Sunday, August 27, 2006

People of the Lie

Is God a Psychotherapist?
M. Scott Peck's People of the Lie explores the dimensions of human and satanic evil.
by Ben Patterson | posted 09/28/2005 02:15 p.m.


... Peck's thesis is simple: There really is such a thing as human evil, and it has certain definable characteristics. What is evil? ... According to Peck, it is the persistent and accumulative refusal of the evil person to face the truth about himself. He may admit publicly that, of course, he is a sinner just like everyone else. But deep down inside he does not believe it. So rather than face up to his own sin he is constantly scapegoating: laying it on other people, making his faults theirs. Evil people are masters of disguise, morally. They are constantly dodging their conscience. In other words, evil people are liars. Hence the title of the book.

... Peck observes that rarely will evil people turn up in psychotherapy. This is because psychotherapy is what he calls the "light-shedding process par excellence." Evil, by definition, avoids the light. So the persons who end up in the therapist's office are not usually the truly evil ones, but the victims of someone else's evil.

... Where and how does the Devil figure in all this? Peck is not sure. He writes, "Perhaps it will forever be impossible to totally discern exactly where the human Shadow leaves off and the Prince of Darkness begins." His tentative conclusion is that the Devil has very little to do with evil in everyday life. Most of us do not have to be recruited to do his work; we recruit ourselves.

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.... Peck goes on to delineate the face of evil, to show what evil looks like. His contention is that evil does not often look like what we expect; those who are most evil will often appear most “together” or wholesome at first glance. ... He states: “In addition to the abrogation of responsibility that characterizes all personality disorder, this one would specifically be distinguished by: (a) consistent destructive, scapegoating behavior, which may often be quite subtle. (b) Excessive, albeit usually covert, intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury. (c) Pronounced concern with a pubic image and self-image of respectability, contributing to a stability of life-style but also to pretentiousness and denial of hateful feelings or vengeful motives. (d) Intellectual deviousness, with an increased likelihood of a mild schizophreniclike disturbance of thinking at times of stress.


The malignant narcissist is more than immoral, she is evil. In his book, People of the Lie, Peck proposed to the psychological profession a new diagnostic category of the “evil personality disorder” (EPD) as a sub-type of NPD. As he put it, “The evil are ‘the people of the lie,’ deceiving others as they also build layer upon layer of self-deception.” And when the narcissist intentionally hurts another, she has crossed the line from being an NPD to being an EPD. In Peck’s words, “evil individuals will flee self-examination and guilt by blaming and attempting to destroy whatever or whoever highlights their deficiencies.”



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