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Denial of the Soul: Spiritual and Medical Perspectives on Euthanasia and Mortality Paperback – March 24, 1998


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Denial of the Soul: Spiritual and Medical Perspectives on Euthanasia and Mortality + The Road Less Traveled and Beyond: Spiritual Growth in an Age of Anxiety + Further Along the Road Less Traveled: The Unending Journey Towards Spiritual Growth
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (March 24, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609801341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609801345
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The author of several best sellers, including The Road Less Traveled (which at last count has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for 687 weeks), Peck here discusses a complex and timely matter?euthanasia. Peck wants to address the "spiritual" aspects of the decision, which he feels have been ignored in this too-secular world. He's taken on a huge task: to define physical and emotional suffering, to come up with guidelines for considering physician-assisted suicide, and to foster further dialog by society as a whole on these issues. This is not a book of answers; Peck instead encourages discussion about "learning through dying," what a soul consists of, and choosing hospice care when it's clear the end is near. Peck is a wonderful writer, engaging, intelligent, and full of stories from his long psychiatric practice; as usual, he takes on big issues with seriousness, sensitivity, and balance. Highly recommended.?Barbara O'Hara, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Peck, very productive of late, may never have written a timelier, more cogent, more fluently readable book than this one. He believes that no current ethical-legal issue is more important than euthanasia and that there is not enough discussion of and even contention over it. He presents and considers the medical, spiritual, and social issues of euthanasia. Medicine, though it has finally conceded that "pulling the plug" on the terminally ill is a moral accession to the naturalness of dying, has yet to grant the necessity of fully relieving physical pain--that is, even to the point of eventually lethal doses of painkiller--and has barely begun to acknowledge hellish emotional pain as a condition from which suicide may be a wholly natural release. Spiritually, Peck insists that suicide done out of the individualistic desire to control one's life and to deny one's God-given soul must be discouraged, for life is a learning experience that ought to be fully realized, even through suffering. Yet Peck cites circumstances in which assisted suicide seems morally justified (one great strength of the book is the cases from which Peck educes the complexities he discusses--all of them real, drawn from his and other physicians' practices). He concludes, however, that at present society isn't spiritually strong enough to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which is perhaps the greatest reason that euthanasia must become the subject of a great and completely open debate, one that he has masterfully and engagingly begun. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

M. Scott Peck's publishing history reflects his own evolution as a serious and widely acclaimed writer, thinker, psychiatrist, and spiritual guide. Since his groundbreaking bestseller, The Road Less Traveled, was first published in 1978, his insatiable intellectual curiosity has taken him in various new directions with virtually each new book: the subject of healing human evil in People of the Lie (1982), where he first briefly discussed exorcism and possession; the creative experience of 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); as well as a novel, a children's book, and other works. A graduate of both Harvard University and Case Western Reserve, Dr. Peck served in the Army Medical Corps before maintaining a private practice in psychiatry. For the last twenty years, he has devoted much of his time and financial resources to the work of the Foundation for Community Encouragement, a nonprofit organization that he helped found in 1984. Dr. Peck lives in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

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This book can increase your compassion and patience.
Bethany McKinney
His book is important for those who will face death, either themselves or in others.
Adrian Kok
The book is far more than that, it is about life and the choices all of us make.
Ron Vincent

