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People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil

by M. Scott Peck

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Poor George, what bad luck he had to find this therapist. George was clever. He played his OCD off itself, he played his core delusion that his thoughts had an effect on the world off itself so that the compulsions would self-destruct..

He said, ok, if I don't do my compulsion, I will die, but I am going to make myself believe that if I do my compulsion my SON will die, and he is so much more important, so I won't do the compulsion. And POOF the OCD tendencies self-destructed. I doubt it would work for everyone, but it seemed to work for him, and it worked precisely because he was a good person and loved his son.

It was very clever and then this EVIL GOOSE tells George he has an evil character because he made a deal with the devil to hurt his son...!? Makes him believe he is a bad person who wants harm to come to his son (Again, something people with OCD are vulnerable to believing, as Peck well knew)! And then, having made him feel terrible about himself and completely undoing his self-healing attempt, he charged him for 2 years of therapy and then took the credit for curing him, when more than anything what he'd done was to hurt him.

He also suggests that if someone is "evil" it's morally advisable to force treatment on them, regardless of whether they recognize they are sick or whether they have ever commit ed a crime. And, as you might expect in view of what I've written already, he believes in demonic possession and promotes exorcism, a type of torture for the mentally ill or non-conforming that kills hundreds of people per year.

Good business man, bad person. This guy is lecturing us on evil when he cheated on his wives? ( )
  RebeccaBooks | Sep 16, 2021 |
The author is most known for "The Road Less Traveled". In this book, he explores what he defines as "ordinary evil" as opposed to demonic possession which he covers in a different book. He gives several case histories of people he encountered in his psychotherapy practice which he labeled as evil. He discusses his desire to study evil scientifically and the problems that could arise if this were done. He caps off the book with a discussion of group dynamics and how group dynamics can lead to evil and discusses the famous Mylai massacre during the Vietnam War. ( )
  RFBrost | Jul 8, 2020 |
M. Scott Peck joins the pantheon of psychiatrists who have sought to use tools and truths drawn from both Science and Theology to aid the helping professions.

Since this 1983 work, the author's subsequent publishing history reflects his own process theology -- he lived a pilgrimage of faith publications while largely neglecting the "science" he insists he claims to engage. There is no question he has left a Newtonian stamp upon the vast beach of Mystery as a serious and widely acclaimed writer, thinker, psychiatrist, and spiritual guide. Still, he provides no actual "calculus" -- no qualifying contribution to science, such as a measurement, tool, experiment, or indulgence in laboratory studies, chemical investigation. Not even semiotics.

This work brings us into his clinical sessions with patients he has selected for the proximity they experienced with "evil". The "people of the lie" are folks who have given themselves to satan. Peck briefly shares his exorcisms, his eye-witnessing of the devil as a spirit in a writhing "snakelike" body. His first book, The Road Less Traveled (1978), is far more of a spiritual guide than this one, which tries to answer the question of How to Heal humans who are evil.

Beginning with the medical model, Dr. Peck assesses what makes it difficult to heal patients who are "possessed' by evil. For example, one patient struggling with guilt and "magical thinking", was "suffering from a very specific disease, an obsessive-compulsive disorder" about which "we know a good deal". [36] For example, its origins are in early childhood, "beginning almost always in a less than ideal toilet-training". But instead of the medical model, "How would it seem if we viewed it instead in terms of a traditional Christian religious model?" He turns to this model as a battleground struggle for the human soul. "The entire meaning of human life revolves around the battle. The only question of ultimate significance is whether the individual soul will be won to God or won to the devil." [37]

Doctor Peck presents his theo/psychology of evil as a multi-faceted exploration inclusive of both science and Christ. We can approach, but will never understand, basic reality, which is mysterious to us. Yet if we fail to try to penetrate the darkness, we are reduced to nihilism, "since time immemorial a diabolic voice". [39] He brings science to task for failing to study evil--although central to religious thought for millenia, it is "virtually absent from our science of psychology". Why? "The major reason for this strange state of affairs is that the scientific and the religious models have hitherto been considered totally immiscible--like oil and water, mutually incompatible and rejecting".

He keenly observes that this is changing, and it must. Science without "religious values" gives us the Strangelovian lunacy of the arms race; and Religion without scientific self-doubt and scrutiny gives us the Rasputin lunacy of Jonestown. [40] The separation no longer works for us. Reintegration of the two models is "the most exciting event in the intellectual history of the late twentieth century." The two can be united around the Mystery of Good and Evil. [41] He defines evil as that force that seeks to kill life and liveliness, and good as that which promotes it. [43] Here he draws from Eric Fromm. Healing is a function, and result, of love. [44] The focus of this book is on "bad" people who want to control and diminish others.

