There’s been a lot of media buzz about Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, the last few years. And all of that buzz has been amped up with the publication of Harry’s memoir, Spare. (full disclosure: I haven’t read the book; I am a fan of the couple, significantly as emotionally healthier, more transparent, strength-in-vulnerability archetypes)
Harry’s been open about his struggles with mental health issues. And since I’m a psychotherapist whose antennae are constantly scanning for unspoken clues, I started wondering about Harry’s early childhood experiences and a possible correlation with CPTSD (complex PTSD).
Harry was just 12 years old when his mother (Princess Diana) died in a sudden and shocking car accident. Her death was a set-up for Harry to have developed PTSD as a result of the traumatic experience.
And apparently, he’s acknowledged that he was diagnosed with PTSD.
However, I haven’t read anywhere that his PTSD diagnosis could’ve landed on top of an already somewhat shaky psychic foundation due to C-PTSD. (more full disclosure: I’ve never met Harry; nor have I done a CPTSD psych assessment with him; I’m extrapolating from what is public knowledge about some of the circumstances of Prince Harry’s life)
How Complex PTSD (CPTSD) Can Develop
Arielle Schwartz, Ph.D., is a nationally recognized expert in trauma recovery and CPTSD. The following definition of CPTSD is from her book The Complex PTSD Treatment Manual: An Integrative, Mind-Body Approach to Trauma Recovery.
In contrast to single-incident PTSD, C-PTSD occurs as a result of repeated or chronic exposure to extremely threatening events from which escape is impossible. C-PTSD is associated with a longer duration and greater intensity of traumatic stress. Situations that might elicit complex traumatization include torture, prolonged domestic violence, prolonged captivity, chronic discrimination, genocide, and the unrelenting distress of being a refugee separated from one’s family and country. In addition, C-PTSD can arise as a result of developmental trauma, which includes childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence, having a parent with untreated mental illness, and having a parent who abuses alcohol or other substances.
The timing of developmental trauma appears to make a difference as well. Children go through critical growth periods in which they are more susceptible to the impact of trauma. One of these periods occurs during the first three years of life when infants and toddlers are in the attachment phase of development. When an infant’s world is frightening, unpredictable, threatening, or neglectful, they cannot form a secure attachment with their primary caregiver. … . In addition, adolescents are also highly vulnerable to relational trauma due to the unpredictable physiological changes that accompany this developmental period and the psychological tasks of identity formation.
An actual, real-life prince isn’t someone you’d necessarily think had a deprived childhood, right? However, it’s known that Harry’s parents’ marriage (his father was Prince Charles, now King of England) was full of tension and conflict. They separated when Harry was eight years old and divorced when he was a young teenager.
His mother talked in public about her mental health issues, including multiple suicide attempts and struggles with bulimia.
Both of his parents were often away from home on official international trips.
Finally, all of this played out in public, with constant toxic international media coverage.
Can you see the possibility of developing CPTSD from this complex interweaving of potentially traumatic experiences that repeatedly occurred during highly vulnerable ages?
The (Very) Good News About Childhood Trauma & CPTSD
It appears to me, from way on the outside, that Prince Harry has done a ton of personal work on himself. He’s taken his mental health seriously and made the commitment to work with professionals who are trained in these complex matters.
He’s taken on the entire British monarchy in his quest to live from his most authentic self (or, as IFS calls it, the Healthy Adult Self). Gotta love it!
The very good news about childhood trauma and CPTSD is that there are good professionals who’re trained to help others reclaim themselves from the tyranny of trauma and confidently move into the future that’s waiting for you, right on the other side of the yuck.
There’s so much hope and possibility, my friends, no matter what’s happened in the past.
The Santa Fe Therapist Approach to Childhood Trauma & CPTSD in Santa Fe, NM
CPTSD clients have a special place in my heart. It takes so much courage to make that phone call or send an email asking for help! And then, opening the cage that’s been protecting your heart can be terrifying.
When you’ve experienced trauma, especially as a child, you have no idea who to trust or even what it feels like to trust someone else. “I don’t feel safe” is one of your strongest subconscious core beliefs.
But you absolutely can’t keep living so small and scared anymore. So you’ve got to dive off the edge of the world you’e know, closing your eyes and hoping it’s all gonna be OK. Because diving has got to be better than living the way you are.
It’s OK to Ask for Help
I’m here to tell you yes, it will be OK—more than OK. I’ve been there myself. When I was younger, there was a time when I hated who I had become as a result of unprocessed childhood trauma. All my crappy coping behaviors, like drinking too much, were suffocating me and making the people I loved miserable.
What to do? I got so desperate that I was forced into asking for help. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, for reals. But as I began walking the path of healing a lifetime of suffering, my life started changing for the better almost immediately.
And while my life began getting better, the truth is that it wasn’t a ton of fun at the beginning. There was a lot of toxic sludge to clean out of my thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs about the world.
Honestly, though? My life was at stake, and I wasn’t willing to give up on myself.
It gets better, my friend; it really does. But you’ve got to put in the effort to make it better. And that whole terrifying thing is so much easier, more effective, and long-lasting when you have a seasoned professional guide walking with you every step of the way.
Reach out for a free 15-minute consult here.
The Santa Fe Therapist
I’m Melanie, and I love helping people who are ready to work with a trauma therapist. In balancing the science of therapy with the art of healing, I’ll create an innovative program for you that sets you on a path of success from the very first session.
My compassionate, creative approach weaves together my ability to hear below the surface of the words, advanced degrees, years of specialized training, professional experience, and my own healing around trauma.
I use the latest neuroscience findings as I combine Western systems, Eastern wisdom, Earth-based practices, as well as creative, innovative ideas to help you process, heal and begin building your future.
My clients usually work with me once a week for 6 to 12 months. And some continue every other week for another few months. As we work together, you’ll be getting tools for long-term success and learning and using strategies and techniques to serve you for many years.
You’ll work hard for sure. But won’t all be horrible and terrible! I love sharing ideas about good books and films and laughing together once in a while.
My hope for you is that you’ll feel safe every step of the way as you transform “I don’t feel safe” into “Yes, I’m safe and well and happy.”
Online Therapy in New Mexico
Online therapy helps you find the time away from day-to-day pressures to calm your nervous system. It also makes it easy and convenient to process emotions and learn new neuroscience techniques to cope with challenges, heal the past, and begin building your future.
I strongly believe in the power of online counseling. Along with the research that proves its effectiveness, I see the positive benefits for clients every week. Please click here if you’ve got questions about online therapy.
Online counseling from anywhere in New Mexico, including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos, Los Alamos, Pecos, Las Vegas, Tesuque and El Dorado.
Begin Childhood Trauma & CPTSD Therapy in Santa Fe, NM
You don’t have to struggle alone anymore with feeling overwhelmed, afraid, and helpless.
Therapy for childhood trauma and CPTSD can make a world of positive difference in your life.
All you have to do is send me an email to schedule a free, 15-minute phone consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s get you feeling better as quickly as possible.
Other Services From The Santa Fe Therapist
The Santa Fe Therapist specializes in several areas of health, wellbeing, healing and recovery. I know that one size never fits all. My services are individualized to each client, and are based on your values, your needs and desires, and your goals.
I provide individual adult counseling and guidance in Santa Fe, NM and throughout New Mexico for:
- dealing with overwhelming angst and despair
- anxiety help
- depression help
- emotional and spiritual healing
- processing grief
- overcoming low self-esteem
- learning how to make peace with the present
- PTSD and CPTSD/trauma
- helping you manage stress