Well-Read Wednesday – M. Scott Peck


July 15, 2020 – Day 121 of my quarantine

Being highly empathic I have the ability, or some might say, the misfortune, of feeling other people’s energy. I can not only do this in person – I can do it over the internet.

People have what I call “energy signatures” that they cannot cover-up or hide. No matter how hard they try.

Yesterday I had a very brief online encounter with someone who’s energy signature was malignant and menacing.  To me, it felt like I was being stalked like prey,  that this person clearly had an agenda and it was to do harm to me in some way.  The encounter only lasted a few seconds but it left me feeling rattled and uncomfortable for several hours after.

In his book, People of the Lie, Dr. Peck says, The feeling that a healthy person often experiences in relationship with an evil person is revulsion. The feeling of revulsion may be almost instant if the evil encountered is blatant. If the evil is more subtle, the revulsion may develop more gradually as the relationship with the evil one slowly deepens…  There is another reaction that the evil frequently engenders in us:  confusion…  Lies confuse.”

I was recently engaged in a conversation with someone about the importance of relying on your ‘Gut Feeling” when meeting a new person or allowing someone into your life. If it feels “off” – pay attention to that feeling. Your Gut Instinct, when it tells you something is “off” or “something is not right here” is your soul’s Early Warning System for danger. Disregard it at your own peril.

From Wikipedia –

Morgan Scott Peck (1936–2005) was an American psychiatrist and best-selling author who wrote the book The Road Less Traveled, published in 1978.

About Evil

Peck discusses evil in his book People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil,[8] and also in a chapter of The Road Less Traveled.[7] Peck characterizes evil as a malignant type of self-righteousness in which there is an active rather than passive refusal to tolerate imperfection (sin) and its consequent guilt.[7][8] This syndrome results in a projection of evil onto selected specific innocent victims (often children), which is the paradoxical mechanism by which the People of the Lie commit their evil.[8] Peck argues that these people are the most difficult of all to deal with, and extremely hard to identify.[8] He describes in some detail several individual cases involving his patients. In one case which Peck considers as the most typical because of its subtlety, he describes Roger, a depressed teenage son of respected, well-off parents.[8] In a series of parental decisions justified by often subtle distortions of the truth, they exhibit a consistent disregard for their son’s feelings, and a consistent willingness to destroy his growth. With false rationality and normality, they aggressively refuse to consider that they are in any way responsible for his resultant depression, eventually suggesting his condition must be incurable and genetic.

Peck makes a distinction between those who are on their way to becoming evil and those who have already crossed the line and are irretrievably evil. In the first instance, he describes George. Peck says, “Basically, George, you’re a kind of a coward. Whenever the going gets a little bit rough, you sell out.”[8] Of note, this is the kind of evil that inspired the film Session 9. When asked where evil lives, Simon concludes, “I live in the weak and the wounded.”[11][circular reference] On the other hand, those who have crossed the line and are irretrievably evil are described as having malignant narcissism.

Some of his conclusions about the psychiatric condition that he designates as “evil” are derived from his close study of one patient he names Charlene.[8] Although Charlene is not dangerous, she is ultimately unable to have empathy for others in any way. According to Peck, people like her see others as playthings or tools to be manipulated for their own uses or entertainment. Peck states that these people are rarely seen by psychiatrists, and have never been treated successfully.

Evil is described by Peck as “militant ignorance”. The original Judeo-Christian concept of “sin” is as a process that leads us to “miss the mark” and fall short of perfection.[8] Peck argues that while most people are conscious of this, at least on some level, those that are evil actively and militantly refuse this consciousness. Peck considers those he calls evil to be attempting to escape and hide from their own conscience (through self-deception), and views this as being quite distinct from the apparent absence of conscience evident in sociopathy.[8]

According to Peck, an evil person:[7][8]

  • is consistently self-deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self-image of perfection
  • deceives others as a consequence of their own self-deception
  • projects his or her evils and sins onto very specific targets (scapegoats) while being apparently normal with everyone else (“their insensitivity toward him was selective” (Peck, 1983/1988, p 105[8]))
  • commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self-deception as much as deception of others
  • abuses political (emotional) power (“the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion” (Peck, 1978/1992, p298[7]))
  • maintains a high level of respectability, and lies incessantly to do so
  • is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
  • is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoating)
  • has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury

Most evil people realize the evil deep within themselves, but are unable to tolerate the pain of introspection, or admit to themselves that they are evil. Thus, they constantly run away from their evil by putting themselves in a position of moral superiority and putting the focus of evil on others. Evil is an extreme form of what Peck, in The Road Less Traveled, calls a character and personality disorder.[7][8]

Using the My Lai massacre as a case study, Peck also examines group evil, discussing how human group morality is strikingly less than individual morality.[8] Partly, he considers this to be a result of specialization, which allows people to avoid individual responsibility and pass the buck, resulting in a reduction of group conscience.

Though the topic of evil has historically been the domain of religion,[8] Peck makes great efforts to keep much of his discussion on a scientific basis, explaining the specific psychological mechanisms by which evil operates. He was also particularly conscious of the danger of a psychology of evil being misused for personal or political ends.[8] Peck considered that such a psychology should be used with great care, as falsely labeling people as evil is one of the very characteristics of evil. He argued that a diagnosis of evil should come from the standpoint of healing and safety for its victims, but also with the possibility even if remote, that the evil themselves may be cured.

Ultimately, Peck says that evil arises out of free choice. He describes it thus: Every person stands at a crossroads, with one path leading to God, and the other path leading to the devil. The path of God is the right path, and accepting this path is akin to submission to a higher power. However, if a person wants to convince himself and others that he has free choice, he would rather take a path which cannot be attributed to its being the right path. Thus, he chooses the path of evil.

Peck also discussed the question of the devil.[8] Initially he believed, as with “99% of psychiatrists and the majority of clergy” (Peck, 1983/1988,[8] p182), that the devil did not exist; but, after starting to believe in the reality of human evil, he then began to contemplate the reality of spiritual evil. Eventually, after having been referred several possible cases of possession and being involved in two exorcisms, he was converted to a belief in the existence of Satan. Peck considered people who are possessed as being victims of evil, but of not being evil themselves. Peck, however, considered possession to be rare, and human evil common. He did believe there was some relationship between Satan and human evil, but was unsure of its exact nature. Peck’s writings and views on possession and exorcism are to some extent influenced and based on specific accounts by Malachi Martin; however, the veracity of these accounts and Peck’s own diagnostic approach to possession have both since been questioned by a Catholic priest who is a professor of theology.[12] It has been argued that it is not possible to find formal records to establish the veracity of Father Malachi Martin’s described cases of possession, as all exorcism files are sealed by the Archdiocese of New York, where all but one of the cases took place.[13]

Sending you all my Love and Light. Stay Safe. Stay Smart. Stay Sane. Stay Strong out there.

Until next time … Here’s Moby with ‘Run On’