The Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition : A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

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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.

Perhaps no book in this generation has had a more profound impact on our intellectual and spiritual lives than The Road Less Traveled. With sales of more than seven million copies in the United States and Canada, and translations into more than twenty-three languages, it has made publishing history, with more than ten years on the New York Times bestseller list.

Now, with a new Introduction by the author, written especially for this twenty-fifth anniversary deluxe trade paperback edition of the all-time national bestseller in its field, M. Scott Peck explains the ideas that shaped this book and that continue to influence an ever-growing audience of readers.

Written in a voice that is timeless in its message of understanding, The Road Less Traveled continues to help us explore the very nature of loving relationships and leads us toward a new serenity and fullness of life. It helps us learn how to distinguish dependency from love; how to become a more sensitive parent; and ultimately how to become one's own true self.

Recognizing that, as in the famous opening line of his book, "Life is difficult" and that the journey to spiritual growth is a long one, Dr. Peck never bullies his readers, but rather guides them gently through the hard and often painful process of change toward a higher level of self-understanding.

Customer Reviews:

  • The Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition : A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
    The Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth This book can be helpful to all. It is a must read........more info
  • Deep, Insightful, Potentially Life-Changing
    This book blew my mind. The perfect balance of where psychology meets life. It was unexpected, practical, deep, well-written & I've already purchased copies for several friends. I think I expected to be inspired (and I was), but I didn't expect to get new insights on life to the depth that I received from reading this book. I assumed it was a Christian book from the mention of spirituality in the sub-title, but was blown away by the approach it took on the spiritual dimension of living (turns out it wasn't Christian-based & would not be offensive even to an atheist, deist or non-practicing person). Can't imagine a person who would be bothered by reading it & can only imagine how many people I wish would read it because it would benefit them. Just read it - even if only out of curiosity - you WILL learn something....more info
  • When you are ready, this book can show you a good path.
    It is rare to read a book that challenges you to look at yourself critically and yet gently. Peck does a wonderful and thorough job dealing with somewhat intangible topics. This book is far from a self help book, but yet it is somewhat the epitome of self help books. There is a gentle flow towards his views, experiences and opinions of psychotherapy, mental illness and grace. The melding of an openness for mental and spiritual growth are well demonstrated by his words and examples from his practice.

    I'm very glad I read this book. It is true that Peck expects a bit from the reader, but he should. He doesn't provide many, if any quick answers. This book truly focuses on where the mind is at, your ability and will to grow and how your openness to a larger force can help you grow.

    Many people will be insulted or intimidated by his point of view, but those who are open to these ideas will be lifted.

    May your path be a good one.
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  • Honesty
    This book is about you/me and whether or not you want to work at being honest with your life. If you are searching for yourself and just can't seem to find where you've been hiding Dr. Peck gives you a foundation to build a positive learning environment and an eyepiece to see yourself.
    Definitely a library worthy read!...more info
  • Life Changer
    This book is a must! I was recommended this book by a therapist and it has really opened my eyes to why life can be so painful and how to fix it. I am a deployed soldier with limited resources and counseling opportunities. Being remarried and deployed with three children, this book has given me insight on better ways to be a husband and highlighted mistakes and correction needed to be an effective and loving father. I believe anyone referred to this book that doesn't read it is a fool....more info
  • Road Less Traveled
    The book was a collection of run-on sentences. The author appearently, has only a passing aquaintence with periods. The most dissapointing aspect of the book was the title. It is written from the perspective, of an upper, middle class, conservative christian; harly the road less traveled. Unfortunatly, the lowest rating you can give is one star; what a waste of money!...more info
  • Deep Reading
    Put your thinking cap on as you delve into the world of spirituality. You'll discover exactly what it means to you.
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  • Compulsory reading for young adults
    I read this book when I was 19 and it really opened my eyes and mind. I would recommend this to anyone who seeks some encouragement on their pathway to never ending spiritual and personal growth.

    'Life is difficult' as the first line says. Their are no shortcuts to achieving wholeness and true happiness in life. One must work through difficulties. The principles in this book are essential, I believe, for mental and emotional health....more info
  • Insightful and Transformational
    A bevy of psychological and self-help books have been written since M. Scott Peck first penned this work of towering intellect. In my honest opinion, few of them have even approached THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED. For over twenty-five years millions have read his book for clarity, inspiration, enlightenment, and wisdom.
    Considered a different kind of psychology/self-help work, The Road Less Traveled, approaches subjects like dependency, egos, and falling in love, with a perspective so fresh and revolutionary, that for many years it became a sort of psychological manifesto.
    It addresses the painfulness that confronting our life's dilemmas can cause us, and shows how our very reluctance to deal with these problems actually result in greater dilemmas and increased pain and anxiety.
    Many of the concepts so brilliantly laid out by Peck, are still not totally embraced by society. His section on love (section 2) is one of
    the most unique and insightful descriptions of love written in modern times. He cogently dispels the myths of falling in love, romantic love, and love as a feeling. These three "myth under standings" are embraced by everyone from Hollywood to the couple next door. Peck clearly delineates between what he calls true, or pure love, and feelings that closely resemble love. His book is broken into four sections, Discpline, Love, Growth and Religion, and Grace, and are written from the pyschotherapeutic perspective.
    After reading Peck's book,I am amazed at the range of dysfunctionality that can be reasonably attributed to a lack of mental growth and development. It is a very intriguing thought that our own mental ability to embrace reality,quite possibly holds the key to self-fulfillment and inner peace of mind. ...more info
  • Great Book on Self-Reflection!
    The Road Less Traveled is a classic that explores personal discipline, love, growth and religion. It is inward looking, insightful, sound and practical in many cases. There are some areas that are controversial, and this can detract from the material a little. But, each person must choose his or her own the book points out.

