The family of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson has accused the Sunday Times of falsely claiming that Peterson has schizophrenia, saying that the U.K. paper misrepresented his health condition in an in-depth interview
Peterson, the best-selling author, clinical psychologist, and popular crusader against political correctness, has recently returned to public life after spending a year on hiatus while seeking treatment for multiple health issues. In his interview with the Times, titled “Jordan Peterson on his depression, drug dependency and Russian rehab hell,” Peterson described his struggle with drug addiction, suicidal thoughts, and his ongoing journey to recovery. However, after the interview was published, Peterson’s family accused the paper of misrepresenting what Peterson and his daughter Mikhaila told the interviewer about Peterson’s mental health.
The Times published that Peterson was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a claim that the Peterson family vigorously denies. Speaking to
the Post Millennial, Mikhaila Peterson said “we were misrepresented in a very disturbing way and that’s causing serious stress to our family.”
The interview covers Dr. Peterson’s failing health, which began after he suffered a violent reaction to a strict meat and greens diet in 2016. The diet triggered a “sodium metabisulphite response” in Peterson, his daughter recounted to the Times. “He couldn’t stand up without blacking out. He had this impending sense of doom. He wasn’t sleeping,” she said.
To treat his illness, Peterson was prescribed the antidepressant benzodiazepine, but his health took a turn for the worse after his wife was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Falling into depression, Peterson increased the amount of benzodiazepine he was taking and eventually became addicted to the drug. He also suffered an adverse reaction to the antidepressants, manifesting in a condition called akathisia, in which a person is unable to stop moving. During this time Peterson saw several doctors who offered various diagnoses including bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia.
However, as the unedited interview published by Peterson and reported by the Post Millennial shows, the family believes he was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and that his symptoms were found to be a side effect of the medication he was taking. Twitter user Rob Henderson posted a transcript highlighting the relevant portion of the nearly three-hour interview in which Mikhaila Peterson described how the schizophrenia diagnosis was disputed.
“It took until August this summer to actually diagnose him with akathisia, which is a side effect of a medication, but he was bounced from you know bipolar, depression, one person diagnosed him with schizophrenia. It was like, he’s just not. He’s in pain because of these medications,” Mikhaila told the Times interviewer in the audio recording that was not quoted in the Times report.
“One of the conversations we had with this psychiatrist he has, he goes, ‘well, we think it’s schizophrenia.’ And I was like, these symptoms didn’t even start until he started the medications,” she said. “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?”
Peterson’s recovery began after he traveled to Russia to seek treatment. There he underwent an unusual therapy in which he was induced into a coma to allow the drugs to filter out of his body. He still faces numerous health challenges, including memory loss from the time he was ill, and has since returned to Canada to continue his recovery.
Peterson is currently giving interviews to the media to promote his new book, “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life,” a sequel to his 2018 bestseller, “12 Rules for Life.” His previous work propelled Peterson to world renown in the culture wars, but he says the fame and ensuing controversy over his views, including being labeled an “icon of white supremacy and hate speech” by employees of his publisher, have negatively affected his mental health.
“I was at the epicenter of this incredible controversy, and there were journalists around me constantly, and students demonstrating. It’s really emotionally hard to be attacked publicly like that. And that happened to me continually for, like, three years,” Peterson told the Times.
“I was concerned for my family. I was concerned for my reputation. I was concerned for my occupation. And other things were happening. The Canadian equivalent of the Inland Revenue service was after me, making my life miserable, for something they admitted was a mistake three months later, but they were just torturing me to death.”