Morgan Scott Peck died September 25, 2005 at the age of 69; he was an American psychiatrist and best-selling author, best known for his first book, The Road Less Traveled, published in 1978.
Born in New York City on March 22, 19636 the son of Elizabeth (née Saville) and David Warner Peck, an attorney and judge.
Peck was raised a Protestant (his paternal grandmother was from a Jewish family, but Peck’s father did not identify himself as a Jew).
At age 15, during the spring holiday of his third year, he came home and refused to return to the school, whereupon his parents sought psychiatric help for him and he was (much to his amusement in later life) diagnosed with depression and recommended for a month’s stay in a psychiatric hospital (unless he chose to return to school).
He graduated from Friends Seminary in 1954, after which he received a BA from Harvard in 1958, and an MD degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1963.
He also served in the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. His Army assignments included stints as chief of psychology at the Army Medical Center in Okinawa, Japan, and assistant chief of psychiatry and neurology in the office of the surgeon general in Washington, D.C.
He was the Medical Director of the New Milford Hospital Mental Health Clinic and a psychiatrist in private practice in New Milford, Connecticut.
His first and best-known book, The Road Less Traveled, sold more than ten million copies.
The Road Less Traveled, published in 1978, is Peck’s best-known work, and the one that made his reputation.
It is, in short, a description of the attributes that make for a fulfilled human being, based largely on his experiences as a psychiatrist and a person. The book consists of four parts.
In the first part Peck examines the notion of discipline, which he considers essential for emotional, spiritual, and psychological health, and which he describes as “the means of spiritual evolution”.
The elements of discipline that make for such health include the ability to delay gratification, accepting responsibility for oneself and one’s actions, a dedication to truth, and “balancing”.
“Balancing” refers to the problem of reconciling multiple, complex, possibly conflicting factors that impact on an important decision—on one’s own behalf or on behalf of another.
On March 9, 1980 at the age of 43, Dr. Peck was nondenominationally baptized by a Methodist minister in an Episcopalian convent (where he has frequently gone on retreat).
Dr. Peck’s second book, People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil, was published by Simon & Schuster in October of 1983.
It is recognized as a ground-breaking contribution to the field of psychology, and is currently a best seller in Japan.
With his background in medicine, psychiatry and theology he has also been in a unique position to writeDenial of the Soul: Spiritual and Medical Perspectives in Euthanasia and Mortality, this first “topical” book, published by Harmony Books (Crown) in April 1997.