    Scott Peck does an excellent job of presenting this material on self-reflection, analysis and addressing personal growth in a positive manner. Although the book was released three decades ago, it remains useful today.

    The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide to: The Lost Art of Critical Thinking
    ...more info
  • The Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition : A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth
    So many opinions, so many "world views" as Peck himself says. In reading all the opinions poured in here by the readers of this book I've come to realize the bewildering diversity of levels in human understanding. Did I like this book? Yes sir, very much, almost to the point in wich it's become one major source of guidelines for my life. Is it free of potentially misleading ideas, mistakes or outdated theories? Not at all, but not even the Bible is so. (It wouldn't have to anyway). My point is, this book has to be read with an open mind in order to separate wheat from chaff, where the chaff will be different for every person out there. Even if you are a narrow minded, uneducated, superstitious individual, (we all are at some level) you will find this book a worthy reading, or maybe not....more info
  • My favorite book!
    I had to write a quick review simply because the one that shows first is so negative. This is my favorite book. The writer below seems to be inferring things from the book that I never did... I completely disagree with the author of the last comment. I do not think Peck is endorsing religion, but rather spirituality, but if you get yours from religion, so be it. Why was he so shocked about the patient and sex comment?.... I am not going to even expand on each aspect of his comment... it would just be a jumbled mess... I recommend this book to anyone. It reveals universal truths and every line... almost every line rings true to me and to many, many people. I understand, after reading the last comment, that it may fly in the face of what is generally accepted by the field (when necessary)... just my kind of book.
    ...more info
  • Clarity
    Like many who may be inclined to purchase a book on leading a productive, engaged , spiritually rewarding life written by a psychiatrist, I have studied more than my share of psychology over the years. What Scott Peck, M.D., does however, is take the many different pieces that I knew at some level and puts them in a most readable and utile manner. This is not touchy-feely, free love, take what you want, feel good psychology but the real deal calling for real discipline, thoughtfulness, separation, and commitment -- that is if one wants to lead a sane life life of self growth and do his/her part for the spiritual growth of a partner and/or children.

    Emerson defined genius as the expression of previously unsaid but seemingly common knowledge. The Road Less Travelled largely breaks no new ground but by taking many disparate strains from psychology, psychiatry, theology, and his own life long observations, his books falls well within Emerson's definitions of genius.

    I clearly wish I had read it sooner; the clarity provided (the emphasis on discipline and delayed gratification for example) could have helped me get to the less travelled road of rewarding self fullfillment much sooner than my jumbled attempts at same. However, one needs to be in a frame of mind to appreciate the prescriptions of Dr Peck. That requires a receptivity to thinking hard about the well trod but perhaps very self destructive path to which one may be deeply committed . One must be ready to dare to change a course that does not work and commit to both a plan of action and other people in a way that one had not truly considered. Could I have done that without the weight of my own experience revealing the inadequacies of my older approach?

    If a reader is in a frame of mind to take a hard look at his/her own life and listen to some challenging prescriptions well reasoned and well presented, then this is a hell of a book-- maybe even a personally tranformative one. ...more info
  • An all-time classic filled with penetrating insights which brings purpose and meaning to life
    I remember receiving this book as a gift from an aunt of mine a number of years ago and reading it more out of an attempt to show appreciation to her than out of interest. Well, was I pleasantly surprised! Remembering this, I recently decided to read it again. M. Scott Pecks' Road Less Travelled is filled with deep, penetrating and original insights that most people at some level would concur are true. This is a book about spiritual growth, and specifically the author's view of how this can be achieved, and upon completion of it one cannot help but feel that he has succeeded to a large extent in illuminating the path towards such a noble, but difficult, objective. Many readers, after having completed this book, will feel that there is in fact meaning and purpose to life, and that is why this book can be a life-changer. That been said, however, do be prepared for some interesting surprises as you continue through it!

    Being about psychotherapy and how this is actually a route to spiritual growth (as Peck states, psychological maturity is synonymous with spiritual growth), one of these surprises was to find Scott-Peck become quite mystical and philosophical in his writing the further you read, but in a way that makes sense and is quite convincing. In addition, many people would think that a book dealing with spiritual growth would be related to Christianity and its concept of God, while in actual fact the book encompasses much more than this. Indeed, it struck me, once I started reading the parts on Growth and Grace that the author has tried to put into modern words and concepts many of the things which the mystics and great seers of the past taught and believed. This was confirmed when in the chapter on the Welcoming of Grace, near the end of the book, we read: "One way or another these concepts have been set forth before - by Buddha, by Christ, by Lao-tse, among many others. The originality of this book results from the fact that I have arrived at their same meaning through the particular individual byways of my twentieth-century life." Some readers, especially the more scientific-minded, may be put off by the fact that the book becomes mystical and philosophical the more we progress through it. Such readers should however stay the course as this is an excellent book which anyone can benefit from, especially since it also deals with psychology and how one can improve their life. There is much wisdom in this book. I myself am very interested in science and quite well read on the latest scientific developments yet I did not find the author's statements about things like the unconscious mind being God, or serendipitous experiences, a turn -off. I think one day we are going to find that there is far more to this existence than the mundane "blind, pitiless indifference" and accidental universe taught and believed by many leading scientists who are adherents to scientific materialism. But that is only my opinion. Most people would concur that there certainly are experiences and events which cannot be explained by science, which itself is far too preoccupied with objective, measurable phenomena than the equally real subjective and un-measurable phenomena.

