I read this book, copyright 2005, by M. Scott Peck, M.D. I respect the work of Dr. Peck because I have treasured his book People of the Lie for understanding my life experience with a sociopath. Prior to Dr. Peck experiencing demonic possession in two psychiatric patients, he did not believe in demonic possession. After experiencing exorcisms, he has direct experience and believes in demonic possession. He documents his direct experience with two exorcisms, with his team, and states he attempted to tell these stories with the “greatest possible scientific thoroughness”.
Book review as follows: “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.”
My Emphasis With Reading This Book
DEDICATION TO TRUTH AND TO REALITY IS VITAL
It is important for us to seek truth rather than believe a lie when we know it is a lie. On page 82, Dr. Peck shares his therapeutic dialogue with Jersey who was sexually molested by her father at a young age. Dr. Peck states: “No, it would have been very difficult indeed-and very painful-to exercise that precious little bit of choice you had. That’s why you chose to believe your father’s lie. It was so much easier and seemed so much less painful than holding on to the truth. I’m making such a big deal of this, Jersey, because I suspect that was the moment when your possession first began. The moment when you chose to believe a lie even though you knew it was a lie. I cannot blame you for making that choice. Nobody could. No court of law would ever blame you. Your father was the criminal and you were the victim. So I do not blame you. God doesn’t blame you. Dr. Peck repeatedly told Jersey that God is truth, and truth is what is real. The choice to believe her father’s lie because it was the less painful alternative was a choice to believe unreality. And unreality belonged to the devil. “Unreality is darkness, confusion. Truth is light”. (pgs. 82-83)
Dr. Peck states that “Possessed people are not evil.” Those who are in a state of conflict between their true soul and their afflictions wage a war against evil. They believe themselves to be sick. In contrast, people who are “perfectly possessed” are not in a state of internal conflict and hence appear to be superficially well put together. Dr. Peck states that the “truly evil are notably self-satisfied, and hence the last people who would seek any kind of treatment for themselves” (pages 96-97).
Dr. Peck’s Conclusions
Dr. Peck integrates science and religion. He notes the great many paranormal signs in the exorcisms he was involved in. These included:
- the client’s description of her demons as “weak, pathetic creatures”
- a pretense of severe schizophrenic psychosis
- an overpowering effect of anger and the client enjoying the experience
- an extremely dramatic appearance of a satanic facial expression during the presence of demons and Satan
- inability of the videotape to pick up this expression
- the appearance on the videotape of a brief sudden and different but equally inexplicable change in facial expression
- the emergence of four separate demonic personalities and their timing, which is highly unlikely to would seem impossible to have been created by the patient
- dramatic three-week remission following the expulsion through deliverance
- negative response to holy water and apparent agony when the Book of Common Prayer was placed on the patient
- snakelike appearance for a period of over two days unapparent on videotape but apparent to everyone present
- superhuman strength requiring not only ordinarily effective restraints, but the personal restraint of a team of up to nine during a time when the patient was severely underweight, malnourished, and sleep deprived
Dr. M. Scott Peck, after witnessing these exorcisms, believes he found answers to four major questions. I quote his answers as follows:
- Yes, the devil or a demonic world does exist.
- The phenomenon of demonic possessions of human individuals also does exist, and offers prima facie evidence for number 1.
- That a process of exorcism can, in certain seriously possessed patients, be either curative or strikingly beneficial to an extent beyond that which the remedies of traditional psychiatry can achieve.
- The study of possession is inextricably interwoven with the study of exorcism since it is only during the process of exorcism that the demonic possession is fully revealed. (page 247)
Dr. Peck adds that these answers lead to a far larger number of questions, delineates a few more questions to give trustworthy answers, and states:
- Possession is not an accident. In becoming possessed the victim must, at least in some way, cooperate with or sell out to the devil. Such cooperation can range all the way from consciously and deliberately making an actual pact with the devil to something so seemingly innocent as a twelve-year-old incest victim choosing to believe her stepfather’s lie in preference to facing a reality almost too painful to bear.
- Such initial sellouts are probably more often than not made under great duress.
- Thereafter possession is a deepening process over time unless the victim renges on the pact.
- The victim of possession can choose to renge on the pact at any time, but the longer the possession the more difficult the option becomes without an exorcism.
- An exorcism is a massive therapeutic intervention to liberate, teach and support the victim to choose to reject the devil.
- Often the victim’s age at the time of the initial possession can be accurately guessed before the exorcism, but commonly the victim will not offer the explanation or the why of the possession until after the exorcism has liberated him or her to do so.
- The more recent the time of onset of the possession, the more the exorcism is likely to be successful.
- Exorcism of genuinely possessed people should be expected to be combative, meaning that at least some physical restraint will be required.
- The use of a least on deliverance either for healing, diagnosis, or both should be a stand part of the mangement of a case prior to exorcism.
- Deliverance should be conducted by a team of at least three, exorcisms by a team of six or more. All exorcisms should be videotaped for the legal protection of the team and hopefully for eventual educational purposes. Elaborate written consent forms should be utilized just as they would be for any major surgical procedure.
- It is highly questionable whether an exorcism should be attempted in a case where the patient has no adequate support systm o personal friends or relatives.
- Possession is the most severe but not the only kind of demonic affliction. (pages 247-249).
We Are Not Victims
I would not want to be a sociopath. I would never want the life of a sociopath. They do extraordinary harm to other people and enjoy what they are doing. But they are a twisted mess of depravity on the inside.
Those who recover after surviving sociopaths are powerful spiritual beings: