Tag: M. Scott Peck

When I say that evil has to do with killing, I do not mean to restrict myself to corporeal murder. Evil is that which kills spirit. There are various essential attributes of life — particularly human life — such as sentience, mobility, awareness, growth, autonomy, will. It is possible to kill or attempt to kill one of these attributes without actually destroying the body. Thus we may “break” a horse or even a child without harming a hair on its head.

Erich Fromm was acutely sensitive to this fact when he broadened the definition of necrophilia to include the desire of certain people to control others-to make them controllable, to foster their dependency, to discourage their capacity to think for themselves, to diminish their unpredictability and originality, to keep them in line. Distinguishing it from a “biophilic” person, one who appreciates and fosters the variety of life forms and the uniqueness of the individual, he demonstrated a “necrophilic character type,” whose aim it is to avoid the inconvenience of life by transforming others into obedient automatons, robbing them of their humanity.

Evil then, for the moment, is the force, residing either inside or outside of human beings, that seeks to kill life or liveliness. And goodness is its opposite. Goodness is that which promotes life and liveliness.”
― (M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil).

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has been described as “the last station on the train to hell” (Payson, The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family, (2002)). Some would go further: It is hell. Anyone who has dealt with a relative or friend afflicted with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is aware of the damage done by these malignant people upon those around them. Very rarely do they have insight or any willingness to change.

The features of narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the most recent
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) include the following:

Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by:
Impairments in self functioning (a or b):

Identity: Excessive reference to others for self-definition and self-esteem regulation; exaggerated self-appraisal may be inflated or deflated, or vacillate between extremes; emotional regulation mirrors fluctuations in self-esteem.

Self-direction: Goal-setting is based on gaining approval from others; personal standards are unreasonably high in order to see oneself as exceptional, or too low based on a sense of entitlement; often unaware of own motivations.


Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):

Empathy: Impaired ability to recognize or identify with the

feelings and needs of others; excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self; over- or underestimate of own effect on others.

Intimacy: Relationships largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation; mutuality constrained by little genuine interest in others‟ experiences and predominance of a need for personal gain

Pathological personality traits in the following domain: 1. Antagonism, characterized by:

a. Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, either overt or covert;

self-centeredness; firmly holding to the belief that one is better than others; condescending toward others.

b. Attention seeking: Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of the attention of others; admiration seeking.

C. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual‟s personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations.

The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual‟s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment.

The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).

The central defect of narcissism is not putting oneself first, though this is a prominent feature of the disorder. The central defect is rather the wholesale embrace of a lie–the embrace and promotion of the “false self”, a distorted image which is protected ruthlessly. It should be noted, that the lie is first and foremost directed to oneself. The embrace of the lie is also at the root of the ill promulgated by narcissists.

A view from the inside can be found in this “letter from a narcissist’s true self” (available from an online forum at Psych Forums):

You can never get through to my true self because the lies I tell are nearly impenetrable. I have lied so often and for so long that I myself have come to believe my own lies. I am a walking lie. That is the truth.

Psychiatrist and famed author M. Scott Peck shocked many when he wrote, “I now know that Satan is real. I have met it.” He dealt with a subset of people with NPD in his book People of the Lie, in which he proposed that a certain subcategory of them be termed “evil”. He has related that one can define “evil” as “live” spelled backwards–“evil” is the opposite of “live”, or it is that which kills life.

Among the many tales in this book he recounted how a set of parents gave the grieving brother of a suicide victim a grisly present one Christmas–the very gun used in the suicide. They either didn’t care how this would affect him, or wanted to send him a message. For the most part in Peck’s encounters, evil people are of the banal sort, harming only those around them. They may appear normal, often even poised and highly successful. They go to church (and are often leaders there). But they can devastate the lives of those who are around them.

