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.It seems that he first started taking tranquilizers two years ago after a weird autoimmune reaction to food, then increased his dose when his wife was diagnosed with cancer.
His breakdown is sad news, but to me absolutely unsurprising.
Peterson is a therapist, and while it is an old joke that psychologists are crazier than their patients, it has some truth to it. It is often the experience of psychological troubles, and with being helped through them, that inspires people to pursue careers in mental health.
But more than that, if you have ever watched Jordan Peterson talk, you have seen him frequently on the verge of tears. Part of the power of his message is the pain that seems to loom behind it. Especially when he talks about the redemptive possibility of myth, I see a man desperately searching for something to hold on to, as if he feared he might at any moment be swept away.
It seems that he lost his grip and the waves pulled him under, at least for a while. I hope he finds dry land on the other side.
Here's a note from a description of a documentary film about Peterson:
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.