Some of my favorite quotes from M. Scott Peck’s masterpiece:
Mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs.
Why do we learn anything? The answer is simply that it is far better — both more fulfilling and constructive — to have some glimmer of understanding of what we are than to flounder around in total darkness. We can neither comprehend nor control it all, but as J.R.R Tolkien said: “It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years when we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.
In Buber’s words, the malignantly narcissistic insist upon “affirmation independent of all findings.”
The blindness of the narcissist to others can extend even beyond a lack of empathy; narcissists may not “see” others at all.
Erich Fromm was acutely sensitive to this fact when he broadened the definition of necrophilia to include the desire of certain people to control others — to make them controllable, to foster their dependency, to discourage their unpredictability and originality, to keep them in line. Distinguishing it from a “biophilic” person, one who appreciates and fosters the variety of life forms and the uniqueness of the individual, he demonstrated a “necrophilic character type,” whose aim it is to avoid the inconvenience of life by transforming others into obedient automations, robbing them of their humanity.
We have extensively examined the ways in which evil individuals will flee self-examination and guilt by blaming and attempting to destroy whatever or whoever highlights their deficiencies. It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.