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  • Writer's pictureStacy Taylor, LCSW

People of the Lie

Updated: Jun 30

Psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck,  wrote a popular book years ago called, People of the Lie. It’s an eye-opening book about a disturbing topic:  evil people.

Peck isn’t writing about the evildoers we all know about:  the murderers, rapists, pedophiles. The evil he describes is more subtle and, therefore, potentially more dangerous.   

These are seemingly nice, average citizens, who cloak themselves in the appearance of goodness and normalcy. And yet they have what Peck calls, an “evil personality disorder.”    

A disturbing example from Peck’s private practice:   the story of a teenager who took his own life by shooting himself to death.  And guess what the parents gave to the surviving son for his birthday?  The gun used by his brother for suicide.

If you've lived around here for a long time, you may remember what happened at one of the local high schools decades ago. When the new principal arrived, suddenly there were fires all over campus. Many buildings burnt to the ground. Classes were conducted in off-campus trailers.

After the principal left, it was found out that this happened wherever she worked. When she was hired by a school, suddenly the campus was aflame. When she left, the fires stopped.

If these aren't examples of evil, I don't know what is.

I hasten to add that truly evil people are not the norm in the world.  There are many more decent folks.  


However, the malignant narcissists, the pathological liars and psychopaths, are out there.  It would be foolish and dangerous, I think, to ignore this fact.

How can you spot a malignant narcissist? How can you protect yourself and your family?

If you are creeped out by someone, if you feel confused around a person and gaslit, these may be warning signs.  If someone seems dark and indulges in weird and dark behaviors, those are also red flags. If the person lies, take that seriously.

The real problem is that we can ignore the warning signs; we just don't want to see what we see. It could feel overwhelming and scary to imagine that our new boyfriend, landlord, or coworker could harm us in some way.

Also, we can be talked out of our gut feelings by friends and family. They may scold us that we are being judgmental, mean, or overreactive.

Never ignore your intuition about someone, no matter how "nice" or "normal" the person seems. The worst that could happen is that you are wrong about someone. But inviting some psychopathic person into your life may be much worse.

And make sure to teach your children, as well, to notice and honor their intuition.  Too often, kids get talked out of their feelings that uncle is creepy or the new teacher is weird.

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