    One of the insights provided in the book is the author's definition of love, which will be very different to what most people think love is. Real love is effort! Romantic feelings do (almost) always fade away! Love is not a feeling! To be truly loving is to make an effort for the benefit of another individual even when one does not feel like it or when it offers no direct reward to oneself. Nobody likes to make an effort because it drains your energy, but when you do so i.e. extend yourself for the benefit of another, then in many ways you are being truly loving. A typical example would be marriage. To make a marriage work when the romantic feelings of grandeur and excitement have passed requires effort, work and courage - i.e. the will to extend oneself for the benefit of another's spiritual growth. It was especially humorous to note the author's notion that romantic love, with its feelings of omnipotence and ecstasy (which is what a young baby feels when in its mother's arms - but which in the years ahead will have to grow up and break away and look after itself), is in reality a trap designed by evolution to snare people to mate in order to ensure the propagation of the species because the feelings always pass sooner or later and consequently most couples get married in total bliss unaware of what lies ahead. If most people really knew what marriage was all about and what lay ahead later on and how much work is involved in letting a marriage work, they would tremble at the mere thought of marriage vows and would not get married! At least, in the author's opinion.

    So what is the road to spiritual growth that the author lays out for his readers, and the underlying message of this book? We have lost our spirituality and sense of purpose and meaning in life because we believe in the mechanical nature of the universe, not in miracles. Science tells us that not only are we lost and insignificant amid the enormity of the universe, but that we are also helplessly determined by internal forces not subject to our will - by chemicals within our brain and conflicts in our unconscious that compel us to feel and to behave in certain ways when we are not even aware of what we are doing. Because of this we suffer a sense of personal meaninglessness. But once we perceive the reality of grace, our understanding of ourselves as meaningless and insignificant is shattered. The fact that there exists beyond ourselves and our conscious will grace, being a powerful force that nurtures our growth and evolution, is enough to change our notions of insignificance forever, because once we perceive it, it indicates with certainty that our human spiritual growth is of the utmost importance to something greater than ourselves, namely God, and that God's will is devoted to the growth of the individual human spirit. The reality of grace indicates humanity to be at the centre of the universe. The author further asserts that we are born that we might become, as a conscious individual, a new life form of God, and also that the interface between God and man is at least in part the interface between our unconscious and our conscious minds. Our unconscious is God within us (like the Holy Spirit). Spiritual growth is a process of the conscious mind coming into synchrony with the unconscious. The collective unconscious is God; the conscious is man as individual; and the personal unconscious is the interface between them. Being this interface, it is inevitable that the personal unconscious (subconscious mind) should be a place of some turmoil, the scene of some struggle between God's will and the will of the individual. Mental illness occurs when the conscious will of the individual deviates substantially from the will of God, which is the individual's own unconscious will. Our conscious self concept almost always diverges from the reality of the person we actually are. The unconscious however knows who we really are, and therefore a an essential task in the process of one's spiritual development is the continuous work of bringing one's conscious self-concept into agreement with reality, because our unconscious is wiser than we are. We live our lives in a real world and to live them well it is necessary that we come to understand the reality of the world as best we can. Many aspects of the reality of the world and of our relationship to the world are painful to us. We can understand them only through effort and suffering. People attempt to avoid this effort and suffering and ignore the painful aspects of reality by blocking and throwing certain unpleasant facts out of their awareness. In other words, we attempt to defend our consciousness, our awareness against reality. If in our laziness and fear of suffering (these two things being the impediments to spiritual growth, caused by lack of discipline and by non-love) we defend our awareness, then it will happen that our understanding of the world and our actions will bear little or no relation to reality, and we will eventually become `out of touch with reality' and be deemed mentally ill. But before this extreme occurs, we are given notice by our unconscious of our increasing maladjustment through a variety of means: bad dreams, anxiety, depression and other symptoms. Although our conscious mind has denied reality, our unconscious, which is omniscient, knows the true score and attempts to help us out by stimulating, through symptom formation, our conscious mind to the awareness that something is wrong. In other words, the painful and unwanted symptoms of mental illness are manifestations of grace. They are the products of `a powerful force originating outside of consciousness which nurtures our spiritual growth.' Psychic phenomena are also clearly related to the operation of the unconscious.

    The author further asserts that that are two forces at work on humanity: entropy and evolution (analogous to how these two fundamental laws work in physical science). Laziness is the force of entropy within us, pushing us down and holding us all back from spiritual evolution, because the process of spiritual growth is an effortful and difficult one, due to it being conducted against a natural resistance and natural inclination to keep things the way they were and to cling to the old maps and the old way of dong things ie. to take the easy path. But the miracle is that this resistance is overcome and we do grow. This force that pushes us as individuals and as a species to grow against the natural resistance of our own laziness is love - the will to extend oneself for one's or another's spiritual growth. Therefore love is evolution in progress. The origin of love (which is conscious and is the whole force of evolution) and of grace (which is unconscious) the author states, is a God who loves us and who wants us to grow. "We are growing toward godhood. God is the goal of evolution. It is God who is the source of the evolutionary force and God who is the destination" declares the author.

