M. Scott Peck, author of a great book THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED has passed way dying of Parkinson’s disease.
FAME has away of destroying those who give in to it. Bottom line on Peck, when he died his wife of 43 years had left him. Two out of his three children had nothing to do with him in the last few years. He admitted to some affairs, admitted to being a serious drinker, and he saw himself, despite all these flaws, as a STAGE 4 person – the highest stage of human development. He thought himself a prophet but his life gave the lie.
I’ve excerpted a few telling paragraphs.
READ the whole article
In the early Eighties, complaining that his patients were “slow” and “do not listen”, he wound down his private psychiatric practice and, on the back of the success of The Road and its sequels, took to the lecture circuit, charging by the end $15,000 a pop. The financial rewards compensated him for the enforced proximity with his readers, the more importunate of whom he condemned as “ghouls” and “leeches”. He has been as frank about his assessments of his family. He and his father, a wealthy New York lawyer in denial that he was half-Jewish, did not get on and Peck spent years in analysis sorting out his resentment of male authority figures (the old man died muttering that he still could not “get” The Road’s success). Peck, meanwhile, hated his elder brother David, whom he considered a sadist (before he died, David noted that, growing up, he had never seen Scotty’s “spiritual side”). He did like his mother, yet in Glimpses of the Devil he mentions her death with almost eerie dispassion, telling a priest who commiserated that she had been ill for years: “I was actually glad she had finally gotten her dying over with.”
I ask how he would rate himself as a father to his three children, two of whom, or so I gather, no longer speak to him. “There’s no question that I was less of a father than I should have been. On the other hand I’m not sure that I would have written books had I been the father I wished I’d been. I was not a bad father. I didn’t beat the children. I didn’t pay them no attention whatsoever, but I didn’t pay them the attention they deserved.”
Were the books worth the sacrifice? “You speak as if I had a choice.”
I am speaking, after all, to the adult version of the eight-year-old boy who fantasized about making speeches to “the nations of the world”, a man who regularly hears God speak to him. Prophets do not select their vocations.
As for what kind of husband he made, it is for Lily to say and she seems to have voted with her feet. His books insist that his concept of a wife’s role matured over time and that he learnt to respect Lily’s own need to grow. This did not, however, prevent a patronizing tone entering his discussions of her. In his 1995 spiritual autobiography In Search of Stones, he chides her for using science fiction and fantasy literature as a “resort”. “ One of mine,” he goes on, as if there were an equivalence, “was to resort to sexual infidelity.” He writes that he is not proud of these affairs but that he was “questing through sexual romance for at least a brief visit to (God’s) castle”. I suppose, I say, women threw themselves at him on lecture tours. “I had opportunities, but it was not so many as you might think,” he replies, noting that a chronicler of the New Age movement praised him for maintaining boundaries between himself and his audience. “I used to protect myself very stringently.”
His stringency, however, did not stop one woman coming forward to claim he had bedded her at a spiritual growth seminar and recording her verdict that he was “a drunk and a womaniser”.
Perhaps M. Scott Peck’s epitaph should be the following:
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
THE “ME” ROAD; FAR TOO WIDELY TRAVELED.