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People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing…

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil (1983)

by M. Scott Peck

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In this absorbing and equally inspiring companion volume to his classic trilogy -- The Road Less Traveled, Further Along the Road Less Traveled, and The Road Less Traveled and Beyond -- Dr. M. Scott Peck brilliantly probes into the essence of human evil.

People who are evil attack others instead of facing their own failures. Peck demonstrates the havoc these people of the lie work in the lives of those around them. He presents, from vivid incidents encountered in his psychiatric practice, examples of evil in everyday life.

This book is by turns disturbing, fascinating, and altogether impossible to put down as it offers a strikingly original approach to the age-old problem of human evil. ( )
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  cdiemert | Jul 30, 2017 |
This is a truly original work. It made me see human moral choices, including mine, in a new light. I wasn't so much interested in the exorcism sections - although they are the most sensational. It was more the author's exploration of daily decisions, his way of analyzing right and wrong, that I found so unique. I recommend this for anyone who's interested in what it means to live a moral life. ( )
  AnneMichaud | Feb 16, 2017 |
The book was referenced in a article I read in a blog. Worth reading, especially the discussion about the Vietnam. ( )
  4bonasa | Sep 15, 2016 |
I'd have to say that this book has largely informed by conception of evil. The first half of this book will absolutely rivet you to your seat with four accounts of variously evil people and their victims. The rest of the book tries to make sense of it all. Good luck to Dr. Peck, and good luck to us all. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
I've been fascinated by the question of evil ever since learning about the Nazis and the Holocaust as a child. I've never lost the part of me that wonders, "Why?" and that was only reinforced post-9/11. This approaches the question of evil from a psychological point of view--for Peck is a practicing psychiatrist--but also a Christian point of view--for Peck is a believing Christian. A blurb from the Wall Street Journal on the back cover says the "long-overdue discussion between psychology and religion has begun, and nowhere does that beginning bear better fruit than in Dr. M. Scott Peck's People of the Lie." That does come to the fore from time to time--Peck takes the idea of demonic possession and exorcism seriously--I do not. I'm an atheist.

Yet I found plenty to consider, to highlight and dog-ear and think about in this book. Certainly the case studies made for a fascinating read, though some certainly seemed to me more troubled than evil, and I wonder how effective therapy can be if that is how psychiatrists see their patients. How can they expect to help them? I'm also dubious about Peck's analysis of My Lai, which I think has more to do with his political views than his psychological expertise. But there's plenty in the book that doesn't require religious faith to accept as insightful:

Mental health requires that the human will submit itself to something higher than itself. To function decently in this world we must submit ourselves to some principle that takes precedence over what we might want at any given moment. For the religious this principle is God... But if they are sane, even the nonreligious submit themselves, whether they know it or not, to some "higher power"--be it truth or love, the needs of others, or the demands of reality... Mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs.

And that's why evil resides in the people of the lie. Even Ayn Rand, an atheist who many would accuse of advocating a form of narcissism, would agree with this in essentials--above all for her the first commandment would be "Thou Shalt Not Fake Reality." The rest is commentary. So all evil, from emotional manipulation to mass murder start to finish comes down to refusing to honor reality---and to change that, to face reality, is what psychology is supposed to help us to do. Although I have to say, I question just how in touch with reality is a therapist who believes in supernatural explanations for human behavior. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Sep 15, 2013 |
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For Lily, who serves so many ways, only one of which has been to wrestle with demons.
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In this [book, the author] probes ... into the essence of human evil. People who are evil attack others instead of facing their own failures. [He] demonstrates the havoc these People of the Lie work in the lives of those around them. He presents, from ... incidents encountered in his psychiatric practice, examples of evil in everyday life.-Back cover.… (more)

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