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I have to admit that I am personally a fan of the controversial Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. Dr. Peterson emerged out of relative obscurity to international attention through conjuring up the ire of the political Left through his criticism of Canadian bill C-16. This piece of legislation that passed in the Canadian parliament would allow punitive actions against any individual who does not use the proper gender pronoun for a transgender or intersex individual [1]. Dr. Peterson rightfully asserts how this bill would impede free speech in an authoritative manner by criminalizing specific language [2]. This is far from the only provocative opinions expressed by Dr. Peterson, some comments he has made in regards to the “gender pay gap”, gender, and even the “me-too” movement have irked many people and engendered a fair share of reactive criticism.


Peterson who is a self-proclaimed “Classical British Liberal” has oftentimes been erroneously claimed to be associated with the Alt-Right. My theory is the reason for incorrect attribution is an attempt to defame Dr. Peterson due to his lack of adherence to the ethos of the extremity of the brand of Progressive ideals espoused by Social Justice Warrior. However, while he is far from an Alt-Right supporter he also is more than a mere provocateur. It would be incorrect to place Dr. Peterson into the same category as individuals such as Milo Yiannopoulos. Dr. Peterson is sincere in his arguments and does not seek to make incendiary comments for pure shock value. Also, he speaks in a very nuanced and precise manner to avoid veering into a misunderstanding. Even with all the precautions and unassuming explanations by Dr. Peterson, it seems as if his motives and concerns are still either misinterpreted or distorted.

All of the controversies aside, Dr. Peterson is genuinely a wealth of knowledge and tells us to do something we should have been told when were just children. Take responsibility for yourself. His now infamous saying that has morphed into a catchphrase and even a manifesto, “clean your room”. The logic behind this assertion is that many young people feel the need to take on the burdens of the world when they do not even have the order in their own lives. Dr. Peterson suggests, if you cannot even maintain order in your personal bedroom, how can you resolve bigger issues or bring about order within society in a significant manner? [3]. When you consider the current climate on college campuses in regards to political activism, many college students presume too much in regards to their ability to influence change and their overall comprehension of complex issues. If you cannot maintain order in your life in a minor manner, you cannot work on the intricate issue of world peace or abolishing prejudice.

Overall Dr. Peterson is more than just an academic attempting to rebel against the appeals for political correctness in academia. He even published a self-help book 12 Rules For Life, which I hope to read sometime down the road. Dr. Peterson draws from his extensive knowledge of psychology, evolutionary biology, mythology, history, philosophy,  theology, and even analysis of sacred texts to reflect upon what is eternally true about the human condition. Many of these same truths which transcend cultural boundaries and specific time in history. However, one thing that really struck me as interesting is when Dr. Peterson expounds upon the topic of how to properly incorporate our shadow. You may be asking what is the “Shadow”? Well, the concept of the “Shadow” was first devised by Psycho-analytical psychologist Carl Jung. Essentially, the shadow is one of the many archetypes that Dr. Jung addressed in his research. The shadow represents our capacity for evil and capitulation to our lower impulses. Analogous to Sigmund Freud’s concept of the ID, however, slightly more complex. Jung saw how this archetype for human evil had manifested itself throughout mythology, folklore, and even in organized religion. He also justified the cross-cultural applicability through the concept of collective consciousness.  The collective consciousness is the concept that we as humans develop similar ideas even when culturally isolated, due to the fact that all humans are united under the same consciousness. Hence, why throughout human history there is a high prevalence of organized religion, just as an example [4]




  • “If you are not capable of cruelty, then you are absolutely a victim of anyone who is. For those who are exceedingly agreeable, there is a part of them crying out for the incorporation of the monster within them, which is what gives them the strength of character and self-respect, because it is impossible to respect yourself until you grow teeth. And if you grow teeth, you realize that you’re somewhat dangerous, or seriously dangerous. Then you might be more willing to demand that you treat yourself with respect and that other people do the same thing. That doesn’t mean that being cruel is better than not being cruel. What it means is that being able to be cruel, and then not being cruel is better than not being able to be cruel, because in the first case you’re nothing but weak and naive, and in the second case you’re dangerous, but you have it under control. If you’re competent at fighting, it actually decreases the probability that you’re going to have to fight, because when someone pushes you you’ll be able to respond with confidence, and with any luck a reasonable show of confidence, which is a show of dominance, will be enough to make the bully back off [5].



The first time that I recall hearing Dr. Peterson discussing the concept of incorporating the shadow to derive strength was on a Podcast, I forgot if it was on the Joe Rogan Experience or another Podcast. However, that is beside the point. Dr. Peterson really touches upon an excellent point about acknowledging our capacity for evil and then learning to utilize it in a constructive manner. If you think about it, when dealing with a bully you cannot be completely righteous. To a certain extent, you need to be willing to assert some aggression in order to prevent a bully from completely dominating you. However, if you do not have your aggression controlled in any disciplined manner you will make your own descent into becoming a bully. Essentially, aggression is a component of our shadow as it is a negative aspect of the human condition.  Which how we chose to utilize it can be either be for productive or counter-productive means.  What defines a bully or an evil person from a good person is delineated by how you chose to utilize our innate attribute of aggression. An evil person will use aggression for counter-productive means, in other words, they will use aggression to achieve things that will be detrimental to others an society. While a good person will utilize aggression in a manner that is productive. In other words, they will only moderately use aggression, however, without any malice in the intent.

In order to have the strength to confront someone who is a bully or a manifestation of the shadow, you need to have a little bit of shadow within yourself. If you do not have any aggression or ability for moderated capacity for malice you will fail to be able to defend yourself. An individual who is completely meek does not possess the ability to punch back either literally or metaphorically.  However, it is all a matter of balance.  Allowing the shadow to become unchecked with no defined boundaries, will merely force you down a path of unadulterated evil. So as Dr. Peterson suggests in the quote above you need to be able to CONTROL your shadow. It is all about finding that equilibrium. If you allow your capacity for wrongdoing to override you, you will become evil. However, in contrast, if you are solely righteous and relinquish your ability to punch back you will be taken advantage of and will be victimized. So we need to embrace our dark side for the sake of survival, however, we do not allow it to corrupt us.



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