First in a three-volume series from the bestselling book of the same name. Peck demonstrates that people who attack and blame others instead of facing their own failures are evil and wreak havoc on the lives of those around them.
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The book goes on to look at different types of evil, the definition of evil, a fascinating discussion of the author's experiences with two exorcisms, and the nature of Satan. Finally Peck looks at group evil, such as experienced during the holocaust and in Vietnam.
Interspersed with each case are the author's more general thoughts on the nature of (as he sees it) the disease of evil, and how psychiatry could be extended to be a more complete science by covering areas previously considered the realm of religion.
Although People of the Lie is a fairly academic book, it's written in a readable manner and I found it mostly very approachable as a reader with no formal background in psychiatry.
The People of The Lie is without doubt an important attempt to understand and describe 'scientifically' a very common though as yet, not formally classified personality/character disorder. However, Peck's emphasis on the 'supernatural' dimension, particularly his observations on the value of exorcism is inappropriate. It obscures some extremely worthwhile evidence in support of his contention, that there is scope to define formally a 'new' disorder to help psychiatrists and psychologists manage both 'evil' people and their victims. I suspect this book is not universally popular among these professionals.
Nevertheless, its worth the effort. Whether you're a believer, agnostic or athiest, The People of the Lie offers much food for thought. So far as I know, people who are just plain bad are not well catered for by formal psychology theory; bad people really do exist, they're not simply damaged people who do bad things so perhaps Peck's book is a worthwhile attempt to expose such people for the benefit, principally of their victims.
I was a victim and as such the book has helped me greatly. As a pychologist, I would have preferred a less 'emotional' and more accessible approach to what is a seriously under-researched phenomenon.
I agree with the late Dr. Peck's definition of evil as the use of power to destroy the spiritual growth of another. This use of power is an aspect of narcissism, which is synonymous with megalomania.
Evil is clearly widespread in our world. Our political leaders evidently feel that it is acceptable to start wars and our psychiatrists routinely force thier patients to take drugs with unnaceptable side-effects. Peck's pioneering work will hopefully be followed by others who can give us a psychology of war and other manifestations of the desire for power over others.
For those of us who believe in God, evil is the greatest obstcle to seeing Him as all-powerful and good. Personally I am not satisfied with the free-will explanation of evil. It may be that God is not as powerful as some would like to believe, but my own observations suggest that evil comes directly from the Source.
However I do feel, with Peck, that evil can be healed and that war and violence have no place in the future of humanity. I agree that children should be taught about evil in schools. I also think that they should be taught about narcissism, which is basically a fear-based seeking of power over others.
If you think you have had a "sinister" experiance, particulary in a personal relationship this book may help. It goes some way to explain the unexplainable. If you find your life being "drained away" and dont understand why, nothing tangible, and the world is falling apart without "evidence", then this book may offer some clarification. It may be an addict?
Where a chapter or two might be amiss is in what to do, how to protect yourself. It is clear but general. Also, it is a concoction, and this book says little of what the recipiants part may be, perhaps the therapy room setting of some of the case studies takes a (luckier) stand-off position.
The book is apptly called "People of the Lie". It is the Lie that kills. Fear and lack of Love are the ingredients. Dont think you can fix it on your own.
This book was my experiance. I wish I had read it sooner. And would suggest you do too save complacancy gets in and you get caught out. It explains the unexplainable. Its no joke. A very good read.