Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Anything that does not fit into the above categories, but is related to psychology, including discussion of public and media perceptions of psychology, satire related to psychology, etc.
hawke
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Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by hawke » Sun May 03, 2020 11:13 am

I have a family member in a bit of a low place at the moment - struggling with difficulties like relationships, career and finances, that I'm sure will be familiar to many. He's quite interested in psychology, and is currently finding solace in Jordan Peterson. He also finds anything from a sports/armed forces perspective resonates with him. He has a very individualised competitive view of humans, and is drawn to things that boost his self-esteem by teaching him to become a better version of himself within this framework.

While we have some good conversations about psychology, I'm very conscious that my own perspective on this doesn't resonate with him. I can't help but see his difficulties through the lens of neoliberalism, social justice and toxic male masculinity, but I struggle to even find a starting point to talk about these ideas as they're so far out of his (and many others') ZPD.

I'd really like to recommend some other lay-person psychology books/videos for him that offer a different perspective to Jordan Peterson, but in a way that is accessible and not too threatening to his existing world view. Does anyone have any suggestions?

rebeccaroisin
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by rebeccaroisin » Sun May 03, 2020 4:44 pm

You could try Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B002ROKQNS/ ... TF8&btkr=1).

It's clearly written, well argued and addresses how developing emotional intelligence can help with the relationship/career challenges your relative is having in a clear, accessible way. It has a good evidence base and is well-referenced too. The cover is a bit sensationalist ("Why EQ matters more than IQ! This can revolutionise your life!"), but the substantive content of the book is not. I listened to it on audio book a few years ago and would happily read the whole thing again more than once.
It makes a strong argument for why recognising and talking about feelings helps you to live a fulfilling life; and makes it clear that these are teachable skills that many people lack.

I also like The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004XIVP7W/ ... TF8&btkr=1). It's about "How good people turn evil" and the core argument is that everyone is capable of doing terrible acts in the right (wrong) environment. Zimbardo is the researcher behind the Stanford Prison Experiment and a lot of the book is about that. He definitely over-trusts the validity of his own findings in that "experiment", but despite that I found that the core message of the book really resonated with me. I thought it did a great job of explaining the fallacies behind various bits of toxic masculinity (in particular the "My friend X is a good person, they would never rape/assault/abuse someone" narrative that absolves so much toxic behaviour), but in a way that feels accessible to someone who is alienated by phrases like "toxic masculinity". The book also has a big section on the Abu Ghraib abuses by US soldiers in Iraq (Zimbardo was an expert witness), so if your relative is interested in military stuff this might appeal.

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Spatch
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by Spatch » Sun May 03, 2020 10:50 pm

From what you describe, Harris O’Malley at Drnerdlove.com is someone to look into. A good antidote to toxic masculinity, good relationship advice And genuinely helpful self improvement, he is the best anti Peterson I can think of.
Shameless plug alert:

Irrelevant Experience: The Secret Diary of an Assistant Psychologist is available at Amazon
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Irrelevant-Expe ... 00EQFE5JW/

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miriam
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by miriam » Mon May 04, 2020 4:04 pm

Brene Brown? (she's written quite a few books for mass audiences that are based around compassion)
Give and Take by Adam Grant? (I read this and it connected for me)
How to live a good life? (I haven't read it, but there is a podcast with a big following and it gets good reviews)
Factfulness? (I've watched the TED talk and it was inspiring)
Authentic?
Stumbling on happiness?

I quite like Waitbutwhy? as a blog. But my favourites (and you can spot the theme of kind, witty comics that have stopped being drawn) were Hyperbole and a half, and Boggle the Owl.

In fact, I have a whole bookshelf of inspirational titles that I haven't read yet!
Miriam

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hawke
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by hawke » Mon May 11, 2020 8:49 pm

Thank you very much everybody! This is really helpful. I have started by recommending the blogs - WaitButWhy is my favourite, and I definitely remember coming across drnerdlove during my last phase of dating. I am going to take a look at the books for my own general interest and then leave them lying round the house - it would do me good to break out of my reading bubble as well.

PinkFreud19
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by PinkFreud19 » Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:34 pm

Just to add a potentially unpopular opinion here. I see Jordan Peterson as a divisive character no doubt, and I certainly agree with many of his critics. Many of his arguments, such as the suggestion that femininity is metaphorically linked to chaos, are wrong at best and damaging at worst.

