Prince Harry *compulsion to repeat*
So you’re turning this into the royal blog? Well, not exactly—but let’s face it, you have the Daily Mail open one tab over. I get it, I get it completely—you’re a serious person, you have Deleuze (in French!) open on your desk. I understand. But, you know, sometimes you have to be interested in real things—like sex scandals and house prices.
For about four years I’ve thought Harry has a compulsion to repeat—I thought that about the time I noticed the Megs-Harry wedding. You’d think Harry would understand that himself—he certainly knows how to use the basic therapeutic jargon; he talks about how veterans should read about events they experienced in war—so he has absorbed, by osmosis, this basic Freudian concept that people repeat traumas and will only stop repeating the trauma when they have brought that trauma to consciousness (when it has been consciously re-experienced).
Harry has had at least one therapist, apparently—it doesn’t seem to have worked; probably because a therapist is meant to challenge the client’s psychic structure and that’s difficult to do with a royal personage who has a very powerful aura. Yet, like everyone today, Harry carries the basic psychoanalytic idea around with him—people are traumatised and will re-live the trauma until the trauma is somehow acknowledged and integrated into the psyche.
That’s everywhere—it’s on Oprah, it’s in the school syllabus, it’s in the ads on YouTube. Over a hundred years on from Freud it’s “just common knowledge”. Yet Harry really is caught in a “compulsion to repeat”—he really does reenact his trauma, for the world to see, in an attempt gain mastery over it. He really does live in a demi-world of psychic phantoms and illusions, detached from reality. He talks about the concepts, but he doesn’t understand how they relate to him at all—the concepts relate to other people, for Harry. He has no insight.
What traumatised Harry? It’s not hard to guess: when Diana died in a car crash. So how does he reenact this event to gain mastery over it? Well, it’s why he married Meghan. He married Meghan because when his mother died she was with her Egyptian boyfriend—although everyone will say in public “so what, what’s the issue with that?” in private everyone becomes censorious about mixed-race relationships. Humans don’t like it basically, to various degrees—at minimum it causes excitement and hushed discussion just like any sexual deviance and is a bit racy and makes us feel prurient about it. But the official line in the democracy is “so what?” and that just makes the frisson that much more exquisite—naughty forbidden (but allowed) sexy things (plus there’s this whole royal family = thoroughbred = taboo).
So Harry has copied his mother. After he did this, he co-created a huge media circus around the issue to replicate the media circus around his mother. Now there would have been *some* media circus if Harry had married Meghan in a conscious way, but Harry has done everything to inflame the issue and his marriage into a “media issue”. It’s what unconsciously drives his socially abnormal behaviour in relation to his family. When he acts in an odd way he makes the media circus worse and so replicates the circus around his mother.
What is the unconscious drive around this behaviour? What he wants to do is say to his dad: “I identify with mom—I’m like mom. See I have a ‘wog’ girlfriend just like she had a ‘wog’ boyfriend. The reason she died is your fault, that’s why I’m like her and not like you dad. If you didn’t hang out with Camilla all the time [hang out with your mother, actually] none of this would have happened. And everything that happened really hurt me. So I’m going to punish you in a deniable way, because I’m angry with you—because you hurt me. So I’m going to disrupt the family structure—I’m going to talk about ‘racism’, so this is a moral issue. Nothing personal (you bastard).”
The idea in his mind is “I’m like mom, I’m a good person—mom was a victim, I’m a victim. Good people are victims.” That’s why he acts like a victim all the time, and puts himself in situations where he will be victimised and exploited by other people. The idea is that he can replay his mother’s last years—complete with the media circus—but be in charge of it this time, because he has created the media circus himself. Diana didn’t actually create the media circus herself, it was spontaneous—if he wanted, Harry could stop the media circus tomorrow. People are *outraged* by Meghan but not *that* outraged.
So he can demonstrate that his mother didn’t need to die. Remember, he was very young when that event happened (12)—younger than William (15). He had almost no sense that he was in control of that situation; and, in some ways, he has probably frozen developmentally at 12. He certainly acts like a 12 y.o.—and the organism continues behaviour that has gotten it results in the past; people felt sorry for Harry when his mom died, when he behaved in this way he was rewarded—he has continued to behave in this way, that’s a royal prerogative because he doesn’t have to adjust to the normal world where it wouldn’t get results.
Michael Jackson was similar—frozen at 12, when he became a big celebrity and everyone started to acquiesce to his whims (a jumbo bowl of jelly beans in every hotel room, please—my usual rider); hence he’d sleep with children in his bed because for him it was just a sleepover, that was where he was at mentally.
