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The Greatest Interviews of All Time: Princess Diana with Martin Bashir

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The Guardian has compiled a list of the greatest interviews of all time, plus some of the more interesting things that happened when the tape was no longer rolling. This week, we're offering a up a few highlights from the series.

The interview took place while Diana was still Her Royal Highness, but just barely: She and Prince Charles separated in 1992 and would divorce in August 1996. The fairy tale marriage that began with a gloriously massive ceremony at Westminster Abbey in July 1981 had by now devolved into bitter acrimony played out in the press -- and the BBC interview, aired in November 1995, was a cornerstone of Diana's offensive tactics.

Martin Bashir, who would later famously interview the Prince of Pop, Michael Jackson, coaxed from Diana a candid description of the suffocation of life as Princess of Wales -- although it didn't seem to take much coaxing. With great wounded Disney eyes, Diana spoke candidly about the difficulties playing the fairy tale, about her battle with postpartum depression and bulimia, and about her struggles with the Royal family and her husband, who had by now admitted that he'd had an affair.

"I desperately wanted it to work, I desperately loved my husband and I wanted to share everything together, and I thought that we were a very good team," she says early in the interview, though later admits to her own affair with her riding instructor.

Diana also reveals that depression, all the while laboring under the "stiff upper lip" and the lack of understanding or help from the Royal family, led to her "injuring" herself on her arms and legs.

BASHIR: What effect did the depression have on your marriage?
DIANA: Well, it gave everybody a wonderful new label "“ Diana's unstable and Diana's mentally unbalanced. And unfortunately that seems to have stuck on and off over the years.

Diana, whether obliquely or directly, puts much of the blame for her depression and unhappiness on the Royal family: "When no one listens to you, or you feel no one's listening to you, all sorts of things start to happen. For instance you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help, but it's the wrong help you're asking for. People see it as crying wolf or attention-seeking, and they think because you're in the media all the time you've got enough attention, inverted commas," she says. "But I was actually crying out because I wanted to get better in order to go forward and continue my duty and my role as wife, mother, Princess of Wales. So yes, I did inflict upon myself. I didn't like myself, I was ashamed because I couldn't cope with the pressures."

wedd-cd.jpgAll very juicy stuff. The interview, conducted by Bashir with studied sympathy, was filled with moments like that, of extreme candor and even cleverness. Case in point, describing the effect of her husband's affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles on her, Diana said, "Pretty devastating. Rampant bulimia, if you can have rampant bulimia, and just a feeling of being no good at anything and being useless and hopeless and failed in every direction."


Followed not long after by a well-timed zinger: "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."


The interview also fueled her image as the People's Princess: "I felt compelled to perform. Well, when I say perform, I was compelled to go out and do my engagements and not let people down and support them and love them," she says at one point. "And in a way by being out in public they supported me, although they weren't aware just how much healing they were giving me, and it carried me through."

In Diana's eyes, the Royal family saw her as a problem that required shutting up -- restricting her appearances in public, her ability to do the charity work she had made such a large part of her life, even hiding letters and tapping her friends' phones, she said. And through the media, through the damning 1992 book by Andrew Morton about Diana's life with the Royal family, through comments in the press, through this interview with Bashir, she bit back.

And sadly, it's not much of a stretch to say that Diana's courting of the media -- unwilling as it was at the beginning of her life as a Princess -- may have had something to do with her ultimate death on August 31, 1997, after a tragic run-in with paparazzi.

Previously: Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando with Truman Capote, F. Scott Fitzgerald meets the New York Post.

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The Brain Chemistry Behind Your Caffeine Boost
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Whether it’s consumed as coffee, candy, or toothpaste, caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. If you’ve ever wondered how a shot of espresso can make your groggy head feel alert and ready for the day, TED-Ed has the answer.

Caffeine works by hijacking receptors in the brain. The stimulant is nearly the same size and shape as adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down neural activity. Adenosine builds up as the day goes on, making us feel more tired as the day progresses. When caffeine enters your system, it falls into the receptors meant to catch adenosine, thus keeping you from feeling as sleepy as you would otherwise. The blocked adenosine receptors also leave room for the mood-boosting compound dopamine to settle into its receptors. Those increased dopamine levels lead to the boost in energy and mood you feel after finishing your morning coffee.

For a closer look at how this process works, check out the video below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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5 Tips for Becoming A Morning Person
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You’ve probably heard the term circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is an internal clock that influences your daily routine: when to eat, when to sleep, and when to wake up. Our biological clocks are, to some extent, controlled by genetics. This means that some people are natural morning people while others are night owls by design. However, researchers say the majority of us fall somewhere in the middle, which is good news if you want to train yourself to wake up earlier.

In addition to squeezing more hours out of the day, there are plenty of other good reasons to resist hitting the snooze button, including increased productivity. One survey found that more than half of Americans say they feel at their best between 5 a.m. and noon. These findings support research from biologist Christopher Randler, who determined that earlier risers are happier and more proactive about goals, too.

