Beyond Benzos: Jordan B. Peterson’s Trip to Hell and Back

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“Things fall apart of their own accord, but the sins of men speed their deterioration.”

—Jordan B. Peterson

Psychologist Jordan B. Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life is the sequel to his bestseller, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. As you might expect, Beyond Order follows a similar structure to 12 Rules, combining personal anecdotes, clinical cases, mythological interpretations, scientific research, and religious scripture, to ‘guide readers towards a more courageous, truthful and meaningful life.

Unlike his previous work, ‘Beyond Order explores as its overarching theme how the dangers of too much security and control might be profitably avoided.’ It is perhaps ironic, then, that Peterson’s attempt to control his emotional state, led to (or at least exacerbated) what likely ranks as the most chaotic period of his life.

Jordan Peterson’s Health Crisis: Overture to Beyond Order

If you pile up enough junk in your closet, one day, when you are least prepared, the door will spring open, and all of what has been packed inside, growing inexorably in the darkness, will bury you, and you may not have enough time or energy left in your life to confront it, sort through it, keep what you need, and discard the rest.

Jordan Peterson wrote Beyond Order ‘during a time when my family was plagued by sequential and overlapping bouts of seriously impaired health’. These events included his wife’s (Tammy) kidney cancer, his daughter’s (Mikhaila) ankle surgery, and his own medical complications following the use of psychiatric drugs.

Peterson’s health problems began in late 2016, ‘after suffering from what appeared to be an autoimmune reaction to something I had consumed during the Christmas holiday’. He described feeling ‘acutely and continually anxious, as well as freezing cold’ and was prescribed a benzodiazepine in early 2017.

(It is hard to ascertain the true origin of these symptoms but it is worth noting that Peterson had been taking ‘serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Celexa for nearly two decades’; he said they had benefited him greatly but decided to stop using them in early 2016 ‘because a dramatic dietary change seemed to render them unnecessary.’)

Peterson would continue taking benzodiazepines, which he considered ‘a relatively harmless substance’, for ‘almost exactly three years’.

Things changed, however, in March 2019, at the onset of my wife’s medical battle. My anxiety spiked noticeably after Mikhaila’s aforementioned hospitalization, surgery, and recovery. In consequence, I asked my family physician to increase my dose of benzodiazepine, so that I would not be preoccupied by nor preoccupy others with my anxiety. Unfortunately, I experienced a marked increase in negative emotion following the adjustment. I asked to have the dosage raised yet again (by this time, we were attempting to deal with the second of Tammy’s surgeries and its complications, and I attributed my even more severe anxiety to that problem), but my anxiety increased even further. I attributed all of this not to a paradoxical reaction to the medication (which it was later diagnosed as), but to the recurrence of a tendency toward depression that had plagued me for years. In any case, I ceased using the benzodiazepine entirely in May of [2019], trying two doses of ketamine within a week, as suggested by a psychiatrist with whom I consulted. Ketamine, a nonstandard anesthetic/psychedelic, sometimes has overwhelming and sudden positive effects on depression. It produced nothing for me but two ninety-minute trips to hell. I felt to my bones as if I had everything to feel guilty and ashamed about, with nothing gained by my positive experiences.

To summarise, within three months, Peterson increased his benzodiazepine dosage twice; then went cold turkey; and then took two doses of ketamine—all of which occurred under the supervision of medical professionals.

We can perhaps forgive Peterson for going along with all this (although, one could equally argue he should have known better, since he is literally a clinical psychologist), given the mind-altering substances he had already been taking, and stress stemming from his family’s health situation and life as a controversial public figure. But his physician and psychiatrist?

The harmful effects of psychiatric drugs, including benzodiazepines, have been well-documented. So much so, that the FDA recently announced that updated labeling for benzodiazepines would include ‘abuse, addiction and other serious risks’.

And what about abruptly ending one’s use of such substances?

A few days after the second ketamine experience, I began to suffer the effects of acute benzodiazepine withdrawal, which were truly intolerable—anxiety far beyond what I had ever experienced, an uncontrollable restlessness and need to move (formally known as akathisia), overwhelming thoughts of self-destruction, and the complete absence of any happiness whatsoever. A family friend—a physician—enlightened me as to the dangers of sudden benzodiazepine withdrawal. I therefore started to take a benzodiazepine once again—but a smaller dose than I had climbed to previously. Many, but not all, of my symptoms abated. To deal with those that remained, I also began to take an antidepressant that had been of great use to me in the past. All it did, however, was make me exhausted enough to require an additional four or more hours of sleep a day—which was not helpful in the midst of Tammy’s serious health issues—as well as increase my appetite two- or threefold.

It is alarming to think a family friend had to be the one to educate Peterson on the reality of benzodiazepine withdrawal, after his family physician and his psychiatrist, a supposed specialist, apparently failed to warn him of the dangers associated with the abrupt cessation of these drugs.

For about three months, Peterson experienced ‘terrible anxiety, uncontrollable hypersomnia, viciously torturous akathisia, and excessive appetite’. At which point, he traveled to an American clinic ‘that claimed to specialize in rapid benzodiazepine withdrawal.’ Peterson said he resided there from mid-August to late November. But by the time he returned home to Toronto, ‘the akathisia (the disorder of uncontrollable movement alluded to earlier) had increased to the point where I could not sit or rest in any position for any length of time whatsoever without severe distress.’

The following month, Peterson entered a local hospital. But in January of 2020, ‘believing that the treatment I received there was doing me more harm than good (an opinion I concurred with entirely once I learned of it)’, Peterson’s daughter and her husband moved him to an intensive care unit in Moscow. Peterson wrote that he does not remember much of this period.

The situation I found myself in upon reattaining consciousness in Russia was complicated by the fact that I had also developed double pneumonia in Canada, although that was neither discovered nor treated until I was in the Moscow ICU. However, I was there primarily so that the clinic could facilitate my withdrawal from benzodiazepines, using a procedure either unknown or regarded as too dangerous in North America. Since I had not been able to tolerate any decrease in dosage whatsoever—apart from the initial reduction, months before—the clinic placed me in a medically induced coma so that I might remain unconscious during the very worst withdrawal symptoms. That regimen started January 5 and lasted nine days, during which I was also placed in a machine so that my breathing was mechanically regulated. On January 14, I was taken off the anesthetic and the intubation. I woke up for a few hours, and indicated during this time to Mikhaila that I was no longer suffering from akathisia, although I remember nothing of this.

Following these events, Peterson was moved to another ICU ‘specializing in neurological rehabilitation’. He then moved to a ‘homelike rehabilitation center’.

While there, I had to relearn how to walk and [sic] up and down stairs, button my clothes, lie down in bed on my own, place my hands in the proper position on a computer keyboard, and type. I did not seem to be able to see properly—or, more accurately, see how to use my limbs to interact with what I perceived.

A few weeks later, Peterson relocated to Florida, where he ‘attempted to wean off the medication prescribed by the Moscow clinic’. His withdrawal symptoms persisted, however, and ‘about two months later I returned to the dosages initially prescribed in Russia.’ He relocated, once more, this time to a Serbian clinic ‘that practiced a novel approach to the problem of benzodiazepine withdrawal’.

Finally, in October 2020, Peterson published a video on his YouTube channel entitled ‘Return Home’, in which he announced:

I am back in Toronto and in much better health. Although, it’s still severely impaired – especially in the morning. But I can work again and I really want to.

Rule III: Do Not Hide Unwanted Things in the Fog

The fog that hides is the refusal to notice—to attend to—emotions and motivational states as they arise, and the refusal to communicate them both to yourself and to the people who are close to you. A bad mood signifies something. A state of anxiety or sadness signifies something, and not likely something that will please you to discover. The most probable outcome of successfully articulating an emotion that has accrued without expression over time is tears—an admission of vulnerability and pain (which are also feelings that people do not like to allow, particularly when they are feeling distrustful and angry). Who wants to dig down into the depths of pain and grief and guilt until the tears emerge?