    One minor issue I had with the book is that the author could have included some exercises on how we may develop our unconscious minds and thereby how to manifest synchronous events, because, in his own words, "A major purpose of the section on grace has been to assist those on the purpose of spiritual growth to learn the capacity of serendipity. And let us redefine serendipity not as a gift itself but as a learned capacity to recognise and utilise the gifts of grace which are given to us from beyond the realm of our conscious will. With this capacity, we will find that our journey of spiritual growth is guided by the invisible hand and unimaginable wisdom of God with infinitely greater accuracy than that of which our unaided unconscious will is capable. So guided, the journey becomes ever faster." There are quality books (ie. not new age mumbo-jumbo) on meditation and development of human abilities that teach one how to do this, and perhaps the author could have included some exercises for his readers. But all in all, this is a very interesting book that seems to summarise the great teachings of the past in the language of our modern-day world and which has the potential bring meaning and purpose into the lives of many who need it.
    ...more info
  • Difficult read
    Several years ago I attempted to read this book but couldn't get through it. I would love to understand why it was so difficult for me....more info
  • Wonderful psychological and spiritual classic
    This is an essential for any serious journeyer or student of psychological and spiritual issues. The audio version is read by the author. Highly recommended....more info
  • One of the greatest books ever written
    Out of all the books I have read in my many years, this book is one of the most essential book on healing and empowering yourself. You are gently taken down the path of changing yourself into a deeper level of self understanding. This is a must read...more info
  • the road less traveled
    This is a very indepth helpful book for anyone trying to become more emotionally healthy....more info
  • This Review Comes After 7 years of Consideration
    I first read this book in 2000. And I thought my own problems with this book might just be my problems projected on to the book. Or those justifiable with impeccable reasonings were just minor problems, the criticizing of which would keep me from seeing the main issues and value of Peck's writing.

    I'm no expert in biology nor in thermodynamics. I am not a medical doctor (like Peck) nor a famous author (like Peck). Despite these facts, I believe that Peck can be demissed because he makes the argument in this book that life--human and otherwise--overcomes the second law of thermodynamics (energy, though conserved, always moves to lower state of usefulness).

    My faith now and then is that the Sun currently provides a vast and long-lasting source of useful energy. My belief of this is unshakeable. I believe that life does not place energy in anymore of a useful state than a silicon-based microprocessing unit. Nevertheless, Peck argues that Life does disprove the second law of thermodynamics. A minor point, but one that after 7 years of consideration was good a one to dismiss this stupid narcissistic pop-fool.

    He claims to use the scientific method, yet on very basic perceptions I believe he gets it totally wrong. When I just think about most of the ideas covered in this pop spiritual book that have less tangible aspects with reality. I now believe with good reason and my own unshakeable faith that those too are just as ill-conceived as his notion of life overcoming the 2nd law of thermo. ...more info
  • Could be your gift in a lifetime
    Only a very small percentage of books are worth reading multiple times, and "The Road Less Traveled" is undoubtedly one of them. I have read some of the passages three, four times and am still finding fresh ideas. I am deeply impressed by Peck's penetrating intelligence and tremendously benefited from his profound insights to life.

    There are two kinds of people - those who look smarter than they are and those who are smarter than they look. Scott Peck is clearly the second kind. The first time I read it, I could not continue beyond the first few pages - it just seemed too dry. Peck was a first-class scientist. There were no slogans or fancy presentation styles, but every word of the book was well thought - which I only realized after my second and third reading. Readers if you feel the same way as what I felt the first time, remember my words and stick to it. Some day you will feel so lucky for your whole life that you have been enlightened.

    Of course you don't have to agree to everything in the book to be enlightened. Nobody is perfect. Nobody has everything right. Nor was Scott Peck. However, always remember that just because you don't think he's right does not necessarily mean that he is not right. Peck was a rigorous scientist and his observations are absolutely worth your consideration, while it is up to you whether you agree to them or not. Throughout my life so far there have been countless times that I realized that what I once held steadfast was completely wrong. And whenever those realizations struck me were my happiest moments.

    I would guess that this book is not for everybody. The issues discussed in the book are so fundamental, and topics like religion, grace, miracle, and serendipity are always hotly controversial. However, put down your ego, listen to this intelligent guy, be ready to change yourself, look for some gold nuggets, and perhaps even experience the strikes of a few happiest moments. ...more info
  • Road Less Traveled
    excellent self help book. a must read for everyone. You will be happy and successful in life if you follow the principles of this book....more info
  • A Must!!!
    I have gotten this book as a gift many times but never read it but listening to it now on CD I see why it is such an important book. I have really enyojed it and am so glad to have had the opportunity to know this information....more info
  • Fabulous and insightful
    Highly recommended and very helpful to discovering the person you want to be to live a healthier, more full life (and how we may be preventing that journey). This has helped both my husband and I in our individual and married lives - was recommended by our therapist and has helped tremendously. ...more info
  • Timeless. Still one of my all time favorites.
    This book is still one of my all time favorites. Though a bit outdated now, the values and guidance is still all good, basic, sound advice. Well worth the read, espeically if you are struggling with relationships or just life in general. ...more info
  • An owners manual for your mind.
    Invest in yourself and read this book, you are worth it. I promise you will not go away without having enriched your life. Stop trying to wish your problems away ...... it doesn't never never will....more info
  • Different...irambles a lot about spiritual & personal growth...
    This book is easy to read and provides the authors insight into a few of his clients and how they grew personally and spiritually from a psychodynamic viewpoint. Perhaps what I didn't like was that it rambles far too much and sometimes I found myself getting lost as what the whole point of the story was all about....more info
  • Eye opener
    A great work explaining life in easy to read terms. The Psychology of Dicipline, Love and God - and how they work together. Highly recommend for all those struggling with any relationship problem. Chuck C...more info
  • Meaningful self-discipline and honesty as the basis for real love
    This is a fascinating book that helps the reader reflect on their own responsibilities and self-discipline (Part I). Author Peck's famous opening line "Life is difficult", becomes the backdrop to explore suffering as an opportunity to grow rather than avoid. Avoidance in various forms, such as lying, holding untenable views of reality and other unhealthy coping mechanisms are described through real life counseling examples and with brief, though frequent psychiatric explanations for the interested layman. I really enjoyed the author's willingness to explain conditions such as neurosis, schizophrenia, character-disorders and others that occur so commonly. The author frequently points out that the person willing to get counseling advise is often more healthy to begin with than those in denial about their need for help.

