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The Road Less Traveled, Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth Paperback – February 4, 2003
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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. It's so easy in our culture to imagine love as a feeling, red roses, wine, dinners, etc. That is the illusion of romance but has nothing to do with the work and courage of real active loving (Scott Peck says if an action doesn't involve courage or work, it's not loving!). Also in this chapter are a few controversial ideas, namely open marriage (Scott Peck's extension of the idea that loving involves encouraging an individual's total development...hmmm...sort of vague extension to me to involve plural relationships. what happened to discipline?) and even Scott Peck's suggestion that he would have sex with a patient if he felt it would further both their spiritual development! (do not agree with this at all. any person in treatment is not in a position to navigate such power dynamics)
The final section on Grace reminds us to look to our unconscious for information and guidance. Dreams, nagging thoughts, sudden insights, etc. from our unconscious, which Scott Peck says knows more than our conscious ever could, are signs that there is a God, and he/she/it is a loving God interested in our spiritual development (reflection of Scott Peck's idea of love, and a good idea if you ask me). These signs are meant to prod us into action.
In general, although at times you will be re-reading pages to make sure you got the meaning, and sometimes Scott Peck's language will seem heavy and plodding, this book will help you see where you can expand the boundaries of your spirit, your mind, and your life, how you can love bigger and better (and make it mean more to everyone), how your life can have meaning and consistency, and how to be a loving, conscious person, parent, lover, mate, and friend. I underlined a LOT in this book, and going back to read just my underlines I am amazed at the amount of loving, valuable insight in this book. Growing and truly accepting responsibility for the quality of our lives is not as easy as it sounds. Scott Peck is very aware of this and gives a lot of support to keep on journeying this road less traveled.
If this review helped you and you plan to experience the "The Road Less Traveled" journey, then have fun on this beautiful journey of greater self-understanding and spiritual growth.
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.
Read it, learn from it, and just as happens to the bunny in the children's book, The Velveteen Rabbit, you'll find yourself becoming more alive, and more 'real.'
I'd also encourage the reading of Sheldon Kopp's "If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him" and (if you're looking for some comic relief, always good when stressed) watch "Groundhog Day."
This is truly a gem of a book (though I haven't liked many others of his).