be the poor part of London. It’s now the place where those guys with the beards and the wax wax, my Stosh live, you know, very. What do you call them? hipsters?

 

 

That’s right. So,

 

Nick Duffell 

so my father would turn in his grave to see what’s happening in Hackney now. But it was like that was like, you know, it was the East End. It was a wild west wild beast. And his main ambition was to get out of that. And in during the war, he met a posh girl, my mother, and so he was a grafter and he was going to make sure that his children, you know, got into the middle classes had the right kind of accents because in Britain accent is very important when we won’t make any comment about accents in Australia. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go there.

 

Bryn 

Yeah, and

 

Nick Duffell 

and so there was he had an investment programme going from the time I was born. But actually I was sent to I was at a British army school in Germany. And he come accident again every time I came back with a different accent, because depending on what regiment was in, and apparently the story goes, when I came back with a Jordy accent, my father said is enough is enough. We have to send him to boarding school now. And the firm paid for me to go early at the age of eight. And I went to a school that was it wasn’t in Germany wasn’t anything that was in Switzerland. And was, had been sort of commandeered by the military and it was full of American kids. sergeants and officers so I actually went to an American School in, in in Switzerland, and I did all my separation from my parents there because it was 300 miles away, but it was a it was a very benign place. And and and it was, it wasn’t full of bullying and abuse and stuff like that. And then I got sent back to an English prep school for a year and then to an English public school. So by the time I got their English public school 13, I was well used to book boarding. And I could not believe what was happening in the English boarding school, all these rules and how you could get into trouble if you had your jacket buttons on done. And then the fact that children were getting beaten and stuff like this, so it was very shocking for me. So I already had an idea in my head. It doesn’t have to be done like this. Yes. And then, as a young man, I spent a couple of years teaching in a boarding school actually in India. Hmm. And I was very bewildered. Why was everybody in India so nice to me because I was an Englishman and I knew the colonial history. Why were they also nice and I couldn’t figure it out. And it took me years and years and years instead of like, 25 years later, I realised that we’d sort of defeated the Indians from the inside. Yes, we only had a handful of people out there, we’d made the kind of new boys stupid boys who didn’t know anything. Yeah. And put them at the bottom of the, of the pecking order. And, and they’d accepted it. Because if the psychological Trump’s the English is so good at people, putting people into is strong enough, you end up accepting it. And, and so I mean, it’s it’s a long story, but I had a couple of breakdowns because I was a big rebel and I, I went to Oxford, then I became a carpenter. I broke my father’s heart. And then I had to break down in my 30s. And then one little later and then I, I went into therapy as a client and eventually, I trained to become a therapist. Yet mostly I fell in love with a woman on the training course but But that’s another story. But and then finally, you know, in in, in, in 1989, my qualifying thesis, I wrote something about boarding schools. And I showed it to my father was on his deathbed and he said, for God’s sake, don’t show it to your mother.

 

 

And you see,

 

Nick Duffell 

then, then I start to realise Yes, well, my mother had been aboard as she bought it from five years old. Wow. And so she hadn’t didn’t have a hope of being a mother Really? Because this is a transgenerational problem. What we got in, in Britain, is we’ve got people who have boarded families who’ve had boarding over centuries and centuries, and boarding involves logically breaking the child’s attachments. Yes. And that becomes a transgenerational process problem and the level of anxiety about that runs throughout the British psyche, actually,

 

Bryn 

hmm. And we’re going to, we’re going to dive into impact on the British psyche and Empire and everything a little bit later. And before we go bit further into what boys core syndrome is, and so the mechanics and dynamics of it this I suppose I must be transparent in this as well, I, too, went to a boarding school. I went to a prep school at the age of eight in limington spa and I was a weekly border from eight to 13. And after 13 to 18, I was utterly boarder till I was 18. And interestingly, yet, my my, I do actually have a chat with my parents before doing this conversation. And, you know, I know that they made the best decision that they thought they were making at that point in time, much like your father. Interestingly, I was never more than probably A 4550 minute drive from home. But yeah, but it could have been

 

Nick Duffell 

worse. Sometimes the worst is Yeah,

 

Bryn 

it could have been 4550 hours really didn’t matter, anyway. Yeah. So for somebody listening to this Now, before we deep dive into it, and one of the most difficult thing, things is even to talk about a subject like boarding school syndrome, because it’s how can you guys you had this privileged upbringing, you know, with the prestige and everything that surrounds it, and now then tell me that there’s a syndrome or there’s a problem or there’s trauma around that. How have you managed to reconcile that in even gaining the space to have the discussion, let alone getting into the mechanics of what it is, which we’ll do in a minute?

 

 

Well,

 

 

okay.

 

Nick Duffell 

Got a variety of ways to answer that first thing is, you know, please take a look at the English upper classes and royal family and if you can find more dysfunctional people on

 

 

on the planet

 

Nick Duffell 

I’d be interested to hear about it because these are the most privileged but they also the dysfunction in the in the British upper classes is some it’s to seem to be delete but believed the alcohol is the rate of marriage failure, the inability to parent people who have constantly over generations subbed out the parenting to nanny and to boarding school. And, you know, Prince Charles was said never to have been touched by his mother.

 

 

Good lord.

 

Nick Duffell 

Yeah. Good luck. No, this is it. And this is normalised. And the second thing is the whole, the whole business about normalisation. What you’ve got with a boarding school culture is you’ve got a educational and social problem with with an enormous psychological Fallout. And what you’re saying is correct. We tend not to look at the psychological Fallout because we see it in terms of a sociological and educational thing. And you see it ever since the Enlightenment, the disciplines of sociology and politics and psychology have been very separate. So we’ve never studied them together. You know, when I published my first job book, it was a hell of a job knowing where to put it on the shelf. It’s called the making of them by the way, and it’s a bargain. And Amazon UK have got it. I don’t know if they’ve got it in Australia, but are our websites kind of anyway And so you’ve got this this thing that when something is socially normalised you don’t see it anymore. Hmm, it’s like where I live in southwest France. Everybody eats between 12 and two, right? No work takes place between 12 and two. If you want to eat at three, you are a social outcast. Yes. So pletely normalised that no one thinks it’s, it’s weird. Yeah. Now, the same goes goes for in Renton that most of the people think if you’ve got the money, give your children the best start you can do. That means get them out of the family and into an institution. And it’s so completely normalised that we’re like, in Britain and in the colonies and the ex colonies. Sorry, jobs. I know you don’t like that word, but you know, that’s the history.