Given the hellish withdrawal episode Peterson describes at the beginning of Beyond Order, the above excerpt is jarring, to say the least. Did Peterson ‘dig down into the depths of [his] pain and grief and guilt’? If he did, he chose not to mention it. We know he saw a family physician and psychiatrist, and repeatedly increased his benzodiazepine dosage to the point that he developed a chemical dependency. He also took ketamine. Twice.

Was he working with a therapist during this time? Was he journaling? Exercising? Praying? No idea. It’s not mentioned. This would be the perfect time to revisit his own experiences during that most stressful of times, and connect them with the rule he is encouraging his readers to adopt. But he doesn’t.

Peterson continues:

So, what might you do—what should you do—as an alternative to hiding things in the fog? Admit to your feelings. This is a very tricky matter (and it does not simply mean “give in” to them). First, noting, much less communicating, feelings of (petty) anger or pain due to lonesomeness, or anxiety about something that might be trivial, or jealousy that is likely unwarranted is embarrassing. The admission of such feelings is a revelation of ignorance, insufficiency, and vulnerability. Second, it is unsettling to allow for the possibility that your feelings, however overwhelming and convincing, might be misplaced and, in your ignorance, pointing you in the wrong direction. It is possible that you have misinterpreted the situation entirely, for reasons of which you remain fundamentally unconscious.

Did Peterson apply this advice during his own crucible? Based on his personal account, he seemingly did everything he could to keep his anxiety at bay (via chemical means), rather than confront it.

And it is very possible that you are wrong about just what is causing you to feel the way you do. If you are, you need to know it, because there is no point in propagating errors that are causing you and others pain and interfering with your future. Best to find out what is true—best to disperse the fog—and find out if the sharp objects you feared were lurking there are real or fantastical. And there is always the danger that some of them are real. But it is better to see them than to keep them occluded by the fog, because you can at least sometimes avoid the danger that you are willing to see.

Again, how does marinating in benzodiazepines and ketamine ‘disperse the fog’? This perhaps sounds callous. But I am genuinely at a loss. For Peterson to make such fervent and passionate protestations about how to face one’s demons, without reference to how he chose to combat his own, (1) makes him appear to lack self-awareness, and (2) seems like a huge missed opportunity to help the reader comprehend why he did what he did. He literally says to:

Confront the possibility that manifests in front of you every second of your life with the desire to make things better, regardless of the burden you bear, regardless of life’s often apparently arbitrary unfairness and cruelty. All other approaches merely deepen the pit, increase its heat, and doom those who inhabit it to continual worsening of their already serious problems. Everyone knows it. Everyone’s conscience proclaims it. Everyone’s true friend or loved one observes it and despairs when they see someone for whom they care failing to do what needs to be done. (emphasis added)

He also emphasises the importance of understanding one’s personal history, in order to avoid repeating past mistakes in the future:

The information in our experience is latent, like gold in ore….It must be extracted and refined with great effort, and often in collaboration with other people, before it can be employed to improve the present and the future. We use our past effectively when it helps us repeat desirable—and avoid repeating undesirable—experiences. We want to know what happened but, more importantly, we want to know why. Why is wisdom. Why enables us to avoid making the same mistake again and again, and if we are fortunate helps us repeat our successes.

Agreed. So, why did he choose to seek refuge in anti-anxiety pills? This question is not intended to imply that Peterson was ‘wrong’ to have taken them. Rather, it seeks to understand his thought process during that time, in light of what he is communicating to the reader in the present. The hope is that he would also share his thoughts on these drugs now. If he were to face similar stressors in the future, would he still opt for a psychiatric intervention? Would he suggest (as he has done in the past) that others take psychiatric drugs? None of this is explored.

Warning

Peterson does give one warning in Beyond Order to those thinking of visiting a psychiatrist. Readers of the book are forgiven for having missed it, since it is shared in the notes section, rather than the primary text (wherein Peterson is discussing a clinical case involving a man diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’).

A word of advice for anyone seeking mental health help in a large city clinic, where the psychiatrist seeing you might take fifteen minutes to assess your life and determine the nature of your illness: do not casually mention any odd experiences or beliefs. You may well live to regret it. It takes very little to accrue a diagnosis of schizophrenia in the conditions that prevail in an overloaded mental health system—and once the diagnosis has been established, it is very hard to shake. It is difficult, personally, not to take a medical description seriously. It is harder than you might think to disbelieve a qualified psychiatrist (who should, after all, know what he or she is talking about), particularly if you are experiencing strange symptoms. It is difficult practically, as well, because once such a diagnosis becomes part of your permanent medical record, it is very difficult to have it modified. Anything out of the ordinary about you will, from then on, attract undue attention (even from yourself), and any displays of normality will be downplayed.

I would go even further (as have others). Like interactions with the police, whatever you tell a psychiatrist can be used against you. It is true that some people experiencing emotional distress find comfort in an answer, and a diagnosis provides one (albeit an inaccurate one). But for many, a psychiatric diagnosis is a medical brand that can never be removed. And as Peterson says, once labeled, you may become ensnared in a double-bind that you can never escape; the presence or absence of a behaviour can be interpreted as further evidence of the underlying disorder.

I have seen this happen. People who aren’t improving, but nonetheless want to get off their psychiatric drugs, are told that they should continue taking them. Yet, when they report feeling better, they are still discouraged from tapering off their prescriptions. The diagnosed person’s subjective experience is, thus, divorced from the ‘treatment’.

Now, I say all that knowing full well that some people who have odd beliefs are in fact schizophrenic—but a fair bit of digging is usually in order to establish that diagnosis, and busy psychiatrists in public hospitals seldom have the time for careful excavation.

Despite his warning, Peterson remains convinced that there are genuine ‘schizophrenics’ out there. More rigorous testing is simply needed to identify them. This assumes the criteria undergirding psychiatric diagnoses are valid. They’re not. The criteria used to diagnose ‘schizophrenia’ (and all other psychiatric ‘disorders’) are fundamentally arbitrary. Psychiatric ‘disorders’ are invented, not discovered. They are not falsifiable. In the court of sanity, it is the anointed’s word versus yours.

‘You’re Not Going to Take Your Insulin?’

Not only was Peterson uninformed (or perhaps misinformed) about the risks associated with benzodiazepines, he also appears to have been misled about other psychiatric drugs. During a class that was uploaded to his YouTube channel in March 2017, he compares taking antidepressants for depression to taking insulin for diabetes. This fallacious analogy has been perpetuated ad nauseum, by laymen and experts alike (see Robert Sapolsky’s lecture on depression).

For those unaware, unlike diabetes, there are no laboratory tests for depression. Go to a psychiatrist and ask to have your serotonin levels measured and he will stare blankly at you. This means that if you do decide to take SSRIs, there is no way to objectively measure a change in your neurotransmitter levels, the way doctors can track insulin levels for diabetes. You are simply rolling the dice and hoping they have a positive impact—which they do…some of the time. But not necessarily because they fix an ostensible ‘imbalance’ in your brain. Rather, because of the placebo effect. The expectation that your mood will improve upon taking a pill has a powerful effect on how you come to feel in the future.

More Rules, More Problems?

Last year, I published a piece about Peterson’s previous book, 12 Rules for Life. The article critiqued the parenting advice in Rule 5: ‘Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them’. It argued that Peterson’s support of corporal punishment was not only empirically unsupported (quite the opposite—the data suggest it is harmful to children’s development), but downright hypocritical, given the rules he recommends children imbibe (e.g. ‘don’t hit’).

So, does Beyond Order also fall short? First of all, Peterson doesn’t revise any of his original parenting advice. Thus, we can assume that he still supports the physical punishment of children. Second, as he does in 12 Rules, Peterson makes factual claims without providing supporting evidence (e.g., that certain people with ‘odd beliefs’ are ‘schizophrenic’). Third, there are some interesting passages in Beyond Order. The trouble is, in order to find them, the reader must wade through a fairly incoherent and disjointed mishmash of prose.

In sum, those who enjoyed Peterson’s previous work will likely enjoy Beyond Order. But the book probably won’t recruit any new acolytes to Peterson’s chaos/order worldview.

