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Jordan Peterson: the One Who Helped Me When I Most Needed It

I’m not a disciple of Dr. Peterson’s. But he has inspired and helped to heal me with his words, and I admire him most for the example that he’s set with his own life: the courage to stand up, with shoulders back and face the darkness.”

Fred Hammon, a sixty-five-year-old bass player and mechanical engineer living in Los Angeles, was the subject of Tony D. Senatore’s November, 2019 Merion West article “The Best Argument For Jordan Peterson: My Friend, Fred.”

Hammon discovered Jordan Peterson by chance on the Internet one day, while caring for his wife who is suffering from Frontotemporal dementia. Upon seeing Peterson’s lecture where he describes how his father-in-law lovingly cared for his wife during an illness, Hammon was particularly struck by Peterson’s advice to, “…stand up straight and fully face the darkness, and what you discover is at the darkest part is the brightest light.” Hammon describes this as a transformative moment for him, which led him to re-center his own approach to taking care of his wife and dealing with his own sadness at witnessing the state of his wife’s health.

Hammon, who self-identifies as a “centrist liberal” and was influenced by the counterculture movement of the 1960s, does not consider himself a disciple of Peterson’s. Rather, he simply finds some of his Peterson’s lessons and advice to be intensely helpful in his own life. In light of the discussions generated by Senatore’s article about Hammon, as well as Jordan Peterson’s own recent health issues, Hammon joins Merion West to provide more background on his relationship to Jordan Peterson’s work.

Mr. Hammon, you were the subject of a widely-read Merion West article in November about how Jordan Peterson personally helped you so much. Can you briefly explain how Jordan Peterson’s work has been so impactful in your life?

From when I first was exposed to Jordan Peterson, I liked him. Sometimes, of course, it’s hard to know when someone is mirroring your own thoughts but just saying it better—or is actually providing you with new information in a way that resonates and inspires. As far as helping me, I’m going through the most difficult chapter of my life so far. My wife is suffering from and ultimately dying from the advanced stages of Frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

I had been living in fear and hopelessness, as well as from guilt for not being able to save her. I had pretty much shut down in many aspects of my life and started drinking a lot in order to avoid the day-to-day terror. If you read the article in November, you already know the story about me hearing Jordan talk about standing up and facing that horror head on with courage and seeing a brightness beyond. I believe him when he says that what it is that I need to find is to be found precisely there. It has helped to pull me out of my despair. I’m functioning much better and looking for value, as opposed to throwing in the towel and dying along with wife.

I realized that I can be of no real use to her if I continued to circle that drain. I now think more about how I can help her on her journey and find sweetness and value along the way. It still isn’t easy, but I’ve managed to crawl a good way out of depths of that hole that I was living in, and hearing Jordan Peterson’s advice was very important for doing that.

In a sense, Tony Senatore, the author of that article, asserted that so many criticisms written about Jordan Peterson are academic or theoretical; however, the fact of the matter is that Peterson’s work is practically helping many people—and that latter point ought to take precedence. Is this a view you share?

If you mean that “the proof is in the pudding” so to speak—I suppose. People listen to Jordan Peterson, and they find him inspirational in positive ways. I’m not an academic; I’m not in a position to judge Jordan Peterson along those lines, and neither, for that matter, are most of his critics. Beyond that, if you take the time to review his lectures and debates, he answers a lot of the questions posed by his critics, if people would listen. He spends a lot of his time answering tough questions. I wish he weren’t so ill at present. I enjoying hearing him debate his detractors.

From a football blogger citing Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll as problematic because of having invited Jordan Peterson to talk to his team, to efforts to draw a connection between Peterson and Nazis, to the vitriol Peterson received when his recent health problems came to light, what is driving this anger towards Peterson?

This is asking me to understand the mind of some people on the Left who get angry and highly emotional towards anyone who holds an opinion just to the right of theirs. When he gets slammed by university humanities professors like the one who was gloating over his illness, my first reaction is: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” It’s as if they fear that they can’t defend themselves against his arguments using reasoned language, so, instead, they express hatred and vitriol towards him.

As we have learned recently, Jordan Peterson has, unfortunately, been undergoing a number of health issues in the past few months. Is there anything you would say to other people who—like you—have found Peterson’s work so impactful and are trying to deal with learning about his health issues? 

Jordan Peterson is human, and, therefore, he is both vulnerable and fallible. He has never—in my recollection—ever claimed to be anything other than that. He often sounds like he thinks that he’s right all the time and comes off with arrogance, but then he admits to changing his mind mid-lecture sometimes after hearing his own thoughts said out loud. It happens in debates too, in real time, when he is presented with a better argument. I’ve seen it.

The man is intellectually honest, in my opinion, which doesn’t mean that he’s right. He’s been open about his depression and health issues. How can he not be seen as anything other than courageous or, at the very least, admirable given, what he’s been doing with his life: both helping people who need help, as well as courageously being open about his own health issues?

In addition to the points you already mentioned, are there any other lessons from Jordan Peterson that you think have the potential to be particularly helpful to other people—and not just young people—but perhaps people of all ages?

I’m not a disciple of Dr. Peterson’s. But he has inspired and helped to heal me with his words, and I admire him most for the example that he’s set with his own life: the courage to stand up, with shoulders back and face the darkness. The first time I ever noticed him, he was doing precisely that. He’s not perfect, and I would warn anybody against those kinds of perceptions. It’s his own life. That doesn’t take away from his good examples and advice.