    The ability to mature by giving up certain aspects of one's self to gain new areas of growth is explained in some detail, especially as a feature of mid-life. Peck is also very transparent in telling multiple stories where his client quit counseling as soon as he started getting near the deeper causes of their disorders; it would seem this happens a lot in counseling - challenging profession. In short, a person must learn to accept and deal with the difficulties in their life through healthy, not unhealthy coping mechanisms. Peck does not shy away from discussing the reality of spiritual aspects in this journey, though the book is not overtly spiritual and is very open to many spiritual backgrounds and alternative value systems as long as they do not manifest in denial to deal with one's real challenges in life.

    In the second part of the book, love is explored in many different ways including: what is and is not genuine love, loving one's self appropriately and especially understanding the unique aspects of others to love them. Spouses and children in particular are discussed frequently and shown to be opportunities to extend one's self through loving them appropriately. I found the discussion of really listening to a six-year old quite memorable and helpful. Ultimately loving someone else in a genuine way is a selfless yet selfish act since it allows one to grow in ways not otherwise attainable. Love is an act of discipline (thus the need for Part I of the book) where we choose to love someone even when we don't feel like it (p88).

    The final part of the book addresses broader and classical spiritual questions such as the problem of suffering and evil co-existing with a benevolent conception of God.

    I found this book very insightful and often challenging. I did not agree with some of the minor conclusions made throughout, but they still made me think, even if just hypothetically. This book is not bound at all by Christian orthodoxy or any other orthodox system as far as I can tell, so if you prefer that, you may not enjoy several discussions in the book. But, it is true to the spirit of deep personal growth especially in how to love others in a unique way since each person is an individual.
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  • Many begin, few finish, though everyone should
    As Peck says at the end of the book "If you have gotten this far, you probably don't need therapy". If one has the discipline and the intellectual openess for the latter challenging parts of the book, he is probably right. RLT is a challenge. And one of immense rewards only if completed. Many books contain excellent explainations and models of what it really means, and takes, in order to love another. This is one of the best. My generation of "boomers", amongst the most frequent readers of the book, tended to focus on the early sections, which explain so well how and why one's parents probably failed in so many aspects of parenthood. Some continued on to the descion rules and discipline required in a healthy relationship. Few finished the challenging latter third, or applied the concepts of the second third, due to the work involved. Of the millions of copies sold, perhaps a quarter have been read completely, and fewer than that fully comprehended. I can hear in a conversation about Road Less Traveled whether a person actually completed reading and understanding the book. In context of it's original 1979 publication date, the latter half could even seem mystical, spacey. However, if one has read much Wayne Dyer, Chopra, perhaps Pantagali, other modern spiritually enlightening books, and even parts of Asimov's "Understanding Physics", then the more complex concepts in the latter third are seen in a supporting context. What seemed far fetched (the latter parts of "RLT") 20 years ago, then falls together as perfectly matching pieces of the puzzle that Dyer, Chopra, and others have so eloquently put into 21st century context. If I was forced to own only five books to guide my life, as opposed to entertain me, they would include something by Dyer, Chopra, a couple of others, and Road Less Travelled. Those I know personally who read the easy first half and then drifted off are still going back to therapy. It took three readings for me to both fully grasp it's complexity and be able to apply the concepts to my life, and will probably require re-reading every three years. One note: The psychiatry described holds up only part of the time. Due to quantum leaps in brain-scanning technology since RLT's publication, what the scientific community thought we knew about the brain, various disorders, and therefore psychiatric and pschological dogma are being constantly redefined. But certain aspects of the psychiatric/psychological explanations remain valid, they just require a critical eye, and a broader knowledge base to know which to take as insights, and which to understand as obsolete....more info
  • Perhaps the best self-help book ever
    I first read this book 20 years ago, and have read it more than once, and it had a huge effect on me. I just purchased a copy for my 21-year-old grandson, who can benefit from these messages about love, discipline, and responsibility. The book isn't religious, it's spiritual and psychological. I think the concepts in this book are important and the world would be a better place if more people understood them, concepts about taking responsibility for oneself and realizing that love is a decision and a commitment, not just a passing feeling. I still admire this book after all these years.
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  • Life is difficult. - It can be less so.
    This one takes me back. - I can think of many books that describe my current understanding and even more that express what I hope to be true, but the one most responsible for changing my reality is a "A Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck.

    I read it many years ago when I was at a particularly low point in life, alone, and filled with questions that I ironically considered basic. Peck's book introduced new concepts, in bite-sized pieces--at just the right time, and in doing so set me on a path that I continue to this day.