Beyond Order was an opportunity for Jordan Peterson to connect his own psychological and spiritual journey with a selection of his publicly professed rules for life. Unfortunately, the book fails to integrate the two. Thus, the reader is left unsure how (or if) the author actually applies his own rules. This doesn’t mean one cannot learn from them. It’s just unfortunate that the book’s message is hampered by its messenger.

In any case, I am thankful Beyond Order exists; if only because it serves as a cautionary tale for anyone looking to modify their mood using psychiatry’s plethora of pills. Whether Peterson is aware of (and willing to acknowledge) it or not, such drugs have myriad harmful effects (e.g. sexual dysfunction, brain abnormalities, suicide, violence, mortality, and neonatal complications) and do not correct the purported brain imbalances for which they are frequently prescribed.

Use of the term drugs is deliberate, here. Viewing these substances as curative medications is a mistake, as several experts have shown. Therefore, proceed with extreme caution—and don’t expect your doctor (or psychiatrist) to have an in-depth knowledge of the risks these drugs pose.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

125 COMMENTS

  1. Great disappointment that Peterson has failed to lend his voice to the chorus of countless muted souls who are iatrogenically impaired. I have wasted too much time trying to inform and educate those commenting on his YT videos about the vast difference between addiction and physical dependency. It is especially repulsive to read comments from the Christian types orgasming over what they misinterpret as him having some kind of spiritual awakening which to the ‘trained’ eye is nothing more than agonizing symptoms of benzo hell. I am done defending this guy. Seems he and his daughter’s celebrity walls them off from the unwashed masses who worship them.

    • I agree with you, LUH17. You Tube responders rarely comprehend the obvious difference between addiction and iatrogenic-caused physical dependence. The error is common, but by this time, three is no excuse for that ignorance. It plays right into the game of pop-docs on TV and sensationalist writing in the media. I, too, have stopped correcting people.

      As for hostility toward Peterson, well he is a hostile person who erred “big time”. Most responses will be seen as hostile in that context. Maybe it would help to differentiate between responses to Peterson as a person and Peterson’s clear ignorance of the subject of Benzo-Withdrawal Illness. He attributed some of his physiological reactions to “food sensitivities” and without offering evidence. The thinking is without scientific process.

      The last time I read anything about Peterson or his daughter, he was still taking an anti-seizure medication. Those of us who have gone through the Benzo-ringer, complete with medical mythology, remember that this class of drugs functions to mask Benzo-withdrawal syndrome. These drugs do not reverse benzo-dependence. Use of these drugs has masked many out of reason Benzo tapers. When the taper is “completed”, then the anti-seizure meds are also tapered. Symptoms of benzo withdrawal emerge quickly. The conclusion usually is a new dependence or Anti-seizure drug withdrawal. I strongly suspect that Peterson, too, will conflate the uncovering of a drug-masked Benzo- Syndrome as a withdrawal from the anti-seizure medication.

      We could be sympathetic to Peterson’s suffering while concurrently acknowledging his Benzo ignorance and lack of scientific thinking. Yes, many of us know how badly the Benzo-Victim suffers. We are sorry for his suffering. We don’t have to agree that he responded intelligently.

      • With all he endured with this injury I find it odd that he would be relatively recovered by this point – that is if he isn’t taking something to take the edge off. He is laughing which is impossible in early recovery – and a year out is still pretty early in recovery, generally. There is a certain camaraderie among survivors of psychiatric harm – and I suppose there might be some measure of understanding when people choose to once again rely on pharma to cope with lingering effects. Personally I am against that. I would rather not feel 100% naturally than to sellout and return to “synthetic well-being”.

        • LUH3417, I agree with what you say, however, I am not sure if you can really have “synthetic well-being.” I would say instead, that, to “sell-out” as you state, one would be unable to achieve any kind of “well-being” if attempted, “synthetically.” All one needs to do is think of the difference between cotton and polyester. No matter, how much work they put into attempting to make polyester feel like cotton, it never will. Only cotton feels like cotton and even an wrinkled cotton shirt will always feel better than any polyester shirt. Thank you.

  2. My heart goes out to any akathisia sufferer. Jordan Peterson is a psychologist so a person might think that he would take another route.But this would be his own business.

    I stopped taking my own Schizophrenic medications (because of Akathisia), and I made full recovery as a result.

  3. “The criteria used to diagnose ‘schizophrenia’ (and all other psychiatric ‘disorders’) are fundamentally arbitrary. Psychiatric ‘disorders’ are invented, not discovered. They are not falsifiable.”

    You can sometimes prove they’re false. For example, if you had the common adverse or withdrawal symptoms of an antidepressant misdiagnosed as “bipolar.” Whitaker’s book ‘Anatomy’ – and even all DSMs prior to the DSM5 – state that is a false diagnosis.

    Plus, if you are made “psychotic” with an antidepressant and/or antipsychotic, and get a “schizophrenia” label. If you point out to an ethical doctor that both the antidepressants and/or antipsychotics can create “psychosis,” via anticholinergic toxidrome. And since anticholinergic toxidrome is not the same thing as “schizophrenia,” obviously the”invented” “schizophrenia” label was a false diagnosis. And the same applies to the negative symptoms of “schizophrenia,” since they can be created, via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome.

    So both “bipolar” and “schizophrenia” can be pointed out to be iatrogenic illnesses, created with the psych drugs. As opposed to “life long, incurable, genetic” illnesses, as both “bipolar” and “schizophrenia” are claimed to be, by most of the pharmaceutical misinformed “mental health” workers.

    I haven’t read Peterson’s books, and I do know many of the psychologists are still in denial of the scientific fraud of the “mental health,” and particularly the psychiatric, DSM deluded industry. But it is rather sad, Peterson is still standing in support of his belief in “schizophrenia.”

    I guess he’s been sick for a while, so doesn’t even know what’s going on in his own industry.

  4. It does seem ironic that he is telling people to face their emotions and not try to “fog” them, while taking antidepressants for years and then getting dependent on Benzos by following his doctors’ advice. Wouldn’t you think he’d see the irony here and come out and acknowledge that he’d been led down the garden path? I feel compassion for him, but he’s missing a great opportunity to promote his ideas by challenging the cultural assumption that “feelings” can be a “disorder” that needs to be “treated” rather than understood and faced as Peterson insists is necessary to get away from our overly “orderly” society.

    • I, too, have compassion for all who’ve dealt with benzo withdrawal, since I’ve seen how incredibly bad it can be. But I agree, Steve, the hypocrisy, or seeming lack of dissidence – lack of speaking out against the absurdity of his industry’s insane beliefs – seems quite disappointing.

    • First he took serotonin drugs, they didn’t actually help so he took benzos, they didn’t work so he took ketamine. When the first serotonin drug was approved the clinical trials also gave out benzos. This was done because serotonin drugs cause anxiety, agitation, irritability, and sleep problems. People mindlessly assume chemical altering drugs can’t have negative effects because those selling the drugs say so. The result is those effects are considered their illness and require more drugs. Those new drugs cause negative effects which are again assumed to be an illness that requires more drugs. Round and round the person goes until they are drugged to death, stop complaining, or decide to taper off the drugs. If they tell people they are quitting, withdrawal is falsely claimed to be their illness returning and they are pressured and sometimes forced to take the drugs.

      Another missed opportunity was Peterson not elaborating that his later problems where caused because he kept taking more deadly illness causing drugs to address the effects of the current deadly drugs he was addicted to.

      • “Another missed opportunity was Peterson not elaborating that his later problems where caused because he kept taking more deadly illness causing drugs to address the effects of the current deadly drugs he was addicted to”
        YES!!! You nailed it!

      • Your view is the one I like the most:

        Follow the money, as ever, is the motto here.

        Peterson has made a small fortune peddling his strict Daddy self help rubbish and he and his publisher needed another book to consolidate his fortune. The benzo story added to the drama and as in all his mutterings there is no coherence, just what passes for intelligent thought.