I’m a pretty good bass player now, and I might even inspire some younger bass players locally; but, there will become a point when I’m not as good. Having said that, I wish Jordan the best on his recovery, and I expect more lectures and writings from him. No pressure.

Editor’s note: If you would like to share an account of how Jordan Peterson has helped you, please get in touch with us at submit@merionwest.com

Articles authored or co-authored by Staff.

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BRITTANY N JOHNSON
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BRITTANY N JOHNSON

He changed my life. I am a woman, 4 kids and was just feeling overwhelmed. I cleaned my room. Then my kitchen then everything one day at a time. Then I started cooking better, working out… lost 40lbs. I saw him in a lecture here in phoenix. The building was sold out. Thousands of people with stories just like mine if not better. My life is amazing and my whole family is so happy. I pray for his family. I miss him.

Tim Lieder
Guest
Tim Lieder

So before you read Jordan Peterson basic housework was beyond your understanding?

BRITTANY N JOHNSON
Guest
BRITTANY N JOHNSON

Yes. 😘

Andrea
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Andrea

Brittany… wonderful. We’ve all been there ..at a bottom. Great to know you were able to grow. God bless

Tom
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Tom

You are pathetic to pick on people

Lynda Ultsch
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Lynda Ultsch

Mental health is beyond your understanding, sounds like.

Richard Guerra
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Richard Guerra

Life is challenging with 4 kids. Two thumbs up for making a better version of yourself.

Jerry
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Jerry

FYI: there is no such thing as a “disciple of Peterson”. This label is just another of many unjustified smear tactics used by hate filled people.

Tim Lieder
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Tim Lieder

I would hate to accuse people if doing something as vile as taking lobster boi seriously

badger
Guest
badger

I love this man,he has helped thousands of people.
Get well soon Jordan this world need you

Tim Lieder
Guest
Tim Lieder
BRITTANY N JOHNSON
Guest
BRITTANY N JOHNSON

How can a man, who teaches great ideas ever really die? Even if he had passed, which he most certainly hasn’t, his ideas and teachings would live on.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Tim. Read your article. Expected either well researched information or a satirical piece. I’m disappointed. All I found was the silly ramblings of a teenager. If you’re planning to pursue a career in journalism when you grow up you should use a nom de plume at this stage of your writing career. 5 years from now you DO NOT want anyone to find your name on this article. You’ll never get a job!

XXXXX
Guest
XXXXX

Tim will never be a journalist. He is a failure as a writer, a title befitting of someone who picks on those trying to get well

Jimmy J
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Jimmy J

The best interview i have ever read about JP, i love him

Edith Hartzler
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Edith Hartzler

Great and honest interview. More power to you. I miss Mr. Peterson lectures. Praying for him and his family. We need more alpha males.

Tim Lieder
Guest
Tim Lieder

We need more stupid drug addicts who won’t STFU an things they know nothing about.

Concerned Citizen
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Concerned Citizen

Tim, you are a disgrace to humanity and are all that is wrong with both the Internet and the world.

Richard Guerra
Guest
Richard Guerra

Jordan Peterson and the information he shares explained more of my past than any other source or belief system. Its allowed me to release resentments and move forward to a better future. Astonishing how much has been explained and I wish I knew this information sooner. Wish Jordan a speedy and through recovery.

David Hall
Guest
David Hall

Well written nice article

Ric Gale
Guest
Ric Gale

What do you call a segment of our society or group of people that have no tolerance four different point of view spend their time trying to destroy those people’s public and private lives for even sharing a different point of view.? I called in the new left I called them liberals and Democrats and I call them the rebellious professors and students on most of the college campuses around the country they are pathetic excuse possibility they are classless and should not be allowed to continue. Jordan Peterson spoke to that mentality he spoke more about Civility and taking accountability and less about everyone agreeing with him something those people know nothing about

Bettina L. Pichelmayer
Guest
Bettina L. Pichelmayer

Sometimes one can help others better along the way of they personally experience trials such as addictions. People who revel in someone’s infirmities and lack compassion often are the most miserable of all. I wish Mr. Peterson restoration of health.

Imri
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Imri

Term papers at $25 an hour… Academic fraud at a fee….

mandy
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mandy

Is there a way of getting intouch with Fred Hammon, about his wifes illness, I am recently diagnosed with FTD and would love to touch base about his wifes journey

Smitty
Guest
Smitty

Probably just email the editor and ask

Tim
Guest
Ned
Guest
Ned

Tim. The article you link to us by you. All conjecture and falsehoods. Loss will visit you soon

Eliza Beth
Guest
Eliza Beth

Slow down there, Tim.
You’re obviously fixated on JP.
After all, one does love what one hates… Hence your unwavering crusade(or dare I say tirade).

Ben
Guest
Ben

Garbage article by a garbage person.

Andrea
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Andrea

You poor pathetic

Quintin B
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Quintin B

Tim, you have little to offer

Christian Colbert
Guest
Christian Colbert

It is well known that JP is on the meth.

badger
Guest
badger

You are incorrect sir

Tim Lieder
Guest
Tim Lieder

It is well known that a Jordan Peterson fan is in need of correction. Also https://medium.com/@timlieder1/in-memoriam-jordan-peterson-probably-wont-miss-you-208f24ef8778

Steven
Guest
Steven

Tim your article is not only riddled with inaccuracies but also cherry picked to fit your narrative. You even to go as far as to admit that you don’t research anything he’s said almost like as you say a picture with a headline that says,” Jordan Peterson is anti feminist” and went with it. Honestly if you’re going to write about someone you passionately hate do some research. You might be surprised how wrong you are. But don’t worry it’s okay to be wrong.