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BEL MOONEY: I worry that Prince Harry ISN’T helping himself… or others 


Few sights are more sad — even tragic — than that of a fundamentally decent and brave man seemingly determined on a course of self-destruction.

Of course, Prince Harry would not see it like that. He genuinely thinks that by revealing ‘The Me You Can’t See’ he is doing good. And naturally his public outpourings of therapy speak will play well with all those who believe Californian psychobabble is a noble expression of ‘your truth’.

Yet to me, he is a text-book example of a far more basic reality. His shocking revelations to Oprah Winfrey (again) suggest that you can have so much therapy that you turn yourself into a permanent victim.

Few sights are more sad — even tragic — than that of a fundamentally decent and brave man , such as Prince Harry, seemingly determined on a course of self-destruction.

His words could have a destructive effect on people far more vulnerable than him — and with none of the privilege he enjoys

His words could have a destructive effect on people far more vulnerable than him — and with none of the privilege he enjoys

Prince Harry, pictured, believes he is doing something good with his new revelations

Prince Harry, pictured, believes he is doing something good with his new revelations 

By focusing obsessively on your own hurt, or ‘trauma’, you fail to realise the wider effects of your words. Not content with throwing his grandmother, father and brother under a bus, Prince Harry will, I fear, encourage others to feel incapable of dealing with problems in their own lives.

His words could have a destructive effect on people far more vulnerable than him — and with none of the privilege he enjoys.

I should make it clear here that therapy (a catch-all phrase we’ll return to) can do much good, which is why I often suggest counselling to readers who write in to my Saturday advice column.

I’m a patron of Relate — the relationships charity which began as the National Marriage Guidance Council; and because I’ve been writing about bereavement for more than 40 years I know the good that can come from talking honestly to an experienced listener who can guide you towards coming to terms with your pain.

Therapy can help people in myriad ways, from stage fright to post-traumatic stress disorder.

   

More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail…

That’s why I was so impressed, in 2016, when William, Harry and Kate launched their mental-health campaign, Heads Together. With what then seemed commendable honesty, Prince Harry revealed how his brother William had been a ‘huge support’ in battling his demons and it was he who insisted it was ‘OK’ to talk to someone.

Harry admitted he knew he was struggling but ‘didn’t know what was wrong’, then revealed his brother had gently tried to push him in the right direction. But it was only when the ‘timing was right’ he was able to seek help.

He said: ‘For me personally, my brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me. He kept saying: “This is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it’s OK.” ’

And yes, it is indeed OK to be open about your feelings. But it is never OK to tell the public falsehoods about your family to shore up your role as tragic hero in an endless drama with no resolution. It is not OK to treat mental health as a sort of celebrity spectacle.

What happened to the charming, popular man with the successful Army career, the inspirational founder of the Invictus Games, the huge asset to the Royal Family? What happened to the boy so at ease in his father’s company (as I witnessed personally, on more than one occasion)? He could tease him with an affection that can’t be faked.

Now it’s as if Prince Harry has chosen to lock himself in a room watching an endless loop of himself as a shocked and sad child following his mother’s coffin, dwelling constantly on that grief and on the perceived failings of his family.

Can such feelings actually be ‘fed’ by therapists? I believe so.

Not all therapy is the same and not all practitioners are good.

I once knew a family destroyed by a ‘False-memory-syndrome’ psychotherapist who convinced a young woman she had been sexually abused by her father when she had not.

By the time the daughter retracted her allegations. it was too late for a reconciliation.

During 16 years of writing an advice column I’ve often recommended finding help through the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Yet they list 280 therapists within ten miles of my home, all pleasant-looking people who advertise various services: ‘Jungian psychotherapist . . . Humanist integrative counsellor . . . EMDR specialist . . . healing focused.’ Confusing.

What’s more, when I sought help after my first marriage ended I soon concluded the recommended therapist was pretty useless — determined to create a feeling that I was the helpless victim of my estranged husband.

Now it’s as if Prince Harry has chosen to lock himself in a room watching an endless loop of himself as a shocked and sad child following his mother’s coffin, dwelling constantly on that grief and on the perceived failings of his family

Now it’s as if Prince Harry has chosen to lock himself in a room watching an endless loop of himself as a shocked and sad child following his mother’s coffin, dwelling constantly on that grief and on the perceived failings of his family

It worries me that seeing Prince Harry beating his breast, blaming his family and refusing to learn a new script to help himself, will encourage others to feel they can’t cope either

It worries me that seeing Prince Harry beating his breast, blaming his family and refusing to learn a new script to help himself, will encourage others to feel they can’t cope either

After three sessions I knew I didn’t want to wail, ‘Poor me’, I needed to get on with my life.

Where once people described themselves as ‘sad’ or ‘fed-up’ or ‘angry’ they now call their experience (cue, sad shake of the head) a ‘journey’. Where once they might have told a friend, ‘God, seeing X again brought back such memories!’ they now solemnly declare that such-and-such was a ‘trigger’ which unleashed overwhelming emotional pain impossible to deal with . . . ever.

That’s what I mean by ‘psychobabble’ — buzzwords that have become generally accepted to describe everyday sadness.

His shocking revelations to Oprah Winfrey (again) suggest that you can have so much therapy that you turn yourself into a permanent victim

His shocking revelations to Oprah Winfrey (again) suggest that you can have so much therapy that you turn yourself into a permanent victim

And so a sense of victimhood — akin to sickness — is normalised. It worries me that seeing Prince Harry beating his breast, blaming his family and refusing to learn a new script to help himself, will encourage others to feel they can’t cope either.

Imagine if he were to assure us that resilience can get you through bad times, that you can find the strength to change your life, and that in a world of suffering and deprivation we need to give thanks for our good fortune. Ah, that would be a lesson worth learning.



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