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The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth Paperback – January 2, 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 822 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

By melding love, science, and religion into a primer on personal growth, M. Scott Peck launched his highly successful writing and lecturing career with this book. Even to this day, Peck remains at the forefront of spiritual psychology as a result of The Road Less Traveled. In the era of I'm OK, You're OK, Peck was courageous enough to suggest that "life is difficult" and personal growth is a "complex, arduous and lifelong task." His willingness to expose his own life stories as well as to share the intimate stories of his anonymous therapy clients creates a compelling and heartfelt narrative.

From Publishers Weekly

Psychotherapy is all things to all people in this mega-selling pop-psychology watershed, which features a new introduction by the author in this 25th anniversary edition. His agenda in this tome, which was first published in 1978 but didn't become a bestseller until 1983, is to reconcile the psychoanalytic tradition with the conflicting cultural currents roiling the 70s. In the spirit of Me-Decade individualism and libertinism, he celebrates self-actualization as life's highest purpose and flirts with the notions of open marriage and therapeutic sex between patient and analyst. But because he is attuned to the nascent conservative backlash against the therapeutic worldview, Peck also cites Gospel passages, recruits psychotherapy to the cause of traditional religion (he even convinces a patient to sign up for divinity school) and insists that problems must be overcome through suffering, discipline and hard work (with a therapist.) Often departing from the cerebral and rationalistic bent of Freudian discourse for a mystical, Jungian tone more compatible with New Age spirituality, Peck writes of psychotherapy as an exercise in "love" and "spiritual growth," asserts that "our unconscious is God" and affirms his belief in miracles, reincarnation and telepathy. Peck's synthesis of such clashing elements (he even throws in a little thermodynamics) is held together by a warm and lucid discussion of psychiatric principles and moving accounts of his own patients' struggles and breakthroughs. Harmonizing psychoanalysis and spirituality, Christ and Buddha, Calvinist work ethic and interminable talking cures, this book is a touchstone of our contemporary religio-therapeutic culture.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: A Touchstone Book; 2nd edition (January 2, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684847248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684847245
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (822 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #924,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

M. Scott Peck's publishing history reflects his own evolution as a serious and widely acclaimed writer, thinker, psychiatrist, and spiritual guide. Since his groundbreaking bestseller, The Road Less Traveled, was first published in 1978, his insatiable intellectual curiosity has taken him in various new directions with virtually each new book: the subject of healing human evil in People of the Lie (1982), where he first briefly discussed exorcism and possession; the creative experience of community in The Different Drum (1987); the role of civility in personal relationships and society in A World Waiting to Be Born (1993); an examination of the complexities of life and the paradoxical nature of belief in Further Along the Road Less Traveled (1993); and an exploration of the medical, ethical, and spiritual issues of euthanasia in Denial of the Soul (1999); as well as a novel, a children's book, and other works. A graduate of both Harvard University and Case Western Reserve, Dr. Peck served in the Army Medical Corps before maintaining a private practice in psychiatry. For the last twenty years, he has devoted much of his time and financial resources to the work of the Foundation for Community Encouragement, a nonprofit organization that he helped found in 1984. Dr. Peck lives in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am a therapist. The two books I recommend to my clients that seem to produced lasting results are The Road Less Traveled and An Encouter With A Prophet. I also recommend both books to all of my friends and relatives.
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The way this book is written�at times light, nurturing, and joyous but often heavy, challenging, and confrontational�is a metaphor for Scott Peck's perspective on life. The first sentence of the book, "life is difficult," reflects Scott Peck's idea that spiritual/mental growth must be worked towards, that human beings are generally lazy, and that growth of consciousness is a life-long process. Everything is generally working against our growth: laziness; defense mechanisms employed to maintain the status quo of mental illness over the struggle for accepting responsibility; confusion over the true nature of love; resistance to "grace" (the idea of being open to our unconscious and the symbolic language of God); lack of discipline; adults being mentally and spiritually immature; poor parenting resulting in nuerosis and character disorder; and a culture that generally defends, accepts, and nurtures sickness over health.
Sometimes Scott Peck's language is a little heavy, but it's only because he packs so much valuable information and insight into each page. The first chapter on Discipline (a tool to solve our problems. Another great Peck idea: see problems as challenges, and it is in our response to problems that life takes on its meaning and color) was a bit dry to me, but contains excellent information on delaying gratification, balancing and bracketing (attempting to listen to others/view situations with objectivity), dedication to the truth, and a key to anyone seeking to grow: ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY.
The second section on Love was fascinating to me. Scott Peck does a great job debunking the myth of romantic love, but perhaps most valuable is the idea that real loving is about nurturing your own or another's spiritual growth. Love is an action and a decision, not just a feeling.
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The book opens with the words "Life is difficult." Once you accept that, it becomes a lot easier!
But most of us don't accept that. We think if we do things the right way, or if other people would, then eventually life would become easier. Our material needs will be met, love will bloom forever, bad things won't happen to us, and life will unfold according to our individual needs and wishes.
Guess again. If you're constantly trying hard and finding life to be a major disappointment, you may find comfort and practical help in the reading and re-reading of this book.
Peck writes in an easy to read, easy to understand manner, writing of his life and that of many of his own patients. He begins with a section on Discipline; the next is on Love; then Growth and Religion; closing (how appropriately) with Grace.
When first I read this, in my mid-twenties, (living life in what one of my 'friends' called Life in the Breakdown Lane) the sections didn't look like they'd offer anything to help me. Discipline was something I wanted to act out against, not find solace in. The section on Love, I was disappointed to find, did NOT provide any instructions on how to find a knight on a white horse. Growth and Religion seemed some kind of a paradox to me, and I was sure that Grace was nothing more than a name I wished I had.
But within those Sections I have again and again(at different levels) found peace of mind through solutions that at first I didn't fully understand, but came to believe in -- for anyone looking for help in improving their lives, from a non-dogmatic, non-fundamentalist point of view, I'd strongly recommend this book.
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I have read many books in my lifetime but none has had such an impact as this one. This is easily, hands-down the best book of its kind. I have read Further Along the Road... by Peck and while it had useful information, it was not as informative and enjoyable as this book. ( I would also highly recommend "People of the Lie") I enjoyed the stories of his personal life as well as the patients he helped (and that had helped him) along the way. This is a serious book that still made me laugh & cry sometimes. It touches on so many issues of responsibility and discipline that no review I could write could possibly do it justice. Despite a previous reviewer's comments that this book is inaccessable- it is not! Very easy to read & not too technical. This is a book that anyone who is willing to open themselves to the pain of change & challange, will forever be changed & enriched. And the author himself admitted that any definition of Love would be subject to criticism from others- but dealing with something as nebulous and intangible, I think Mr. Peck does a terrific job. Especially when he notes what love is NOT. It has helped me to identify when someone's motives are not out of love- which seeks to help the person it touches. I really cannot think of another book that is as important as this one. Give it to a loved one as a gift--a gift they will never forget and hopefully- if they aren't "character disordered" they will see that this book can help them perhaps more than any other.
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