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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 884 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.
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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 (884 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #864,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
I first read M. Scott Peck's 'The Road Less Travelled' over 20 years ago, but it is a text to which I return again and again, as Peck's insights and observations remain a constant source of inspiration and guidance in my life. It still finds a ready home in the hands of therapists, counselors, ministers, teachers, career planners, and others as part of their resources, and is not out of place in the home of anyone who cares about the directions of her or his life.

Peck was a clinical psychiatrist - the material for this book came largely from his experiences with clients and others, seeing what worked and what didn't, what was missing and what was mis-understood. Often cases involved psychotherapy (talk therapy), but the processes here are not confined to therapists' offices. The same kinds of problem solving, processing and relationship building that takes place in psychotherapy can be used as life-long tools.

Peck resists labels such as Freudian and Jungian; he doesn't look for, nor does he offer, quick fixes or the psychotherapeutic variety of the get-rich-quick schemes. This book is not a therapy manual, but rather a guide to spiritual growth that incorporates therapeutic and psychological principles. Peck echoes the sentiments of many spiritual directors and leaders through the millennia that spiritual and personal growth are long journeys, not short leaps. It involves dedication and intention, and a willingness to accept risk and change.

Perhaps it is ironic that, given this, the first topic Peck focuses upon is Discipline. However, without discipline, change can go unchecked and uncharted, growth can become problematic, and the human soul becomes susceptible to a host of difficulties.
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