'This is dangerous': How people have reacted to Harry's conversation with Gabor Maté

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA: In this image released on May 2, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, speaks onstage during Global Citizen VAX LIVE: The Concert To Reunite The World at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Global Citizen VAX LIVE: The Concert To Reunite The World will be broadcast on May 8, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Global Citizen VAX LIVE)
Harry's recent livestream conversation with Dr. Gabor Maté has attracted both criticism and praise. (Getty Images)

What's happening? Prince Harry's live-streamed conversation with trauma expert and physician Dr Gabor Maté continues to attract praise and criticism.

The candid conversation on Saturday included discussion of Dr Maté's impressions of Harry's memoir, which he said he initially "resisted" reading but was ultimately struck by "the universal humanity" of it.

The pair covered a range of topics including Harry's use of psychedelic drugs, the war in Afghanistan and the apparent multigenerational emotional issues within the Royal Family.

Yahoo UK runs through some of the different reactions to the conversation, and why it's attracted so much attention.

Harry's drug use: 'Soaked in blood'

The Duke of Sussex and Dr. Maté talked candidly about the benefits — as they framed it — of using psychedelic drugs as well as the substances Harry used to cope with trauma in his younger years, like marijuana, alcohol and cocaine.

Harry said that cocaine "didn't do anything for [him], it was more a social thing", but that marijuana on the other hand was "different, that actually really did help me."

October 7, 2009 Dr. Gabor Mate, the renowned Vancouver doctor who worked with drug addicts in the Downtown Eastside, did palliative care, and author of bestselling books presents a seminar on Homelessness at the Metro Central YMCA in Toronto. Toronto Star/Steve Russell (Photo by Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Dr Gabor Maté is a trauma expert and physician who took part in a live-streamed conversation with Harry about his memoir Spare. (Getty Images)

He also described taking the psychedelic drug Ayahuasca as "clearing of the windscreen", which removed the "filters" he saw life through.

The comments have attracted criticism.

Watch: Susanna Reid calls out Prince Harry over 'live therapy session'

Fiona Spargo-Mabbs, who founded the Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation drugs education charity after her son died of an accidental MDMA overdose aged 16, described the comments as "concerning".

"Unfortunately young people are getting the message from somewhere that drugs are going to help with their problems and anything that reinforces that is a concern for us. Using drugs as a coping strategy is more likely to lead to dependence than other motivations because that becomes how you are coping with something."


Sunday January 8th at 9pm on ITV1 and ITVX 

Pictured: (l-r) Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex interviewed by Tom Bradby in California.

ITV will show an exclusive interview with Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, next Sunday in which he will talk in-depth to Tom Bradby, journalist and ITV News at Ten presenter, covering a range of subjects including his personal relationships, never-before-heard details surrounding the death of his mother, Diana, and a look ahead at his future. 

The 90 minute programme, produced by ITN Productions for ITV, will be broadcast two days before Prince Harry’s autobiography ‘Spare’ is published on 10 January, by Transworld.

The book has been billed by publisher Penguin Random House as “a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief”.

Filmed in California, where Harry now lives, Harry: The Interview, sees the Prince go into unprecedented depth and detail on life in and out of the Royal Family.

Speaking to Tom Bradby, who he has known for more than 20 years, Prince Harry shares his personal story, in his own words.

Michael Jermey, ITV Director of News and Current Affairs, said: “It is extremely rare for a member of the Royal Family to speak so openly about their experience at the heart of the institution. 

“Tom Bradby’s interview with Prince Harry will be a programme that everyone with an informed opinion on the monarchy should want to watch.
Prince Harry's memoir Spare and the interviews he has done promoting it were very candid about his journey with trauma and grief. (ITV)

Journalist and doctor Max Pemberton called Harry's comments "hugely irresponsible".

"He speaks about using drugs that are illegal in this country, proclaiming the benefits he has enjoyed from cannabis and hallucinogenics such as ayahuasca. It’s hugely irresponsible," he said

"Harry plainly has no understanding of the serious damage these substances can wreak on users - damage that I see on mental health hospital wards with upsetting frequency."

The outspoken television presenter Kirstie Allsopp was equally scathing, saying Harry's actions were "soaked in blood". She tweeted: "Someone needs to tell Prince Harry that County Lines doesn’t mean doing coke in the Home Counties. It means that stuff you took to ease your trauma, was soaked in the blood of those whose own trauma & lives are as far from your privileged bubble as it is possible to get."

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are spearheading a new campaign called Heads Together in partnership with inspiring charities, which aims to change the national conversation on mental wellbeing. The campaign has the huge privilege of being the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year. At Kensington Palace on April 21, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Nicky J Sims/Getty Images for Royal Foundation)
Harry has long campaigned on mental health awareness, and launched Heads Together in 2016 alongside William and Kate. (Getty Images)

'We should be empathising'

The reaction to Harry's chat with Maté wasn't all critical, with some praising the Duke of Sussex for his openness.

Barrister and academic Dr. Charlotte Proudman said people should be "empathising" rather than criticising Harry, saying: "We should be empathising with a man who bravely shares his battle with mental health not labelling him 'deluded' — this is dangerous and will discourage people from speaking out about trauma."

Omid Scobie — Yahoo UK's executive royal editor — called the talk with Dr Maté "powerful" on Twitter.

"Fascinating and powerful convo between Harry and Dr Gabor Maté and, gotta say, brave to do it live and so publicly. Maté didn’t tip-toe around the big topics or mince words and, as a result, provided one of the most revealing insights into Harry—who clearly knows his stuff—today."

Journalist Ellie Hall echoed Scobie's sentiments and added: "Harry has obviously done a lot of work on his mental health and feels comfortable enough in that work and in himself to be open and honest about his experience."

ADD Diagnosis: 'Neither ethical nor appropriate'

At one point during the conversation, Dr. Maté 'diagnosed' Harry with a series of mental health issues that the physician had identified in the duke whilst reading his memoir, this included Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

He said: "Reading the book I diagnose you with ADD, I see it as a normal response to normal stress, not a disease."

This comment that drew anger from the ADHD Foundation.

"Gabor Mate-it is neither ethical nor appropriate to tell someone for the first time,- in a public interview, that they have ADHD. It is for the individual to decide whether to disclose their Neurodiversity."

Joking about the diagnosis, Harry told Dr Maté: "Thanks for the free session."