Toward A Psychology of Evil

For several days, I've been watching U.S. president Barack Obama address the United Nations and the media about the strikes and bombings against ISIS in Syria. He calls the ISIS "evil" in our midst breaking the world apart. What does a "non-religious" head of state mean using a morality-laden word called "evil?"

Dr. M. Scott Peck, a bestselling author and well-known Christian psychotherapist once wrote a book entitled "People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil." I'm intrigued by Dr. Peck's book because in it, he had been making seriously critical value judgments outside the mainstream of psychology and psychiatry - a colossal act of courage.

Virtually almost no doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist would dare label certain human beings as "evil." That's because, historically and clinically, mental health is considered "morally neutral." Dr. Peck was quick to remark that we handle the issue with great care.  It is not an easy or pleasant journey.

Dr. Peck writes, "We cannot begin to hope to heal human evil until we are able to look at it directly ... The battle to heal human evil always begins at home. And self-purification will always be our greatest weapon." What is he saying? It is about our dark side. Dr. Peck pinpoints that value judgments about evil or wrongness cannot be made safely unless we start by judging and healing ourselves.

As I reflect on this issue Dr. Peck has always raised in his books, I'm concerned that some readers may unnecessarily feel an excessive amount of "bias" on the part of Dr. Peck. So I request you to handle this also with care. I myself disagree with some of Dr. Peck's standpoints and not every thing written by him is the last word. But his unique exposition is worth looking into if we are to have a balanced perspective of the recovery and healing of the "total person."

I think a best way of looking at this so-called "toward a psychology of evil" that Dr. Peck espouses is that it needs further learning and discovering. I am learning. I am discovering. Indeed, in the healing of wounded human emotions, minds, and bodies, our current state of ignorance on the role of "evil" in our brokenness and our world is simply pervasive.