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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2009
I couldn't put this book down...really I beleive the most amazing, important book I have ever read. It was a shocking read -as I suddenly identified with behaviours in myself that Peck describes in others, I became very tearful..it was just so sad to realise why I had done certain things in the past..just kept saying "If ONLY I had read this book as a teenager, my life up to now would have been so much better!!"
Is great to learn how to really improve your life & relationships ..I loved it when Peck said he gets so cross with parents who tell their children they 'think too much'(my mum always said this to me)..when that is exactly where we go wrong - NOT thinking enough!
I am not a religious person, infact I did not beleive in 'God' at all before reading this. When Peck talks about 'God' NOT being 'out there' but as a force inside all of us and everything - infact -God being our subconscious mind (the largest, but least used part of the mind for most of us) always knowing the best way for us - I thought this made alot of sense!! When Peck asks you to examine your belief in a 'life force' looking after us - haven't you come so close to death but didn't die?(and can't explain why, or how you seemed to be saved so last minute, by the most amazing 'luck'!) - I knew this had happened to me.
I was very disappointed to read some of the reviews of this book where people say it is a good book until he talks about religion & that he is trying to force religion on people..he is not promoting religion at all!! Infact he gives an example of how organised religion had been so distructive in one of his patient's lives. I would say to those people to read the book again and don't switch off at the word 'God' because he's not even talking about God in the way most people think of God!!
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89 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2005
Not easy reading but worth every second and all the effort that you put in it. While Peck's style is generally engaging and simple, there are times when you might need to re-read his words to get his meaning. This is probably because the subject matter gets your mind working almost from the first word. Each chapter deserves to be read slowly and carefully and therefore, it is not an 'easy' read.
This is a book about living; living in a way that sets you apart. It's a book about Life and everything that we normally associate with it and with living. Peck divides the book into four sections: Discipline, Love, Growth & Religion, & Grace. But in these sections he addresses everything from falling in love to solving problems and dealing with pain. The challenge, of course, is doing all of these things in our limited lifetimes, but he writes about that too.
Most of us tend to take these `things' for granted; we 'do' them without thinking about the reasons, methods, or the consequences. In the 'The Road Less Traveled', Scott Peck forces us to think about what we do, what we feel, and what we think in different ways that we have not thought of before.
Scott Peck combines years of psychotherapy with a natural writing style that attracts the reader and challenges his/her mind. It is not the writing style that makes the book difficult reading (even though there are a few instances in the book when he does become too involved), but the continuous challenge to you mind and to your preconceived ideas. Peck demands that you examine your mind, your feelings and your heart deeply and objectively. Most of us find that difficult.
Peck comes across his book as a warm and sensitive person and he makes you feel at ease instantly... What else would you expect from someone whose opening sentence is "Life is difficult!"
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
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 is 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. Dedication and application to problem-solving and long-term building (whether it be of retirement funds or of one's own spirit) requires a disciplined approach that recognises that life is difficulty (the first of Buddha's Four Noble Truths, cited by Peck), gratification sometimes needs to be delayed for greater goods, and reality needs to be approached and dealt with responsibly.
Peck calls here for a life to be totally dedicated to the truth. This is hard, because we as human beings are so accustomed to rationalisation and reinterpretation. This kind of dedication also requires a balance in life, and an ability to be flexible as the truths of our lives change - few of us are in possession of timeless and eternal truths governing every aspect of our lives, and often those who feel they are end up disappointed in the end. The continuing creativity of God in our lives requires flexibility, but this is best achieved in a disciplined and balanced context.
Peck then turns to love, a mysterious thing even in the best of times. He identifies some of the myths of `falling in love' and romantic love that our culture through various means idealises, leading to great dissatisfaction when we do not achieve the desired feelings or situations. Peck makes the assertion that love is not really a feeling, but rather an action or activity, that involves a lot of risk-taking (Peck talks about risks of independence, of commitment, of confrontation, and of loss). True love requires discipline and recognition of the needs of the self and others.
The final two sections of the text deal with aspects of religion on the spiritual and psychological development of persons. The first section looks at religion and growth processes. He does a short survey of some attitudes toward religions and denominations, as well as a look at how the modern scientific mindset colours the worldview of modern people, particularly with ideas of verification and skepticism. Some psychologists and theorists have wondered if religion were mass delusions, mass psychosis, or some other kind of sickness. Peck uses interesting extended case studies here to examine the role of various aspects of religion in the developmental lives of several people. Peck asks the question, `Is belief in God a psychopathology?' In some aspects, and for some people, the way they approach and `use' religion, the answer may well be yes. However, Peck also takes the psychotherapeutic community to task for often being too narrow or too dismissive of the value of religious sentiment and institutions in the lives of their charges.
The final section looks at the role of grace in the spiritual growth process. Grace is another mysterious force, like love, that is difficult to pin down and explain. It is also something uncontrollable. Why do some with artistic talent end up being successful and celebrated, and others not? Why do some use their talent, when others don't? In cases of ultimate despair, Peck makes the observation that while it is often clear why some people commit suicide, it is not often clear why others in the same situations don't. Some of this has to do with the unconscious mind that guides us, and some of it has to do with the miracle of serendipity, as Peck describes it.
Peck describes in some detail his concept of what grace is and how it works, in very general terms that relate to no denomination or religion in particular, but has wide applicability. He talks both about resistance to grace and the welcoming of grace. Grace is not easy, and often comes with responsibilities (Bonhoeffer talks about cheap grace; the requirements of grace are noted through scriptures of many religions). Welcoming grace welcomes often more than we bargained for, but also often more than we hoped.
In his afterword, Peck discusses the difficulties of writing in an organised and linear fashion about something so fundamentally disorganised as spiritual growth and therapeutic processes. He also talks about the need for finding competent help when required - ability is not measured by degrees, he states (something true in many professions). This is useful for those seeking a first therapeutic relationship, or needing a change.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 1999
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2010
A book like this probably only comes along once in any lifetime, and sadly for most people, they will never hear of it.

