Should Jordan Peterson have his license to practice psychology threatened?
Perhaps an even more pertinent question than 'Should he be re-educated?'
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is someone I have come to really admire - not only because he is exceptionally principled (almost to his own detriment - like most exceptionally principled folks), but because I know he has been to hell and back and when he came back, he kind of personally vowed to be even more principled and to shed light on as many things as possible. That’s my impression anyway. And I do mean shed light. He’s like a torch-bearer to me, in some of the darkest corners of the darkest rooms that most people are too afraid to even enter.
My best friend from back in the day, Summer Anderson (hi Summer - I miss you), was the person who brought him to my ‘life’s attention’. She mentioned his name to me one day, many years ago and I remember her saying something like: “there’s this guy Jordan Peterson and I think you would really like him”. She said that because she saw something in him, and in me, that she thought was similar. And at this point, I think this similarity can be summarized like this: I think that Jordan and I share the same somewhat immutable, ornery, principled stance with regard to right and wrong. And I do mean right and wrong, and I do believe that right and wrong are not subjective. (That is a HUGE statement, I know, but this article isn’t about that.)
I decided to learn more about who he is because of her suggestion that I would really like him. I don’t do this for just anybody but because she knew me very well, I trusted what she said, and I trusted that her suggestion to get to know who he was would enrich my life, in some way. It did. I found in Jordan Peterson a friend, even though we have not met yet. I know he has affected millions of lives in a positive way. Everybody knows this. I find him to be an extremely positive force in this world. I haven’t watched and read everything that he has produced and written, but I have watched and read a bit. One of more impactful podcasts I have watched was the one he did with Lex Fridman. The podcast begins with a soul-stirring quote:
If you gaze into the abyss long enough you see the light, not the darkness. I’m bettin’ my life on it. Jordan B. Peterson
In my opinion, although I am not a psychologist, only someone who knows the darkness could know this. And I completely agree with Jordan and I would also bet my life on it. The fact that he journeys into darkness and returns is also a testament to his strength and character - he not only knows the darkness, but recognizes that it is a necessary ‘evil’ - if I may - in the balance and forces of human existence.
I have found myself splurge-watching YouTube videos of the lovely Auri Katariina: a delightful and charming Finish woman who devotes her life to cleaning people’s homes (hordes) for free. She is an absolute inspiration. Each episode/clean/restoration is accompanied by a warm, raw story about how the home got to the point that it reached. When you look at some of these homes and apartments that she cleans, it is not easy to understand how anyone could let their living space become so filled with rat feces, for example. But Auri helps the viewer to understand. She even tells her own personal story in one episode.
What strikes me about her is her ability to go far beyond empathy, far beyond understanding and compassion - she does every single clean out of complete and real love for the person she’s helping, and out of a stunning devotion to the act of cleaning itself. She is fascinated with molds and layers of dirt and grime, and I find this wonderful. She even describes why she loves stains and mold colonies so much, in one episode. She says that she loves them because they take time to exist as they are - you can’t just ‘make’ them. She is correct and this is deep commentary (in my mind) about the nature of existence itself. It is this acknowledgement of the essence of the molds and stains (that she erases in moments!) that makes me watch her in wonder. I see her as a philosopher, a chemist, a biologist, a biochemist, a healer and more. She respects, so fully, all things - even the build-up of the most disgusting creations that we humans could ever possibly produce - and she treats them with respect, love and kindness. She is quite the human being.
The reason I brought her up is because she has also seen the darkness and come back to bring even more light to this world. I think it is because she can see darkness that she can emit even more light. She is gifted, indeed.
Jordan is also this kind of being. And it is inherent in this kind of being to be able to distinguish between right and wrong. And it is a bonus that he chooses to make himself vulnerable, even publicly, to allow for healing and evolution to take place in himself and perhaps in others.
For those of you who don’t know what Jordan is being subjected to lately by the Ontario College of Psychologists, please read this Wall Street Journal article. They came to his defense, as have The Australian and as have many others. Here is a quote from the former article:
Professional bodies are supposed to ensure that practitioners are competent, not enforce political orthodoxies or act as language police outside the office. But that’s the trend in Western medical associations and beyond. The Law Society of Ontario had pushed a mandatory diversity pledge for all lawyers until a members’ revolt took over the board and nixed the pledge in 2019. At the time, an Ontario lawyer objected to the “ever-expanding mission to socially engineer the profession.”
