Prince Harry opens up about ‘healing’ from PTSI after Diana’s death: What is Post Traumatic Stress Injury?

Prince Harry has spoken out about how he “healed” from his Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) after the death of his mother, Princess Diana.

The Duke of Sussex opened up about his new memoir, Spare, which is said to feature bombshell revelations about his relationship with the royal family, during an interview with Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan on Monday 9 January.

During their conversation, Harry talked openly about his grief and how serving in the military “literally saved him” in the wake of his mother’s death in a car crash in Paris in 1997. When asked if he found his “purpose” in the military, the royal further explained how he finds value in performing different acts of service.

“It seems perfect because I then had the opportunity to be part of something different than myself,” he said. “I was born into service, it runs in my blood. I’m always going to serve communities. I’m always going to serve people as much as I can, use this position for good. And I really get genuine healing from helping other people. Ultimately, it challenged me beyond anything else I could imagine.”

Strahan then asked Harry: “Were you surprised seeing some of these things within yourself that you have seen other soldiers suffer from that could go back to your childhood, when you lost your mother?”

In response, Harry agreed with Strahan and revealed his struggle with PTSI.

“It was very much PTSI, more of an injury than a disorder,” he said. “I fully appreciate that for a lot of these guys and girls, not just in the military but across society as a whole, that people are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But I’ve tried to reframe it as much as possible to say it’s an injury because you can actually heal from it.”

PTSD is a mental health condition that’s “triggered by a terrifying event” that someone has either experienced or witnessed, as noted by the Mayo Clinic.

PTSI can be used to rename PTSD, as the word “disorder” has been viewed as a “weakness,” according to First Responder Wellness, a company that provides mental health treatment to first responders and public safety professionals. The term is also referred to as a “brian injury” that can be “healed”.

PTSI also “usually develops after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event”, with symptoms including intrusive thoughts and negative thoughts. As noted by First Responder Wellness, some forms of treatment can include individual therapy and working on stress management and coping skills.

Elsewhere in his interview with the GMA host, Harry confessed that he wished he’d done “some form of therapy after his mother died though he’s unsure if his 12-year-old self “would have said yes to that”.

Strahan also brought up how the duke felt like his mother was “hiding” after her passing and asked him why he “went that route”. In response, Harry explained his feelings of denial in the wake of her death and how he could have benefitted from therapy at the time.

“100 per cent, it’s a defence mechanism,” he said. “I refused to accept that was what had happened. If you asked me a bit of questions like: ‘How would your life had differed if you’d done therapy then?’ I probably would have done less drugs. I would have probably drunk less, partied less. Not to say I wouldn’t have partied and done all those things, I probably would have. Not for the reason I was doing them. For me, it was kind of either trying to find a feeling or numb a feeling.”