Whereas “God is love”, the malignant narcissist offers only a pretense of love. As Peck says:

Those who are evil are masters of disguise; they are not apt to wittingly disclose their true colors–either to others or to themselves. (p 104)
Because they are such experts at disguise, it is seldom possible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. The disguise is usually impenetrable. (p 76).
Naturally, since it is designed to hide its opposite, the pretense chosen by the evil is most commonly the pretense of love. (p 106)

Victims of narcissism aren’t the only ones to taste Hell. The pain comes around to the person with NPD as well. Narcissism is a double edged sword. The lie is first directed at oneself. It is rare to hear a narcissist complain, but I did run across this post, from a self aware person with NPD:

Here is a comment from the other side. I have narcissistic personality disorder and have lost just about everything important. My adult children have distanced themselves. My wife has filed for divorce. Yes, I have screwed up just about everything. Fortunately, only 1% of the population has NPD. I wish I didn’t.
(From “Lament of a Lonely Narcissist” in a Psychology Today blog by Randi Kruger).

Among the pictures of Hell that have been proffered, one that intrigues me comes from Tim Keller:
We know how selfishness and self-absorption leads to piercing bitterness, nauseating envy, paralyzing anxiety, paranoid thoughts, and the mental denials and distortions that accompany them. Now ask the question” “What if when we die we don’t end, but spiritually our life extends on into eternity?”
Hell, then, is the trajectory of a soul, living a self-absorbed, self-centered life, going on and on forever
. (Keller, Reason to Believe p.79)

May God free us from such a trajectory. Let us shun evil and embrace life. As Jesus taught: “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly”.

Who hasn’t felt a chill in their spine when alone in a creepy place, and who hasn’t felt momentarily terrified after watching a scary movie? For the vast majority of us, demons and exorcisms are ideas that seem primitive and ultimately unreal. Until, that is, one is unfortunate enough to be confronted by that “unreality” up close.

At one time I was fond of saying that demons may be little more than dark psychological forces that lurk inside of us. As to the reality of the demonic, I became converted–or “re-converted”, to be more accurate–because of knowing a couple of people who have had encounters with apparitions of evil. That’s a story for another time. (Disclaimer here, I still struggle with disbelief at times).

My wife recently came across an account of demon possession, that stirred some discussion while we were vacationing. The victim in question was a young lady named “Lacey” or “Roxane” (neither is likely her real name), who called a radio station that was operating out of a church. She claimed to be possessed and indeed her young terrified female voice would be interrupted by guttural snarls and demonic sounds. The DJ, Bill Scott, who didn’t much believe in demons at the time, nonetheless tried to help her, even inviting her to his home. He has written a book about his encounters, called The Day Satan Called. You can find summaries of the story in the following links:
The Christian Post and The Examiner.
The quoted passages below are from the second article.

Doors opened and closed, lights turned on and off, on and off. Their feet were pulled and poked while they were in bed at night, and on one occasion, Scott saw a black figure in the hallway.

He said to the figure, “In Jesus’ name, why do you feel you can be in my home?”

The entity’s eerie reply was, “I’m an invited guest into this home…”

They learned that the girl had been in a witch coven, and been involved in rituals that involved sex, consuming human flesh and blood, and invoking the names of demons. Her particular demon was Abbaddon, mentioned in Revelation 9:11 as guardian of the Abyss.

After two weeks of this demonic ordeal, Scott and his wife were finally able to find a safe house for women that could take Lacey in, providing her with a safe place to live and professional medical assistance. Now life would return to normal. Or, so they thought.

But the manifestations continued. On several occasions Scott and his wife had to leave the house in the middle of the night due to the overpowering sense of evil.

One night, during another demonic confrontation, Scott says he heard a voice say, “Have you looked under her bed?”

He didn’t know if it was the voice of Satan or of God but he did as suggested and looked under the bed Lacey had been using while in their home. There he found several occult items, including a black ceremonial robe. He immediately burned everything he found.

…But that’s not the end of the story. By this time, the shelter where Lacey was staying was also experiencing demonic activity. “Things” were looking in the windows and they weren’t human beings. “Things” were jumping on the women while they were in bed at night.

