M. Scott Peck, who died in 2005, was an internationally renowned psychiatrist, lecturer and author of 15 books on spirituality and self-improvement, including the multi-million copy bestseller The Road Less Travelled.
The author of several best sellers, including The Road Less Traveled (which at last count has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for 687 weeks), Peck here discusses a complex and timely matter‘euthanasia. Peck wants to address the "spiritual" aspects of the decision, which he feels have been ignored in this too-secular world. He's taken on a huge task: to define physical and emotional suffering, to come up with guidelines for considering physician-assisted suicide, and to foster further dialog by society as a whole on these issues. This is not a book of answers; Peck instead encourages discussion about "learning through dying," what a soul consists of, and choosing hospice care when it's clear the end is near. Peck is a wonderful writer, engaging, intelligent, and full of stories from his long psychiatric practice; as usual, he takes on big issues with seriousness, sensitivity, and balance. Highly recommended.‘Barbara O'Hara, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Defending traditional medical ethics in the face of what he sees as our contemporary morality of expediency, Peck (The Road Less Traveled and Beyond) forcefully argues against, with very few exceptions, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide on demand. Using his studies in medicine, psychiatry and theology to support his case, Peck sees euthanasia as a failure to fulfill our nature as human beings, which includes the experiences of suffering and loss. He perceives modern society as simplistically scoffing at notions of the sacred-in effect, denying the soul. Defining most disease as a sort of "biopsychospiritual" disorder, Peck analyzes the complexity of the situation confronting terminally ill patients, their families and their physicians. He criticizes medical professionals who fail to use every anti-pain medication available to relieve the suffering of patients, and he sees hospices as an underutilized, soul-satisfying alternative to the sterile and often lonely deaths too often experienced in our technological culture. Redemptive suffering offers deeper meaning, he believes, than do suicide and euthanasia. In this important book, in which he reveals much of his own psyche and experience, Peck camps firmly on biblical ground, enjoining us to keep sight of the sacred character of life. Readers may stand elsewhere, but few will deny the passion and conviction of his argument. (Mar.)