So Harry wasn’t in control then, but he’s in control now. If he fails to turn up to some royal event he’s meant to attend and then there’s a media storm about it, he’s in control. So he can replay the events that led up to his mother’s death but be in control this time—nobody will die and he feels he has mastery over it. In this way he reenacts his trauma in public, with other people.
Obviously, this is destructive because as he does so he inflicts damage on his family, other people, and himself. In part, he also has unexpressed anger towards, at the very least, his father and the media; and he uses the reenactment to express that anger in an indirect way. As noted before, he sues the press but it’s all a bit frivolous, it feels dead to me because he sues them today because he couldn’t be angry with them when he was a child—couldn’t sue them then.
His complaints about the press are contrived—the “feeding frenzy” around Harry and Megs is nothing like at the scale it was with Diana and is really created and sustained by Harry himself. He sustains it so he can hit the press and complain about them when he couldn’t do so 30 years ago.
A few years ago, I thought he might go all the way and reenact the death too—perhaps not with a car crash but in some other way, perhaps Meghan would die (perhaps their child). I don’t know if that will happen. I think he just wants to reexperience the trauma in a “safe” way—he can whip the press up a bit, but he can’t replicate the desire to hunt Diana.
It’s not impossible he’ll reenact it all the way, though. If he does so what he will have wanted to do unconsciously is to play the game, “Look what you’ve made me do!”. As discussed, Harry is narcissistic and because he is narcissistic he doesn’t feel he has any self-efficacy; he doesn’t feel like he actually has any impact on his environment because he has lost his sense of self.
It’s not surprising because he grew up in a situation where he didn’t have any control over his environment: firstly, he was a prince so he just *had to* do certain things; then his parents divorced; then the media made a laughing-stock out of it; then his mother died—for Harry things “just happen” to him (in fact, they really do); hence he has a weak sense of self. What can I do about it? Learned helplessness—the electro-shocked Beagle just lies there and takes it, Harry just lies there and takes it (perhaps says “It’s happening again—they’re doing it to me again, like they did to my mother” and looks sad).
Unfortunately, this leads him to think in a self-pitying way and so he is likely to play a game, “Look what you’ve made me do! (this always happens to me)”. That’s because, in his mind, it does “always happen to me”. He could then use the body of Meghan as a rebuke against his family—or, alternatively, since his mother has introjected herself into him, he may put himself in a quasi-suicidal position so that his death can hang over his family. This is what motivates suicides—suicides are often unexpressed anger and the idea with their notes is “look what you made me do, now you’ll have to live with this forever—ha, ha, ha, ha”. So it’s revenge, in the Nietzschean sense—ressentiment.
I don’t get the impression he wants to take it that far. I think he wants to play a game that’s more “so how do ya like that?!!”—essentially, “You thought you got rid of that bitch Diana, that pesky embarrassment—but, guess what, I’m baaaack!!!”. However, it’s not impossible that he’ll lose control of the game, since he’s playing with volatile forces and does so unconsciously—he’s playing with the media, he’s playing with national sentiments about race, he’s playing with the political structure of his country (he has involved a second party, America, in it—a country that actually formally rejected his family, it’s not like he married a half-caste Brazilian girl).
He’s basically playing with fire, so if Meghan gets killed in some “accident” or his child is killed then he will have reenact the whole drama all the way—and then he can say, “There, it happened—AGAIN. I warned you it would.” (“Do you understand that this is your fault now!? It was always your fault, DAD. Because you slept with THAT woman! Not MOM!”).
Charles’s relationship with Camilla is actually perverse because he’s sleeping with his mother—he should have been loyal to Diana, who was sexier (although I don’t find her sexually attractive myself) and more virile (Diana huntress). It’s the problem with having a queen not a king and a general feminisation of society—over-identification with mom (in this respect Harry is just like his dad—more so than William, who is putatively the “good son” but is less like his father in this key respect).
In fact, Harry has said himself in interviews “it’s happening again just like with my mother” but when he says that he has no insight, just like when he regurgitates psycho-jargon. He thinks it’s “happening again” because it’s happening again like some objective natural law or a myth—he’s just passive observer of the inevitable tragedy.
In reality, it’s happening again because he has decided to reenact it at the unconscious level to express his anger towards his father (and other parties—to punish them); but he doesn’t understand that because he is trapped in a narcissistic delusion where he doesn’t feel that “he” has any self-efficacy or can affect anything in the world (even though he has created the entire situation himself).