Life · Society

Your Guru has No Clothes: Jordan Peterson is in Rehab

Quite recently the news that mainstream-endorsed self-help guru Jordan Peterson has checked into rehab has flared up on social media. Of course, everybody wants him to now get better and kick his addiction. However, what should also be pointed out is that this should strip him of all credibility.

The title of this post alludes to a story by Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor’s New Clothes, in which a deluded emperor gets sold “invisible” clothes by a fraudulent tailor. However, the emperor is gullible and falls for it. On top, when the emperor presents his clothes to the public, everyone admires them because, due to the pressure to conform, nobody dares to speak out. Only a small child does in the end. The parallel to Jordan Peterson should be most obvious.

Let’s look at the shtick of this guy: he tells guys to “clean up their room” and work hard so that they can acquire resources, become useful, and wife up some woman past her prime after she has enjoyed herself in her youth. So far, this mirrors Jordan Peterson’s life, as he admitted himself. He even refers to his wife as a feminist. That’s quite some role model, if you ask me. Now, there is another element to this story: Jordan Peterson tells you that “being useful” is the goal to fulfillment. Do what he tells you and your life will be fine. However, Jordan Peterson is unable to walk the talk.

Even a couple of years ago there were videos floating around in which Jordan Peterson openly spoke about taking anti-depressants, and that he will take them for the rest of his life. After this point, I think it takes a particular kind of idiot to not dismiss this guy outright. This is an admission roughly of the level of a financial advisor who never manages to get out of debt, of a pick-up artist who never gets laid, or a cook who serves ready-made meals. Well, such people exist, so maybe we should not be that surprised that the NPCs that lap up Jordan Peterson’s message did not see the contradiction either.

Adding insult to injury, Jordan Peterson now graduated to full-fledged addiction. Clonazepam did him in. In the YouTube video by his daughter that broke the news of Jordan Peterson checking into rehab, she revealed that she had been addicted to meds herself in her youth. She also makes it sound as if her father was unaware of the risk of addiction with those meds. Well, he’s been popping pills habitually for arguably the majority of his life, so it is little surprise that he threw caution out of the window.

Addiction depends on your personality as well. There are a lot of people who take legal as well as illegal drugs that can make you addicted, but they never develop even a trace of an addiction. There are studies on this, but I have experienced this among friends and acquaintances as well. A small number of people I met over the years had their life completely spiral out of control, in almost a textbook-like manner. They started with cigarettes and alcohol in middle school and a few years later they were alcoholics. In my partying years in Berlin I bumped into people who fell apart basically in a Hollywood-like montage: weed, ecstasy, cocaine, the works. One dude ended up getting forcibly put into a psychiatric ward as a consequence of a bad trip. Yet, I know many more people who had or have a habit of taking drugs or drinking alcohol, without showing any symptoms at all of an addiction.

If my previous notes on drug consumption made you uncomfortable, then let’s look at cigarettes. How many smokers do you know who tell you that they could easily stop if they wanted to, or who have tried over and over and never succeeded? I would say that is the majority, even though it is almost always nonsense. Yet, plenty of people never get addicted in the first place or are able to indeed quit at the drop of a hat. I know a few cases of chain smokers who kicked the habit from one day to the next. For instance, I know one guy who told me that the cigarette he’s currently smoking will be his last one ever — and to my surprise it was.

I do not want to go as far as to say that anybody who either gets addicted to something or is unable to wean himself off an addiction is weak-willed or deficient in his personality. I think we can postpone judgment on them, at least for the duration of this post. On the other hand, I do think that it is safe to say that if you do not have control over yourself, for whatever reason, then your credibility as a self-help guru is, quite frankly, nonexistent. That being said, we live in a society in which the average person is a moron and in which critical thinking is not only not actively thought, it is openly discouraged. We have finance gurus who became rich by lying about being rich. Similarly, NPCs arguably think that chosing a self-help guru who is miserable and depends on meds to make it through the day is more credible, not less. People get the heroes they deserve, not the heroes they need.


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