      • It’s helpful to know about this publisher’s requirement. To maintain the flow of money, Peterson must toe the old line?
        Are we to think that Peterson was not wrong before; he is just more right now than he was before? Now where else have we heard that?

      • Was Jordan Peterson diagnosed as “Schizophrenic” during his crisis?

        For most people this would be a complete disaster – but it doesn’t seem to stick to Jordan Peterson.

        The same with ‘antidepressants’ and anti anxiety drugs – a lot of people taking these drugs are thought of as psychiatric patients whereas Dr Peterson maintains respectability.

        It’s like MH is a Social Class type of thing!

  5. Yes, must say Peterson’s naivety with regard to benzo’s is hard to believe given he is a clinical psychologist.
    I wonder if his akathisia could have been related to the SSRI use as he did ?restart them during this time I think, and had been on them for years. Certainly though his interview with his daughter about his experiences in Russia etc did open my eyes as a health professional to the serious side-effect for psychoactive drugs of akathisia and how truly devastating an experience it is, even leading to suicide in some people. The other issue not mentioned is the terrible MEAT ONLY diet which he and his wife had been on which may well have contributed to both of their health issues. A whole food plant based diet is far and away the healthiest form of diet linked to longevity. I love Jordan but he still sounds like a shell of his former self on his podcaste.

    • Serotonin drugs do and can cause akathisia. Benzos in the short term mask akathisia by causing sedation, however in the long term they all cause akathisia. Akathisia can easily be mistook for anxiety. The “treatment” for anxiety includes benzos, or neuroleptics which cause and worsen akathisia in the long term. Turns out treating the effects of one deadly addicting drug with zero long term benefits in any study with another addicting deadly drug with zero long term benefits is a recipe for disaster.

        • Turns out most people when confronted with the fact the drugs they lied and said were safe and effective caused permanent damage and daily pain prefer to keep lying and handing out those drugs. It is easier to do this if you insult anyone pointing it out and blindly claim your victims lack insight because their brains are ill. Their censorship, invective and crocodile self righteousness comes from the weakness of their position.

  6. I listen to the music of what people say. I pay less attention to the verbal vanity we are all expected to use to demark intelligence. The music is much more interesting. Is the sound of a voice whining, or irrate, or bombastic? I am no fan of Mr Peterson’s voice..

    I like people to sound uncertain.

  7. Very interesting, well written and well considered.

    I detect some mild hostility to Peterson here and in the comments, as contrasted to the endless sympathy generally extended to other victims of psychiatry and psych drugs, and the frequent concern about not “shaming” people for their decisions to partake in “mh services.” I think this attitude is likely due to Peterson’s social & political writing and general reputation.

    It’s not hard for me to understand someone concerned with “order” suddenly peering into the abyss and realizing there is no such thing, and grabbing at every straw possible to make sense of this, including (or especially) psychiatry. Many people are initially relieved by a “diagnosis” since it seems to make the chaos make sense, at least until the artifice crumbles further. And once one accepts the psych narrative it’s logical to believe that it makes sense to look for the “right” combinations of “medications” to address the “symptoms.”

    Anyway Peterson clearly has a lot to more to work out than he once thought, and needs a few more epiphanies — including about the nature of psychiatry. Unfortunately he seems to have a need as a writer to do this figuring out process in public, in the form of making pronouncements to others, which guarantees that he’ll start out spouting half-truths combined with complete contradictions, then be adjusting and retracting things for some time to come.

    I do question the motivation of someone concerned with formulating “rules for life.” Nonetheless Peterson is a serious thinker with a conscience, and thinking about anything too hard these days will make you crazy, at least for a while. Maybe a little stupid too. The Humanity.

    Good article.

    • As for me, I feel no hostility toward him at all, just a certain sadness and disappointment that such a fantastic opportunity to direct his energies toward that profession which is most strenuously opposed to his philosophy, even when he was victimized by that profession. But it is very hard to admit when you’ve been victimized, especially for those who revere doctors as being automatically more trustworthy than the general population.

      I wish him well, and hope he sees soon what seems clear to us who are further down the road.

  8. I have read and re-read this article. I personally did not see much that would lend itself to speaking ill or good of any particular religion. I did see an incredible mish-mash of ideas and a willingness to subject himself to dangerous drugs. But, not only was there a willingness to subject himself to dangerous, Mr. Peterson, also seems to reflect an unwillingness to learn of their dangers before allowing himself to take them. That seems highly understandable in the “general population” who have brainwashed to believe the pills any M.D. prescribes, even a psychiatrist, must be of benefit to you and make you feel better. Of course, this is usually not the case. Even antibiotics, although useful at times, can cause stomach issues that can be quite disconcerting. And these drugs affect the brain, the pre-eminent organ of the body. When I saw that he was willing to take “ketamine” a “date-rape drug” now being used in some psychiatric circles, I was aghast! What it shows you is that with all the education in the world. Mr. Peterson has a PH.D., without common-sense, one can do some dangerous things to one’s body and brain. (I, of course, should not point the finger too much; as I am no exception in my previous life.) But, something did come to mind as I was writing this? Many times, the psychiatrists, etc. are very concerned that you, the patient may do harm to yourself or others? Well, they should be, because, as soon as you take that drug they prescribed you, you have done yourself harm and maybe others, too. But, of course, they will not tell you that. Thank you.

    • Intelligence and education has several double edge sword aspects. The more “intelligent” someone is the easier it can be for them to come up with convincing lies and bullshit to support their original opinion. If their original opinion occurred because the “expert” educators who they paid $100,000 said so this will more likely to occur. It doesn’t feel good to realize 4-8 years of education and money was essentially just you buying a snake oil sales slot.

      Getting a high level of education can have the effect of increasing arrogance, particularly when that education is in a field that is hero worshiped such as the medical one. When a psychiatrist says someone lacks insight/is stupid for not agreeing with them a contributing factor to this response is their inflated ego. “How dare this loser question me!”

      Intelligence and education can have disastrous results if the person never learned how to spot and avoid logical fallacies and has replaced an open mind/modesty with a sense of hero like self importance/righteousness. Though malice is a factor as well. The problem with society today is that the most likely response if you show some one a bunch of research and facts that oppose their opinion will be logical fallacies, and unsupported claims for why the research can be completely ignored.

      • About “high level of education”: what we usually are talking about is many years studying a single subject. Overarching and broad education are easily missing from the resume’ of the PhD. So maybe we shouldn’t say that Peterson should have known better. Did his education include formal logic or the hard sciences? His degrees do not require either of these; do they?

        • Getting a Masters Degree in Education disabused me of any delusion that having an advanced degree means you’ve met some much higher standard of knowledge. My grad courses were WAY easier than most of my undergrad education, and a student could easily get through the entire curriculum while having not the slightest skill or motivation toward caring about kids’ learning. I’m absolutely certain the same would apply to a psychology degree. The only truly useful part was my internship, and that was because I was lucky enough to land a good mentor teacher to work with.

          An advanced degree means pretty much nothing about someone’s skill level or integrity.

          • Yes! An advanced degree does not signal advanced thinking. It took me many years to realize that someone who contributed a major advancement in one field might be subnormal in all other areas of endeavor.
            How could that be? One answer is the lack of what educators call “critical thinking”. How does that differ from just thinking ? Thinking must be taught?
            Well maybe it does just a bit.
            Requiring study of symbolic logic could prevent the mass-mind disasters that seem to be increasing in both number and absurdity. Passing a logic exam was required for an advanced philosophy degree when I last checked. Why isn’t it required in every field?

          • HEY! Maybe we could distinguish education from training! The Latin origin seems to be educare, to lead out. Doesn’t training imply only giving instructions?

  9. Thanks Jon, great piece!

    Dr Peterson hopefully reads this. He needs more education.

    Of course he went through hell, but many did and were never able to write about it.

    “and don’t expect your doctor (or psychiatrist) to have an in-depth knowledge of the risks these drugs pose.”
    Sure they know. They have been told repeatedly and have witnessed it. They do not give a shit. They want to get through practice without a lawsuit which they are not even in danger of, and then they want to retire to their piece of oasis. That is all there is to their lives. Nothing else.