    My reading list has grown dramatically since then, but "A Road Less Traveled" still occupies a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf....more info
  • For many, it's a life-changing read

    How amazing that we are still writing reviews on this record-breaking book 30 years after its writing! As another reviewer said, "The Road Less Traveled had an epiphany effect on my life." That has surely been the case for thousands of readers. Peck's insights into spirituality (not to be confused with religion) had a far more profound, immediate and direct effect on my adult spirituality than did my strict religious upbringing and my entire education at private religious schools (without disparaging the lessons of my childhood rearing).

    The section of this book titled "Discipline" taught me that "spiritual" means more than just religious--and I have been infinitely more in tune with my spiritual side (the non-physical aspects of who I am) in the 20 years since the first of my many readings of this book than I ever was before.

    The advice on love is indispensable. I used to tell everyone I dated that our relationship could not proceed until after they'd read that section--so they'd know what love is and is not! Another favorite section is where Peck talks about how most people stop drawing their maps of the world (their view of reality) at an early age because it is extremely painful to make revisions. But wise people embrace the pain of constantly redrawing our maps because it results in great rewards of meaning and purpose.

    Some have mocked Peck's first sentence, "Life is difficult," as a great big "duh." They fail to mention the point he makes... how he builds on that. According to testimony, entire lives have been changed by the end of page one. Life's most important truths are the simplest ones (I learned that from this book, and it is so true!), and once we understand that life is difficult by definition, instead of assuming it is expected to be relatively easy, then suddenly it no longer seems the world is against us personally, and life is no longer so difficult. One page, changed lives!

    I have given 20 to 40 copies of this book as gifts over time. But I always recommended only the sections on Discipline and Love. I told them I really didn't get much from the section on Grace, and that they should take it or leave it as they wished. (I can't deduct a star for this, since the rest of the book is so good.) I also agree with those who have said parts of the book are a difficult read. My first copy was a gift to me, and I didn't read it for several years, not until too many people recommended it for me to ignore it any longer. I had gotten bogged down in the case histories--the psychiatry talk. But be patient. The good parts are always just around the corner.

    A book this successful, this enduring, and with so many accolades and favorable testimonies cannot be ignored by wise, thoughtful people....more info
  • I tried it and I liked it, and i'm not really a book reader
    I remember on a vacation with one of my older friends who seems very clean and serene was talking about this book and he was serious when he said it changed his life. I held him to it by getting this book and reading it. I can see how people get bent up on the 3rd part (Religion) and the 4th part (Grace)where it might seem a little Christiany(I know that isn't a word), but try be a little open minded and take what you need and leave the rest. I will say that the 1st and 2nd part (Discipline, Love) helped me look at how they are related and how an honest loving relationship is some serious hard work, not a lustful codependent mess which the fairytale media forces us to believe. I'm not getting on a soap box, just venting a pet peeve. This is an amazing book. Thank you Scott. Thank you very much....more info
  • Taking The Road Less Traveled Really Does Make All The Difference
    Pound for pound, this book contains more practical wisdom than 99.9% of what's out there. It's a very special gift from Peck to all of us that is worth revisiting when the going gets rough, or even confusing. In its own quiet way it's a radical work, calling into question the basic assumptions of our daily life.

    The famous first sentence, "Life is difficult," appears to be intuitive and obvious. In fact it is not. We seem to believe that life is designed with our comfort and convenience in mind, and that the potholes we encounter are irritating aberrations. Obstacles are the norm, Peck would say, and offer opportunities for growth.

    His complete deconstruction of romantic love is also welcome, and almost heretical. This fantastically successful myth has fueled the furnaces of art, culture, and mercantile existence for centuries. The definition of love he offers in its place, "The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth," is both workable and profoundly challenging, inviting us to view spiritual growth as a lifelong project of daring generosity.

    Our culture loves the rose but hates the thorn, making Peck's message of hard work, action rather than talk, and commitment refreshing and vital. He points out, quite accurately, that the process of talk therapy is a bold venture with no certain outcome, and that while therapists provide a safe environment it is patients who must venture into the coalmine with only a small flashlight and a big heart.

    Most uplifting of all is the connection between emotional health and spiritual evolution. In the final section, devoted to Grace, Peck tracks a connection between inner serenity, where the ego is aligned harmoniously with the subconscious and the larger force it swims in, and a desire to be selfless and useful to others.

    The perfectly actualized human, he maintains, has a very small footprint indeed and would devote as much time and energy as possible to doing the work of God, to being like God. (The challenge of accurately determining what is God's will versus what is human vanity is consciously highlighted.) In a society like ours, so staggeringly self-centered, superficial, and devoted to the cheap intoxicants of materialism, it is easy to see why a book like this is revolutionary and desperately needed. Thank you, Dr. Peck....more info
  • Peck incorrectly quoted by another reviewer
    I have just finished reading this book, and feel the need to set the record straight on what Dr. Peck actually did and did not say. F.D. Tardif, a previous reviewer here has stated,

    "As Peck says at the end of the book "If you have gotten this far, you probably don't need therapy". If one has the discipline and the intellectual openess for the latter challenging parts of the book, he is probably right."

    I'm nearly positive the words this reviewer puts in quotation marks are NOT a direct quote, and in my humble opinion, greatly misrepresent Dr. Peck's ideas. Peck's actual statement at the end of the book (pp. 312-313) is as follows:

    "And I continue to believe that most of those who fail to benefit from work with a competent therapist do so because they lack the taste and will for the rigors of that work. However I did neglect to specify that a small minority of people --perhaps five percent -- have psychiatric problems of a nature that does not respond to psychotherapy and that may even be made worse by the deep introspection involved. Anyone who has succeeded in thouroughly reading and understanding this book is highly unlikely to belong to that five percent."