However, I also think he deserves credit, where credit is due. A number of his ideas relating to trying to take responsibility in times of difficulty or crisis, steering away from avoidance, finding meaning in life, and being as prosocial as possible, are all helpful. Sure, they're not necessarily his ideas, many are taken from ACT, CBT, and other modalities, but he is clearly successful in delivering messages, and for one reason or another, has encouraged many people to experience real personal growth and development. Unfortunately, the issue is that people can be drawn in by the good stuff and potentially be brainwashed by the bad stuff.

It's made me think though, if he likes Peterson, who touches on ACT concepts, the Happiness Trap or Liberated Mind might be quite influential for him.

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miriam
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by miriam » Sat Jun 06, 2020 4:28 pm

PinkFreud19 wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:34 pm
I also think he deserves credit, where credit is due. A number of his ideas relating to trying to take responsibility in times of difficulty or crisis, steering away from avoidance, finding meaning in life, and being as prosocial as possible, are all helpful. Sure, they're not necessarily his ideas, many are taken from ACT, CBT, and other modalities, but he is clearly successful in delivering messages, and for one reason or another, has encouraged many people to experience real personal growth and development. Unfortunately, the issue is that people can be drawn in by the good stuff and potentially be brainwashed by the bad stuff.
I think it is helpful to consider what might bridge from the good components of a book hawke's relative likes into other work, though I don't know either of those two titles personally. However, I guess I'd say the same thing about a Jordan Peterson book as I do to the barrister in court trying to point out all the nice observations of loving behaviour from their client towards the child that they harmed or failed to protect - the good bits don't cancel out the bad. If you have a beautiful poppy field, but it contains one land mine we need to stop people going there. If a parent is loving 95% of the time, but in the other 5% sexually abuses the child or causes them injuries, we need to protect the child. If a Jordan Peterson book contains some common sense and well-evidenced advice then by all means write and recommend a book with only that in it, but if it contains the other stuff he writes or opines on (which include misogyny and how to be an over-controlling and abusive spouse/parent) then I could never recommend his work, full stop.
Miriam

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PinkFreud19
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by PinkFreud19 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:54 am

That's quite a good analogy Miriam, thanks.

I suppose I was trying to perspective-take and zone into why people find him helpful and, more broadly, why he is so popular, and what can be learned from that. I would not explicitly recommend his content; as you said, there is some harmful content in there, akin to a mine in a poppy field, and there are also many far more eloquent and helpful writers out there that deserve popularity.

From what I've gathered, though, he's essentially re branded ACT using fluffier language, but perhaps, paradoxically, with more direct metaphors, such as "clean your room" and "take some responsibility". I think therapeutic models and ideas, with the exception of CBT, seem to have very little penetration into wider culture. Jordan was quite successful in the use of a pre-existing large audience of "everyday people" to introduce psychological concepts that really resonate with people. It's frustrating though, because I find "A Liberated Mind" by Stephen Hayes to be more complete in its advice, while still very much encouraging ideas about "turning toward pain" and living according to values.

hawke
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by hawke » Tue Jun 09, 2020 1:55 pm

It is certainly the ACT stuff that has appealed to my relative - he has really embraced distancing himself from his thoughts to calm his emotional reaction enough to get on with stuff. I've heard him giving advice to other family on the phone that sounded like it could be coming from a psychologist! This has been great for directing him towards more psychological stuff, although he definitely prefers it wrapped up in easy language (don't we all?) and a male-centric perspective. I am definitely getting better at drip feeding ideas and tolerating the discomfort of disagreement better!

The joys of working from home mean I hear snippets of JP daily as I walk through his 'office', whereas before much of my judgement was based on hearsay. One example that stands out was a very short bit of speech that essentially said:

Testosterone causes violence. We know this because men are more violent, and as testosterone goes up in the teenage years so does violence. This means boys need their fathers in a stable nuclear family unit to be role models.
(I have paraphrased, as I do not know the exact clip that was being played)

Rather than the content itself, what stood out to me was the certainty with which he said all of these things, without offering convincing evidence or theoretical logic. He didn't make clear what was evidence, theory or interpretation. The average person listening to him won't have the psychological training needed to critique this (in the same way that I don't have the medical training to critique medical coronavirus research, for example). So his opinions are delivered to people as easy-listening psychological expertise, and there are certainly a few landmine opinions in there.