 

 

The,

 

Nick Duffell 

the you’ve got the situation with boarding school normalised and it’s like, it’s like fish don’t see water anymore, you know, huh. It’s just where it’s just how it is. So, so it’s a normalised phenomena and normalisation, psychoanalytic terms, is a is a defence mechanism that operates in groups. Yeah. It’s a kind of Emperor’s clothes syndrome, you know, everyone’s the Emperor with clothes on because they expecting to. Whereas back to Southwest France, where I’m here, people, when I say I studied this, this this issue, people say, well, what’s the matter with you English? Why do you have children if you want to send them away? And I say, Well, I can’t answer that one. You know, it’s a big it’s, well, I can take time but it’s, it’s it’s you see Then you then you have to explain it with history. And what I what I now you introduced me as a psychotherapist, you’re right but I’m, I’m, you know I’m pretty long in the tooth these days so I now describe myself mostly as a psycho historian

 

Bryn 

right look at the

 

Nick Duffell 

psychological history of things and it goes back a long way in Britain and it certainly in England this habit ascending used to be the Squire away, you know, in the Middle Ages, we used to send the squad away in someone else’s household to grow up to break them from the family culture. And then it’s been used very, very successfully in Canada with it with native people to break them from their natural language. Yeah, you know, their languages, their religion, and what I call the natural language of the person which is emotions and sexuality. So, it happens the same in Australia. You No, there’s been a war on what I call the inner indigenous. The end of the boarding school culture.

 

 

Wow. Yes.

 

 

Yes.

 

Nick Duffell 

It’s very successful, very successful.

 

Bryn 

Yeah, I can see that how I’m sure we’re gonna go further into in a minute, this idea of it’s just even the fact that you’ve used the word break three times. Yes. So it’s like a horse.

 

 

Yes, exactly.

 

 

Exactly,

 

Nick Duffell 

exactly the origins of it. When I went into the origins, you look at there’s a school of what, what on the continent is called pedagogue A, which is not a subject that exists actually, in the British academia pedagogy doesn’t exist because it’s a study of how to raise children. And actually basically we give it we give children to nanny and so but it comes from a people probably know the popular psychological works of Alice Miller, where she looks at what she calls poisonous pedagogy, the idea that you would devise systems to break the will of the child. And then the child could be made. Before that they were unmade, which is where my book is called the making of them. Yes. And my training for therapists is called the unmaking of them.

 

Bryn 

Even at that point there the idea that you know, so I get the sort of, mental image of, of like a seed and a sapling wanting to grow in its natural form, and then somebody wants splints on it to make it grow in different directions to to fit to fit the will of man and fit the will of society rather than allowing the seed to take its course as nature intended.

 

Nick Duffell 

Yes, you’re right. It’s gonna mean that and that’s back to Sociology. Again that’s called socialisation. No, actually, you breed the kind of people you want in Indian society. And that’s what I’m saying earlier is to really understand this phenomenon. You’ve got to look through a series of different lenses. And then you end up with a psychological one, because actually, you realise if you take a child away from its parents, and break the attachments, if you raise them in an institution where there is always bullying, abuse and abuse, you cannot get that out of institutions, no matter what kind of, you know, safety measures you put in place, it’s that that and if you then have rule bound institutions where the child is constantly afraid of breaking the rules or attempted to same thing, you will develop a character that’s very strategic, always trying to you know, get away with Stuff doing the work. It really is out for number one, but can live in groups at the same time. Yes, yeah. But you’re gonna end up with some very serious problems because when that person leaves and ends up in a family and tries to run intimate relationships, they’ve become a very kind of private person, really very strategic with quite a lot of anxiety underneath, which is the added bit through that with the English public school system. You’ve got very heavy expectations on you to succeed to function, and a very big investment and the child knows the parent is paying a lot of money. It’s very important for the parents. So the internal pressure on the person is vast. Then that’s where it’s different from all other kinds of, of traumatic situations. And the whole thing boarding itself we are now seeing is a trauma. It fits in developmental trauma and the trauma. My colleague who invented boarding school syndrome, as word was looking at people who were traumatised at boarding. But you have to go a step further warning itself as a trauma

 

Bryn 

is trauma, even if it didn’t end up being abused or strung up upside down from the, you know, the second floor of the boarding house or, or the balcony. Yeah,

 

Nick Duffell 

exactly. I mean, you know, certainly in my case, nothing very bad happened to me. But actually, the whole experience was just so shocking, especially after I’d gone from a benign boarding school into that English one. That and the whole loss of my parents, you know, I remember 11 my aim my, or 12, I think it was I wanted to be an orphan. That’s I dreamt of being all I imagined myself. fantasises and often and I look back and I think that must have been making tried to make sense of the fact that I felt entirely alone could not have the experience with my parents. They hadn’t been through it. I could not disappoint them. Yeah. And so a lot of people take it as it goes like very, very, you become very alone in life. And yet you’re able to be in a group put on a brave face. You know, function quite confidently get the right accent. Tell everybody, not everybody. Yes, because then I I divide broad in school survivors into three very broad brush cat categories, the compliers the ones who said it never did me any harm and go on and get busy making it success. You know, the David Cameron’s and the Boris Johnson’s of this world, and the Tony Blair’s

 

 

second group is the rebels.

 

Nick Duffell 

Yes, like me, you know, I went to And then became a carpenter. Yep. quite difficult to work with rebels. And and then there was there there are some who get called crushed. And some people did get crushed by it.

 

 

Yes. So

 

Nick Duffell 

I say body school survivor what he has to do, he has to erect what I call or she so happens to do girls as well let’s not forget them has to attract a plausible strategic survival personality. And in the absence of parents, that is both your identity but also a kind of internal parent that you bond to that looks after you. Yeah. And it’s very frightening for people to hear this the compliance thing if that if you sort of suggest that a complier is survival to get very angry with you in certainly survival mode, because that is a threat to survival. But some children are already quite poorly attached or damaged when when they come and they can’t put up a plausible survival personality. And you probably remember kids like this they get bullied shit at boarding school. Yeah, they do.

 

Bryn 

They don’t. They were. Yeah, they drew attention more often than not. And so, yeah, you you create this new person. And you split from your true self to this new self

 

Nick Duffell 

and or multiple, multiple selves. It could be anybody you know.

