Obituary: Carol Jeffrey

FEW AUTHORS publish their first book at the age of 98; fewer still would take as its title the nickname her teachers gave her as a schoolgirl. But Carol Jeffrey was unusual in all that she did in her life. Her book That Why Child was published in 1996, two years after her retirement in 1994. It won widespread acclaim in the psychoanalytic and educational press, and in 1997 received the Gradiva Award for best book in the Childhood Related section from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis in the United States.

That Why Child contains the distilled essence of Carol Jeffrey's experience and practice. She started a career as a teacher but, following the then custom, had to give it up when she had her own children. However, she refused to give up the work altogether, started teaching at home (she had been educated at home herself, by her mother, until she was 15), and became particularly interested in children with emotional difficulties.

This led to training in psychology and work in the pioneering Child Guidance Service in Kent in the 1940s. In 1949 she began a prolonged psychoanalysis with Michael Fordham, a colleague of Carl Jung, whose writings she studied in depth and with whom she also entered into correspondence.

In 1952 Jeffrey came into contact with Dr Graham Howe and, with Dr R.D. Laing, Dr Tom Farewell and others, they founded the Open Way - a centre in west London dedicated to study, research and training for people dealing with the mental and emotional problems of human life. As the name indicates, the Open Way was limited by no particular dogma or therapeutic approach - attracting as a result a good deal of hostility from "establishment" institutions - but did have medically and psychologically qualified staff. In due course a psychotherapeutic clinic was established at 37 Queen Anne Street which continued in practice, with Jeffrey as a leading consultant, until the early 1970s.

The Open Way held an uninterrupted programme of public lectures until it was merged into the Guild of Pastoral Psychology early in 1998. Jeffrey moved to rooms in New Cavendish Street when the clinic closed and continued in private practice until her retirement in 1994. She gave her last lecture at the Open Way in June 1997.

Throughout her life, Jeffrey retained the qualities that gave rise to her childhood nickname. As the staff at her school put it, she always wanted to know about "causes and purposes - the why and what for of things". Her father, Robert Cowley, who had worked as a designer with William Morris and later as a manager at Liberty's in Regent Street, gave up that career to take on his parents' farm in Worcestershire, a primitive smallholding of some 20 acres with orchards and streams. There were a few sheep, two cows, two pigs, two horses and assorted poultry.

Here Carol Jeffrey was brought up; a childhood spent close to the land and the animals; a frugal existence of fetching water from the well, bringing in wood for fires, milking cows, curing bacon, making butter and cheese and bread - the classic pattern of a poor yet educated family wresting a living from the land. This early experience, to which she constantly referred, developed in Jeffrey a deep awareness of the instinctive life and the rhythms of nature and laid the foundations for her profound understanding of the human psyche which she went on developing until she died.

Carol Jeffrey was an "original" in the best sense of the word. She never peddled second-hand dogma; all her insights were her own and she was always ready to challenge accepted orthodoxies if they did not accord with her own experience. She remained wide open to new ideas and retained her passion for learning well into her hundredth year. Such people sit uncomfortably with established schools and groups who think they have the "right" answers, and she was no exception, often taking issue with one or other of the versions of Jungian psychology that have proliferated since his death.

As a therapist, her main guide was her own insight and experience, founded on long analysis and deep study. She was willing to admit ignorance and simply wait for enlightenment rather than rush in with off-the-shelf answers. This innate attitude of not knowing, of sharing a journey of discovery with her clients, made her a wonderfully effective therapist and endeared her to many hundreds of child and adult patients. She quickly won their trust and opened their eyes to their own psychological workings.

Underlying all her work and thought was a deep faith in the evolutionary process - not in a Darwinian sense, but in terms of the individual psyche evolving towards total awareness of itself and of its deep connection with humanity and the world. Those who knew her well felt that Carol Jeffrey had herself achieved that awareness to an exceptional breadth and depth.

Editha Caroline Cowley, teacher and psychotherapist: born White Hall, Worcestershire 31 October 1898; married 1925 Tom Jeffrey (died 1984; two sons, one daughter); died Charing, Kent 6 November 1998.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn