Who is Gabor Mate? Meet Prince Harry's 'trauma expert

The controversial ‘trauma expert’ interviewing Prince Harry: Gabor Maté was warned by the Canadian government over his work with illegal ‘spiritual’ drug and called Gaza the ‘world’s largest outdoor prison’

  • READ MORE: Harry and Meghan’s popularity in the US slumps even further  

The ‘trauma expert’ who Prince Harry is joining for an intimate livestream chat to promote his memoir is a Hungarian-Canadian doctor who was once threatened with arrest for using a ‘spiritual’ psychedelic drug to treat patients. 

Gabor Maté has 20 years’ experience working with people suffering from addiction and mental illness, with other specialisms such as stress and child development. 

Trauma expert Gabor Maté with his wife, Rae, who he married in 1969

The 79-year-old will join Harry on Saturday to discuss ‘living with loss and the importance of personal healing’, followed by a live Q and A 

The academic has described how he was unable to look at his mother when they were finally reunited due to feelings of ‘abandonment, rage and despair’. 

He says the trauma he suffered continues to affect his adult life, leading to an intense emotional reaction when he perceives a threat of abandonment, especially from his wife.

He also believes it may have shaped his ‘addiction’ to shopping for classical music. 

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‘As I was writing about my hardcore, drug-addicted clients I was certainly able to recognize similar areas in myself and in their behaviors,’ he told Classical Voice in 2013. 

‘Working through the emotional dynamics and being with the emptiness that addictions attempt to fill, it just helped me understand myself better.’ 

The author is an outspoken supporter of decriminalising drugs, and has used the Amazonian plant ayahuasca to treat patients suffering from mental illness. 

The psychedelic plant, which is taken as a brewed drink, causes people to experience hallucinations and other side effects, including vomiting.

Ayahuasca has traditionally been used by shamans and traditional healers but is now popular among Western tourists. 

It remains illegal in the US, UK and Canada, and in 2011 Canadian officials threatened to arrest Dr Maté if he didn’t stop using the drug to treat his patients.  

Dr Maté regularly airs his opinions on a range of topics, and in 2021 appeared on a podcast series by the comedian Russell Brand where he discussed the Israel-Palestine conflict. 

‘There’s no way you could have ever created a Jewish state without oppressing and expelling the local population,’ he said. 

The livestream costs £17 and comes with a free hardback copy of the Duke’s memoir

Dr Maté is a Hungarian-Canadian best-selling author and physician who specialises in addiction and childhood development

Dr Maté called Gaza the ‘world’s largest outdoor prison,’ and said that ‘given those conditions, of course people will go for extremist leadership’ – a reference to the 2006 election victory of Hamas.

‘The disproportion of power and responsibility and oppression is so markedly on one side, that you take the worst thing you can say about Hamas, multiply it by a thousand times – and it still will not meet the Israeli repression, and killing, and dispossession of Palestinians,’ he said. 

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He has published a series of books including In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Close Encounters With Addiction, When the Body Says No, The Cost of Hidden Stress and Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder.

He has received the Civic Merit Award of the City of Vancouver and the Order of Canada for his work on addiction and other mental health-related contributions. 

Prince Harry’s decision to select Dr Maté to help promote his memoir is another sign of his interest in therapeutic healing, having previously discussed his experience of going through therapy. 

The event, organised in collaboration with Harry’s publishers Penguin Random House, will take place at 5pm UK time on Saturday March 4.

It comes at a fragile time for the Sussexes, who have seen their popularity ratings in the US drop significantly since the release of Spare last month – and now face a decision over whether to attend Charles’ coronation.

Since December last year, Harry’s popularity has sunk by 48 points and Meghan’s by 40, giving them net approval ratings of -10 and -17 respectively, according to a survey by Redfield & Wilton for Newsweek. 

While Andrew is still viewed negatively following his New York civil trial against his sex accuser Virginia Roberts – which he settled out of court – his net approval rating sits at -2, with 26 per cent of Americans saying they like him compared to 28 per cent who do not.

The livestream comes at a tricky time for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have seen their approval ratings plummet since December

The Sussexes’ nosediving popularity across the pond comes just days after they were mocked by South Park – a satirical cartoon famed for having its finger on the pulse of American culture.

Respondents were asked if they felt positively or negatively towards Harry, Meghan and Andrew, with the results likely making sober reading for the couple.

Some 32 per cent felt positively about Harry, compared to 27 per cent about Meghan and 26 per cent about Andrew.

However, 44 per cent felt negatively towards Meghan, compared with 42 per cent for Harry and just 28 per cent for Andrew.

Harry’s chat with Dr Maté will be the first major appearance for the prince since his publicity blitz in January to promote Spare before its publication.

It comes as he and Meghan face a major decision over whether to attend King Charles’ coronation this May amid the ongoing split between them and the rest of the family.

Harry previously demanded an apology from his brother Prince William and father to him and wife Meghan over allegations he set out in Spare.

New data from the US shows the drop in the couple’s approval ratings over the last three months

These include the claim that William insulted the Duchess, before hitting Prince Harry so hard he ended up on the floor.

The Palace declined to comment at the time.

Sources suggest neither William nor King Charles are prepared to offer any apology prior to the coronation.

‘There is still a huge amount of ill-will boiling over in the family,’ one said.

Save the date cards are set to be sent in two weeks to the 2,000 guests who have been chosen to attend the pared-down spring ceremony.

Numbers have been reduced from the 8,251 who attended Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 to make the event more streamlined amid the cost of living crisis.

Formal invitations to those who have indicated they will accept will not be posted until three weeks before the event itself.

One well-placed source says Harry has made it clear that he wants a private apology of some sort from both Charles and William if he is to attend.

It is unclear whether Meghan will attend the ceremony if Harry chooses to do so, but as the date chosen for the coronation also falls on their son Archie’s fourth birthday, there are doubts she will be present regardless of the ongoing family feud.

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