 

Bryn 

Yeah, I Oh, it’s interesting. You You’re talking about being an orphan. I was always drawn, or like many boys are always drawn to the character, James Bond. One of the things I particularly liked about James Bond was it was all on his own. Yeah, everybody. That’s good. And he was and he was and it was that was particularly what it was about, and I always thought it’d be fun to be different. People are different things.

 

Nick Duffell 

So what make very, very good actors x public school man? Well, yes,

 

Bryn 

yeah, or spies. I always fantasise about being a spy. Yeah. Hmm. So, um, can you just just just to set the context for this? Can you step through almost like the the journey that that somebody who goes to public school will go through and then almost like psychologically what are the steps that happen and how this, you know, strategic survival persona comes about? And then I suppose the question I’ll ask you afterwards is how that then plays out into adult life just so we understand the sort of mechanics and dynamics of it.

 

Nick Duffell 

Yeah, it’s a very, very good question. And it’s, it’s it is very interesting to think like that, because it’s particularly important right at the beginning of the Very first day is a very, very, very important because you the child you know, what kind of preparation does the child get for this? And I mean, it probably depends certainly in my mother’s case, my mother told me what tremendous fun it was going to be. So we’re going to be pillow fights and midnight feasts.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. And

 

Nick Duffell 

so I was very ill prepared. And then I remember when my mother left. She waited till I was busy and then I turned around, I was elsewhere focus. I didn’t get to say goodbye to her. And I, you know, when you look back and realise that she she wasn’t going to be able to handle the emotion of that mean, does it go to a parent who is a boarder when they drop you off? They have both the parent who is abandoning and the parent who’s setting you on this Braves elitist start, but also they become the child who’s being sent away.

 

 

Yes.

 

Nick Duffell 

Can because it’s all resonating in their own psyche because it will never been completed. Yeah. Man. Yeah, it’s a very complex mix. So when people I mean any boarding school survivors there if you, you know, if you listen to this talk and you sing, you want to go confront your parents, I mean, be cautious, because they may not be ready if that if their borders themselves, it will be very difficult because they’re boarding child is still kind of a lot psychologically still alive. You see, that’s the thing. The parts in the psyche is still alive.

 

Bryn 

Yeah.

 

Nick Duffell 

And, and then the other thing is that like, you We both said, we know our parents were doing what they thought was the best thing. So the sort of the guilt feelings and the defence against guilt is enormous. So it’s, it’s very often it’s not the great rapprochement that people are hoping for. So they got a child child coming from its family where more or less every every, you know, all the child’s whims were taken care of or you know, maybe you slept at home with a light on or something like this, you know, yes, mommy took off every night. And then you’re going into an institution and its institution might have a hot history history of 1500 years. 200 years.

 

Bryn 

Yeah, it’s got

 

Nick Duffell 

these big, wouldn’t wouldn’t clocks up with gold or lettering with the various captains of house or stuff. Yes. is totally meaningless to the new new boy or new girl.

 

 

Yeah, yep.

 

Nick Duffell 

But it’s it, you know, it’s it’s a big deal there. And then you drop there. And you it’s like what happens is one of my colleagues wrote an article about this. He called it violence at the threshold. So it’s like you go over a threshold. And it’s a terribly emotional violent thing for the child to step from one world to the other. Yeah, completely alone.

 

 

Yeah, huh.

 

Nick Duffell 

Now, even if the teachers, the adults running the place, who those who don’t know are actually quite few compared to the number of children, even if that if they’re good natured, benign, etc, is the other children on threat?

 

 

Yes.

 

Nick Duffell 

And the other children are threat for very precise reasons. And it’s because they’re frayed and abandoned themselves.

 

 

Hmm.

 

Nick Duffell 

And the first rule when you cross that threshold is don’t show you missing your mommy.

 

 

Otherwise you would

 

Nick Duffell 

otherwise you’re weak. Otherwise your whim whatever it is, then all the attention will start to swirl around that and it’s the attention you don’t want this attention you don’t want and everybody’s reinforcing that. Let’s not it we let’s not blob we’re used to call it in my day low don’t otherwise. I mean this is not voiced but this is implicit very strong, otherwise all going to blob.

 

 

Yeah.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Nick Duffell 

Yeah. So then what the group does this is where the violence also kicks in is the group picks on the people who are who are least together. And, you know, you never say, Oh, yeah, let that one be the whim. Because here’s the way here’s the way that’s that’s psychologically that’s called dissociation. I dissociate from my feelings. Yeah. And the way dissociation work because this is, you know, it’s a classic psych psychotherapeutic psychoanalytic mechanism, but I didn’t understand it fully, until I understood it in the boarding school context. And dissociation works like this. If I have to discern my vulnerability, because that’s what we’re talking about. Yeah. Missing mommy. That means in the end, I can’t admit missing money. That means all in the end all of my vulnerabilities taboo. Yeah. It comes from that immediately. Yes, I’m not going to be the weak one. I will not be the vulnerable one. To help that mechanism work psychologically, we look over there. Oh, Britain’s Got a little tear in his eye at this moment. He’s feeling a bit. Oh, yeah, let Bryn be the week where I’m not the weak one. Britain is the weak one. Yeah. Or how it works on the political system. I am not the incompetent one. Jeremy Corbyn is the one I followed that. But they bullied him remorselessly for two years, they wanted him and what happens if you get bullied that much? You start to believe it, you start to feel it.

 

Bryn 

Yes.

 

Nick Duffell 

You cannot withstand that group pressure, because people you’re in these institutions for what are the terms 10 week terms? 12 week terms? Yeah, or McComas terms? Like what? 1415 weeks. And it’s 1012 and summers. 10. To 12. Yeah, how many Michaelmas terms did you do bread 11 Yeah, you see that is an eternity.

 

 

Yes. The child. It’s an eternity. It says.

 

Nick Duffell 

So these things stick. You know, what happens if you go to one school you make a slight mistake you mispronounce something or something like that. Oh, it stick with you for life.

 

Bryn 

There was the neck. Yeah, you’d Met Life at that school.

 

 

Yeah, that’s right.

 

Bryn 

Absolutely. And I remember having conversations with people about it was subsequent to being at school people would ask me about, you know, was there much fighting in your school? Because all boys school, and the answer was no, no, because the way it would work is that you would, the way I describe it is everybody put their armour up. And there’d be this constant in the dorms all day every day because there is no remorse. There is no letter The only letter you had was in the toilet cubicle. Yes. Well, this is important.

