September 1999

Tracing in detail Diana’s search for what she lacked

By Sally Bedell Smith
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At the time of Princess Diana's death, she was probably the world's most famous celebrity. Her work for various charities and her crusade against land mines had taken her to numerous countries. She gave comfort by ministering to the needy, the sick, and the dying. But as Diana in Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess relates, the private Diana differed significantly from her public persona.

This authoritative biography by Sally Bedell Smith considers previous books and articles about Diana. It also includes Diana's own words as well as quotes from acquaintances and friends. When versions of an incident differ, the author appropriately presents as many sides as possible and withholds final judgment.

What emerges is a portrait of an extremely complex, basically insecure woman, whose marriage to Prince Charles thrusts her into a situation she is unable to handle. Her depression, bulimia, and occasional attempts at self-mutilation appear to be symptoms of a deep psychological conflict that she was never able to resolve, despite visits to different therapists and the use of alternative therapies. Neither the royals nor her own family understood the extent of her illness, and Diana was never able to find the safe, nurturing environment she sought.

The book recounts how Diana searched for approval to bolster her shaky self-image throughout her entire life. Wanting to control relationships and needing frequent reassurance to help her cope with mood swings, Diana went so far as to attempt to control her public image through her management of media contacts.

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