Mikhaila Peterson, the daughter of psychology guru and writer Jordan Peterson, slammed a newly-published Sunday Times article as “the most insensitive piece of journalism” she has ever experienced.
The remark was made on her father’s Instagram page, as the Canadian professor published an unedited audio recording of the interview he and Mikhaila held with The Sunday Times’ reporter Decca Aitkenhead before the article saw the light on Saturday.
In the piece, Aitkenhead recounts Mikhaila’s account of the health issues her father had experienced in the past over his use of benzodiazepine, a drug he was prescribed back in 2016 after an unusual response to food left him sleepless for days. The usage of the drug was then increased after Peterson’s wife was diagnosed with untreatable cancer, but instead of helping the Canadian, the medication and attempts to drop it left him in a restless and nearly suicidal state.
According to the article, at one point Peterson was even “diagnosed with schizophrenia” by doctors in Toronto. This diagnosis, attributed to Mikhaila’s recollection of the events, was widely reported by the media worldwide, with the New York Post bluntly putting that the famous professor “has schizophrenia”.
But the published audio of the conversation the two had with Aitkenhead reveal that it was not exactly what the psychologist’s daughter was relating to the reporter during their talk: Peterson indeed heard a number of diagnosis from doctors during his fight with akathisia, a movement disorder that had emerged as a side effect to his benzodiazepine withdrawal. “Schizophrenia” was just one of them. But his family had never believed this to be the case and maintained that it was a misdiagnosis.
“One of the conversations we had with the psychiatrist he has he goes ‘Well, we think it’s schizophrenia’. And I was like, these symptoms didn’t even start until he started the medications,” Mikhaila could be heard uttering.
“Okay, so you’re telling me like a mid-50-year-old man with no previous symptoms of schizophrenia suddenly gets schizophrenia, which generally happens late teens, for men,” she went on. “It’s not like we’re uneducated on these things, right? I was like, what?”
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According to Mikhaila Peterson, who popularised the carnivorous Lion Diet, it was only this summer when her father was finally diagnosed with akathisia, after he had already gone through detox treatment in Russia to relieve him from the physical dependency on the drug and make his condition bearable. He had to make a few hospital and rehab stops before getting better (although the condition still catches him from time to time) and finishing his “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life” which is to be published in March.
According to the uncut interview transcript, Jordan was misdiagnosed with a couple of different conditions including schizophrenia. His symptoms were later revealed to be a side effect of medication, but the headlines say he "has schizophrenia" https://t.co/Vx3M8ZsXDt pic.twitter.com/WgA2YbNyaZ— Rob Henderson (@robkhenderson) January 31, 2021
But the journalist, who described the interview with the Petersons as “very strange”, spared no energy scrutinising Mikhaila’s words, describing the professor’s daughter as “glossy, pouting Barbie blonde” who “talks with the zealous, spiky conviction of a President Trump press spokeswoman”.
“After 80 minutes on Zoom, the one thing of which I’m certain is that, were I as close to death as she assures me her father repeatedly was, this is not the person I would entrust with saving my life,” Aitkenhead wrote in the article.
Following the publication of the piece, Mikhaila Peterson heavily grilled The Sunday Times on social media for its misleading tone and other outlets for straightforwardly assuming that her father had schizophrenia.
She told the Post Millennial that "we were misrepresented in a very disturbing way and that's causing serious stress to our family."
After the full recording of the conversation the Petersons had with the journalist was published by the professor, social media users went on to support the psychology guru while shaming the “awful, condescending and insensitive” piece by The Sunday Times, that had presented the renowned author and his daughter in a rather dim light.