 

Nick Duffell 

Let’s go slowly here bring because people don’t know this. It’s like, the difference is in the day school, you go home to your bed and you’re safe. Even if it was a bully in the playground, in boarding school. It’s not the case is it?

 

Bryn 

It is just all day every day. And the only the only place you have yourself pretty much is was early in the younger years. Is is the toilet cubicle. And I yeah, I recall, sitting there for like 1020 minutes at a time just to go even as a young boy, but they would, everyone would have their shields up and you would be constantly tapping. Just every day, we would do it on each other’s shields. And every now and again, you’d find some Something a little change, and then you keep tapping, keep tapping, and then everyone else would join you and join you and then that will change would turn into. And, and it would just carry on and carry on and carry on. And this might go on for a couple of days. And it was just Carry on, carry on. And then finally, if you if you were taken to a place where the chink in your armour got to a place that you got angry and you lashed out and threw punches you lost. And it didn’t, it didn’t matter whether you were the recipient of the blows, it really didn’t matter whether you caught a black eye, it didn’t matter because you’d won and they’d lost. And that’s how it worked. They were fighting was the was Yeah, witness.

 

Nick Duffell 

Yes. So you don’t lose control. You see, you the if when I went into the origin of this, what that’s it I see that psycho historically there was a big project in Britain, which really got going after the French Revolution. And the European enlightenment is that we had to raise rational men yet. Well, even the girls had to become rational men. And you had a big problem with raising rational men because you start as a child, which is by nature irrational, emotional, messy. Yeah. And under the under in the world of the mother. So that’s where the boarding school scored. You take them out of the world of the mother and raise them in this hyper rational education. You probably remember you know, you’re not taught to be emotionally intelligent or even emotional literate in the schools in the body has to do sport. Yeah, that’s what the body is about. Guess. And then there’s this bizarre kind of, you know, we’ve got the you’ve got the you’ve got the rationality front of mind the bodies to do with sport and a strange kind of religion which no one really believes

 

Bryn 

correct.

 

Nick Duffell 

And, and that is that’s known as the finest education in the world.

 

 

Yeah. It

 

Nick Duffell 

really is rubbish. You have to get in, you have to come out of these places, I’m afraid, folks, you have to totally retrain yourself. You have to retrain your mind. You have to retrain your body. You have to train your emotions. You have to retrain your spirituality. You have to retrain your sexuality. That’s five things you have to retrain because actually, it affects you in all those dimensions in your life. And the sooner you find out this is going on the better as soon as you find out the problems of being a father or a husband are linked to body School and how you were trained. You know, it doesn’t mean you’re a total shit, it doesn’t mean that your partner is a nag bag actually means you had the worst training in the world for intimate relationship and family life, even though you may have a voice and a good job.

 

Bryn 

Yes. Yeah. And you also can’t work out why, you know, I’m going away to work to do the thing to provide for everybody. What Why is it you? Why is that not enough? Yeah,

 

Nick Duffell 

that’s right, then you get very defensive about it.

 

Bryn 

Oh, very much. So.

 

Nick Duffell 

And defensiveness is the worst thing in relationships. Hmm. You end up digging yourself in digging yourself in.

 

Bryn 

So, to go back where we were before, and yeah, we have the violence of the threshold. We have the we have the trauma, we have the splitting and then we create this strategic A survival persona whose

 

Nick Duffell 

personality I call it, yeah, but it is a persona, right? Yes.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. And then that is very much a distinct and self an identity, believe Yes, values, way of thinking and behaviours that is distinctly different to what was your true self and where

 

Nick Duffell 

Yes, and it has different characteristics. So some people might have been a, you know, a survival personality might be a sort of winner, the head of house type or you know, the yes or the sports athlete other others might have been, you know, an ice alert or something. Some people like with the clown, a lot of look at the British comedians of the of the 70s and 80s. You know, they’re all ex public school guys. Yeah. Refined clowns, you know, that, you know, Wits doing that all that you know, Tim Brooke Taylor said, on his first day he went through threshold disk. It discovered you could make somebody laugh. This is like day one. He said, I’ll just keep doing that. And yeah,

 

Bryn 

you know,

 

Nick Duffell 

yeah, it’s not going to get that unnecessary attention. Is it? Yeah, yeah, that’s easy is the way forward. So even unfortunately, being a bully, or even the victim or the bully is some kind of survival role. Yeah. And the problem is the problem is psychologically, once we’ve designed something that you’d like the eight year old self designs of protecting himself. And the problem is you keep running it, you know, until you’re 50. Yeah, if you’re lucky, and you find it starts failing, and you 40s and actually, that’s a very good sign, or that seems to be a catastrophe for a lot of people. That’s a very good sign, because you don’t want it to be lost into your 70s. I can tell you, yeah,

 

 

and I’m going to

 

Bryn 

ask you about that in a sec. I think the other thing that is worth pointing out is that this is trauma of leaving mum and dad hmm although the first day is the worst it it’s not a one off thing it happened every single time you go back from home to school and that’s and then it leaves you in this very displaced state where what is actually home and what is what and you know obviously remember the leading up to the days of the end of holidays just with dread I still to this day when I see adverts even here in Australia, you know, end of term get your get your stationery and those sort of things. Those adverts were starting to come on the TV and they would just make me angry as a child and I still today because that signified you end up going back to this place.

 

Nick Duffell 

Yeah, I used to get it Sunday evenings. And and the beginning of September. I used to get to my stomach the beginning of September. Mm hmm. And you’re right, you see you talk to you mentioned the word splitting earlier in splitting as a sort of a colloquial word in therapy used for dissociation where the self split so you show one side and another side is hidden, sometimes even from from yourself. Yes. You see, the whole structure of this boarding school thing is supporting this because you have a child at home, and a child that’s at school, they’re completely different environments is so different. And you’re shuttling from one to the other. And over many, many, many years, so it supports this splitting. And you’re, you spend a lot more time at the school than at home. So you spend Your time at home school longing to get home and then when you get home ultimately, it’s very disappointing. And you actually, you know, you have to, you’re counting off the days until you go back again. So, this does something very strange about time in the psyche about where you rooted You know, I’m still constant packing, you know, I mean, you know, I had years of therapy I still have when it’s time to pack, I go a bit panicky.

 

 

Lucky I know what it is.