Drawing from his clinical practice, Doctor Peck fills in his diagnostic profile of evil people. He calls them "people of the lie" because this form of mental illness needs to be named in order to gain power over it. [68] The basis for this name is that those afflicted with it, repeatedly resort to deception, hiding and covertness. [69] Layers of self-deception in the clinical presentation often engender revulsion, "confusion" and create chaos. [66] Guilt may save some. (Doctor Peck calls Guilt "a blessing" [71].)

The varieties of wicked people are manifold, virtual "grab bags of sin". They are "remarkably greedy", and Laziness is basic. [71] A predominant characteristic is "scapegoating"--they lash out at any reproach, often using what psychiatrists call "projection"; they blame others for what is within themselves. They are often destructive. Lacking conscience (sociopaths), and dedicated to preserving a self-hating self-image of perfection, they are acutely sensitive to social norms and what others might think of them. Lacking any motivation to BE good, they desire to appear good. [75]

Evil people have a pathological and malignant Narcissism which overwhelms the demands of conscience and guilt with a willful determination to have their own way. "There is a remarkable power in the manner in which they attempt to control others." [78] Citing Buber's study of Narcissism, he notes that evil people insist upon "affirmation independent of all findings"; utterly disregarding facts. [80]

Church authorities understand that a self-absorbed diseased arrogant overweening Pride is often at the root of evil. [79-80] In addition, in the doctor's experience, "evil seems to run in families". [81]

The Oedipal complex is discussed in detail. Many children "experience sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex" usually reaching a peak around the age of four. The evil seeks nurturance, and the infantile often irresponsible and inappropriate sexuality repeats into adulthood.[161] It seeks conquest, often in pettiness and tastelessness. [176] Give such an evil one "a nation" and they become a "Hitler or an Idi Amin". [177]

At this point I was reflecting upon how our nation was recently taken over by an evil person who constantly lies. How could this happen? It happened with Church support--the Church functioning as a Trojan Horse used by a very wealthy tyrant who hates republics: Vladimir Putin.

The Evangelical Church was transformed between the time Doctor Peck passed away with Parkinson's in 2005, and the Betrayal of November 2016. So much of the gentle wisdom we all relied upon was quickly lost to the Church. During the Bush II administration, Cheney, Rove and Reed were transforming the institutions that the plutocrats had seized during the Reagan administration. The evangelical Church was virtually weaponized with dog-whistles of racist and tribal fears. In the destructive foreign Wars and the Collapse of 2008, the rich became richer. $40 trillion dollars of middle class equity was liquidated in offshore bank accounts for the wealthy, in a paroxysm of greed. The wealthiest preachers in America are evangelicals preying upon the poorest most uneducated and vulnerable "believers". https://www.etinside.com/?p=539 .

Although he was widely-read and influential in his day, Doctor Peck's informed, inclusive and fearless Christianity was replaced by a fear-driven fact-averse political party that wants more guns and violence. By 2018, the leading old-school evangelist Billy Graham was dead, his son was giving speeches for the NRA which was subsidized by Putin's oligarchs, and a greedy infantile Narcissistic puppet pretends to be President, with the support of the evangelical Church. This spectacle is anathema to the author of People of the Lie. His book was a warning to us.

Back to our text, Doctor Peck identifies the issue of Free Will as a paradox: We can be free to choose, but the choice is between submission to God, or refusal, and automatically becoming enslaved to the forces of evil. [83] Christ said "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it." As CS Lewis put it, "There is no neutral ground in the universe."

Doctor Peck examines the impact of evil. "The evil create for those under their domination a miniature sick society." [124] He clearly shows that bullies and evil-doers victimize society.

He also questions the impact of pathologizing evil, with the power of naming. He suggests that the designation of evil as a disease "obligates us to approach the evil with compassion". In other words, to NOT approach them with the hate which they inspire. [127]

I appreciate the fact that the author went on to write other "Christian" testimonials which strive to include Science. He beautifully describes an inclusive community in The Different Drum (1987); the role of civility in personal relationships and society in A World Waiting to Be Born (1993); an examination of the complexities of life and the paradoxical nature of belief in Further Along the Road Less Traveled (1993); and an exploration of the medical, ethical, and spiritual issues of euthanasia in Denial of the Soul (1999). Doctor Peck also wrote a novel, a children's book, and other works.

Among the last of the educated Christians who was not science and fact-averse, Doctor Peck was a graduate of both Harvard University and Case Western Reserve. Like almost none of the "conservatives" who took over the "church of the GOP" recently, Dr. Peck served in both the military and the sciences. He was an officer in the Army Medical Corps. I found his insights as a practicing theologian and psychiatrist helpful in chaplaincy. Sadly, Doctor Peck's work for the Foundation for Community Encouragement, a nonprofit organization that he helped found in 1984, is now virtually defunct. https://www.fce-community.org/ . The "evangelical" Church has not survived its takeover by wealthy tyrants. ( )
  keylawk | Jul 12, 2019 |
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 |
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