  10. I have no “mild” hostility to someone who forced an upset child to eat to prove an indigestible philosophical nugget. If you cannot hear the distress of a child it is probably because you cannot hear your own distress, and if you cannot hear your own distress you will call it by another name…like tardiness, or incompetence, or stupidity. Judgemental cruel taunts that you may have been conditioned to be enamoured of by a care giver in your own childhood, and it is these taunts you may seek to sort by recourse to sedatives that just dont ever deal with the root cause of your distress. And when you see tardiness and incompetence and stupidity in others, particularly someone smaller than you, you might just fear in them what you cannot love about yourself.

  11. It’s curious that as I was reading through the article, I noticed a pang of resistance. I feel the author raises some interesting points. Still, the main thing that caught my attention is his tendency to undermine some of Peterson’s propositions because of his decision to take SSRI’s, Benzos, and Ketamine. And that, because he is a clinical psychologist, he should ‘know better’. Although I agree, to a point, that as a clinical psychologist, he could have made better choices, I also feel that some compassion needs to be injected into this analysis.

    Is he a clinical psychologist – yes. Is a very bright individual – yes. Could he have done more research – maybe. But Peterson is also HUMAN, psychologist or not. As a counselling psychologist and psychotherapist, I am familiar with not always making the best choices in certain situations, despite my training and expertise. Just because someone has a greater understanding of humanity, it does not mean they are free from the pitfalls of being human. At times we have to learn the hard way, like everyone else.

    I also think that context plays a significant role here too. This all came at a time when Peterson’s reputation was globally recognised, and he was thrust into the public eye, which in itself is a significantly abrasive experience. Equally, the people closest to him were undergoing extensive medical procedures while Peterson endeavoured to grapple with personal experiences of chronic anxiety and low mood. In such a scenario, I’m confident that the most adjusted person would find their capacity for rational decision-making compromised.

    I may not agree with everything Peterson suggests. However, it does not take away the value of some of his contributions. He is an incredible thinker, and great thinkers are often afflicted with complex – and at times, contradictory personalities. Capturing parts of his experience as an outsider looking in, and then making judgments and generalisations is only ever going to do more harm than good.

    • First, I do not consider myself an outsider looking in. I have taken many of the same drugs that Mr. Peterson took, except Ketamine. Additionally, I was taking these drugs as a “psychiatric patient” during the time my sister and best friend was undergoing cancer treatment and then after she passed away. After she passed away, I became more and more prescribed a “drug cocktail” with increasing and changing dosages until my brain and body basically rebelled! I am lucky to be alive. I am not a “mental health professional” but I have a BA Degree in Psychology and have worked as a Corrections Officer and in other jobs. Please do not consider me an outsider. And, Please remember I am still HUMAN. I think what concerns most readers of this article is that Mr. Peterson with his ability to use his judgement and his capability to learn about the drugs he would and did take does not. He is not because of his education and experience, just a vulnerable, gullible, “distressed” person who walked off the street for help. He is a “helper” and as a “helper” he is obligated to learn what he is able to about these psychiatric medications he might take, no matter his situation. Because as it seems, his reckless behavior may have put his loved ones in danger. Thank you.

          • OK, never knew that part. Sounds like Steve. 🙂

            Mainly I recall his controversial (with some) takes on privilege, “gender,” etc., in which he interspersed solid grains of truth with equally clueless lapses in logic — so this may represent a general pattern.

            But I still see him as a victim of psychiatry — meaning someone who was victimized by psychiatry. Even if he opened the door.

          • He is ABSOLUTELY a victim of psychiatry. I hope no one is disputing that fact. Again, my disappointment is only that a person with such a large platform has missed an opportunity to get the word out about his victimization, especially since his own philosophy as stated is so consistent with a critical attitude toward the kind of “solutions” psychiatry has offered.

          • Petersen is a good example of a victim of psychiatry who I would not yet label a survivor of psychiatry. He has not (yet) advanced from his victimization to an understanding of what is wrong with that approach to human distress. And certainly not advanced from understanding to application of what he has learned to his own life and his advice to others. Although, I have to say that I am familiar with those early attempts where all you know to say is don’t do what I’ve done.

          • Definitely in concurrence with KS here, and Steve too. But give JP some time to develop his AP consciousness, as we’ve seen happen here with so many people; there are still a lot of connections he needs to make, even though from our perspective he’s looking for trees in the forest.

      • @rebel my comment wasn’t in no way intended to invalidate your experience. What I meant by ‘outside looking in’ was every person who comments or makes judgments on Peterson’s life do so with only minimal information. That is – they are not IN his family/immediate experience, so broad inferences can be dangerous. And you’re right, he is a ‘helper’ but that does not mean he is always going to make the best choices for others, or himself. One can only try their best and then learn from choices gone wrong. So in this case, labeling someone as ‘helper’ and then penalising them for not being perfect in their efforts to help themselves, only applies unattainable expectations on a group of professionals who are human despite their qualifications. And, after all, all humans are fallible.

        I am sorry to hear about your difficult experiences – it sounds like you went through a lot. I am glad to hear you came out the other side.

    • @Frobex — Your post is a better-written version of some of what I was trying to get at.

      I don’t know much about JP except that he’s an out-of-the-box thinker and drives the “woke” crowd nuts. I never thought of him as a “mental health professional,” just as a social commentator, and still have to ask whether he’s really a “clinical psychologist” in practice, or whether he just has those academic credentials and pulls them out to bolster his credibility on book jackets or whatever.

      Still what strikes me is the degree of “shaming” of JP for “not knowing better,” which in other contexts (“she should have known not to walk through that neighborhood alone”) would be considered inappropriate and blaming the victim. Actually I agree, he should have known better, and was blindsided to something he might have been able to see coming. But despite all that JP IS in the end a victim of psychiatry — no one who saw his daughter’s video reports when he was in Russia, and the obvious toll the situation was taking on her, can reasonably dispute that. (I would also note that MIA has lots of articles by mh professionals who have been victimized by the psychiatric system themselves.)

      Anyway I don’t know if there are “sides” here or what, personally I’m just pointing out what seem to be some curious anomalies in commenters’ attitudes that appear to have more to do with the celebrity than the person. Though it’s possible that some of this is based on JP’s mh credentials alone with no prior awareness of his being well known and controversial.

  12. I should clarify my previous comment. “Force” is an elastic word that can encompass soft forcings like coercion and “well intentioned” bullying. And all of these can sound merely like the gentle art of persuasion. I should not have used the word force so sloppily. I must apologise for doing so.
    I believe that Mr Peterson wrote, in one of his many chapters, about a child dinner guest who was something of an ardent food refuser. Mr Peterson apparently took great exception to this and proceeded to “persuade” the child to eat. The child was extreemly reluctant. I found the episode far from a triumph of wills. I found it all sad.
    It is my belief that our bodies are our own and that control over food choices should mostly be our own.

  13. Give the guy a break. It’s easy to armchair quarterback on someone else’s journey.

    Here is a man who – subscribed to mainstream beliefs and views about the drugs and psychiatry, and who is – and always has been – eager to use diag-nonsense and adhere to the DSM.

    So – when faced with his own depression, he submitted to the DSM / psychiatry / and the drugs.

    I’ve been following his benzo debacle with intensity, like other readers here, commenting on YT about his use of SSRI’s. This is the first I heard that:

    HE COLD TURKEY’ed OFF OF CELEXA in 2016!!!! OMFG, that’s the start of the benzo disaster, not 3 years later when it went “paradoxical.”

    But – if you watch his videos, he sincerely believes that he is being vulnerable with us in sharing his story. Sadly, he used drugs to get off of drugs – so his story is not as inspiring as it could be. But he is trying, and making the best use of a really bad experience.

    I would love to see him shake his beliefs even deeper than DSM, as the writer of this article implies. He has adjusted his perspective many times during his career – though, it seems (again, as Jon Sedarati implies) that he is locking down his beliefs in psychiatry & the DSM – after all – he used to be reliant upon these twisted tools for his income.