 

Bryn 

Yes, I still do it. Yes, yeah.

 

Nick Duffell 

very deeply embedded to see gets embedded in the body.

 

Bryn 

Very true. And so after years and years and years of this how do we describe the person that is released into the world

 

Nick Duffell 

Well, what should I mean there’s a variety of these persons, but I see one of the most common one is someone who knows how to function and is very good at having tea with elderly arms, or something like this. Yeah, underneath is running an enormous amount of anxiety. And that anxiety is not very often not known to the self. Yeah, so, so you will take things like bad digestion, things like that as normal. And because a lot of it goes into the body, hmm. And, and you in the typical boarding school survival is quite at home by now, with having one outside face and another set of internal reality. Yep. But very often does not know that the anxiety that they’re running on is not normal hasn’t even recognised the anxiety. Because it’s just very hard to recognise it, it’s just normal. Yeah. And, and so the sort of thing and it relationship, it often comes out. So. So one of the things that goes on is that, let’s say people report partner calls, calls, all the school survivors name out. And immediately he’s on the defensive. Yes. What about them? Yeah, yeah. So a one of the things is you lose the inability to distinguish situations of threat from situations of intimate, intimate meeting. Yes, that is, that is very, very bad news in intimate relationships. So your wife is immediately you know, you might she She’s automatically classified as enemy first. Because, you know, the old parts of the brain are wired for danger. And we lose what? There’s a very brilliant neuroscientist called Steven porges in America who’s, who’s got something, his adventures with his invention. He describes the way the nervous section functions. He calls it social engagement system. So we’re always scanning for safety and other people’s eyes and faces. And there’s a lot of blood and muscles, you know, nerve endings, huge amount in the face. And people who’ve had developmental trauma or long term abuse, stop sending signals with their faces. stop sending blood into their faces and stop reading correctly. Facial signals And he’s boarding school survivors are amongst these. And it could be origin of what we call the stiff upper lip. In Britain. Yeah.

 

 

There’s more to it than just the same.

 

Nick Duffell 

And that is completely autonomic, you see that that’s not about how you how you behave, that’s just who you are now. And, and that gets embedded in different love, you know, in the nervous system functioning. Similarly. I mean, we’re in a very interesting place these days in psychotherapy world because we’re starting to get linking up now with neuroscience and getting these pictures of the brain. So we discovered that that the brain that the mind that dissociated dissociates shows a fragmented picture actually in the brain now. Yep, it can be seen with MRI scanners. And we know that something happens with memory. I mean, the work of dance seagull is worth checking out here. So, you know that if you’ve if you’ve experienced sort of repetitive trauma with no one to turn to, which is what developmental trauma is called? Yeah, then you log that trauma in a wrong place in the memory, you log it in the same place where you log things like riding a bicycle. When you get on a bicycle, you don’t have to every time think, oh, how do I ride a bicycle? No, you just get on and you remember that? So you tend to still trauma now in that sort of place. So you go into great, yeah. Is it just a habit is a conditioning, it’s a condition. It’s like the eight year old trauma is still alive that you know, you’ve already got to go, I don’t know what what, what’s your bag brand, but some people it’s like floor polish, you know, institutional J’s fluid or something like that. Sometimes smell and worth your back being ate with all those men, you know? Yeah, less memories, but the feelings, the anxiety is there. And that’s coming out of the way the memory is stored.

 

Bryn 

Mm hmm. Not certainly. Yeah, that makes sense. It goes from just a habit into something so much deeper.

 

Nick Duffell 

Well, yes. Then it’s quite dense, quite structural, you see. Hmm.

 

 

Without I mean,

 

Bryn 

maybe, maybe this is because I go in. I probably resonate with the compliant out of the three of you. Yeah, yeah. You types you gave us earlier on. And it’s easy for us to look at all the negative aspects, which we did. And there’s not plenty more in this discussion to go yet but there we are. Some, I mean, we have to recognise some of the, the the benefits of this as well. And what would you say they are?

 

Nick Duffell 

Well, they’ve got incredible facilities. Yeah. So, you know, and certainly in Britain, lots of schools, quite wealthy. So they’ve got fantastic grounds. And, and you’ve got the, you know, you’ve got a captive audience. So you can really train a child to do well at things like sports or hobbies or theatre and stuff like that, because they’re not getting distracted. They’re not spending their whole, you know, the rest of their time looking at their iPhone or something or TV or whatever. So, it’s a very sort of, it’s very concentrated time. Yes. And, and, and so.

 

 

And you could do things that you might not,

 

Nick Duffell 

you know, I mean, I did. I did. I did ruin my public school. And when I got when I got to Oxford, I, even Oxford, the standard of rowing was way lower than what I was used to at school. Yes. So you’ve you’ve got that sort of that sort of very up market performance stuff that that goes on in those schools, which is hard to replicate. Hmm.

 

Bryn 

Now, you talk about concentrated because, yeah, I guess, going into the workplace over the last 20 odd years, I’ve always had this ability to help concentrate most people in meetings. You know, the distractibility seems to go no time where I can maintain concentration for a long period. I could never understand why everybody else couldn’t do the same as well.

 

Nick Duffell 

Well, we had named Yeah, sorry, go. We are gone. Now we have a name for that in we call it timetabling. Yeah, it’s, it’s because when you’re at boarding school, there isn’t any free time or if there’s free time, it’s down on the timetable. It’s an hour and a half after lunch on Sunday or something like this. It’s true. And and, and so you’re always on a timetable. So you get both that sort of high level functioning you’re describing also kind of a workaholism. Yes. And a lot of people kind of, you know, because the other thing we haven’t got to is, you know, what’s it like when your survival personality designed by your eight year old crashes when you’re in your 40s say, and we’re gonna get to that in

 

Bryn 

just a second?

 

Nick Duffell 

Yeah, often it’s losing a job often it’s losing a job. In other words, you You’re off the timetable. And yeah, that that is can be very bewildering for the boarding school survivor.

 

Bryn 

And yeah, and even now just listening to you, I’ve always had this incredible intuitive, well, I say intuitive, innate, innate sense of time. Okay, I could tell you what time of the day it is at any given point, just because it’s just drill, drill, drill, drill drilled, and I’m usually I don’t wear watches as much anymore.