    Rather than suggest that a successful reader of his book doesn't need therapy, as reviewer Tardif has attempted to paraphase, Peck conveys that a successful reader is highly UNlikely to belong to the five percent of people who DO NOT benefit from psychotherapy. In fact, he seems to believe that his readers are the type of people who are strong enough to stomach the hard work that therapy requires. If Peck truly believed that one's ability to complete and comprehend his book was a test of whether a person needs therapy, he wouldn't have put his suggestions on how to find a suitable therapist at the END of the book. Peck's entire book is an advocate for continuous therapy or introspection throughout one's lifetime in order to continue the spiritual evolution of humankind. ...more info
  • The Book that can make "Buddha" a better saint!
    Just finished reading this masterpiece...You should be lucky, if you can read books of this quality once every decade.It is a heavy subject on spiritual growth that even a voracious reader cannot hope to absorb the contents if he reads more than few pages a day.Every line, every word literally stops you, makes you think ,digest and move on.Being a heavy subject does not mean the book has to be a boring textbook. There should be tremendous clarity of thought to get it to the reader and a natural gift to bring the right words .. Scott excels as a writer

    My kids, more than me are lucky that I read this book..Atleast they will certainly not fall into several pitfalls that i went thro in my spiritual growth. Here is an example about children, probably the central theme of the book ( dont miss the fascinating wordplay in the sentences)

    All children have neurosis, in that they will instinctively assume responsibility for certain deprivations they experience but do not yet understand. Thus the child who is not loved by his parents will always assume himself or herself as unlovable rather than see their parents are deficient in their capacity to love.

    there is much that parents can do to assist their children in this maturation process. Opportunities present thousands of times while children are growing up ...because they duck responsibility,character disordered parents serve as role models for irresponsibility for their children.

    Good discipline requires time.When we have no time to give to our children, we dont even observe them closely enough to become aware of when their need for our disciplinary assistance is expressed subtly.The parents who devote time to their children even when it is not demanded will perceive in them subtle needs for discipline, to which they will respond with gentle urging or reprimand or structure or praise, administered with thoughtfulness and care. They will observe how their children eat cake, how they study, when they will tell subtle falsehoods, when they run away from problems rather than face them.They will take time to make minor corrections,tightening a little here, loosening a little there..The time and quality of the time that their parents devote to them indicate to children the degree to which they are loved by their parents..

    To the child, abandonment by its parents is the equivalent of death... For children either abandoned psychologically or in actuality, enter adulthood lacking any deep sense that the world is a safe and protective place.

    To a child his or her parent is everything; they represent the world. The child does not have the perspective to see that other parents are different and frequently better. He assumes that the way his parents do things is the way things are done. Consequently the realization - the "reality" that this child came to was not "I can't trust my parents" but "I can't trust people". Not trusting people therefore became the map with which he entered adoloscence and adulthood. With this map and abundant store of resentment resulting from many of his disappointments, it was inevitable that he came into conflict with authority figures - police, teacher, employers....he had many opportunities to revise his map, but that would require him to revise his view of his parents - to realize that they did not love him, that he did not have a normal childhood...such realization would have been

    Does this section below ring a bell on your childhood or a guilt that you can do a better job as a parent??? How about if you can become a better husband, wife, manager, parent, and above all a humble person all in One package......Just go and buy this book and recommend to every one of your friends..
    ...more info
  • It will open your eyes
    You really can't go wrong with Scott Peck. Every concept is a dosis of spiritual growth from the perspective of a man who combines intelligence, insight and psychiatric experience with a spiritual background. He is a Christian but does not shove Christial ideals down our throats. He communicates spiritual truths and it all makes alot of sense. I found this book to be uplifting and a massive inspiration. I send my hearty thanks to the auther....more info
  • Growth Oriented
    I have accidently found this book and read it, This is an extraordinary book with great insight on the Life, conscience growth and Love. If you haven;t read this then you are missing lot of great insight which has been provided in the book. 5 star from my side...more info
  • Read with caution
    I found this book to be a challenge, and in some ways helpful; but I would advise the reader to read this book with caution; in other words: do not take what Peck says as gospel.

    For example, Peck advises: "The only way that we can be certain that our map of reality is valid is to expose it to the criticism and challenge of other map-makers." (P. 52)

    I think this is a dogmatic and biased statement. At times, yes we can get feedback from others with regard to "our map of reality" being valid; but I also think that one can validate their map of reality by observing reality and trusting their own capcity to criticize and percieve correctly rather than exposing our map, or way of seeing things, to other "map-makers."

    Peck also seems to imply that if a person has a problem in psychotherapy, it's "their" problem, not that of a poor psychotherapist, or the fact that a person may not need psychotherapy at all.

    The book does present some challenges that stimulate further thinking and discovery. For example, on page 282 Peck states: "In other words, mental illness occurs when the conscious will of the individual deviates substantially from the will of God, which is the individual's own unconscious will." I asked a psychiatric resident about this, who replied: "Hmmm, an interesting perspective."

    Sometimes I felt that Peck was trying to make a treatise for people to enter psychotherapy and giving the psychotherapist an almost godlike status, as if they are always right and never wrong.

    I think the best way to read this book, is to read it with a skeptical mind, yet respecting that it's one doctor's way of seeing things.

