Am I surprised that Jordan Peterson was a bad psychiatrist psychologist?

No. Not at all.

Here’s a video that looks at him from the perspective of his professional duties. You won’t be surprised either at how bad he was at his job, both teaching and clinical work.


  1. says

    I suspect JP got into Jungian psychology because it allows him to tell his “clients” who/what they are, based on his own knowledge of Jungian archetypes, instead of listening to them describing themselves in their own words. Bigots and authoritarians always need to classify, divide and pigeonhole people, and “archetypes” are as good a way as any to do that.

    I haven’t heard any similar complaints about Dr. Phil’s early practice (so far anyway). So offhand, I’m guessing Dr. Phil was at least competent in dealing honestly with his clients before finding a more profitable hustle. That’s more than JP can say.

  2. says

    Jungian psychology (like Freudian) is based on a theory that some guy pulled out of his butt one fine day, and asserted as fact. In that sense, you can see how Peterson would feel an affinity for Jung. They were both in the same business.

    It’s interesting to think how one could put some evidence-basis behind Jung’s theories. Is there any indication that people cluster their behaviors in alignment with architypes? Nope. Are there clusters evident in outcomes? Nope. Are introversion and extroversion measurable? Do they have predictive power? Mmmmaybe. Jungian theory brought us the wretched Myers-Briggs type index, which also has a sound evidentiary basis at least as good as astrology.

    When I was an undergrad in the psych dept, the profs all told us about Freud and Jung but it was in the tone of a cautionary tale – you can imagine my surprise when I heard Peterson talking about it like it was more than mere legerdemain. Is there such a thing as “educational malpractice”? If there was, Peterson was up to his eyeballs in it. In that sense he was an old school psychologist of the old school – whip out some bullshit and assert it with calm authority. It always amazed me that anyone took him seriously at all.

  3. hillaryrettig1 says

    This is the most damning indictment of Peterson I’ve encountered. The fact that he called out a student for blushing in the midst of his ramblings on porn is horrific.

    He’s probably caused damage to so many people over the years.

  4. says

    Also, aren’t all those Jungian archetypes derived from EUROPEAN myths and folktales? So as lame as they may be to Western people, they’re even lamer for everyone else.

    Another thing that amazes me is the utter spinelessness of UT and Canadian authorities in the face of JP’s overt rejection of the most basic rules of his profession. When he flat -out stated that his employers had no authority to police his actions, even though their rules and governing laws very clearly said they did, that alone should have been enough reason to strip him of his titles and tenure.

  5. cates says

    “along came Jung and Adler and they said by God there’s gold in them thar ills”
    From The Ballad of Sigmund Freud – The Chad Mitchell Trio

  6. moonslicer says

    I never wasted much of my time on good ole Peterson. I saw maybe two or three of his articles/interviews, and said “Yeah, right,” and moved on to something else. Which means I’m in no position to argue with his fan-boys, but no great loss. The world is full of idiots you can argue with if you’re so inclined.

  7. says

    Raging Bee@#6:
    Also, aren’t all those Jungian archetypes derived from EUROPEAN myths and folktales?

    A Jungian (if there are any?) would deflect that criticism by arguing that there ar le equivalents in all human civilizations. But more damning to Jungian theory is the assertion that archetypes are ancestral memories. Uuuuuuh, whaaaaat? As you say, Jung’s eurocentrism starts to smell pretty implicitly racist.

  8. wzrd1 says

    Jung and Freud, both inventors of schools of thought that are perplexing, to put it mildly. Their morality, even based upon the mores of the time, equally perplexing. Especially, in regards to relations with female patients.
    To consider such nonsense today, well, about as bad as one physician who I dismissed his services of after he had the phenomenal level of professional idiocy as to record in my wife’s chart, “female hysterical complaint”, which later was revealed to be PCOS.
    Suffice it to say, I distrust those with such outlandishly outmoded thoughts and wouldn’t trust them to care for sweeping the trash from my curb, let alone anything to do with my or my family’s health.
    As for Peterson, that he ever managed to retain his license and professorship is damning for his board and his college. For, that leaves them open for mistrust in their ability to conduct any review with good judgement.

  9. hemidactylus says

    Careful with that axe Eugene as chopping at Freud too much undermines much of Critical Theory (not a CT strength IMO). Fromm broke out from many in the Frankfurt School by being the resident psychoanalyst. But yeah Freud was one of the legs of Critical Theory. He only tapped into ideas of unconscious and id that others like Schopenhauer (gross misogynist) and Nietzsche had trailblazed.

    Jung as so many of his time held to a “Lamarckian” view of evolution. He applied Haeckel’s views on phylogeny to the human psyche. His work on the feeling toned complexes was far less dubious, though presaged e-meters and auditing a bit (not his fault). Richard Noll published a couple books criticizing Jung’s development of a collective unconscious and clued me into the whole “solar phallus man” weirdness. Look it up.