 

Nick Duffell 

Now, that’s, that’s also an anxiety thing where you actually have to know exactly where you are. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I guess one other just want to say before we move on from this topic is that a lot of the proponents of boarding school say there’s two things they say. One is they say if a child’s in an unhappy family is better off being out of it and a boarding school. Well, you try telling that to social workers, social workers do all they can to keep joy And families these days. And the reason is that children have something to give to a family as well. They give their love and they give their attention. And taking the child out the family is also bad for the family. Yes, bad for us. It’s bad for them not just for the child. And, you know, take them out when they’re 16. By all means, but not when they’re eight. Now, yeah. Because you’re all your formative influence period going on in these things. And the other thing is they talk about some of the proponents born in school say, well, they learn to live in a community. But hang on a minute. It’s not a community. It’s a bunch of kids of the same age and some masters, and a few a difference between a community is people of all ages, all genders, animals, you know, people who are healthy people who are sick people who are rich or poor. That’s a community. It’s it involves a lot of diversity. Yes, so a boarding school is not a community. It’s an instance

 

 

modernization.

 

Nick Duffell 

And a lot of studies have been done on institution, notably by guy called grothman. In the early 60s, and institutions really have their own life and boarding schools are not communities, their institutions, I’m afraid to say.

 

Bryn 

The question I asked you earlier on when I said, you know, what are some of the positive aspects? And I guess I was also not just about the facilities in the concentrated time, what are some of the positive aspects that people take into life? I mean, I for one found that within 12 months of leaving boarding school, I was all writing myself to go and travel and explore the world for four months by myself, go off and backpack where a lot of people around me were either older doing that or, or doing it in pairs or threes was fine. And so I don’t want to say here, and just bag it all out. There were some positive characteristics What? What is some of those things that you have seen in in the work that you’ve done? Well, it’s

 

Nick Duffell 

no, it’s true. That’s all true that you get it. On the other hand, on the other hand, I remember when I was travelling with my girlfriend, I would get up early in the morning, go out and have a record. And eventually, she would say, What the fuck are you doing? Why are you you know, you’re on some final mode again. Yeah,

 

Bryn 

I think that’s that’s probably why I really enjoy travelling in that survival mode to another level and demonstrating that it can still work and still,

 

Nick Duffell 

the more you get into this, you know, the you realise all interlaced it is. It is. We’re very good at survival, but actually can we just live now That’s when when when, you know when we go on the therapeutic journey of recovery. That’s, that’s what we call it. I call it a journey from survival into living.

 

 

Yeah, that’s what it’s

 

Bryn 

so let’s get into it now you know, you go into the world, you probably end up with a relatively decent high functioning job and on the surface, it looks all good. And you know, because you can hold a conversation and be witty and confident as long as you’re not one of those crush people. You know, everything looks good. When did the wheels start to come off?

 

Nick Duffell 

Yeah, well, the slip could be when your first child is born and you you come across raw vulnerability and power. Yeah.

 

 

crocky

 

Bryn 

sorry.

 

Nick Duffell 

Yeah. So could be When your first child is born, ironically enough, that was my father ringing. Yeah, perfect. Okay, he’s is perhaps feeling the vibe was your father bought it? Maybe?

 

Bryn 

Sorry. So the so the question was when did the wheels coming off?

 

Nick Duffell 

The folks we got it’s all happening live here on the programme. Yeah. Yeah. So it could be when a child is born or certainly very often when you’ve got a child reaches eight or something like that. Yeah. And you look at yourself and you think, Oh my god, you know, I was like, I was so big. Yeah.

 

 

Yes.

 

Nick Duffell 

Because you feel very grown up and Big Boy or Big Girls stuff like that. But no, you you know, we as an adult perspective, you see this In charge you think oh my god. They wanted to get me out of the home and into an institution.

 

 

Yeah,

 

Nick Duffell 

yeah. there then you can then you could either hit your grief or your anger.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Nick Duffell 

It could also be something like losing your job like we’re saying when the timetabling stops, it could be losing losing a relationship. It’s often some kind of crash. The psyche works like that psyche kind of crashes at certain point. And that’s an opportunity to reintegrate stuff that hasn’t yet been integrated. So the psyche works. element in the psyche.

 

Bryn 

Set again, sorry.

 

Nick Duffell 

The psyche doesn’t work off linear development. Know, the psyche, the psyche when it’s safe enough When it’s possible, actually, to start integrating stuff. Some of your functioning self may crash a bit, so that you go down into yourself. And that’s when it’s incredibly helpful to get an informed therapist to work with, because it’s very hard to do it on your own. Yes. It really is. Are the world starts to come in and everything you thought, you know, yeah. And for us boarding school survivors to realise you need somebody, you’re not fully independent, self sufficient, and all the things are on the brochure of those school catalogues.

 

 

Yeah. itself

 

Nick Duffell 

is to ask for help. It’s very difficult in order to be independent, self sufficient.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. When the when, when to continue my phrase when the wheels come off for someone when when the crash occurs? Is it do you think That is it that you know, there’s almost like a sense of psyche energy fatigue of running this and you know this persona and and it can no longer do it and it’s just for want of a better word knackered and or is there and or is there like the you get to a place where that little aspect of yourself that true south part of you almost goes, it’s time for us to have some sunshine, please wear and Did you see what you mean? I do. I mean, I think it’s it’s slightly more complex in that

 

Nick Duffell 

the notion of what is the true self is a very complex philosophical one. Yes. And I won’t go into that, but Certainly, what is true is that you’ve erected what Winnicott called a false self. Yes. What I strategic survival personality, and you’ve erected that as a protector. Yep. In place of a parent, but also as an identity, that’s where boarding school syndrome is, is different from other syndromes. The survival self is both an identity and a parent looking after one,

 

Bryn 

right? And

 

Nick Duffell 

the, the issue is, you talked about, do you run out of energy? Well, it does take a lot of energy to keep that survival self going. It’s true. And so you do get energy back when you stop doing it. But I think it’s more like, you know, it was invented by an eight year old or a 10 year old or 11 year old, something like this. Is it likely that it’s going to last throughout life because it’s invented from the perspective Have an eight year olds outlook on the world? Yes. So I don’t think it’s likely. And you see the psyche as a whole both wants to protect you. So, the psyche creates the protect itself. Yeah, yes. And psyche wants you to become more realistic. a certain point. Yeah. So, the first chapter in my book, The Making of them is called breakdowns can be breakthroughs. Yes. So, not to be afraid of that I had to learn that my own life not to be afraid of the breakdown because actually, it means the psyche is saying, okay, you’re ready to integrate something more now. And here’s the thing, if you’ve been, if you printed up to the been a little survivor, at boarding school, you know, in his you know, with all the elite advantages and secret internal disadvantages, and you use the psyche starts to break down and you follow that you trust in the psyche. And you follow that. And you come out. You know, many of the people I know who’ve done that journey become very, very deep human beings and have gone very deeply into themselves. And it’s a very rewarding and revealing paths to take.

