When M. Scott Peck wrote People of the Lie in 1983 he offered readers a fascinating glimpse into the human face of evil. His spiritual/psychological profile of people who were narcissistic as well as evil was especially disturbing because so many of us have faced relatives, co-workers, and even spouses with this destructive combination. However, one of his most chilling chapters in that book was titled "Of Possession and Exorcism," in which he explored an even more sinister form of evilthe possibility that the devil and smaller demonic spirits could entrench themselves into a humans soul. That chapter briefly described two clients who Peck believed were possessed by the devil. Ultimately he performed an exorcism with each client.
In Glimpses of the Devil, Peck returns to this dark and controversial chapter, expanding upon his beliefs in demonic possession. Like many science-educated professionals, Peck was a skeptic when it came to believing in the devil. But here he gives readers the complete story of his conversion as well as a full account of the two clinical cases that made him a believer as well as an exorcist. Because he videotaped the exorcisms, the dialog and scene work is stunningly authentic and convincing.
Some have criticized this discussion as disappointingly dry. One might argue that Pecks restraint when it comes to dramatics and sensationalism is this books strength. Pecks mission is not to entertain, but rather to request a more expansive discussion of evil, so that science entertains the possibility of the devil and demonic entities. He also hopes that we will begin a serious discussion of interventions against demonic possession that arent limited to the restraints of the Catholic Church.
Fans of Peck may also discover an unexpected gift within this controversial discussion. Peck is now an elder. Once a best-selling icon, he is aging into humbleness, comfortably admitting his mistakes and arrogance when it came to those early exorcisms. This softness and humility seem to elevate his authority, and we can only hope that he will offer more books from this voice in the years to come. --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
In his 1983 bestseller, People of the Lie, Peck devoted a chapter to exorcism. In this astonishing new book, the megaselling author of The Road Less Traveled reveals his work as an exorcist and attempts to establish a science of exorcism for future research. Peck knows that many readers will be skeptical of or flummoxed by his report, and thus he emphasizes that he himself scoffed at the idea of demonic possession before encountering Jersey Babcock; Peck became involved in her case mostly to "prove the devil's nonexistence as scientifically as possible." But a comment by Jersey at their first meeting "blew the thing wide open." Jersey, a Texas resident who believed she was possessed and who was neglecting her children as a result, said that her demons were "really rather weak and pathetic creatures"—a statement so at odds with, as Peck puts it, "standard psychopathology" that his mind began to change. Peck describes two cases in this book, that of Jersey and the more difficult case of Beccah Armitage, a middle-aged woman who grew up in an abusive family, married an abusive husband and was practicing self-mutilation when Peck took her case. Both cases result in full-blown exorcisms with Peck as the lead exorcist, and both, according to Peck, involved paranormal phenomena, including Beccah acquiring a snakelike appearance. Peck intersperses his calm but dramatic recitation of these cases with set-off commentary, and he concludes the book with a reasoned proposal for a science of exorcism ("An exorcism is a massive therapeutic intervention to liberate, teach, and support the victim to choose to reject the devil"). A report from what is to most of us a strange and distant land, Scott's book probably won't convince crowds, but it's powerful and concisely written enough to interest many, and maybe to give a few pause for thought. (Jan. 19)
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