Jordan Peterson is a star on YouTube and in popular culture. I’ve been writing a longer piece on him, but have been distracted so it sits unfinished. This will help to get me going as I post this teaser.
Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and a clinical psychologist. He has morphed into a social critic with a very large and sympathetic following. I find him interesting to a degree, and he does have important things to say, He considers Carl Jung to be a significant inspiration and source of his thinking, which is true, up to a point. From this video, that is apparently a number of years old comparing it to Peterson’s current appearance, Peterson was more in touch with the complete Jung in the past than he is now.
The story is intended for kids, but obviously there is more going on than a simple story intended for kids, which is almost certainly why Peterson is reading it to a class of adults.
Interestingly the author has another book with a Jungian flavor – The Biggest Shadow in the Zoo
Peterson is a complex character and I am finding that he is not alone in his using Jung as a springboard to launch into other ideas, while leaving behind much of Jung’s value. I’m not sure if this is good or bad – broadening people’s exposure to Jung, but misrepresenting him in the process. I came upon a book just this past weekend that seemed of great value and very Jungian, but for me it went off the rails and Jung’s essential nature was lost.
I don’t want anyone to think that I consider there to be an official “Jungian” doctrine, because there isn’t, and Jung would be absolutely the last person to support such a thing. But Jung does bring some essential and basic ideas to the culture that cannot be ignored without changing the essential nature of his body of work. The more I read beyond Jung, the more I keep circling back to return to Jung – not because Jung espoused a particular doctrine, but because he went out of his way not to do that, yet he gave a structure and approach to psychology and to life that I intend to explore for the rest of my life.
Jung was never a polemic. There are some who are inspired by Jung who revel in their arguments and confrontations. I think that loses an essential part of Jungian thought.