I went to an English boarding school in the 70's when it was still part of the system that produced officers for the British Empire.

Basically, they put you through hell, both institutionally and Lord Of The Flies. Bullying was normal, and vicious, and inescapable (no going home to get away from them). You dealt with it or you persuades your parents to let you leave, or you suicided. In my school of ~400 pupils we had at least one suicide a year, often more.

The thinking was that if you survived all this then you would be sufficiently tough (mentally and physically) to be sent to some colonial outpost far away from everyone and everything that you knew, with no help nearby, and not lose your shit.

It kinda worked as intended for most people - ex-classmates I've met since are confident and charming. But for those like me, who didn't get on with the system so well, it was years of clinical depression and therapy to heal from it.

There's a name for it now: Boarding School Syndrome [0]. It manifests in adulthood as a range of symptoms, but emotional detachment is probably the most prominent. It's not healthy, and realising that almost all of Britain's most prominent politicians suffer from it (and every single British prime minister since Thatcher went to boarding school), it becomes obvious why Britain is such a mess now.


On a side note, it is worth paying a visit to Eton to see the number of old boys killed serving their country in WW1 and WW2: the walls of the old building are literally lined with their names in the thousands.
John Higgs wrote a brilliant book [1] about the band KLF (who famously burned a million pounds). I highly, highly recommend it - even if you know nothing about the band (or care to), it's an incredible read.


While it may be the case that Mr Higgs comp in North Wales produced no murders it's also the case that no-one is counting.
I went to Eton 2002-2007, very much enjoyed it, and I think it made be a better person. I was very lucky to attend.

There was (surprisingly?) little bullying when I was there. I wasn't in the "cool" group, but still had friends and felt broadly accepted; more so than in my prior boarding school.

Any remaining hierarchy between the older and younger boys was in its final days. One anecdote I remember: where I arrived, younger boys would fill up the older boys' water jugs at lunch on request, but when I left that would have seemed very out-of-place.

Re the murders: the murder surge was happening as the British class system became less relevant, offered fewer privileges for those without competency, and its status outside the UK was disintegrating. I'd be interested to see whether going to Eton increases your chance of being a murderer relative to just being at that place in the British class system. Do Harrow & Radley have a similarly high rate of murders?

It isn’t just Eton - it’s many or most of the old British public schools. I went to one, and the scars run deep - as does the will to power and the desire to hurt others as I was hurt. It was a brutal environment, a panopticon in which you learned to bend systems and people to your will, in which you learned you had to stab your friend in the back before they did the same to you, as the rules of the game mandate it. Discipline was relentless, and was largely enforced through cooption of pupils. You were not a name, you were a number. The purpose was to churn out colonial administrators, who now have no colonies to go and quietly exercise their depravity out of view.

I’ve worked and am continuing to work on healing or soothing some of the wounds inflicted in my time at elite boarding schools - but I can’t say the same for the rest of my cohort, who are now generally busy running the U.K. or burning down rainforest for profit or whatever it is this week.

Any time I think about Harry Potter now with an adult mind I find the teachers there highly irresponsible. They give young kids superhero like abilities while completely and utterly neglecting their mental health. It is a small wonder that most of them turn out a-okay and there is only a single dark lord going on murderous rampage per generation.

If i were running such an institution everyone would learn meditation, mindfullness, and would encourage every student and teacher to attend psychological counseling paid by the school with a therapist of their choice.

Maybe real world schools should think along similar lines.

If anyone is unaware of John Higgs, he's written several of my all time favourite books, especially his KLF book which I loved so much I bought loads of them to give out to friends. Can't recommend it highly enough:
Fantastic. Searching around about Eton has lead me to "One of Them: An Eton College Memoir" and .
Eton has been around since before the Reformation, so it has had the time to build up a list of murderers, etc.
>He beat the nanny, Sandra Rivett, to death with a lead pipe.

One wonders if the Etonians of earlier decades were hit as hard by lead poisoning as by a misplaced sense of impunity.

> Of course, you can’t blame the children in all this. They are not born as sociopaths

Not all of them no, but a small group is. We are not born tabula rasa. If there's any truth to the idea that leader types have more psycho/sociopathic features, then their children will have them more frequently too.

The obvious explanation to my mind for all of the murder and crime is simply that the people who go to Eton are incredibly entitled.

They grow up in a society where they are taught that they are entitled to anything and everything they want and when that doesn’t work out for them on the first pass they resort to crime.

"Lord of the Flies" was inspired by the British 'public' schools system (so called because prior to its creation, the children of British aristocrats were taught by private tutors). It sounds like a real horrorshow:

> "Since these schools taught gentlemen not meant to sully their hands with work (perish the thought!), they never learned more practical subjects such as bookkeeping or land management. Those subjects consigned to schools that educated sons of men in trade."

> "Disciplinary measures were expected to be harsh, not only as a way to maintain order but to toughen up the boys so they could perfect that famous English stiff upper lip. Punishments were brutal, often resulting in blood being drawn during caning, belting, birching, and whipping."

> "Evenings and nights, the boys were left to fend for themselves often under the rule of an older boy put in charge. The boys formed a hierarchy that made the reign of terror look tame, as older boys preyed upon younger boys."

Apparently these public schools (Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Westminster, Rugby, Charterhouse and Shrewsbury) were intentionally designed to turn out sociopathic narcissists with a penchant for violence and cruelty - who were the kind of people that the system's architects thought were needed to run the British Empire.

> Eton has long had a reputation for producing people who were cruel and damaged.

This could be a confusion of correlation and causality.