Jordan Peterson Is Sick
Jordan Peterson has had a hell of a year. From the National Post:
Jordan Peterson is recovering from a severe addiction to benzodiazepine tranquilizers and was recently near death in an induced coma, his daughter Mikhaila said.
He is being treated at a clinic in Russia after being repeatedly misdiagnosed at several hospitals in North America, she said.
The University of Toronto psychologist who became an intellectual hero to a global audience by aligning self-help theory with anti-progressive politics was first prescribed the medication a few years ago to treat anxiety after what Mikhaila described as an autoimmune reaction to food. His physical dependence on it became apparent to his family last April, when his wife Tammy was diagnosed with cancer.
Jordan Peterson has only just come out of an intensive care unit, Mikhaila said. He has neurological damage, and a long way to go to full recovery. He is taking anti-seizure medication and cannot type or walk unaided, but is “on the mend” and his sense of humour has returned.
So: a man who has been open about his struggles with depression becomes addicted to prescription benzos (e.g., Valium), and nearly dies in detox … and lots of people who hate Jordan Peterson laugh at that.
Ironically, the anti-Petersonians now seem far more fanatical than Peterson’s most faithful fans. This became clear in recent days, when some of Peterson’s critics — including, amazingly, a professor at the University of Ottawa — went online to express satisfaction that Peterson is being treated for dependence on benzodiazepine, an anti-anxiety medication. It was a shockingly ghoulish response. It was also comically hypocritical, given that these are the same people who typically spend much of their waking lives boasting publicly of their commitment to social justice, and who insist on using the language of genocide to describe acts of misgendering or cultural appropriation. All cults dehumanize their critics and perceived enemies. And the self-described social-justice proponents who regard Peterson as a secular demon are no different.
For those who want to understand the true Jordan Peterson, flaws and all, I recommend the above-referenced documentary, “The Rise of Jordan Peterson,” which was produced by the Toronto-based husband-and-wife team of Patricia Marcoccia and Maziar Ghaderi (whom I recently interviewed for the Quillette podcast). Lest you think this is hagiography, it’s not. In fact, Marcoccia and Ghaderi began the project well before Peterson rose to fame in 2016. Their original focus was Peterson’s deep involvement with a B.C.-based indigenous group, and they switched to a more general biographical focus only after he became a celebrated international figure.
One of the amazing things you will see in the film is that, wherever the filming takes place, ordinary passersby approach Peterson to tell him how his work has helped them overcome self-doubt and depression. This is the human reality behind the fact that Peterson’s self-help book has sold more than two million copies. Whatever you think about his academic ideas, he is clearly helping people make sense of the world.
When I look at the people who despise Peterson most, on the other hand, they are people who help no one — most of them being social-media addicts and literary mediocrities who could walk Toronto streets from dawn till dusk without a single person recognizing them, let alone thanking them for their work. So if you’re looking for demons, which fits the role more perfectly: the troubled academic who took medication to deal with his wife’s cancer and the strains of life in the public spotlight — or the social-justice hashtag sadists who revel in his misery?
Read the whole thing. That poor man has helped so many people. Pray for him. I cannot for the life of me understand the sort of wretched person who would delight in the pain of others who had done no wrong, but simply held dislikable views.