M. Scott Peck ( May 22, 1936 - September 25, 2005)
Pop psychologist M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, died on September 25, 2005 at the age of 69. According to his obituary the Times Online (UK), Peck made the self-help manual a mainstream bestseller with his book, which sold 10 million copies, a record for a non-fiction title. The paperback edition stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for eight years. Peck's manual for living emphasized self-discipline and the need to delay gratification, but by his own account, Peck had "a weakness for cheap gin, marijuana and women."
After graduating from medical school, Scott Peck joined the Army to get medical training, and stayed there for nine years. He became a vocal opponent of America's involvement in Vietnam, but remained in the army as a psychiatrist and reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Enraged by the My Lai massacre of March 1968, he tried unsuccessfully to secure support for an investigation into earlier military atrocities. The Jewish-born Peck flirted with Buddhism before settling on Christianity as his preferred path.
Peck stated that "most of us are mentally ill to a greater or lesser degree." Interviewed in May 2005, he told the Times Online: "A fellow who was thinking of doing my biography once asked me: 'God, have you ever denied yourself anything?' And I said: 'Well, I've never smoked or drunk as much as I would like to'."