Jordan Peterson in a new interview described his spiral into drug addition and suicidal thoughts, before being diagnosed with schizophrenia — and then undergoing a controversial Russian treatment that him placed into an induced coma for eight days.
The controversial Canadian psychology professor, who has spent much of his career railing against political correctness, spoke to the Sunday Times, along with his podcast host daughter, Mikhaila Peterson, about his downward spiral.
“I don’t remember anything. From Dec. 16 of 2019 to Feb. 5, 2020,” the self-help author said of period he was sent Russia for treatment. “I don’t remember anything at all,” Peterson told the British newspaper.
Peterson gained international fame for blasting academic “safe spaces” and feminism, as well as his refusal to use transgender people’s preferred pronouns.
He penned the international bestseller, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos,” in 2018, but was struggling with an addiction to benzodiazepines prescribed to him after a violent reaction to a strict meat and greens diet.
Mikhaila, 28, her Russian husband and Peterson began the diet in 2016, but all three had a violent “sodium metabisulphite response,” she said. “It was really awful — but it hit him hardest,” Mikhaila told the Times. “He couldn’t stand up without blacking out. He had this impending sense of doom. He wasn’t sleeping.”
Peterson has previously claimed that he didn’t sleep for 25 days during this time, but the longest period of human sleep deprivation ever recorded is only 11 days, the paper notes.
He was prescribed a low dose of antidepressants, which helped him recover, but the dosage was increased after Peterson sunk into depression following his wife Tammy’s cancer diagnosis.
“And things just fell apart insanely with Tammy. Every day was life and death and crisis for five months,” Peterson told the paper. “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.”
Tammy Roberts recovered from complications with a kidney surgery, but Peterson’s drug dependency worsened.
“Dad started to get super-weird. It manifested as extreme anxiety, and suicidality,” Mikhaila, who the Times reports “seems to have assumed full charge of his affairs,” said.
The anti-political-correctness crusader went to a Toronto clinic, where he was reportedly taken off benzodiazepine and prescribed ketamine, before checking himself into a New York rehab in 2019.
He was diagnosed with schizophrenia around this time.
“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 said to the Times regarding the decision to undergo a controversial treatment in Moscow.
“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.”
In Russia, Peterson was intubated for undiagnosed pneumonia and administered propofol so that he could be induced into a coma for more than a week while medics cleared his system of drugs.
When he emerged from the treatment, Peterson had lost the ability to walk, along with large parts of his memory, according to the report.
“He was catatonic. Really, really bad. And then he was delirious,” his daughter told the paper.
After making some progress, Peterson was flown to Florida in February, where his pain and suicidal thoughts returned.
Mikhaila then flew her father to a private hospital in Belgrade, Serbia, where he was diagnosed with akathisia — a restlessness condition linked with withdrawals of benzos.
Peterson, who also contracted the coronavirus during his time overseas, returned home to Canada to recover from akathisia. He told the Sunday Times that being labeled an “icon of white supremacy and hate speech,” by employees at his book’s publisher 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 paper.
“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.”
When asked about the apparent of irony of turning to drugs after telling his followers that life is about battling through pain and suffering, the author deflected.
“No, I’ve never said that. Look, if you’re a viable clinician you encourage people to take psychiatric medication when it’s appropriate. What I really encourage in people is to understand that it isn’t useful to allow your suffering to make you resentful. And, believe me, I’ve had plenty of temptation to become resentful about what’s happened to me in the last two years,” Peterson told the paper.
During the ordeal, Peterson wrote a sequel to his best-selling book dubbed “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life.” It’s expected to be published in the spring.