Jordan Peterson was so hooked on benzodiazepines that he became suicidal before he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, needing to be flown to Russia by his daughter and placed into an induced coma for controversial treatment that left him delirious – according to the controversial clinical psychologist and his eccentric daughter.
The pair sat for bizarre interviews with The Sunday Times, dishing on the spiraling decline of the conservative superstar while also promoting the long-awaited sequel to his lauded self-help book.
Peterson’s daughter – podcast host Mikhaila Peterson – described his fall from grace starting 18 months ago as ‘like a horror movie,’ highly protective over her father and his well being while he updated the world on his condition.
‘I don’t remember anything. From December 16 of 2019 to February 5, 2020,’ the Canadian psychologist said of the time period when he was flown to Russia for treatment, ‘I don’t remember anything at all.’
Jordan Peterson and his daughter, 28-year-old Mikhaila Peterson, both confirmed that the psychologist struggled with pressure of stardom
Peterson is well-known for his ‘grow up’ approach to adulthood and his 2018 book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, is an international bestseller, having sold more than 5million copies around the world.
But according to Mikhaila, the problems for Peterson started before his book took off on the bestseller list – in October 2016. Mikhaila, her Russian husband and Peterson were only consuming meat and greens, a prequel to the lion diet she has championed to help combat symptoms she says are associated with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
While all three had violent ‘sodium metabisulphite response. It was really awful – but it hit him hardest,’ according to Mikhaila. ‘He couldn’t stand up without blacking out. He had this impending sense of doom. He wasn’t sleeping.’
The psychologist was administered benzodiazepines and the drug was upped after his wife Tammy was diagnosed with cancer. Peterson would suffer from withdrawal when repeatedly trying to get off the antidepressant
Peterson claims that he didn’t sleep for 25 days during this time – something that is widely disputed as the longest period of sleeplessness is recorded is 11 days.
‘He was in really bad shape, right,’ Mikhalia asserted.
It was during this time that Peterson first was prescribed ‘a really low dose of benzodiazepine.’ The antidepressant is a part of the familial drug that includes Xanax and Valium. The family saw positive results from the drug and life moved on.
Peterson was a household name by early 2019 but was left devastated after his wife of 30 years, Tammy, was diagnosed with kidney cancer. The clinical psychologist was terrified at the idea of his wife dying as she struggled battling the disease.
His dosages of benzodiazepine was raised during that summer, but instead of helping ease his qualms, things only seemed to get worse.
Peterson’s daughter flew him to Moscow after Toronto doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia
‘And things just fell apart insanely with Tammy. Every day was life and death and crisis for five months,’ Peterson explained. ‘The doctors said, “Well, she’s contracted this cancer that’s so rare there’s virtually no literature on it, and the one-year fatality rate is 100 per cent.” So endless nights sleeping on the floor in emergency, and continual surgical complications… So I took the benzodiazepines.’
His loyal daughter added: ‘Dad started to get super-weird. It manifested as extreme anxiety, and suicidality.’
In Toronto, multiple doctor visits and an increase in the number of drugs he was prescribed only appeared to make things worse for Peterson. He taken off benzodiazepine and prescribed ketamine but suffered severe withdrawals. Peterson wound up in rehab when attempting to get back on controlled intakes of benzodiazepine – along with other drugs – and soon he would be diagnosed with schizophrenia.
‘Well, I went to the best treatment clinic in North America. And all they did was make it worse. So we were out of options,’ Peterson explained about his reasoning for going to Moscow in January. ‘The judgment of my family was that I was likely going to die in Toronto.
‘I had put myself in the hands of the medical profession. And the consequence of that was that I was going to die. So it wasn’t that [the evidence from Moscow] was compelling. It was that we were out of other options.’
Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson’s new book, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life, is being published by Random House Canada to the dismay of staff there. It is a sequel to his 2018 best seller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
In Moscow, Peterson was intubated for undiagnosed pneumonia and administered propofol – the drug responsible for killing Michael Jackson – so that he could be induced into the coma for eight days.
While in the coma, medics did a plasmapheresis to clean the drug out of Peterson’s system but when he regained consciousness, the psychologist still had a long road to recovery.
