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CH and Psychiatry

Posted: Thu Sep 24, 2015 5:01 pm
by William
Has CH always had an enlightened attitude to mental illness? I presume candidate pupils are always interviewed in part to ensure they are suitable for a boarding school life, for such aptitude may not always be evident from background knowledge and performance in a competitive examination. Meeting the candidate is essential. So far so good. But what about those who are accepted and whose mental problems only become evident later?

I only came across one such pupil. He would easily be provoked and his extreme rages were regrettably encouraged by frequent teasing, for he then became quite a spectacle. His academic ability was above average. He was smaller than most and his so his rage rarely had any serious physical effect on others. By the time he was in the LE the school had arranged for him to attend a weekly session with a psychiatrist in Horsham. He was quite open about this and his fellows also accepted this as a somewhat unusual sort of treatment, little different from the need for a regular medication for a chronic illness. (But whether he was also medicated or not I don’t know.) He wasn’t teased about the psychiatrist. But clearly these consultations were unsuccessful. After one particularly big teasing-episode/rage there was a public enquiry by the housemaster with all juniors present in the dormitory while the boy who raged made his accusations. (That was most unusual.) The situation was not resolved and at the end of that term he quietly left. However he did return once, a few years later, and proudly announced that he had obtained several O levels. As for his background, he was the only son of a middle class widow.

All this reflected well on CH for it suggests at least two good things, which we presume are true today. In the mid 20th century
- the attitude of the school to mental illness was enlightened and attempts were made to help him cope
- the selection procedure was effective because such unsuitability was very rare.

Re: CH and Psychiatry

Posted: Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:36 pm
by sejintenej
I was one of those who joined CH at the age of nine. There was the most basic of writing and mathematics tests but the make or break was the medical. This was simple; you had to be able to breathe, have a pulse, have male attributes and walk. I don't think that at that age and at that time the nuances of mental problems would necessarily show in a five minute medical.

I only knew of one boy who exhibited very "different" characteristics. He appeared to be more than academically brilliant but not fully "with it". The story goes that coming back from breakfast one morning to make his bed he couldn't find his pyjamas. They were eventually found on him with his uniform over them. He left school soon afterwards in mid term but JR tells me that he did return.

Otherwise we did have a wide variety; the boy who put his fist through a locker door, the one who didn't collect stamps - he collected loo paper, the one whose correspondence with some female became so steamy that it had to be censored by his housemaster.... just ordinary schoolboy stuff you know.

Re: CH and Psychiatry

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 7:36 am
by Oliver
The check on "male attributes" also looked for the absence of a hernia. (Do you remember that you were asked to cough?) Agreed that some psychiatric disorders could not be recognised during the short medical. There is another thread about Bed-wetting, which describes how it caused at least two pupils to leave. Isn’t that also mildly psychiatric?

Re: CH and Psychiatry

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 10:50 am
by alterblau
Can this thread include comments on OBs who become psychiatrists? I know of only one, Peter Agulnik (Ba A, 1948-56) who had a very distinguished career in Oxford, ending with a psychiatric facility being named after him. Few OBs ever attain that. At CH he won the Lamb Essay prize. This was another very rare distinction for he was then a science student. A non-humanities student winning that prize was unique in my experience.

Re: CH and Psychiatry

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:23 pm
by J.R.
A very interesting thread, so while we are on the subject......

How would dyslexia be treated at Horsham ?

I don't think it was even recognised in my days at CH, yet MANY famous people ARE dyslexic. The first I remember to 'come-out' was the beautiful and accomplished actress Susan Hampshire.

Re: CH and Psychiatry

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:34 pm
by michael scuffil
We have to remember that many conditions have been medicalized (for good or ill, I'm making no judgement) in the last 40-50 years, whereas then they were all part of life. There were certainly people I knew who would probably now be diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, others who were borderline autistic, and very many with 'attention deficit disorder'. Others were just plain weird in ways that psychiatrists may or may not have a name for. Nowadays people don't use real pens much, so psychiatrists don't have to invent 'leaky pen disorder' (very common then).

Re: CH and Psychiatry

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:50 pm
by rockfreak
alterblau wrote:Can this thread include comments on OBs who become psychiatrists? I know of only one, Peter Agulnik (Ba A, 1948-56) who had a very distinguished career in Oxford, ending with a psychiatric facility being named after him. Few OBs ever attain that. At CH he won the Lamb Essay prize. This was another very rare distinction for he was then a science student. A non-humanities student winning that prize was unique in my experience.
We might start with a non-Old Blue (but ex-boarder), called Nick Duffell who specialises in Boarding School Survivor syndrome.