Deborah Sowerby: Feeling a Failure

Deborah was born in 1949 in London. She spent some time in hospital as a young child and then was sent to a residential special school in East Sussex at the age of five, staying there until she was sixteen and then going on to Art School.

Here Deborah talks about her sense of failure as a child.

  • Deborah Sowerby
  • Deborah Sowerby
  • Deborah Sowerby
  • Deborah Sowerby


So there was, for me, I grew up knowing that there was, you know, there was good behaviour and there was bad, and there were good people and bad people, and what happened to me gradually is that I decided on the basis of how I felt and how I was being treated, that I was a bad person. I always seemed to be getting told off.

So I was always displeasing people, and so my parents were often not pleased with me, so there was a lot of shouting and, telling me off and being really quite cruel, and teachers seemed to continue this for the most part, and you can see in the reports really quite negative comments. So there was, you know, a sense in which, when I grew up, feeling a failure, because I just didn't seem to cut it. I didn't seem to come up to the mark, and that seemed to me quite, part and parcel of who I was. I didn't seem to be able to have any control over that, it seemed that by just, merely by being myself, I was a disappointment and a letdown and just no good really.

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