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miriam
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by miriam » Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:35 pm

PinkFreud19 wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:54 am
I think therapeutic models and ideas, with the exception of CBT, seem to have very little penetration into wider culture. Jordan was quite successful in the use of a pre-existing large audience of "everyday people" to introduce psychological concepts that really resonate with people. It's frustrating though, because I find "A Liberated Mind" by Stephen Hayes to be more complete in its advice, while still very much encouraging ideas about "turning toward pain" and living according to values.
I've got a more cynical view - that he harnessed the appeal of regressive ideas to disenfranchised straight white men, who feel that they are losing out to every other demographic, and the internet as the medium that would reach this audience. I don't think it was what he said at all. Any seemingly plausible and not overtly fascist figurehead that has tapped into that market has also been lifted by their numbers and dollars to bigger audiences. But then, I've been tracking this whole horrible movement since gamergate.
Miriam

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PinkFreud19
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by PinkFreud19 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:04 pm

miriam wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:35 pm
PinkFreud19 wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:54 am
I think therapeutic models and ideas, with the exception of CBT, seem to have very little penetration into wider culture. Jordan was quite successful in the use of a pre-existing large audience of "everyday people" to introduce psychological concepts that really resonate with people. It's frustrating though, because I find "A Liberated Mind" by Stephen Hayes to be more complete in its advice, while still very much encouraging ideas about "turning toward pain" and living according to values.
I've got a more cynical view - that he harnessed the appeal of regressive ideas to disenfranchised straight white men, who feel that they are losing out to every other demographic, and the internet as the medium that would reach this audience. I don't think it was what he said at all. Any seemingly plausible and not overtly fascist figurehead that has tapped into that market has also been lifted by their numbers and dollars to bigger audiences. But then, I've been tracking this whole horrible movement since gamergate.
Hmm, I can see that view being true too.

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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by miriam » Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:47 pm

miriam wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:35 pm
not overtly fascist figurehead
I should also add that plenty of (to my eye) overtly fascist figureheads have been lifted too, from Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, Steve Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos and Nigel Farage to Donald Trump himself. However, like Christina Hoff Summers, Peterson's academic credentials and ability to skirt the extremes that have become the demise of many others, have sustained a socially acceptable veneer. However, perhaps due to being male and styling himself to evoke traditional values and leader/hero tropes, he has been uniquely effective in monetising his platform, with huge earnings from Patreon (peaking at hundreds of thousands of dollars per month) as well as the lecture tours and books, to fuel him. And like Farage, that wealth and superficial skim of legitimacy has been enough to garner him a platform on mainstream media, just as the harmless/inept comedy persona of Boris Johnson, and the caricature quality of Trump also brought them to wider audiences without suitable scepticism for their motives.
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by PinkFreud19 » Sun Jun 14, 2020 11:16 pm

That feels like a fairly good analysis to me. I'd still be interested to hear the perspectives of Peterson's supporters to hear, in their words, what makes him stand out to them. It's hard for me as I am not one of his supporters.

Your comment about Christina Hoff Summers is interesting. I watched some of her videos, and was outstanded. She seems to basically be spouting borderline MRA views while calling herself a feminist. While men's wellbeing should be part of the wider feminist movement, she was clearly pandering to the anti-feminist movement in a fairly intellectually dishonest way, in my opinion. Some of feminist theory is not without its criticism (the criticism is normally that the issues are often more nuanced and detailed than some of the theoretical frameworks try to explain), but it important on the whole and Christina undermines it hugely.

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miriam
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by miriam » Mon Jun 15, 2020 12:15 am

Yeah, she's an anti-feminist who claims to be a feminist, and argues against the straw feminist rather than the issues. It wasn't the topic of her academic positions (her qualifications are in philosophy) and she has long since sold any academic credentials in favour of preaching the platform of her employer and most lucrative market - which like JP's is markedly regressive and sexist/misogynist.
Miriam

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KalEl
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Re: Alternatives to Jordan Peterson

Post by KalEl » Thu Jun 25, 2020 7:24 pm

I actually quite like Jordan. This is only because I am a conservative Clinical Psychologist with an interest in issues facing young men, and there aren't many in the profession with those combinations, so I feel I have a shared interest with him. Having said that, there are a wide range of books that I would recommend if you definitely do not like him, I certainly would recommend:-
Steven Pinker - Enlightenment
Hans Rosling - Factfulness (this is more about developments in global health, but is quite interesting as it presents facts on global trends in poverty, education, access to healthcare, etc. without left/right-wing political biases)
Daring Greatly - Brene Brown (a researcher who specializes in studying vulnerability and shame. She is very left-wing so she will stand in contrast to Jordan well)
7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey (this is a great self-development book, perhaps one of the greatest)
How to win friends and influence people - Dale Carnegie (again this stands in the same category as the above and is a good self-development book for communication)
The art of thinking clearly - Rolf Dobelli

Quite a range of books but all focused on self-development with a psychological edge.

Good luck!

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