‘He was catatonic. Really, really bad. And then he was delirious,’ Mikhalia said. ‘He thought my husband was his old roommate. Oh, it was horrible… I lost a whole bunch of hair. I’ve never been that stressed in my entire life. We’d brought Dad here and it was, like, what did the detox do? Was it too hard on his brain? I thought, I’m f***ed if this goes badly. The entire world is going to blame me, because who brings somebody to detox from these medications in Russia? It’s, like, this is really bad.’
Peterson was transferred to a local public hospital where he was given a new drug and became more alert. It was February, and he had no recollection of his memory. Peterson also didn’t know how to walk, having to learn again.
He was flown to Florida in late February and watched by nurses at a house in Palm Beach. But 10 days later, Peterson’s old symptoms returned and he was back unable to stop moving. The psychologist was in so much pain and soon he was suicidal again.
In 2020, Mikhaila flew her father to a ‘top-of-the-world private hospital’ in Belgrade, Serbia, where Peterson was diagnosed with akathisia – a restlessness condition linked with withdrawals of benzodiazepine
Mikhaila flew her father to a ‘top-of-the-world private hospital’ in Belgrade, Serbia, where Peterson was diagnosed with akathisia – a restlessness condition linked with withdrawals of benzodiazepine.
Peterson was prescribed more sedatives, antidepressants and an opiate; appearing ‘stoned’ but starting to ‘relax.’
But with the coronavirus pandemic starting to impact the global world, Serbia was soon in lockdown and Mikhaila had to return to her father’s clinic with her family – where they all contracted the virus.
Peterson would wind up home in Canada late last year, with his akathisia improving significantly but still lingering. He isn’t yet off the meds and is currently in talks with ‘thousands’ of akathisia sufferers.
Around the same time, junior staff at the Penguin Random House Canada publishing house tried to block the publication of Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life, calling him an ‘icon of white supremacy and hate speech’ for his series of controversial remarks.
In 2017, he said in an interview: ‘The idea of white privilege is absolutely reprehensible and it’s not because white people aren’t privileged. Most people have all sorts of privilege.
Peterson would wind up home in Canada late last year, with his akathisia improving significantly but still lingering. He isn’t yet off the meds and is currently in talks with ‘thousands’ of akathisia sufferers
In a 2018 exchange on the British TV network Channel 4, he told interviewer Cathy Newman that young men were crying out to be told to grow up and be more ‘competent’ and that women ‘deeply’ wanted them to.
The pressure from those controversies and more only added to the mountainous pressure Peterson felt, he shared.
‘I was at the epicentre 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.’
He continued: ‘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. The college of psychologists that I belonged to was after me because one of my clients had put forth a whole sequence of specious allegations. So that was extraordinarily stressful.’
Peterson’s greatest ‘fear (is) that the akathisia will come back. It’s unbearable. And there’s always this sense that you could stop it, if you just exercised enough willpower. So it’s humiliating as well.’
And through all this, Peterson still managed to find time to write, with his sequel – Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life – expected to be published in the spring.
Of the book, Peterson said: ‘I’m ambivalent about it because I can’t judge the book properly. I didn’t write it under optimal circumstances, to say the least, so I can’t make an adequate judgment of its quality.’
He continued: ‘If I would have lost the book, I wouldn’t have had anything left… When I recorded the audio book in November I was akathisic almost the entire time.’
‘I would go to the studio virtually convulsing in the car. I was moving just frenetically, and then I’d get upstairs into the studio and force myself to not move for two hours.
‘If you would have asked me to lay odds on the probability that I would live to finish the recording, I would have bet you ten to one that I wouldn’t have. But I did the recording. And it was the same with the book. Because not to would have been worse. So, to the degree that I can explain how I was able to manage it, I’m not going to talk about willpower or courage, I’m going to talk about the lesser of two evils.’
Peterson’s controversial stance on politics are still as sharp, however, as he had plenty to say about the storming of the Capitol in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6.
‘I thought that the continual pushing on the radical leftist front would wake up the sleeping right. I saw it coming five years ago. And you can put it at Trump’s feet, but it’s not helpful. I mean, obviously he was the immediate catalyst for the horrible events that enveloped Washington — and perhaps it’ll all die down when Trump disappears. But I doubt it.’ Should Trump be impeached? ‘I think he should be ignored.’