    Of course, now he is rich and famous – and doesn’t need the DSM for billing purposes. I hope and pray he can let it go, but I’m not holding my breath. But he, too, is a human, and his response to his extreme states is in alignment with where he has come from.

  14. Nae…Never did like “Great Thinkers”.

    I vastly prefer “Great Feelers”. Of whom infants, who “know” nothing but the giving of unconditional love, tend to be the most supremely accomplished. If the planet were run by a baby who knows nothing but simply how to cry or laugh the world would be an absolute heaven on Earth.

    People who have traditionally been locked up for seeming apparently mad were often not locked up for being “Great Thinkers” but were more incarcerated for being “Great Feelers”. Those who “feel alot” are deemed “disturbed” because “feeling” has always been more honest, direct and revolutionary than “thinking”. Put a so called “mad person” in a room and they are more powerful than any “Great Thinkers” therein. Put a baby in a room and all the “Great Thinkers” cannot think straight. Which is no bad thing. Straight thinking sometimes finds its concluding cold perfection in the construction of a better type of nuclear warhead. Something no delightfully feeling baby, or wonderfully impassioned “mad person” would ever waste precious time over.

    Thinking is a good game, like threading beads on a string. It is entertaining to the mind made bored to distraction by modern life, but when we go to bed at night our dreams are not math classes or physics lessons, our dreams are babyish and incredibly “feeling”, because at heart that is humanity at its “Greatest”.

    Creativity can only come about in the first instance through feeling alot. Civilization is inspired and grows from the seed of such feeling. Civilization implodes on a chaos of too many restrictive rules, rules which are the byproducts of thinking.

    At its “Greatest” humanity is the archetypal baby….or so called “mad person”.

    There is a special depth of mockery reserved for any “Great Feeler”. What can I say…humanity likes to mock what it cannot control…these being the uncontrollable honest truth speaking babies and the uncontrollable honest truth speaking “mad”.

    People are taught to regard babies as stupid. Ditto the mad. But a weapon of mass destruction is the stupidest thing ever to have come out of a “Great Thinker”. What baby ever built a nuclear silo? Or enough warheads to obliterate all the scholarly libraries polished by the said “Great Thinkers”? With potentially Mr Peterson’s “Great Thinker” thoughtful book among the smoke and ashes.

    People take benzos because they are encouraged to regard being a big baby as a big problem. Actually just allowing yourself curl up foetal and to be a big baby, without recourse to numbing benzos, seems to me to be the most beautiful profound “answer” to every thinkerly headachey question. I would love to see Mr Peterson drop the meat diet and ketamine and pharmaceuticals and thinking all day and instead embrace being a big baby. Sometimes I imagine he almost, almost achieves that pinnacle of divine wisdom, when his voice croaks as if choked up with…what…what is it…”Great Feelings”. But quick as a magician’s trick composure grips him in pensive intellectualism….and all is lost.

    • @Diaphenous – this is so clear.

      Thinking vs. Feeling.

      I was just thinking today, as I was writing to a friend I knew from the 6th grade. We were both “smart kids” but outcast kids, too. So we related well to one another. We took pride in being “smart kids.”

      Well in my letter to her, I thought: I no longer care if I am “smart,” I care that I am “kind.” It seems to work better.

      And in my “arguments” with friends over politics, I shocked them when I said, “You know, this stuff doesn’t really matter. All that matters is what I can do with myself, my environment, and make my path a little clearer, hopefully help people and planet along the way.” As I think about this in retrospect, I was musing, “It’s *fun* to think about these politics and power plays and things, but that’s just a thinking exercise. My heart tells me it’s not really relevant.”

      Does this echo what you are expressing?

      • So well said, JC!!!

        I recall my philosophy professor in college who shocked the class by telling us that he was a liberal atheist who’d been married for decades to a conservative Christian and that they were happily married. It was a beautiful illustration that we don’t have to agree on the controversial stuff to be kind to each other and to enjoy common interests. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that starting out this way is probably a stronger foundation than finding someone with whom you have a lot of common beliefs with because you learn how to disagree lovingly from the start and don’t risk growing apart as you mature.

        • @kindredspirit – I was talking with an old friend about how when we were children, we learned tooth and claw, manipulation, how to “fight” our way to get what we wanted from our environment.

          Nobody spoke to us about the values of sweetness and kindness (sure, we heard the old chestnut about “honey instead of vinegar” but it didn’t play out in the environment.)

          Now I find I am attracted to sweet and kind people – and yet these same qualities have been so difficult to develop in my own self.

      • Well it sure explains some things.

        When “feelings” (such as for one’s political opponent) are allowed to enter into important discussions/debates, especially collective ones which must rely on logic in order to reach valid conclusions, it compromises their integrity and invites emotional manipulation. So to just back off from one’s convictions and say “it doesn’t really matter” when things seem to be getting “too intense” (or whatever) could be interpreted by your friends as treating their thoughts as frivolous, especially if it does matter to them.

        Being a kind person is always a nice goal, but you are essentially making an argument for individualism, which is the dynamic at the heart of psychiatry and “professionalism. But change isn’t made by individuals, even though it sometimes appears that way. Feelings and subjectivity have their roles, so does objective logic. There’s a time and place for each — not always the same time and place.

        • The above was a response to Jan, not KS. But in terms of maturity, for any group of people to effectively work towards a shared goal it must go without saying, as a prerequisite for discussion, that participants will have more respect for the process and each other than to react to intellectual disagreements as personal attacks. It is possible to be kind while at the same time demolishing someone’s argument, then everyone going out for lunch afterwards.

          On one level, as a famous philosopher once said, “Words are the ultimate in horseshit.” But on another, Rush Limbaugh was equally astute when he emphasized that “words mean things.”

          • oldhead,

            Generally, I don’t disagree. However, in a sense, it takes ‘just one’ other, or a ‘leading minority’. It certainly need not be ‘the masses’ or ‘the people’.

            Also, ‘a vision’ can be made real in one’s own life, and not be reduced to a ‘pleasant dream’. In this way, it requires one, who pioneers, so to speak. A hard as granite act. Actually, the vision/dream IS a real act, experienced through the individual. In this sense, it’s the spark of change. So here the ‘change’ isn’t first ‘made by an individual’, but ‘happened to or with an individual’. The individual brings it through. Is how I’m framing it here.

          • kindredspirit,

            Sorry to wedge in:

            I’m not sure if you imply this, but I would add that your comment ‘change is, in fact, created by how we relate’ includes how one relates to oneself, both as a conscious part and as a whole, relating to dream information for example.

            Also, you say you know logic and facts have their place in creating change, yet you say we are feeling creatures, not logical creatures.

            The George Floyd court case will be an example of prosecutors using logic and facts that are often not inherently devoid of feelings and vice versa. In an effort to create justice and change.

            We should remember that personality traits and functions can vary, and certain tactics may work differently depending on the person, theme, or context.

            Although I ‘feel’…and ‘think’….that you dealt with some of my points here.

        • oldhead,

          You said change isn’t made by individuals, although it sometimes appears that way. I find this so absurd, that I’ll just say, oh good grief. Then again, I don’t equate the individual/individuality with the common definition of individualism that permanently lives in spite of or against all community/collectivity and doesn’t see the context. Put another way, 10 is meaningless without 1.

          • Individuals help articulate and focus the collective consciousness and collective aspirations; however without the collective to actually manifest that vision it remains a pleasant dream. And for that to happen the vision must resonate with the masses, it can’t be imposed without sufficient labor and will on the part of the people.

    • Thinking is simply feeling added with the arrogance of pretending it is objective and superior. Feeling has the attribute of not being full of itself, not considering itself a factual nature. Thinking presumes itself devoid of bias, and a product of ones abilities. Thinking gets in trouble because it forgets it is a feeling.

          • At least two performers I’m aware of have written and sung about aliens coming here and fucking monkeys, hence the human race. I think one is named Dan Bern. (This seemed relevant for some reason.)

