M. Scott Peck

From Academic Kids

M. (Morgan) Scott Peck, M.D. (born May 22, 1936) is an American psychiatrist and author.

He was born in New York City. He received a B.A. from Harvard in 1958 and an M.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1963. He married Lily Ho in 1959. Dr. Peck has served in administrative posts in the government during his career as a psychiatrist. He has been the Medical Director of the New Milford Hospital Mental Health Clinic and a psychiatrist in private practice in New Milford, Connecticut. His first and best-known book, The Road Less Traveled, has sold more than seven million copies.

Dr. Peck's works combine his experiences from his private psychiatric practice with a distinctly religious point of view. In one of his books, People of the Lie, he wrote, "After many years of vague identification with Buddhist and Islamic mysticism, I ultimately made a firm Christian commitment - signified by my non-denominational baptism on the ninth of March 1980..." One of his religious insights is that people who are evil attack others rather than facing their own failures. His religious views are criticized by some fundamentalist Christians (for example, Debbie Dewart).

In 1984, Dr. Peck co-founded the Foundation for Community Encouragement, a tax-exempt, nonprofit, public educational foundation, whose stated mission is "to teach the principles of community to individuals and organizations."

The Road Less Traveled

The Road Less Traveled is Peck's best known work, and the one that made his reputation. It is, in short, a description of the attributes that make for a happy and fulfilled human being, based largely on his insights as a psychologist and a person.

In the first section of the work Peck talks about Discipline, which he considers essential for emotional, spiritual and psychological health, and which he describes as 'the means of spiritual evolution'. The elements of discipline that make for such health include the ability to delay gratification, accepting responsibility for oneself and ones actions, a dedication to reality and an openness to challenge.

In the second section, Peck considers the nature of love, which he considers the driving force behind spiritual growth. The section mainly attacks a number of misconceptions about love: that is is about dependency, that true love is 'falling in love', that love is a feeling. Instead love is about cathexis, the extending of one's ego boundaries to include another, and about the spiritual nurturing of another.

The final section describes Graces — phenomena which Peck says:

  • nurture human life and spiritual growth
  • are incompletely understood by scientific thinking
  • are commonplace among humanity
  • originate outside conscious human will

He concludes that "the miracles described indicate that our growth as human beings is being assisted by a force other than our conscious will".

Works

  • The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (Simon & Schuster, 1978)
  • People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil (Simon & Schuster, 1983)
  • What Return Can I Make? Dimensions of the Christian Experience(Simon & Schuster, 1985) (republished by Harpers in 1995 under the new title, Gifts For the Journey: Treasures of the Christian Life)
  • The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (Simon & Schuster, 1987)
  • A Bed By the Window: A Novel of Mystery and Redemption (Bantam, 1990)
  • The Friendly Snowflake: A Fable of Faith, Love and Family (Turner Publishing, Inc., 1992)
  • A World Waiting To Be Born: Civility Rediscovered (Bantam, 1993)
  • Meditations From the Road (Simon & Schuster, 1993)
  • Further Along the Road Less Traveled (Simon & Schuster, 1993)
  • In Search of Stones: A Pilgrimage of Faith, Reason and Discovery (Hyperion 1995)
  • In Heaven As On Earth: A Vision of the Afterlife (Hyperion, 1996)
  • The Road Less Traveled and Beyond: Spiritual Growth in an Age of Anxiety (Simon & Schuster, 1997)
  • Denial of the Soul: Spiritual and Medical Perspectives in Euthanasia and Mortality (Harmony Books (Crown), 1997)
  • Golf and the Spirit: Lessons for the Journey (Harmony Books, 1999)
  • Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption (Free Press - January 19, 2005)

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