Sounds like an issue of id, ego and superego. You could ask a psychologist about it.
First of all, I entirely agree. It is not the role of ‘agencies’ to enforce political orthodoxies or policing on trained and experienced professionals outside of the professional arena. Last time I checked, social media was just a place to let loose and be the non-professional version of self, if so desired. It’s not the clinic - it’s a water cooler, in my opinion.
The treatment of the adult population - like helpless children - is entirely out of control and is the foundation of this entire spectacle and dare I say, the past two years of destruction and chaos in our societies.
Yes, I think this is a spectacle and I think that Jordan Peterson is their current example (again): “Work within our confines or you will be punished”. I have seen people trying to defend the College’s actions by claiming that he broke the rules as defined by the college, but in fact, I don’t think that he did any such thing. By my assessment, his professional conduct in the professional sphere has always been impeccable, and this particular spectacle exists based on a comment he made on a social media platform in his own personal time, not whilst navigating the mind of a patient during working hours. Do I have that right?
So I would like to return to the last statement in the quote above: “Sounds like an issue of id, ego and superego. You could ask a psychologist about it.”
I think that we should. Jordan? While you still have your license, could you please comment on whether this is an issue of id, ego and superego? And maybe you could throw in a psychological assessment - and diagnosis - of your accusers.
There is indeed an ever-expanding mission to socially engineer professions related to medicine and law.
It is quite obvious to me that the reason for the creation of this spectacle, and the threat to revoke Jordan’s medical license lest he not submit to ‘re-education’, is precisely another attempt to socially engineer the psychology profession itself. By the way, he has to pay for his social re-engineering and education.
Is psychology itself being socially-engineered?
Is the future of society a world where adults are perpetually subjected to the self-righteous scolding and punishments of the social engineers and treated like helpless children? I can speak for myself on this one: I am not a helpless child. I can decide for myself what is good and what is bad for me.
Here is the documentation for your own assessment, made public by Jordan, in an attempt to be transparent and honest about the procedures, and outcome. Maybe you will agree that he should be re-educated. Maybe not. He has left it up to the people to decide. Sounds like a democracy, doesn’t it? I suppose if he had the ability to freeze people’s bank accounts, he probably wouldn’t.
My take on this is that the politicization of all things and professions (outside of politics) is a wrong path.
We have all been subjected to the politicization of a virus - and this is ongoing - and I think we can all agree that it’s not been a productive time for humanity lately. Well, apart from the 500 or so people who became billionaires, as a result.
In defense of Jordan, and in defense of all those who have been subjects of this politicization before, and in defense of all those who will be subjected in the future - especially if ‘they’ get away with this in this particular case - I say this:
The politicians and bureaucrats should stay in their own lane and clearly acknowledge the differences between the professional and personal spheres. Do not impose the rulebook of the College outside of the scope of the professional realm. It’s not necessary to do so and it sets a dangerous precedent.
We must be allowed to speak freely in our own spaces, on our own pages, and in our time because you know what, the alternative is socially engineered censorship, and a pressure pot of anxiety and anger and frustration that will one day explode in societal frenzied chaos. Humans are humans, after all. Unique individual beings with creative capacities that lend to this uniqueness. If you tell most of us how to be and what to do all of the time, the likely outcome will be an angry mob. Not good.
And furthermore, who decides what’s allowed to be said and not? What if one day, it is you at the end of the pointer of accusation. I might even go as far as to say that it doesn’t even matter what he said, what’s relevant here is the extreme disciplinary action being taken for something Jordan wrote entirely outside of the professional sphere. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s no comparing the professional and social media spaces, no matter how ‘powerful’ the latter may appear to be. Will we soon need licenses to post on Twitter?
Most people are quite capable of deciding for themselves if something is worthy of reading or not, and although Jordan does has a responsibility as a psychologist and influential person, he still must not be censored or have his medical license threatened - even if he lets someone know that it’s their choice not to deal with the darkness anymore. I also find this entire thing entirely hypocritical considering the fact that government-assisted suicide in Canada is on the grow as a ‘positive’ alternative to living.
Censorship is bad. Threats are worse. Attempting to control what everyone says is also bad and it will never end well. If you don’t like someone’s personal remarks - even someone of influence - in a social media context, then don’t read them. End of story. There’s no reason to send Jordan to his room without dinner. Or, his medical license.
Let’s collectively step back, take a breath, and look at the bigger picture before we no longer have the ability to do so.