DR MAX PEMBERTON: Strong emotions about the royal family are good for us

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Being royal can’t be easy. Of course there are the palaces and butlers and chauffeured cars. But in the midst of all the bows and ribbon cutting, they are under pressure that few of us could bear. In addition to all formal duties, they carry the emotional weight of a nation.

Whether we’re a royalist or not, we can’t help but be psychologically invested in them. We project so much onto them and consider them archetypes of our own family and our own relationships. They are powerful symbols that represent our hopes and fears.

Just look at how we are obsessed with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s tenth wedding anniversary. I was amazed at how even ardent anti-royalists spoke about it at work.

Dr. Max Pemberton says projecting onto the royal family reminds us to hope, even in the darkest time. Pictured: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

In part, I think we’re all desperate for good news – and being thrown back ten years on their fairytale wedding is like a breath of fresh air.

But I think it also goes deeper than that. It tells us how love lasts and how well it can triumph.

A few years ago I read a fascinating book by a group of psychoanalysts called When A Princess Dies. This explores the psychology underlying the public grief after Princess Diana’s death.

The book argued that what we saw was not some mass hysteria or anything mawkish. Diana previously, as with many celebrities or people in the public eye, had important characteristics that resonated with us. And when we mourn their death, we really mourn something else, but it’s easier and less painful to cry about someone you’ve never met.

This may sound fantastic, but it’s interesting that in the months following Diana’s death, psychiatric wards reported a 50 percent decline in admissions. This is believed to be because the princess’s death had enabled people to express their own pent-up grief and felt a bond with others through the collective mourning.

It was impossible to watch Kate and William’s wedding without thinking about Princess Diana and the terrifying image of those little boys walking behind her coffin. William and Harry represented our deepest fears: grieving or forsaken, alone and defenseless.

Dr Max (pictured) said Harry and Meghan's departure to California and the fallout from the Oprah interview isn't quite how we think the fairytale should end

Dr Max (pictured) said Harry and Meghan’s departure to California and the fallout from the Oprah interview isn’t quite how we think the fairytale should end

And here, on William and Kate’s wedding anniversary, the resolution of that image was our desperate need to see that, as terrible as it may be, things can turn out okay in the end. It is that universal need to hear that goodness wins.

I also think this is why the nation has been so upset with Harry and Meghan’s departure. It’s not the lucky one we had hoped for ever after. In fact, as things stand, the difficulties between the brothers only support the reality that families can and will fall apart.

Harry’s story, in particular, started with the perfect storyline: a tragic opening with the loss of his mother and a magical ending with his marriage to Meghan. It gave us hope that no matter how bad things are, they can improve.

Meghan’s family’s pre-wedding shenanigans only added tension leading up to the day and added to the joy at the denouement.

Dr.  Max said that in a troubling year, we need something to show us that love wins.  Pictured: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Dr. Max said that in a troubling year, we need something to show us that love wins. Pictured: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

And, of course, there’s the fact that Meghan had the kind of humble upbringing that many of us deal with (even if she became a Hollywood actress), before meeting her prince. It’s a story every child knows because, again, it reflects the desire we all have for salvation.

But with their departure to California and the fallout from the Oprah interview, things got stuck in the air – and we’re uncomfortable with that. It’s not quite how we think the fairytale should end.

It is, of course, unfair for us to project so much onto a group of people who, despite all their splendor, are only human. Perhaps this is why we held on so tightly to Kate and William’s anniversary.

After such a horrible, troubling year, we needed something to show us that love is victorious. It helped to remind us that there is hope, even in the darkest of times, and reaffirmed that things will work out in the end.

Dr. Max prescribes: a body positive celeb

Dr Max said young people should follow the Instagram account of Georgie Clarke (pictured), who has tried to normalize 'normal' bodies

Dr Max said young people should follow the Instagram account of Georgie Clarke (pictured), who has tried to normalize ‘normal’ bodies

If you have a young person in your life then I would recommend that they follow Georgie Clarke’s Instagram account. The 27-year-old reality TV star, best known for the ITV2 show Survival Of The Fittest, has posted amazing photos of herself showing the dramatic impact that only lighting and tense muscles have on a photo – in an effort to ‘ normalize normal ‘bodies.

It is a real antidote to the manipulated and toxic images that we are constantly bombarded with.

The power of a little gossip

Dr.  Max said gossip helps strengthen bonds and build connections.  Pictured: Carrie Symonds

Dr. Max said gossip helps strengthen bonds and build connections. Pictured: Carrie Symonds

Of course, the details of the Carrie Symonds and Boris Johnson’s decoratoriasco are fascinating – how we love good gossip! And now it turns out that gossip is good for you.

My neighbor is in the middle of a massive condo remodel and that’s what the rest of us in our block have been talking about. “Did you hear how much he spent on the bathroom alone?” chat has been going on for weeks. Gossip helps strengthen bonds and build connections. It’s stuck in our brains because it makes us develop a network.

Politicians think we are all shocked by the scandal, but I think they are barking in the wrong tree.

I think we’re all just fascinated to indulge in that guilty pleasure of having a thorough poke around someone else’s house and gossiping about it afterwards.

  • Medics have mentioned a new condition: Covid anxiety syndrome – a combination of compulsive hygiene habits and a phobia of public places. It is feared that this could prevent people from re-entering society once the lockdown has been lifted completely. I have patients who still refuse to come to the clinic despite needing help.

I heard from a couple who were so concerned about Covid that they refused to take their son to the hospital, although the doctor feared he had meningitis. What is happening?

I think Covid has exposed the high levels of anxiety that were already present in the population – and put a focus on it.

Anxiety is seen as the bad relationship with depression, but it is more common than depression and is just as crippling.

  • Taking photos can harm your memory of events, according to a new study.

This is because people take so long to get the picture right that they don’t know what’s around them.

In an attempt to capture the moment, it passes them by. It’s a sad indictment of modern life.

Once, in a restaurant, I saw a family sitting quietly staring at their glowing screens in their hands. I found it ironic that while communicating with people on social media, they ignored the loved ones.

There is no doubt that the technological revolution has brought us a lot. But how much do social media really add to the sum of our happiness?

Has anyone ever spent 30 minutes on Facebook and felt better about it? No. All too often it just makes us feel insecure, guilty, irritated.

It makes us more focused on ourselves than the world. And that’s never a good thing.

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