DENIAL OF THE SOUL by M. Scott Peck

DENIAL OF THE SOUL

Spiritual and Medical Perspectives on Euthanasia
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The bestselling author of The Road Less Traveled offers a nuanced and thought-provoking contribution to a debate that, he believes, is going to make us face important questions about our direction as a society. Although assisted-suicide practitioner Dr. Jack Kevorkian gives Peck the shivers, our author credits him for having almost single-handedly made euthanasia a national issue in the US. Peck has not written about euthanasia before, and he does so now, he says, because of his alarm at the lack of passion, the ``vast, tacit approval of euthanasia,'' that has followed Kevorkian's activities. Peck's own position is a mixture of pragmatism and principle. He is not totally against assisted suicide in cases of severe and prolonged physical pain, but he believes that hospice, with its concept of palliative medical care and liberal use of morphine pumps, should make this option unnecessary. Of more practical concern for Peck is the use of euthanasia as a way of avoiding existential suffering in the face of death. Drawing on actual case histories of assisted suicide, he notes a tendency for the patient to want to remain in control. Peck argues that evading the process of gradual detachment at the approach of death is to succumb to the kind of fear that lies at the root of all neurosis. More radically, it is a denial of the soul and, as such, an expression of a deeply secular worldview. While Peck values secularism as an advance over religious bigotry, he suggests that it is a stage of limited personal growth. Peck is very careful to define his terms. As in all his books, he draws on his years of work as a therapist and on his personal struggles. Peck's open-ended and compassionate approach will speak to all shades of opinion. (For another look at euthanasia, see Bert Keizer, Dancing with Mister D, p. TK.)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-517-70865-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997




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