 

Bryn 

Someone’s turning into an enormous gift later down. Yeah.

 

Nick Duffell 

Well, it’s certainly it’s, I’d say it’s like a, it’s a psycho spiritual path to follow that.

 

Bryn 

Yes. It’s it’s actually incredibly enlightening to hear you say that. Because yes, it explains a lot of the things that I’m drawn to now, and is it I see it as It was originally designed to take you in one place. But it’s almost now taking you to a completely different place, and making of a making of me at a level and a depth that is far deeper than what was originally designed for

 

Nick Duffell 

this beautiful brand. Yeah, I love that. Yeah,

 

Bryn 

yeah. It’s very touching. Yeah. And, you know, that’s like that’s taking a very long long term view on someone’s life. Yes. Even if the origin of it started at eight years old.

 

 

Yes, that’s right.

 

Bryn 

That’s right. Mm hmm. And so what does

 

 

what does therapy typically look like? I mean, yeah, core is it other other modes is

 

 

You see,

 

Nick Duffell 

it’s best of it. It’s best to find a therapy who’s a therapist who understands the subject. And as you know, there’s all kinds of disciplines in therapy, but they should, you know, whilst I’m an inveterate publicist of my books, you know, there’s about five of them now on the subject in Britain, you know, get your therapists to, you know, train your therapist, get them to read it, because not not they don’t all know about boarding school syndrome. And what we do in Britain is we, we, we have, we do therapeutic workshops, four day workshops. So we run over two weekends, and we went into groups with men and women. Because, you know, one of the things is you learn bad habits in groups of other men and you can unlearn them, too. And get people together. And they’re telling stories and they find so many similarities in the sort of syndrome that he never had never really discussed before in a safe place. That’s really good. So a combination of that sort of group work and individual work is the best. And you’re reading

 

Bryn 

that’s an interesting point right there because I was, I was saying someone only the other day when I was mentioning that I’d started looking at this I was going to speak to you is that I can spot it, I can pretty much spot it another export from modway. It’s really cool. And and you know, it doesn’t take much. And you can have you can sort of within a short period of time, you know, confirm that, but you’ll never have a conversation about it

 

Nick Duffell 

will never acknowledge stuff. Unless it’s, unless it’s a high jinks high drama story. You need to be very safe to do that. Hundred. Yeah. So if you can set up that safety in a social way, so much better, but it’s, it’s it’s very difficult. So that’s what we do in our workshops. You know, we prepare people, you know, people sign up a year in advance very often and and we have people come, you know, we have people coming over from the States and Canada and things like that, and even Australia to do the workshops. It’s a big deal for them. Yeah. And we set it up very safely. And we have two very skilled facilitators running these things. Because just beginning to take the cork out of the bottle there and talk about it like you’re saying, already, that’s really break the mould.

 

Bryn 

Yeah, that’s completely alien to everything that you’ve been programmed and conditioned. Yeah,

 

Nick Duffell 

that’s right. And then, you know, then of course towards the end of the workshops, we try to help them with a set of a tool. Bag of you know how to stop running your life on the survival personality. Hmm. That because that and that’s, you know that’s difficult you’ve learned that over many years you it’s ingrained. So that’s not easy. I’m not giving any false hopes that that’s an easy project, but it’s a worthwhile one. Like you were saying just

 

Bryn 

yeah. Yeah. Because you’re not gonna, you know, it’s not like the modern day online coaching phenomenon of two weekends and you’ll be clued cured. No, no, that’s all bullshit. is sorry, motion. And so so I guess it that sets the context to understand now more about the core British culture and, and, and the the colonies and everything that that you know we created through our empire is that

 

Nick Duffell 

you’re completely right. And that’s where I went when somebody came to me sort of, I suppose about 10 years after the making of them was out and published and said, Why don’t you write something else? Maybe a bit simpler, shorter about it? I said, No, I didn’t want to go there again. And then we have that. This was 2009. The 2010 election were campaign Cameron and all his cronies were elected in and I was, you know, it was jaw dropping for me. I’ve because I’ve said, Oh my God, we you know, we’re British people. Even the working classes are electing these people. I’ve been speaking about their pathology. So then I wrote my book wounded leaders and when I looked at the impact the impact that this had on our society and our politics and went more into the history. And I talked a lot about the First World War in that

 

 

book. And

 

Nick Duffell 

I showed how that dysfunction and ban on vulnerability was woven woven into our public life in a very deep level, and how those who have disowned their vulnerability, how on earth could they be expected to understand the vulnerability of others?

 

Bryn 

Hmm. And,

 

Nick Duffell 

you know, that’s that’s very big in England and you know, to certain extent, you’ve got that in Australia as well. I think. You know, you got a quite a lot of boarding schools in Australia on the one hand understandable because of the big distances for

 

Bryn 

regional impact. Yes,

 

Nick Duffell 

places that punch at a pretty high level too. In terms of their elitism and you’ve had quite a lot of scandals in them lately as well, so because you, you know, you can’t expect institutions without bullying and abuse, and without sexual abuse, it’s you know, that’s, you know, what I say is that normalised neglect is the construct context that abuse inevitably occurs in. And you’ve got normalised back on very big scale. And you’ve got an entity, transgender transgenerational problem. And so we’ve got a ruling class in Britain who are very out of touch with ordinary people. I know Henri Rumble, and the European Union is a big threat because actually, it’s not quite like that over there. Yeah.

 

 

It’s very difficult. So

 

Nick Duffell 

democracies in Europe, in Britain hasn’t been able to set up a social democracy. And it’s because of this top down, class ridden situation that we still got and perpetuate through the boarding schools. Hmm. That’s the engine of it.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. And then that sets that sets the context of role models for leadership and how you should be and what, or all of that. And yeah,

 

Nick Duffell 

you know, and then, of course, you know, we had people like myself coming, you know, grew up in the 60s and 70s, who started to turn away from things like the boarding school, and then blow me down. We had Harry Potter and the whole thing got mythologized all over again.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. Wow. I didn’t even think about that yet. Yeah, kids are having fun all day. Exactly. In the spirit of what your mother sold you on. That’s right. Indeed, indeed, has there ever been any studies on the impact to the mothers and fathers who send their kids away?

