Dr. Jordan Peterson – Managing Dysfunctional Family Relationships

Dr. Peterson talks about the need for people who develop healthy behaviors apart from their families to develop a sense of individuality.

Dr Jordan B. Peterson is a psychologist, author, online educator, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto. He taught some of the most highly regarded courses at Harvard and the University of Toronto for twenty years while publishing over a hundred well-cited scientific papers with his students and co-authors. His podcast has frequently topped the charts in the education category.


Sometimes you take a leap forward, and you learn some things, but you can’t catalyze a new identity, so you try to go back and hide in your old identity, and that actually doesn’t work because, well, things have changed, and you’ve learned something, and that isn’t who you are anymore.”

Jordan talks about the difficulty people often experience when they try to develop a different identity from the one they were made to identify with growing up. According to him, most men fail at forging a new identity of their own because they remain under the ‘control’ of their fathers. They spend too much time wondering what their father would think about how they choose to live their lives or the choices they make for themselves.

I’ve observed it more in men, that they often stay under the thumb of their father, and you think, well, why would someone do that? Because it means they’re subject to the tyrannical judgment of their father.”

The need to consistently want to please one’s parents comes from an underlying belief that your parents know more than you do. So their opinion matters to you because you imagine it comes from a point of knowledge and information.

You haven’t exactly separated the god image from your parents, and so you’re still under that combination.”

Well, you have your parents, and you have nature and culture as parents, and you shouldn’t be thinking that your parents are nature and culture as well. They shouldn’t have final dominion over you. (It) means that you’re not an individual yet if that’s the case.”

Jordan quotes Freud, who said no one could be a man unless his father died. The only way one can develop individuality away from the influence of one’s parents is by allowing one’s parents to die, albeit symbolically. This is the only time a person can develop a sense of freedom and individuality.


Another way a person can develop individuality is when a disconnect happens when, as an adult, you realize that your parents do not know any more than you do.

Another part of the idea is one of the times in your life when you actually realize that you’re an individual is when you’ll go and ask your parents something, and you’ll realize they don’t know any more about what you should do than you.”

It is only after this symbolic death that one can truly enjoy a healthy relationship with one’s family as an individual.

If you are a man looking for more information and support to help you develop your sense of individuality, mensgroup.com is a men-only support forum where you can get the support you need.