Vision and Destiny Episode 3 Review: Constructing an Identity

Luke Rexing, Editor

The third episode of Jordan Peterson’s Vision and Destiny is an expansion on the issues that were brought up in the previous episode. In case you missed it, the previous episode was titled “The Identity Crisis”, and Peterson followed up by titling the third episode, “Constructing an Identity.” Although a bit less political than the first, this episode dives into how people (mainly toddlers) construct their identities and negotiate them with the world. Additionally, Peterson addresses the importance of negotiating your identity, and the cascading effect this construction can have on the rest of society, at all levels. 

Picking up where the last episode left off, episode three is introduced with the idea that clinical therapy practices are failing to abide by the very principles that created them. This is clear with gender affirming care, as a therapist should not be there to affirm or deny any decision or belief that their patient has, but rather help them perceive things objectively. People often feel things that are objectively bad for them. Peterson gives an example of anorexic patients, and their belief that they are too overweight, when in fact they are starving themselves to death. Someone would never think to affirm these beliefs, unless they were demonic in some sense. Another example provided was a schizophrenic. You would certainly not affirm a schizophrenic’s beliefs, because they are unable to distinguish between hallucinations and reality. However, when it comes to gender affirming care, it is literally in the name. Practitioners, according to the American Psychological Association, are required to affirm these beliefs. This allows people to decide their identity based on a moment to moment basis, on a whim, which is nothing but confusing to them and everyone else. 

So psychologically preposterous that it is a miracle of stupidity that it has ever been accepted at all.

— Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

This is where the episode takes a turn to the development of children, and the importance of their early socialization. When a child is from the age of zero to two, they are trying to figure out exactly how they are supposed to operate (physically) in the world. They learn where their legs are, where their fingers are, and what they do when they move. They eventually learn to walk, and become a being that can, to some degree, move throughout the world. They are trying to organize their own internal structures, and are not fully integrated. They are egocentric, and often cycle through different motivational states and emotional states, hence the “terrible twos.” 

Two year olds are unable to truly play together, as they are unable to integrate their personality with the personality of others. (Do you see where this is going?) They can exist together and appear to play with each other, but they are not negotiating. Once a child reaches the age of three or four, they start to attempt to integrate themselves amongst the other children. They start to truly play. They ask each other “do you want to play?” and the other child must respond “yes,” and then they can decide on a game. The example used in the episode was two children, a young boy and a young girl, choosing to play house (a fairly popular game for children this age). Then, they negotiate the rules of the game, and the identities that they will take on while playing that game. However, the unpopular children will not learn how to properly negotiate, and in turn be cast out. Oftentimes, they will insist that the game(s) must be played their way, so the other children will find someone else to play with. This is a tragic reality, because after this, these children fall severely behind. It is essential that parents take the socialization of their children extremely seriously, and teach them how to properly play. 

How does a child’s social development relate to the identity crisis? In short, the children who were cast aside are now older (and not necessarily grown up). They finally have an outlet to share their understandably pent up aggression from lack of play. They are still, from a socially developmental level, two years old. But now they are 17, 25, and 30+ years old. They were never able to correctly negotiate their identity, and still have this problem, but now are realizing that there are outlets that will cater towards their egocentric beliefs, and even encourage and idolize them. This is on a very general level, and may not apply to 100% of people who identify as something other than traditional, but it is certainly a pattern that can be observed. 

Why does it even matter what other people identify as anyway? Why can’t they just be whatever they claim to be, and the world will move on? This is a common question I’ve heard amongst peers while debating issues similar to this. The answer is something like: You have to organize yourself within the confines of the community, or else it will start to crumble. The word “hierarchy” has been somewhat of a buzzword in recent years, but despite what people would like to believe, hierarchies exist. At a social level, the hierarchy looks like this:

  • You
    • Your family
      • Local community
        • State or province
          • Nation
            • World

People do not like to think of themselves as part of something larger than themselves, and when they do, it is often only at a relatively local level. The issue with this is that it does not consider the ripples of individual actions across the greater community. Each level of the hierarchy must function properly for any of them to function at all, and it starts with the individual. Peterson gives the metaphor of music. You are essentially a note in a grand symphony. This does not mean that you are irrelevant, but instead I would argue that is more reason to believe in your own importance amongst the others around you. This note may be in the riff of a bridge, or the grounding note of a chorus, and if that note was not there, the sound would simply not be what the artist intended.

Abandoning your spot in the symphony, or abandoning your responsibility to yourself, and creating your identity from moment to moment is not freeing. It is jumping off of a cliff into a sea of chaos. When therapists encourage this, they may think they are helping based off of the positive feedback in the short term, but in the long term they will come to realize that they have helped create someone into someone who cannot be integrated into society. The scariest part of it all is that when you abandon your responsibilities, the tyrants at the top are free to take it from you. Don’t let it happen to you or anyone you care for. Take responsibility, and always be negotiating your identity. 

That is what I have learned from episode three, “Constructing an Identity.”

Thank you for taking the time to read, and I look forward to writing the next review in the series soon. Again, I watched this series on the Daily Wire+, which is a fantastic source for conservative news, uncensored opinions, and enthralling shows like Vision and Destiny. Let me know your thoughts on these grand ideas in the comments!