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Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption 0th Edition

117 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0743254670
ISBN-10: 0743254678
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Editorial Reviews Review

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 evil—the possibility that the devil and smaller demonic spirits could entrench themselves into a human’s 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 Peck’s restraint when it comes to dramatics and sensationalism is this book’s strength. Peck’s 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 aren’t 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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743254678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743254670
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Chris Milliken on April 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
It took great courage to write this book. I don't say this superficially, but only after a patient, thorough reading. There are those who will deny this book as rubbish because of their own preconceptions. I don't blame them. You cannot expect everyone to accept this sort of reality that is so purposely and aggressively hidden. Dr. Peck seems to have a clear understanding of this and does not try to convert the reader into a believer of demons and possession. He simply, and very clinically, shares his experience rather than just hides it away. He only asks people to be open minded. I appreciate his efforts and there is nothing in these pages to make me thing he is making any of it up. In comparing my own experience with Dr. Peck's, much of what he described in these pages has the ring of truth (to me) although not without some things I dismiss as unintentional red herrings. Dr. Peck is only telling it as he saw it. However, I cannot recommend this book as a manual of exorcism or endorse it as containing the right approach to dealing with this sort of demonic oppression in a person. Dr. Peck admits incomplete success in his efforts with the team of people who assisted him in the experiences he describes. The initial successes were not followed up adequately according to my understanding and experience with this sort of thing. Dr. Peck and his team(s) showed that they were indeed able to dislodge the 'tumor' but restored to psychiatry and psychology to loosely apply the 'wound dressing' to the soul. As the accounts unfold, I am not at all surprised by the eventual outcomes, but I feel the accounts are nonetheless valuable.

I give this book five stars because of the raw and courageous honesty of the author, his skillful and engaging writing style, and his thoroughness.
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89 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Angelo on January 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read M.Scott Peck's "Glimpses of the Devil" over a 24 hour period, something I don't do with books that aren't "interesting." I could hardly put it down. Anyone who read "People of the Lie" will remember one of the final, gripping chapters on possession and demonology, in which Peck makes brief mention of his attendance at two exorcisms. This book is the long-awaited (in my case, at least) in-depth description of those two exorcisms. We meet the victims, learn about their lives up to and following Peck's work with them, and - as far as this skeptical "wanna-believer" is concerned - quite possibly meet Satan. When a doctor as committed to the scientific method as Peck - who initially interviewed the first victim with the intention of proving to himself that there was no Devil - states unequivocally that he felt the presence of something inhuman in the room where he and his team were treating the victim, I find myself inclined to believe him.

The prior reviewer criticizes Peck "for failing to make his cases interesting by weaving personal histories of the victims" with an analysis of why an evil spirit would be interested in them in the first place. I frankly don't know what this reviewer is talking about; Peck spends a great deal of time speculating (which is all one can really do when it comes to a matter such as possession) as to how his two patients became possessed, why they were chosen, why, in fact, some people become possessed and others don't. As far as his being smug and arrogant for taking on the role of exorcist after only a few years as a Christian, the previous reviewer fails to mention that Peck ASKED Malachi Martin to do the exorcism, but Malachi refused; and he then searched for as long as he could to find an experienced exorcist.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Centore Ph.D. on July 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In his final tome, Scott Peck returns to the dark and controversial topic of satanic possession.

The book is a case report of two women who underwent exorcisms in the 1980s. Jersey Babcock, a Connecticut mother in her late 20's, and Rebeccah Armitage, a 45-year-old multimillionaire from The Big Apple. One exorcism was successful, one was not.

Though some critique the book as theatrical, I don't find the accounts overly dramatic. Portraits do not fly off living room walls, there is no apparition of demons in physical form, no full moon that drips blood or half moon, crescent moon or even new moon mentioned (and I know this without even using, because I read the whole book).

Further, Peck contends that the Roman Catholic Church's traditional symptom checklist for demonic possession is overzealous, permitting an exorcism only with present paranormal symptomology such as levitation, psychokinesis (to move objects with one's mind), a psychic knowledge of the future, or fluent speech and comprehension of foreign languages to which the patient has never been exposed. Peck contends, "these criteria are so unrealistically strict that they would deny an exorcism to the majority of victims genuinely possessed by the demonic."

Though not incontrovertible, there was evidence of satanic possession in Peck's cases. For instance, the women believed themselves to be possessed, they heard voices, and (most notably) a battery of psychiatric interviews and psychological tests found them to not be suffering any type of schizophrenic or psychotic disorder. Therefore, in contrast to R-Catholic policy, Peck bases diagnosis through a medical paradigm stating "physicians are taught that the best way to make diagnosis is usually through a process of exclusion.
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