The girl drifted out of the life of Mr. Scott. The story goes on to describe a series of coincidences, or else a trail of destruction, left in her wake: Church splits, divorces, and ruined lives.

Now, I don’t know Mr. Scott, and therefore I have no more insight into this story than would any other reader. As to corroboration from others, here is a blogger who provides some support: http://themommaven.com/2011/12/the-day-satan-called-by-bill-scott/.
She says, “I know the author. Bill and I worked together in Christian Radio in the early 90s. I had heard bits of this story back then and I am glad that he has finally put down his experiences for the world to read and learn from.”

A person named Dave Stewart also offered the following in an Amazon review of the book: “As someone who was working with Bill at the time this incident occurred, I wanted to take a moment and let folks know that what was written was accurately portrayed. (An earlier reviewer asked why no other person had come forward to verify the story, and I wanted to answer that inquiry). It brought back a lot of memories that scared me witless when they were happening, because this was the stuff of movies and the product of Steven King’s mind to be honest with you. I also experienced what Bill did; with my own 2 ears hearing that voice on all phone lines ringing at once. It was a great reminder about who we really are dealing with in this world. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood….” are not cute lines in a book. Satan is alive and well, and if you stop and take a good look around, is quite active in many aspects of everyday life now. I got my copy and read it through in a single sitting; a few friends I have recommended it to have not been able to get past a few chapters. As you are reading the book I encourage your takeaway to be praying against the power of evil, and doing so in Jesus’ name. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” is the real deal. The great thing about this story is that the final chapter hasn’t been written yet. The girl Bill writes about is still alive and living her life, and Bill is still trusting God. Get your copy today, and also check out Bill’s blog at BillScottgroup.com. All eyes on Jesus. Everything else, you get your butt kicked.”

The veracity of this story aside, it does sound like other possession accounts:

-The person feels, and seems to others, to be under the control of a malignant entity
-The entity seems to have a personality and mind, and is not merely a mood or bad feeling.
-The “demon” seems to know things about people in its vicinity that shouldn’t possibly be known.
-there are eerie manifestations, such as disembodied voices or sounds, or telekinetic activity, that are difficult to explain in naturalistic terms. (This is, in fact, a requirement for some groups, such the Roman Catholic Church, to validate a case of possession, prior to authorizing an exorcism).
-The entity typically gains a foothold based on some sort of susceptibility or invitation, such as dabbling in the occult.
-The possessed shows a strong aversion to the name of Jesus, and the entity can be (at least temporarily) overpowered and commanded by invoking Jesus’ name.
-The process of freeing the person from the entity can be long and arduous, and destructive to the person performing the prayers of deliverance.
-The attempt at deliverance / exorcism may not succeed.

As to this lack of success, one might raise questions. Why should not the evil entity vanish immediately upon command? Is Jesus less powerful than we believe? The Bible speaks to this, when it describes our role against this kind evil in terms of “struggling” or “wrestling.” New Testament indicates that Jesus’ own disciples had troubles at times:

And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9:26-29, English Standard Version)

Another author (none other than the famous M. Scott Peck, who pursued a “road less travelled” in his book, Glimpses of the Devil) has suggested that the longer a person has been possessed, the harder it is to bring about release from the demon. He speculates that social isolation plays a role also. The possessed must repudiate the demon, and the longer the demon has been his or her “only friend”, the less likely this is to happen.

Fortunately, possession of this severe and dramatic kind seems quite rare, and that is probably a gift to the world of our Heavenly Father, a part of that “common grace” that is extended to all. It could also mean that there aren’t all that many evil spiritual entities available to go around.

I’ll conclude with a disclaimer. I am not an exorcist, nor do I play one on TV. I also do not seek to become any part of a story like this one. If it is forced on you somehow, I would recommend extreme caution approaching such a situation. Don’t face such a darkness alone. Best to get help, and don’t get in over your head. Otherwise, as I stated in the title, when Satan calls, it’s best to hang up.