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bethany McKinney on May 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
Do you fear death or the dying process? This book will address that. Are you young and in relatively good health, and have a hard time feeling compassion on people who are older and/or less agile? This book can increase your compassion and patience. Are you entering the last few years of your life and want to "finish well"? This book can help you do that. This book is for everyone; because everyone will deal with death and dying in their life. Denial of the Soul demonstrates Peck's medical knowlege combined with his understanding of people and how we deal with and fear physical pain, and this book forces its reader to think about their own mortality, grapple with it, and hopefully come to accept it. Peck shows that death isn't something to live in fear of, but that the dying process is a beautiful way to learn how to depend on other people and on God--and that the dying process doesn't have to be wrought with physical pain. It's really worth it for everyone to read this book at some point, and I would agree with the other reviewers that it should be sooner rather than later.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Danelek on September 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
There's a reason Dr. Peck is one of my favorite authors, and this book once more demonstrates why. Denial of the Soul is a brave and important book that carefully and objectively explores the entire issue of euthanasia from both a medical and spiritual standpoint. Frequently touching and always well reasoned, once again he has produced a masterpiece that should give the thoughtful reason plenty to digest as he or she struggles to decide for themselves how they feel about the idea of terminating a human life-especially their own. This is much more than simply a book about the pros and cons of "pulling the plug" on the terminally ill, but explores a whole range of questions regarding hospice care, suicide and mercy killing, doctor assisted euthanasia, pain management, and quality of life issues (his chapter on pain management alone should be required reading for every first year medical student and nurse trainee.) His spiritual perspective on the issue-which he covers in some depth in the second half of the book-is more subjective and problematic, but he does manage to successfully bring God into the debate, for which I consider him among the bravest of medical professionals. His no-nonsense approach and personal antidotes make this one of those books you'll be thinking about long after you've read the last words.
As is true of all of Peck's books, however, I found myself enthusiastically agreeing with 95% of everything he wrote and vehemently disagreeing with the remaining 5%. He approaches the spiritual aspect of the debate from a purely liberal Christian perspective (and the political elements of it from a similar perspective) and so makes some statements that I couldn't help but challenge.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Kok on April 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book addresses the question of euthanasia in America. It presents the spiritual issues surrounding death and life - issues which the Peck feels are not fully considered when considering euthanasia.
He distinguishes between pain and suffering - how pain can and should be alleviated, and why it should not be the cause of seeking a quick death.
His book is important for those who will face death, either themselves or in others. It is a brave attempt to clear the conflict regarding euthanasia.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
Denial of the Soul is a must read for every person and it is one of those books you must read before you need the information. The first third of the book is devoted to taking a cut at the medical profession for not providing 'proper pain contol' of terminal patients. The last two thirds deals with the subtitle in an interesting way that will keep me thinking about it the rest of my life. He starts with a definition of the soul which is complex (typical of Peck) and requires considerable discussion to make it "real". He goes on to explore the subject but, for me, the most interesting part of the book is his "side trips" into death and dying and life! I found the wisdom great for a man that is trying his best to face his own death in the not too distant future. (Peck is about 63 or so) Included are some "gray rules" for deciding if the plug should or should not be pulled that are very useful. Every person that is alive will face the issues in this book for yourself or your loved ones. It is a must to help you decide many answers and there will be some you can not answer till you have to. Peck says that some of the greatest learning for you and for loved ones can take place in the process of dying. I know this to be true from what I experienced with my own father's death. Scotty has done a great service to mankind, again, with this book. Jerry Hampton
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ron Vincent on July 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Denial of the Soul is one of those books of rare insight about the human condition. The author shares the distillation of experience, concern about death, the nature of euthanasia, and life itself. Peck's book is not a diatribe against euthanasia but a subtle examination of how human nature shapes our deaths and how our choices about death ultimately strip bear our grip on life. The book is also a straw in the wind of the cultural war that flares all too often in the U.S. Peck characterizes himself as a Christian but does not then procede to pick up the cudgels of fundamentalism to batter the secular barbarians who may disagree with him. Peck's Christianity is tempered with more than a little humility and a keen awareness that he might be wrong from time to time. Peck does use this volume to speak against the notion that the whole of a human is immeasurably greater than the sum of the biochemical parts. He passionately argues that just as quantum mechanics limits what we can measure and describe with certainty, the nature of the human soul masks depths and purposes that also remain hidden. The decision to prematurely end a life, to short-cut a soul strikes Peck as a risky endeavour. Denial of the Soul is more than a discourse on euthanasia and sadly may be ignored because it is neither a strident attack on secular valuses nor a staunch defense of conservative Christianity. The book is far more than that, it is about life and the choices all of us make.
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