- Jordan Peterson, the controversial Canadian academic popular among conservatives, sought treatment in Russia for a "physical dependency" on antianxiety medication, his daughter said.
- Mikhaila Peterson, posting on her father's YouTube and Instagram accounts, said her father had a physical dependency and a "paradoxical reaction" to an unspecified benzodiazepine he started taking years ago.
- The dosage of the medication had been increased following his wife's cancer diagnosis.
- Peterson said her father tried to seek treatment in North American hospitals, but his attempts were unsuccessful, adding he developed pneumonia.
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Jordan Peterson, the controversial Canadian professor and clinical psychologist popular with online conservatives, is recovering following a physical dependence and a "paradoxical reaction" to a prescription antianxiety medication that required he seek emergency medical treatment in Russia, his daughter said.
"The last year has been extremely difficult for our family," Peterson's 27-year-old daughter, Mikhaila, said in a YouTube video posted to her father's channel Friday. She said that her dad was prescribed a low dose of an unspecified benzodiazepine following an "extremely severe auto-immune reaction to food" a few years ago.
She said Friday the dosage of her father's antianxiety medication was increased last year when her mother, Tammy Peterson, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. While details about Tammy Peterson's health aren't entirely clear, she appears to have made a full recovery following her grim diagnosis, according to a previous video posted by Peterson's daughter.
"It became apparent that he was suffering from both physical dependency and a paradoxical reaction to the medication," the younger Peterson said about her father, a professor at the University of Toronto. She explained that a paradoxical reaction was when a drug has the opposite of the intended effect.
The American College of Emergency Physicians supports Peterson's depiction of a paradoxical reaction.
"Still, within this low prevalence, there appears to be certain risk factors which increase susceptibility for developing paradoxical reactions such as: male gender, recreational abusers, psychiatric disorders, high-dosage regimens and extremes of age," the ACEP writes, noting that such reactions are rare.
"Neither our family nor our doctors here believe this is a case of psychological addiction," she said. "Benzodiazepine physical dependence due to brain changes can occur in a matter of weeks. It can be made even worse by paradoxical reactions that are difficult to diagnose. It can be extremely dangerous. We've been told and hope that dad will recover fully but it will take time, and he still has a ways to go. We're extremely lucky and grateful that he's alive."
As The New York Post noted last year, Peterson has previously discussed a yearslong battle with depression, which began when he a teenager. He said previously he was able to overcome his depression – in part – by adopting a meat-heavy diet recommended by his daughter, according to the report.
"After several failed treatment attempts in North American hospitals, including attempts at tapering and micro-tapering, we had to seek an emergency medical benzodiazepine detox, which we were only able to find in Russia," his daughter said in the nearly-three-minute video posted February 7. "It was incredibly grueling and was further complicated by severe pneumonia," she said, adding that her father developed it during previous attempts to treat his dependency in North American hospitals.
She added her father spent around a month in the Intensive Care Unit and was in "terrible shape," though she assured her father's fans that he was on the mend.
Friday wasn't the first time Peterson has mentioned her father's struggle with dependency. In September 2019, she posted a video to her YouTube channel that first mentioned a stint in rehab due to his dependency to clonazepam, a Benzodiazepine, though she didn't mention it by name in the February video.
"I've never seen my dad like this," Peterson said in an eight-and-a-half-minute video last fall. "He's having a miserable time of it. It breaks my heart."
In February, she added "the decision to bring him to Russia was made in extreme desperation when we couldn't find any better option. The uncertainty around his recovery has been one of the most difficult and scary experiences we have ever had."
Peterson said her father's fans should expect another update soon, and she said the next one would come from her father himself.
The elder Peterson has been a controversial figure. An anti-political-correctness activist, he published the bestselling self-help book "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos" in 2018.
According to The Guardian, Peterson has drawn the ire of social-justice circles after refusing to call transgender people by their identified gender and rebuking ideas like cultural appropriation and white privilege. The Guardian said Peterson's arguments often include "pseudo-science and conspiracy theories" and often involve topics he is unqualified to discuss.
Still, Peterson has amassed a significant dedicated following. The Toronto professor has racked up nearly 200,000 followers on Reddit, and in 2018 he was the subject of a piece from conservative writer Caitlin Flanagan at The Atlantic titled "Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson."
"It is because the left, while it currently seems ascendant in our houses of culture and art, has in fact entered its decadent late phase, and it is deeply vulnerable," Flanagan wrote in 2018. "The left is afraid not of Peterson, but of the ideas he promotes, which are completely inconsistent with identity politics of any kind."
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