    The notion of our psyche reflecting some evolutionary baggage seems fine to me. Yet Jung went off the rails especially with his occult stuff, alchemy, and synchronicity. Poor Wolfgang Pauli got sucked in.

    To me themes in mythology seem more about convergences due to ecological similarity than phylogenetically unconscious primordial images as shared homologies. Jung was in some ways an early evolutionary psychologist, which isn’t a complement. His disciple Anthony Stevens (not himself a Noll fan) followed sociobiology and later evolutionary psychology. He was, if I recall, familiar with Conrad Waddington’s concepts, which was quite a step more sophisticated than most Jungians. Stevens may not have been nearly as ridiculous as Jordan Peterson, but I still kept him at arm’s length.

    In retrospect the most interesting stuff about Jung was his work for the OSS in Switzerland during WWII.

    The unconscious has had a comeback but without the Freud-Jung baggage. Unfortunately some of this work involved the problematic concept of “priming” which if I recall isn’t taken very seriously due to replication issues.

  10. hemidactylus says

    As an addendum, my view on Jung is that in the best possible light he tried to apply a biological concept to psychology. Goethe had looked at plants and said something like “all is leaf”. What is primordium? Richard Owen was a cranky old bastard but did the same with archetypes in vertebrates. In phylogenetic relationships there are themes (aka homologies). Jung tried but failed to go the Goethe/Owen route in psychology. Solar phallus man was a howler. Not sure any of his later applications of primordial images fared any better. Been a while (decades) since I was steeped in this stuff or interested. Some post-Jungian authors may provide insight into the human condition. Not sure about James Hillman. But Peterson is a clown. I found more value in at least critically evaluating Anthony Stevens’ ruminations though from an admittedly dismissive bias. A majority of Jungian stuff is dreck.

  11. hemidactylus says

    @4- Marcus Ranum
    If our bloghost’s favorite ruiner Adam Conover was correct Jung himself wouldn’t be a fan of MBTI:

    I had somewhat recently read Susan Cain’s introvert biased apologia Quiet. It was a tedious read but at least introduced me to the orchid/dandelion dichotomy categories for children.

    IMO vis a vis introversion v. extroversion most people are ambiverts and switch roles in different contexts (fluidity?). I don’t recall Cain dwelling on that counternarrative.

  12. jrkrideau says

    @ 4 Marcus Ranum

    Jungian theory brought us the wretched Myers-Briggs type index, which also has a sound evidentiary basis at least as good as astrology.

    You are slandering astrology which at least had some real astronomy behind it. That’s one reason Galileo taught astrology.

    I was fascinated (horrified ?) to hear that Peterson has his own version of the Big Five. Clinicians should never be let near a test. They, typically, are almost as incompetent as economists it that area. It sounds like Peterson is even surpassing an economist.

    BTW, for non-Canadians, having Ezra Levant’s Rebel support you is NOT good. Levant seems to be some kind of totally unhinged Right-Wing publicist and probable grifter.

    His mad diatribe on Sun TV a few years ago about the evil, etc., something, something, etc., evil Roma moving to Canada probably contributed to Sun’s later financial failure. I was surprised he was not hit with a criminal charge.

  13. jrkrideau says

    @ 13 hemidactylus
    Adam Conover is pretty well spot on on how the MBTI was constructed. It is a complete horror show.

    I don’t know about whether Jung would have like it. Unlike Marcus, I do not think I ever heard of him in university. I believe we may have had a one hour lecture on Feud in first year but I’d skipped class that day. I may once have heard the name in the next 3 years as an undergrad and that was in a hallway chat with a prof.

    I really was surprised that there are any living Jungians about. I thought they and most of the Freudians in the Anglopheree had died out in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    BTW, I had a quick look at a partial list op Peterson’s publications. He seldom is first or last author in a multi-author paper.

  14. astringer says


    jrkrideau: has the meaning of “horror show” evolved? As at 60+ years and greying, the term ‘horrorshow’ to me follows Burroughs use (derived from the homonym xorošo) to mean superb or excellent. Just asking to keep up with the young whippersnappers of today…

  15. John Morales says

    astringer, I got it from Clockwork Orange. More of an intensifier.

    The next morning I woke up at oh eight oh oh hours, my brothers, and as I still felt shagged and fagged and fashed and bashed and my glazzies were stuck together real horrorshow with sleepglue, I thought I would not go to school.

  16. KG says

    Careful with that axe Eugene as chopping at Freud too much undermines much of Critical Theory (not a CT strength IMO). – hemidactylus@11

    I’d put it more strongly: any “theory” that takes Freud (let alone Jung) seriously, cannot itself be taken seriously.