 

Nick Duffell 

It’s a terribly difficult thing to study with academic research for a number of reasons. And that is firstly, there’s a massive financial lobby worth billions in Britain very, very protected all the highest ranks of society. And the second thing, what is called sim rooms very, very difficult to research because how do you study something which kind of actually begins eight but doesn’t come out until the person say 30 4050? Yes, very difficult.

 

 

However,

 

Nick Duffell 

you have to look at some of the some of the evidence, which is around there. So if you look in Britain, the union Reports always report throughout Britain unhappiest teenagers. Hmm.

 

 

Very, very.

 

Nick Duffell 

All attitudes to parenting. Yes. So all those sorts of things. And often I would say to people actually, you know, I certainly know when I was, you know, I got two sons and being a parent to them. Bloody hell, that was the hardest thing I ever did, especially when they were teenagers. You know, ain’t nothing makes you grow up like being a parent.

 

Bryn 

Yeah, we do it every day on time, right? Because we’re good. We’re good. We’re very good,

 

 

I guess.

 

Bryn 

In interestingly, and it’s almost like a piece of serendipity in that. This week. I have been talking to you about This

 

 

splitting

 

Bryn 

from one from the true self to the, to the this this strategic survival persona. And last week I ended up talking to a well respected researcher in the world of narcissism. And, and that too, we were talking about true self and false self and stuff like that. It I don’t know sort of know where I’m going with this question but there’s almost something about a clinical there’s always something about a clinical trauma that going to boarding school brings to somebody who does it. And and this we’re splitting that then gets reconciled later with a lot more forceful gusto, which is my sort of experience. Yet it strikes me that joy Because somebody didn’t go to boarding school that this sort of impacting collision with the world doesn’t happen and that they themselves will create some sort of other self. And I just wonder whether, you know, almost almost like I said earlier on with it being quite a deep gift in the fact that because it was so clean and clinical at the age of eight, that I’ve sort of come back in the age of 40. And that for for another person who were it’s been a more gradual departure that, that that may never reconciled in quite the way. Do you

 

Nick Duffell 

see where I’m going with that, if that makes sense? Yeah, I mean, it’s a very complex. Yeah, isn’t it and I think the whole nature, the whole discussion of, of about the true self and a full self is is very challenging for is off actually, I think one thing we could say, about this way, like the psycho historical perspective is that, that from the Enlightenment onwards, and certainly from the French Revolution onwards, you’ve got an you’ve got and you’ve got the Industrial Revolution from the beginning of the Industrial Age. We have taken ourselves the whole of humanity on a big journey away from the natural world. Yes. In a sort of, in, in, in pursuit of progress, in pursuit of our rational superiority to the world and animals and things like that. And we’re beginning to review that now. And we’re beginning to see the costs of that. Yeah. And, you know, you could say the whole of humanity’s been busy putting up a sort of a false over what I call the inner indigenous, yes. And in the inner indigenous well I call that that, that in a way that natural self has gone on spontaneity, lot of emotions. It’s roar and sexual and things like that. And we’re sort of we’ve been we’ve been coating that with rationality and, and with progress, and that the British system of boarding school is absolutely the perfect element at developing that kind of strange self.

 

 

Yes.

 

Nick Duffell 

Which functions terribly well in other institutions, like in politics, in the army, in the church, in business, doing Empire. Take by Empire, of course it would, cause that was the day the original motivation to develop, you know, administrators of the British Empire You’re right. Yeah, we haven’t even met. But take it out of that environment and into the one where the natural self is more. Yeah. parent is actually in the family functions very badly in general. Yes. So the breakdown of that self is liable to be in the family and also in and it’s not just, it’s not just an internal sort of psycho spiritual adventure as we’ve been saying. It also means you have to come home to relationship to being a social being,

 

 

to being friendly being

 

Nick Duffell 

Yeah, to being a body. Yeah. And, and, and that journey in that journey. That’s where the true wisdom is to be had because then you can take your refined mental apparatus and and use that to help you on that journey.

 

Bryn 

That’s great, huh? That’s a fantastic counter to a probably one of most ill formed questions. Man, it’s just, it’s one of those things, isn’t it? When when you have this epiphany, and you start to see things in the world, and you start to see things through a lens and and and, and and once once, yeah, so it was very valuable to be able to ask that question. Um, so last couple of questions I’d like to ask you is what have you learned about yourself through all of this?

 

 

Oh, well, I keep learning about myself, you know,

 

Nick Duffell 

I keep learning what you know what it’s like to be on the inside a very private person who can actually manage social situations in a particular way, but not for too long.

 

 

So true.

 

 

So that

 

Nick Duffell 

I’m learning to be as present as I can in relationship. That’s the most important thing to me to be present. And then I know a certain time. Whoa, I need to back off, refuel, come back again. Yeah.

 

Bryn 

And the whole, the whole level of extrovert and introvert really doesn’t help, does it? No, it doesn’t help because you’re both. Huh. The last question that I like to ask my guests is, it’s a nice hypothetical question is, and I’ve just tweaked it recently is, if you could upload a single question into the collective consciousness. So everybody just pauses and spend five or six minutes deeply thinking about it. What would that be?

 

Nick Duffell 

Well, I had I have a gendered question here. I would, I would say for the men is what are the what is the work you need to complete that your father wasn’t able to do? And perhaps for the women, you know, for their mothers, what their mother was named something like that. Fantastic.

 

Bryn 

Fantastic. Nick, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you today. Yeah, it’s

 

Nick Duffell 

been very nice interview. Thank you. It’s

 

Bryn 

Yeah, it’s an absolute treat to speak to somebody who’s Yeah, can talk about this in such great depth, and and wit as well at the same time. Yeah, so if people wanted to find your works there, they’re all on Amazon, aren’t they?

 

Nick Duffell 

Yes, I mean, go to go to WWW dot boarding school survivors. co.uk books is Certainly Amazon you I don’t know how they work in the rest of the world. I’m not sure. I haven’t checked out all the all the the Amazon sites but my distributor as well. And yeah it’s been very nice thank you thank you bread.

 

Bryn 

Thank you very much. Okay cheers

Leave a Comment