Amnesia is a recognised symptom of traumatic stress. It is the result of a form of psychological splitting whereby, in an overwhelming situation, the psyche closes down. In order to survive, a part of the self is shut off from consciousness. This is a spontaneous effect of what Kalsched has called ‘the self-care system’. This, he suggests, is an adaptive response to an unbearable situation. 1 Even when the boarding school is relatively benign, the young child sent away from home to live with strangers may experience unbearable emotional stress. Not all but very many children are affected in this way. Therefore the ‘self care system’ comes into play, blunting some of the emotional impact. The research on trauma has noted memory loss to be a common symptom of traumatic stress. 2 This loss of recall for certain incidents is a less dramatic expression of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the ‘vivid intrusions of traumatic images and sensations’ more commonly associated with it. 3