Are psychedelic drugs to blame for Prince Harry's behavior?

Are psychedelic drugs to blame for Prince Harry’s blistering attack on Royals? Potent ‘trips’ can warp people’s perspectives about loved ones and make them ‘easily influenced by others’, experts say

  • Prince Harry admitted he used psychedelics to cope with his mother’s death 
  • Experts say that these therapies can help manage trauma, grief and anxiety
  • These drugs also leave a person vulnerable to manipulation, an expert warns

Prince Harry’s blistering attack on the Royal Family may have been fueled by powerful psychedelic ‘trips’, experts have told 

During several bombshell tell-all interviews over the weekend, the Duke of Sussex, 38, claimed he self-medicated with potent and illegal drugs like ayahuasca and magic mushrooms to cope with the loss of his mother, Princess Diana. 

The drugs are illegal in most US states and the UK, but growing research indicates they have therapeutic value in managing trauma, addiction and mental health issues by lowering inhibitions and allowing patients to open up fully.

Dr Matthew Johnson, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research, told ‘Openness appears to be good, but there can be too much openness… it can cause manic phases.’

Dr Johnson said if there are underlying issues within a patient’s family, the drugs often allow users to become willing to forgive and see things from a different perspective. ‘But some people go the wrong direction with it’ and develop even greater resentment for loved ones, he said.

Prince Harry admitted to using psychedelic drugs to deal with the ‘grief’ and ‘trauma’ he felt after the tragic death of his mom, Princess Diana

Now, Harry (seen with Diana in 1987) admitted he only cried once over his mother’s death – and said he was plagued with guilt over feeling like he was not being emotional enough

Some psychiatrists are touting Magic mushrooms and LSD as powerful therapeutics for trauma patients.

Dr Johnson added the drugs give people a fresh perspective on life, but they also leave takers susceptible to influence from others.

‘It’s been argued that a part of [the therapy] is greater mental flexibility… someone can be molded, sculpted, ‘ he said. 

Prince Harry and his wife Megan Markle controversially stepped away from the royal family in early 2020 in a bitter breakup dubbed ‘Megxit’. 

They have since alluded to racism and mistreatment against them by the Royal Family in multiple high-profile TV interviews and a documentary on Netflix.

In the 60 Minutes interview, which aired Sunday, Prince Harry revealed he experimented with psychedelic therapy seven years ago as he still struggled to grieve his mother’s death in 1997.

He says he used hallucinogenic drugs under the supervision of a therapist.

Dr Rachel Yehuda, director of Mount Sinai’s Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research, told ‘The idea is to put yourself in a different kind of state that is good for insight.’

It is thought that talking through trauma and emotions while under the influence of a hallucinogen allows people to open up more than usual and confront their fears head-on.

While Dr Johnson agreed the therapy is valuable, he says that sometimes it can have the opposite effect.

‘You see some whacky stuff, some people go the wrong direction with [the therapy],’ he said.

A person whose mind has become open is more likely to understand and consider the opinion of others.

But being too open leaves them vulnerable.

‘Someone can be inspired to be estranged from his family… it could loosen someone up to go the wrong direction,’ Dr Johnson added. 

Even with a great therapist and a perfect situation, Dr Johnson said a person using these drugs is still vulnerable to having their view warped.

He said he has heard of cases where patients were effectively brainwashed using psychedelic therapy. 

But the expert added that for many people, ‘[They] can come to terms with personal issues with others… [and] feel that they have gained closure.’

In early 2020, Prince Harry and his wife Megan Markle (left with Queen Elizabeth II) elected to step away from the royal family

What is ayahuasca and psilocybin?

According to Healthline, ayahuasca is a plant-based psychedelic made from the leaves of the Psychotria viridis shrub along with the stalks of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine.

‘This drink was used for spiritual and religious purposes by ancient Amazonian tribes and is still used as a sacred beverage by some religious communities in Brazil and North America, including the Santo Daime,’ it explained. 

‘The main ingredients of Ayahuasca – Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis -both have hallucinogenic properties.

‘When combined, these two plants form a powerful psychedelic brew that affects the central nervous system, leading to an altered state of consciousness that can include hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, and euphoria.’ 

Dr Johnson has seen many positive cases in clinical trials, though. Sometimes, a person will finally understand a loved one, and even break estrangement to reconnect.

Magic mushrooms, or any fungus containing psilocybin, are illegal in most of US states but have been fully decriminalized in Oregon and partially in Colorado, when under medical supervision.

Psilocybin is thought to help against depression by stimulating a receptor in the brain — called 5-HT2A — in an unusual way.

This triggers a clinical state that is ‘best described as a waking dream’ that users can remember afterwards, researchers have said.

It also releases a surge of dopamine — which is involved in mood regulation — and a neurotransmitter, called glutamate.

This puts the brain in a more flexible state, ‘opening a therapeutic window of opportunity’, according to scientists.

This can lead to positive changes in the mind of people suffering treatment-resistant depression. 

Meanwhile, ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic drink made by boiling together vine stems along with leaves from a chacruna shrub — both native to the Amazonia region.

It is legal in most Latin American countries but is illegal to prepare, distribute or possess in the UK. It is illegal in the US unless for religious use. 

The psychedelic brew contains the compound N,N-Dymethyltriptamine (DMT), which is one of the world’s most powerful known hallucinogens. 

DMT is also a class A drug in Britain, with the same potential punishments attached to it as psilocybin.

Experts have warned of its potentially deadly consequences after earlier this month it was revealed a young artist suffered a mental breakdown and took her own life after taking ayahuasca.

Similar to psilocybin, DMT has demonstrated its ability to increase connectivity between different brain networks.

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