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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory