Back to M Scott Peck's book - Denial of The Soul, I'm currently into the early chapters of part 2.
M S Peck had a story about a man who had literally become a skeleton of himself due to terminal lung cancer, for some reason he was still alive and should have been dead. He could not eat, even when he tried to force himself. His body had wasted away, he was in anguish in more ways than one.His wife was probably the reason he would not give up. His wife was holding on to him through her strong influence and motivation about not giving up the fight, 'can beat this', it was her 'fighting spirit in conjunction with' her husbands that was keeping him alive.'
The fact was, this man's spirit was obviously stronger than his body, and his body was dying.
The advice that Dr Peck had for the wife was to consider giving her husband the permission to let go. The advice to her husband was for him to consider 'giving up'.
[Please bear in mind the subject of the book is Euthanasia].
Most of us are brought up to believe that it is always wrong to give up and that was what the husband thought too. Dr Peck did not tell him it was the right thing to do but he also did say it was 'not necessarily bad to quit' and left him to think on it.
Both husband and wife prayed for more than day together and then decided to go home together. Two days later the husband passed away peacefully. The wife thanked Dr Peck for his advice.
Dr Peck was not just a physician and psychiatrist but also a theologian. And that is what makes his contribution on this subject, rather more complex. He argues that while secularists don't acknowledge the 'soul' per se, they should not ignore that there is a deeper essence to us beyond the body and mind. When Dr Peck talks about soul it is not so much in the religious sense as that of the inner being, something 'larger than the self'.
In Peck's mind, the husband had not given up but 'chosen to cooperate -to give in to God'. Time for the soul to return. This is the beginning of part 2, questions explored are, are we denying the soul, do we shorten our lives by our 'little' addictions and excesses that harm our body, are we fighting the natural order (for human or soul), should life be unnaturally and painfully prolonged or as Dr Peck interprets, are we cooperating with God re: the longevity of life.
" We know a great deal more about the causes of physical disease than we do about the causes of physical health. "
I'll be back with more of Peck's experiences and lessons. I don't expect there to be a conclusion or decision at the end of this book. Dr Peck wanted us to be more discerning when it came to the question of living and dying well.