        • Getting back to the concrete — Psychiatry will not be defeated by feelings alone, but through the skilled application of words on many levels, combined with strategic actions. In other words work. Part of the Western ethos into which we have been incarnated involves compartmentalizing feelings and temporarily “sublimating the pleasure principle” in order to meet objectives in the material world; this applies as well to defeating psychiatry, which is a science, and work; it will not happen as the result of good vibes (though there’s no contradiction between the two).

          • I took that eCPR course that become the subject of debate in another thread. It was valuable work, not “good vibes”. I’m curious why you believe that learning and practicing new ways of relating is “good vibes” and not work.

          • “defeating psychiatry…will not happen as the result of good vibes”

            In large part I think it would be helpful in a powerful way because a world society where “good vibes” (kindness, integrity, respectful compassion, etc.) outweigh the opposite of this– which would in essence be a world filled with the vibes of resentment and fear/terror, at best chronic confusion–would more than likely result in less and less business for psychiatry until it is absolutely no longer needed.

            But that depends on whether or not the world transforms into a decent place to live, without oppression, suffering, and the risk of being shamed and blamed for things that are neither one’s fault nor in one’s control–the scapegoating phenomenon on which psychiatry relies and further perpetuates.

            To my mind, where good vibes dominate would make for a more generally creative, fulfilling, and living free life experience because it feels a lot safer, and we are freer to be and create without feeling vulnerable to saboatage, gaslighting, being ridiculted and demeaned to the point of feeling voiceless and powerless, etc. (Why people hesitate speaking out, and why it’s called “courage”).

            A lot of internalized suffering would disappear in a kinder, safer, more supportive world, so fewer and fewer people would be running to those who would be looking to exploit the vulnerability of others. Whether intentional or not, we know that the institution of psychiatry operates exactly like this, exploiting others for their own gain, without regard for truth, ethics, or the overwhleming evidence in the world, and documented all over the place, of their incompetence and misguided philosophy of humanity, leading to tragedy in many ways. That it not at all kind, nor is integrity present here, but we, as individuals, can do better, and that would improve things for the entire world.

          • @KS I was not involved in that debate, other than to reaffirm that anyone has the right to indulge in any “self-help” technique or program they choose, and that this poses no inherent contradiction to the movement to abolish psychiatry. They’re simply two different things. Psychiatry is a tool of repression based on fraud, not a failed attempt to “help” people. It needs no “alternative.”

        • It’s not that thinking is bad relative to feeling it is that essentially they are the same thing with different labels. There is little structural different between “I think this will cause harm” vrs “I feel this will cause harm” The major difference between the two is that “feeling” is considered less of an absolute truth. It is less likely to close the mind for this reason. Thinking contains all the biases that are present in feeling without the opened mindedness that comes from what is implied when something is labeled as a feeling.

          Labels have the power to direct the discussion. Psychiatry understands this power when they label their drugs and electrocutions as “evidence” or “science” based. They are pretending their motivated feelings are factual thoughts because doing so shuts down critical analysis, and further discussion. Labeling something as thinking over feeling does the same thing. It presumes it is objectively based and accurate. It is harder to discover the truth or correct an error when the false and inaccurate concept is attached to objectivity.

          • Looking forward to further discussions, both here and elsewhere. This whole thread is getting a little too abstract for my taste (which has nothing to do with you).

            Since you bring it up though — I would say that sensing danger and calculating it are two different capacities, wouldn’t you?

    • This is exactly why and how I feel the mh industry has it all wrong–the drugs cut off connection to feelings and psychotherapy overthinks everything. Constant analyzing and thinking also distracts us from feeling in the moment, which is our truth in that moment.

      Clarity is when our thoughts and feelings align in present time, and that is a practice, we go in and out of that state of being, that is human. No one is always aligned, there would be no contrast then from which to feel the necessary tension of life, to create forward. To notice and discern when we are in alignment vs. out of alignment is what has value to us, because from this awareness we can make wiser choices in the moment, aligned with our true intentions.

      No way in hell this can happen with emotion-numbing drugs and constant rumination about the past. No clarity there, ever. Aligning thoughts with feelings in present time is where the power of manifesting lies.

      True and authentic healing takes us there, into present time alignment, then we feel our freedom to move forward as we choose, intuitively, with new awareness to help guide forward. The rest in unknown, to be explored, discovered, and co-created. When we enter the field of the unknown without biases, in pure present time, that is the ultimate power of manifesting, from the heart, so it will reflect in our lives. That’s been my experience, at least.

      Although I will admit that releasing biases from day to day and starting with a clean slate is not easy. We are, after all, human beings with the capacity to hold grudges and pass judgment, including infliciting it on ourselves. That tends to feel terrible, so it’s something to work on, I believe, to our individual and collective advantage. I’d call that “the unknown.”

  15. @Jancarol, yes. Yes, you see what I see.

    When a person is in a plane that is going to make a crash landing they tend not to whip out their kindle to nervously hurry to read the end of an interesting textbook, a tome that has been expanding their thinking.

    They call mom.

    Even dictators would call mom. Our home is our “Feelings”. Its roof, that protects us from external elements, is our “Thinking”. Both are needed. But a roof, or mind, that is to heavy or oppressive or overbearing demolishes the “Feelings” inside.

    @Willoweed. Yes. Yes I agree with some of what you say too. Thinking is strongly bound up with ego identity, and even although thinking aspires to reach logical objectivity and impartiality, which we might imagine would lead away from the heat of ego identity, such objectivity can sometimes be the beknighting of egotism, in regarding one’s mind as “better than anyone elses mind at doing being above the messiness of feeling”. And this “better than” outlook can sometimes, though not always, give rise to bullying, of those deemed “less than”…for “feeling” too much.

    I am not against academia or intellectual expertise. I glory in such. But like you and @Jancarol and like a million indigenous peoples who cherish a more “feeling” connection to the environment, when it comes to internet style bickering I simply cannot be bothered.

    You smell a rose through the nose not through a dictionary.

    Here’s a rose for everyone!

    • Our home is our “Feelings”. Its roof, that protects us from external elements, is our “Thinking”. Both are needed. But a roof, or mind, that is to heavy or oppressive or overbearing demolishes the “Feelings” inside.

      This is good. Or you could maybe call the soul “home” and the mind the “house” in which it “resides” in the material world. Of course enlightened intellectuals aren’t supposed to take the idea of a soul seriously. But Marxist materialism still hasn’t accounted for quantum theory, which is a major failing — though I believe there probably is a valid synthesis out there that could reconcile quantum physics with Newton, Einstein and Marx. (If any of this makes any sense to anyone out there please let me know.)

  16. It does appear that Peterson, at each treatment failure, sought a cure through taking another drug. He is a psychologist, though. I don’t expect him to have had professional judgement concerning drugs or their discontinuation.

    On another point, someone mentioned a video about a man trying to help his wife through her Benz o-withdrawal. This might refer to the case of Cheryl Knight whose crucible-like journey is was interspersed through the Gary Null documentary, Death by Medicine. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mB7KjbpzVQ) The work is about 13 years old.

    The documentary has been called too political, and it may be outdated. However, the parts of the video taping Cheryl’s ordeal are real. I personally have witnessed her continued damage and loss of life.

    Over the time that I was present, she never did “continue to recover” as the documentary claimed. Cheryl is brain damaged by improper withdrawal instruction. She was denied the chance to discontinue the benzo when her doctor insisted that he was an expert. He was not. He “tapered” 10.0mgs Valium per month in large decrements, a feat that we know to be impossible. She was then forced into a facility because her withdrawal was taken as “Mental Illness”. Notice that her symptoms were physical and not mental.

    This is why the case is one of miscarriage of justice as well as medical malpractice. At 13 years post incident, legal remedy for medical malpractice is barred. Medicine remains unable to mitigate the damage. Benzo-use, as prescribed, may be dangerous, but improper withdrawal is far worse.

  17. All these life gurus with assertive advice about how to live right and be the master of your own ship are eventually exposed as full of shit.