    ...more info
  • Principles for Balanced Growth
    Covering many sections of life's balancing act from family, to relationships, to career decisions, finances, and health, Scott Peck shows that only by truly accepting the difficulty and patience and exploration can one find success in balancing life's many acts.

    Answers will not be found from outsiders, even from close relatives, but from continuously exploring and improving and following one's own route and path in life. Each individual has to look into his inner intuition, heart, desire, and mind and stake out his own individuality based on his best estimated decisions that in the long-run will lead to the most growth and fulfillment.

    Well presented message in a simple to read backed up by universaly applicable patient case issues....more info
  • Very important book
    Quite possibly the most important book I have ever read as I do believe that this book has had a bigger impact on my life than any other. However, I am at a bit of a loss to describe it as it covers a smattering of topics from love to discipline, maturity and religion. If I could only recommend one book to you, this would be it. A MUST read. ...more info
  • Awesome
    I read this book years ago,it is a wonderful book to read over and over. I have recommended this book to all and I mean all of my friends, that is why I purchased it this time, for a dear friend. I love all of Dr Peck's books. ...more info
  • Growth
    A unique study of growth through psychotherapy; anyone can benefit. Peck says we already have the knowledge we need, we just draw on it through our conscious; we learn what we already know. He uses patient/doctor discussions to explain his point. Refreshing and informative from the very first page. You will also find it insightful and well reasoned. He finds his chief enemy is invariably laziness; it will take work. Before Peck begins he wants us to know:

    "As a psychiatrist, I feel it is important to mention at the outset two assumptions that underlie this book. One is that I make no distinction between the mind and the spirit, and therefore no distinction between the process of achieving spiritual growth and achieving mental growth. They are one and the same."

    The book begins, where it all starts: with good parenting, via tuff love, kindness, comfort, and delayed gratification. Without this, Peck shows how childhood went on to corrupt our adulthood. And now we need to relearn. The book is divided out into flowing sections; each section is covered by short descriptions set off by sub-headings.

    So we learn poor parenting leads to problems in adulthood. Taking the extra time when they are young saves more time later in life. As adults, procrastination haunts us; it is better to suffer now than later; the problems don't go away. We end up passing our freedom on to others (just look at how our country votes!). Because we tend to fool ourselves away from pain and difficulties we don't open ourselves to challenge and growth. Regulating anger is a major problem for many of us. Holding our marriages together is another. There are some very important misconceptions on love. "For the most part, mental illness is caused by and absence of or defect in the love that a particular child required from its particular parents for successful maturation and spiritual growth."

    How often does the miraculous slip by us without notice; could it occur more than we may know? "Among humanity love is the miraculous force that defies the natural law of entropy"; the mysteries that are grace. Peck says mental illness occurs when one deviates from the will of God: "The closer one comes to godhead, the more one feels sympathy for God. To participate in God's omniscience is also to share His agony." Every one of us has a religion, "so we squabble over our different microcosmic world views, and all wars are holy wars".

    Even Jung sees there is something more: "Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away----an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilization, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains".

    Wish you well

    ...more info
  • A classic best seller for over 25 years
    This book is one of the "Must Reads" for everyone who is in search of success in life. While written three decades ago, Dr. Peck's words ring true today for the person seeking more out of their life.

    The book is broken into four parts: Discipline, Love, Growth and Religion, and Grace. Each section has many examples from his work with patients...showing us that we are not alone in our stuggles in life, but that others have gone down the rocky roads that we each face. Life is hard, that is just a fact, but how we attack the problems we face are what sets us apart....more info
  • Read it and decide for yourself
    By the time i came to review this book, there already 160 reviews posted. I don't know if mine will make any difference, but here it is:

    I read this book in the early days i was studying to become a therapist, and read it again recently. That first time, it was the best book i've ever read (just did not know i could write comments :) I started my studies trying to understand: myself, the world around me. And how scared i was! That the book starts with the sentence "life is difficult", gave me a reason to continue reading. Finally, somebody said what i felt all along, but could not verbalize since everyone else around me did not seem to think so. Yes, this life we are living is a difficult one, and nowadays is getting more and more difficult as we strive to make ends meet and make sense of a paranoid world unfolding around so fast to catch, let alone comprehend. And though i've read many books since that time that have given me more answers and understanding to comprehend myself and the world, this book, the Road Less Traveled, was for me the first that got me started on this road to self discovery, world discovery.

    So thank you Dr Peck for living, learning, and sharing with us, and setting us on this road that has no return, the crossroads where psychology and spirituality meet - though i have to say i was not too excited with the Christian religion gloss, yet i think i get the point....more info
  • A Good Challenge
    I found this book a very honest, challenging read that really has one look at themselves and see where they are in life. It also goes into a spiritual level and how that applies to life. I really enjoyed reading this book....more info
  • Accept the gift of your life
    "The Road Less Traveled" will make you realize that you CAN take charge of your life and your destiny. It is a journey toward self-acceptance that will affirm that life is worth living. It is one of the best books I have ever read.

    I was introduced to the book when I first began 12-step recovery over twenty years ago. I have had a long road to travel in coming to terms with my past and learning to accept myself. This is a powerful book for anyone who has come from a troubled background and who wants to achieve self-esteem.

    I have built a wonderful new life for myself and I can thank the author for providing practical insights that have led toward my self transformation. I am now an author myself. [...]

    My life journey has been one of discovering and affirming my spirit. The Road Less Traveled was an important stepping stone for me. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is on a spiritual quest.

    Davis Aujourd'hui, author of "The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude"...more info


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