If you love the idea of waking up early to get more done, but you just can't seem to will yourself from out under the covers, here are five effective tips that might help you roll out of bed earlier.

1. EASE INTO THE HABIT.

If you’re a die-hard night owl, chances are you’re not going to switch to a morning lark overnight. Old habits are hard to break, but they’re less challenging if you approach them realistically.

“Wake up early in increments,” Kelsey Torgerson, a licensed clinical social worker at Compassionate Counseling in St. Louis suggests. “If you normally wake up at 9:00 a.m., set the alarm to 8:30 a.m. for a week, then 8:00 a.m., then 7:30 a.m.”

Waking up three hours earlier can feel like a complete lifestyle change, but taking it 30 minutes at a time will make it a lot easier to actually stick to the plan. Gradually, you’ll become a true morning person, just don’t try to force it to happen overnight.

2. EXERCISE IN THE MORNING.

Your body releases endorphins when you exercise, so jumping on the treadmill or taking a run around the block is a great way to start the day on a high note. Also, according to the National Sleep Foundation, exercising early in the morning can mean you get a better overall sleep at night:

“In fact, people who work out on a treadmill at 7:00 a.m. sleep longer, experience deeper sleep cycles, and spend 75 percent more time in the most reparative stages of slumber than those who exercise at later times that day.”

If you don’t have much time in the morning, an afternoon workout is your second best bet. The Sleep Foundation says aerobic afternoon workouts can help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often throughout the night. “This may be because exercise raises your body’s temperature for about four to five hours,” they report. After that, your body’s core temperature decreases, which encourages it to switch into sleep mode.

3. MAKE YOUR BEDROOM IDEAL FOR SLEEP.

Whether it’s a noisy street or a bright streetlight, your bedroom environment might be making it difficult for you to sleep throughout the night, which can make waking up early challenging, as you haven’t had enough rest. There are, however, a few changes you can make to optimize your room for a good night’s sleep.

“Keep your bedroom neat and tidy,” Dr. Nancy Irwin, a Los Angeles-based doctor of psychology on staff as an expert in sleep hygiene at Seasons Recovery Centers in Malibu, suggests. “Waking up to clutter and chaos only makes it more tempting to crawl back in bed.”

Depending on what needs to be improved, you might consider investing in some slumber-friendly items that can help you sleep through the night, including foam earplugs (make sure to use a vibrating alarm), black-out drapes, light-blocking window decals, and a cooling pillow

Another simple option? Ditch the obnoxious sound of a loud, buzzing alarm.

“One great way to adapt to rising earlier is to have an alarm that is a pleasing sound to you versus an annoying one,” Dr. Irwin says. “There are many choices now, whether on your smartphone or in a radio or a freestanding apparatus.”

4. TAKE THE TIME TO PROPERLY WIND DOWN.

Getting up early starts the night before, and there are a few things you should do before hitting the sack at night.

“Set an alarm to fall asleep,” Torgerson says. “Having a set bedtime helps you stay responsible to yourself, instead of letting yourself get caught up in a book or Netflix and avoid going to sleep.”

Torgerson adds that practicing yoga or meditation before bed can help relax your mind and body, too. This way, your mind isn’t bouncing from thought to thought in a flurry before you go to bed. If you find yourself feeling anxious before bed, it might help to write in a journal. This way, you can get these nagging thoughts out of your head and onto paper.

Focus on relaxing at night and stay away from not just exercise, but mentally stimulating activities, too. If watching the news gets your blood boiling, for example, you probably want to turn it off an hour or so before bedtime.

5. GET YOUR DAILY DOSE OF LIGHT.

Light has a immense effect on your circadian rhythm—whether it’s the blue light from your phone as you scroll through Instagram, or the bright sunlight of being outdoors on your lunch break. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, scientists compared the sleep quality of 27 subjects who worked in windowless environments with 22 subjects who were exposed to significantly more natural light during the day.

“Workers in windowless environments reported poorer scores than their counterparts on two SF-36 dimensions—role limitation due to physical problems and vitality—as well as poorer overall sleep quality," the study concluded. "Compared to the group without windows, workers with windows at the workplace had more light exposure during the workweek, a trend toward more physical activity, and longer sleep duration as measured by actigraphy.”

Thus, exposing yourself to bright light during the day may actually help you sleep better at night, which will go a long way toward helping you wake up refreshed in the morning.

Conversely, too much blue light can actually disturb your sleep schedule at night. This means you probably want to limit your screen time as your bedtime looms closer.

Finally, once you do get into the habit of waking up earlier, stick to that schedule on the weekends as much as possible. The urge to sleep in is strong, but as Torgerson says, “you won't want your body and brain to reacclimate to sleeping in and snoozing.”

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