    First time I encountered Peterson I was astounded by the postmodern approach he took to all the sciences and religion and weaving them togther arbitrarily, poeteically even… and then in the next breath choking out weird critiques of “cultural marxism” and postmodernism.

    Osho was another life guru with a benzo addiction.

    Maybe a rule of thumb is the more someone purports to have the answers to life’s problems for others, the less they are able to deal with their own. And then the fame they attain fooling their audience become the legitimacy.

    I don’t know. I haven’t read his Rules for Rightwing Life, or his new one, Beyond Ordure. And have only watched one of his videos in full. The one where he debated Zizek became Zizek being very polite and not tackling the pretentious weirdo who hadn’t got a clue what marxism or postmodernism was, but had strong feelings about it, and also had strong feelings about people having strong feelings. So I turned that one off, more annoyed with Zizek than anything.

    Life is hard. Upfront strong-man Nietzschean types are almost always weak-kneed and trembling inside. Their outward arrogance is an overcompensation. Most men do at least a bit of this in their life. It is part of the expectation of being a man.

    And so, under the pressure of our own self-pressuring to be the rock of gibralter, we tend towards secret vices to deal with our inability to deal with things.

    Women do too, I know… but it’s a different dynamic.

    • Just to add that Peterson attracts a predominantly “male”/”toxic masculinity” following that is deeply conservative, deeply phobic of gender fludity, and deeply anxious about women and sex. Some proportion of his audience, the most “hatey”, themselves have secret hidden issues around gender and sexuality. Some of them find the strength they need away from the toxicity Peterson attracts and foments. He helps these people “reclaim their life” only as people who have recovered from cancer often do. And there are much better more civilised ways of reclaiming life than succumbing to cancer, most will agree.

    • The “debate” with Zizek was quite hard to watch. Peterson came completely unprepared.

      Peterson could use a good dose of humility and the strength to say “I don’t know” instead of pretending life can be broken down to 12 simple rules.

  18. Unfortunately, what Peterson’s experience shows in his story is that the “psych professionals” who “preach from their secular pulpit” are just as gullible to their own lies and propaganda as their “clients/patients” are. In a manner of speaking, they are all like “little gurus.” The tragedy is how these “little gurus” take advantage of our fears; our fears of the future. This is because no matter our present status as it is “fleeting” we are fearful of what might be to come. It goes back to the admonition from the Scottish poet, Bobby Burns about the “best-laid plans that oft go astray.” (This may not be the actual correct quote, but it is the meaning of the quote, in my opinion that matters.) There are those who want to know and control the future and there are those who just want to let the future happen and unfold. And, when these two or more people in these two groups clash in some way, one, probably the latter becomes the vulnerable, the gullible to these “psych professionals.” I can not be sure if this is how Peterson got to where he was as far as his drug and their withdrawal experiences. I can in no way say what is in his mind. However, it does seem that the “trusting” are very vulnerable to those who don’t trust, but want to know what they can not know. It is as if inherent in many relationships or in many daily occurrences from the minor to the major, the “Garden of Eden” experience is relived over and over and over again. Could it be that God wants us to stop reliving that experience over and over and over again, but, we are not listening? Thank you.

  19. Jon, thank you for this excellent post. I really enjoy your writing! Please do keep it up.

    I’ve been thinking about what you wrote and an observation comes to mind: Peterson’s story only has this happy ending because of his enormous privilege. How many people could afford the treatments he received? How many could take that much time off work yet return to the same high-paying role? I’d guess that the vast, vast majority of other people (95%+) who found themselves in his predicament would have experienced financial ruin and a subsequent lifetime of psychological and physical disability. But due to his privilege, he did not. I am genuinely happy for him to have avoided such (further) hell. But this seems to have made it possible for him avoid confronting some obvious lessons about psychiatry, its biomedical ideology, and its drugs that most others in his shoes would be forced to spend the rest of their ruined lives dealing with.

    • If “privilege” means the freedom to ingest neurotoxins galore with no concern for the cost of treating the resultant brain damage, perhaps it is its own punishment.

      But we do need a societal conversation about what the penalty should be for being born into privilege.

      • “Privilege.”

        I’ve been thinking about this one.

        If perhaps, he was not so privileged he would have been forced to do the withdrawal the way the rest of us have – the hard way, experiencing discomforts, distresses, neuro-emotions, akathisia, sleep disturbances, the whole gamut.

          • Your standard upper middle class person is unlikely to do a global book tour. His bestseller, 12 Rules, has sold 5 million copies worldwide.

            He’s comfortable enough to check into Russia to be put into a coma, and comfortable enough to go to Serbia when that doesn’t work out.

            I don’t know many people in withdrawal who have these kinds of opportunities.

          • Still far from anything remotely ruling class. Plus the publisher often picks up the tab for those tours.

            50 years ago investors who “only” had 10 million to play with were called “Wall Street beggars.” That’s probably increased at least tenfold.

            Not that I get the drift of this generally odd thread anyway. Should we start discussing Michael Moore’s financial situation while we’re at it?

          • The assumption seems to be that Peterson bought a cure that few other people could have. Is he cured? Someone who must use symptom-masking drugs cured? It seems that his oddly-gotten gains have purchased nothing. The results of detox are masked by other drugs, and this is called, recovery?

  20. I believe that someone mentioned that Peterson did not respond intelligently, to these drugs, etc. That may be true, but as soon, as he started taking one of these drugs, the ability to respond intelligently is basically thrown out the window; like the baby with the bathwater analogy. As soon as one starts to take these drugs, any intelligent thought and feeling is gone. The ability to make a rational decision is gone. The ability to make a decision based on one’s feelings, intuition, or instincts is gone. The ability to have both daydreams and dreams while asleep or gone. When taking these drugs, one becomes a shell. The person inside is gone, you might say, died. When one stops taking the drugs, one is resurrected or restored. Still, the person inside has been so shattered within, it is unknown and variable depending when and if total restoration is completed. The most important thing to remember about these drugs is that upon taking them the capacity to intelligent or rational thought no longer exists. Thank you.

    • I believe that someone mentioned that Peterson did not respond intelligently, to these drugs, etc. That may be true, but as soon, as he started taking one of these drugs, the ability to respond intelligently is basically thrown out the window; like the baby with the bathwater analogy.

      Yes.

      Not sure if the “baby & bath water” reference is a response to an earlier post of mine. However the phrase is often used with the claim that abolishing psychiatry (the “baby”) altogether rather than just the “bad” parts (the “bath water’) would be a mistake. I say throw them both out together.

      • Oldhead, It was Me! But, If you do refer to psychiatry as the “baby” and the “bath water” as the bad parts, then you do need to throw out. However, there are no good parts to psychiatry. Perhaps, it is those, past and present who fell or are still failing under the spell of Psychiatry are the “babies” and that “bath water” which is stinky, moldy, full of lead, mercury and a million trillion other poisons is “psychiatry.” So, what we need to do is save all the “babies” and send all that stinky, etc. “bath water” to a “desert island” or maybe load it all into a space ship and send it to some far off, unknown planet a million trillion galaxies away. Thank you.

  21. I’ve been meditating on what I’ve said about “nothing to be done, here.”

    And I realise I may have misspoken (and I owe a friend an apology) – that I personally do not have the fire in me to pin Dr. Peterson against a wall and blame him for all of the pain and suffering we have experienced in the name of psychiatry.

    I also know that the methods he chose – were chosen so that he could continue to work. Good on him, that he came out of this with the ability to work.

    But my experience with Surviving Antidepressants tells me that if he continues “business as usual,” that he is in for yet a greater break/breakdown. Not that I would wish it upon him, but perhaps this is what is needed for him to realise – so many things about psychiatry, psychiatric drugs, diagnonsense and “treatments.”

  22. I believe that someone commented that he did go to Russia and Siberia for “withdrawal treatment” as reported in the article. I think just the fact that he felt the need to go to Russia and Siberia for “withdrawal treatment” only reflects how the drugs damage your brain so that thinking rationally and reasonably becomes more and more impossible. Thank you.

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