- The Washington Times - Monday, February 1, 2021

Jordan B. Peterson says a recent interview with The Sunday Times on his close call with death and health issues could not have been worse if he had opened up with “an avowed enemy.”

The clinical psychologist who penned the bestselling “12 Rules for Life” released a nearly three-hour interview with the U.K. publication on YouTube after its weekend profile piece prompted false claims of “schizophrenia.”

Mr. Peterson — whose “12 More Rules for Life” will be released in March — directly addressed the debacle on his website as a Catch-22 situation; he doesn’t want to create a de facto echo chamber by only speaking to trusted confidants, yet media outlets habitually take him out of context or lie by omission.

“The decision to participate in the Sunday Times interview was also motivated by a desire not so much to publicize the book as to clear the stage so that the book might be made the central topic of any other interviews I might give around its launch time (instead of issues such as my health),” he wrote Monday. “I certainly feel an obligation to work with and for my publishers so that the book’s existence is publicized, and there’s obviously an element of self-interest in that, as well. … So, what would a wise man do?”

He also noted that his successful sparring matches with hostile reporters over the years often increased his public profile and introduced his work to a much wider audience.

Still, Mr. Peterson lambasted The Sunday Times for its piece titled “Jordan Peterson on his depression, drug dependency and Russian rehab hell.”

“I do not think that it is mere thin-skinned sensitivity on my part to believe that I would have fared no worse had I discussed my affairs with an avowed enemy,” he wrote commissioning editor Megan Agnew of writer Decca Aitkenhead. “And what was done to my daughter–who uprooted her husband and small daughter more than a dozen times to accompany and care for me in four countries in the last year while simultaneously dealing with her own severe health issues (skeptically described by your author) and the near-death of her mother–was brutally unfair, callous and cold.”

At issue is the clinical psychologist’s cascading health issues due to a special meat diet, his wife’s cancer diagnosis, an addiction to prescription benzodiazepines, and critics who erroneously link him with white supremacists. 

The health scare required trips around the globe and a medically-induced coma.

“If his rise to fame was dramatic,” Ms. Aitkenhead wrote, “what has happened since he disappeared from public view 18 months ago sounds fantastical — in his daughter’s words it is ‘like a horror movie’. A movie in which her father gets hooked on benzodiazepines, becomes suicidal, is hospitalised for his own safety and then diagnosed with schizophrenia.”

A second mention of schizophrenia failed to mention the family’s insistence that a doctor misdiagnosed Mr. Peterson.

“One of the conversations we had with this psychiatrist he has, he goes, ‘well, we think it’s schizophrenia,’” Mr. Peterson‘s daughter, Mikhaila, says in the full audio released by the family. “And I was like, these symptoms didn’t even start until he started the medications. Okay, so you’re telling me like a mid 50-year-old man with no previous symptoms of schizophrenia suddenly gets schizophrenia, which generally happens late teens for men. It’s not like we’re uneducated on these things. Right? I was like, what?” 

Mr. Peterson‘s demand for answers regarding the missing context was not met as of Monday, although he told supporters that he would share the publication’s response.

“I am frankly stunned by the degree of sheer cruelty and spite manifested by your journalist, Decca Aitkenhead and by the degree of misrepresentation (if that’s what it was) necessary to entice me into speaking as I did with her, with no intention on my part other than to answer the questions she put to me as clearly and honestly as my deeply flawed self could manage,” Mr. Peterson added. “Given the manner in which you crafted your invitation to me, I can’t understand how you can in good conscience accept what transpired.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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