In 2004, Dan Harris anchored the hourly news updates on Good Morning America. Then he had a panic attack on live TV. Today he published an editorial telling us why. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Harris Took Ecstasy & Cocaine to Simulate the Thrill of a War Zone
In Harris’ editorial, he revealed that, upon consulting a shrink after his infamous breakdown, its likely cause was his frequent, well-hidden drug use. Harris writes:
In 2003, after spending several years covering the wars in Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine and Iraq, I became depressed. In an act of towering stupidity, I began to self-medicate, dabbling with cocaine and ecstasy. I’m not talking “Wolf of Wall Street”-level debauchery. My intake was sporadic, and mostly restricted to weekends. I had never been much of a partier before this period in my early thirties. In hindsight, it was an attempt, at least partly, to recreate some of the thrill of the war zone. A side-effect of all of this, as my doctor explained to me, was that the drugs had increased the level of adrenaline in my brain, dramatically boosting the odds of a panic attack. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t gotten high in the days or weeks leading up to my on-air Waterloo; those side-effects lingered.
2. Now He’s Written a Book About Meditation
The editorial reveals itself to be an advertisement for Harris’ pending book on his experiences with meditation, titled 10% Happier.
Harris writes that after being instructed to stop all drug use, he was struck by the incredible “mindlessness” with which he’d been walking through his life. He had thrown himself into warzones in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel, then tried to recreate that adrenal rush with intoxicants. This did not seem like the behavior of a well-adjusted individual.
He then found himself assigned to cover matters of Faith, and through that post discovered meditation. He writes that he was reluctant to embrace the practice, turned off by its association with new-agey pseudo-science, but ultimately found it worked like “kryptonite against the kind of epic mindlessness that produced my televised panic attack,” and made him “10% happier:
If meditation could be stripped of the syrupy, saccharine language with which it’s too often presented, it might be appealing to millions of smart, skeptical people who may never otherwise consider it. So I’ve written a book, called “10% Happier,” in which I attempt to do just that. It comes out in March.
3. Harris Is Now an Anchor for ‘Nightline’
Harris was named co-anchor of ABC News’ Nightline in October 2013. He has also returned to Good Morning America as a weekend co-anchor. According to his bio at ABC News, among Harris’ more intrepid reports in his 14 years at the company were “embedding with an isolated Amazonian Indian tribe, questioning drug lords in the lawless slums of Rio, and confronting the head of Philip Morris International over the sale of cigarettes to Indonesian minors.”
4. Both His Parents Are Doctors
According to Wikipedia, Harris’ father is Jay R. Harris, the chair of Harvard’s radiation oncology residency program, and his mother, Nancy Lee Harris, is a pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
5. He Won an Edward R Murrow Award and an Emmy
Harris won the Murrow for a report on a young Iraqi man who, after aiding the US during its invasion, finally received a chance to emigrate to the United States. He won the Emmy in 2009 for a Nightline report titled “How to Buy a Child in Ten Hours.”