I will try to list just a few of the things that it can do for any reader.

It will:

1.if properly read and understood, be a means of guidance through the labyrinth of human relationships.

2. It will reinforce ones own inner guidance and conscious.

3. Enable you to give advice and guidance to those who bring their troubles to you.

4. Enable you both to know why you should care for and love yourself, and how you can do that.

Give it as a gift to anybody that you care for

John Bowditch
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
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 is 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. Dedication and application to problem-solving and long-term building (whether it be of retirement funds or of one's own spirit) requires a disciplined approach that recognises that life is difficulty (the first of Buddha's Four Noble Truths, cited by Peck), gratification sometimes needs to be delayed for greater goods, and reality needs to be approached and dealt with responsibly.
Peck calls here for a life to be totally dedicated to the truth. This is hard, because we as human beings are so accustomed to rationalisation and reinterpretation. This kind of dedication also requires a balance in life, and an ability to be flexible as the truths of our lives change - few of us are in possession of timeless and eternal truths governing every aspect of our lives, and often those who feel they are end up disappointed in the end. The continuing creativity of God in our lives requires flexibility, but this is best achieved in a disciplined and balanced context.
Peck then turns to love, a mysterious thing even in the best of times. He identifies some of the myths of `falling in love' and romantic love that our culture through various means idealises, leading to great dissatisfaction when we do not achieve the desired feelings or situations. Peck makes the assertion that love is not really a feeling, but rather an action or activity, that involves a lot of risk-taking (Peck talks about risks of independence, of commitment, of confrontation, and of loss). True love requires discipline and recognition of the needs of the self and others.
The final two sections of the text deal with aspects of religion on the spiritual and psychological development of persons. The first section looks at religion and growth processes. He does a short survey of some attitudes toward religions and denominations, as well as a look at how the modern scientific mindset colours the worldview of modern people, particularly with ideas of verification and skepticism. Some psychologists and theorists have wondered if religion were mass delusions, mass psychosis, or some other kind of sickness. Peck uses interesting extended case studies here to examine the role of various aspects of religion in the developmental lives of several people. Peck asks the question, `Is belief in God a psychopathology?' In some aspects, and for some people, the way they approach and `use' religion, the answer may well be yes. However, Peck also takes the psychotherapeutic community to task for often being too narrow or too dismissive of the value of religious sentiment and institutions in the lives of their charges.
The final section looks at the role of grace in the spiritual growth process. Grace is another mysterious force, like love, that is difficult to pin down and explain. It is also something uncontrollable. Why do some with artistic talent end up being successful and celebrated, and others not? Why do some use their talent, when others don't? In cases of ultimate despair, Peck makes the observation that while it is often clear why some people commit suicide, it is not often clear why others in the same situations don't. Some of this has to do with the unconscious mind that guides us, and some of it has to do with the miracle of serendipity, as Peck describes it.
Peck describes in some detail his concept of what grace is and how it works, in very general terms that relate to no denomination or religion in particular, but has wide applicability. He talks both about resistance to grace and the welcoming of grace. Grace is not easy, and often comes with responsibilities (Bonhoeffer talks about cheap grace; the requirements of grace are noted through scriptures of many religions). Welcoming grace welcomes often more than we bargained for, but also often more than we hoped.
In his afterword, Peck discusses the difficulties of writing in an organised and linear fashion about something so fundamentally disorganised as spiritual growth and therapeutic processes. He also talks about the need for finding competent help when required - ability is not measured by degrees, he states (something true in many professions). This is useful for those seeking a first therapeutic relationship, or needing a change.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 1999
If you're looking for "more" in your family life, work, friendships - this book provides the definition of principles and values for living a full life, concepts of the sort that weren't emphasized much for many in our generation. For example, the concept of delayed gratification. Why wait when I can have it now? If "quick fix" doesn't do it for you anymore, read this book (it in itself is not a quick fix, so more than once to ponder the theories and relate them to your own life and actions) to map out a strategy for self-discovery, personal growth, and true love (the definition of which will make you think hard about how you think you "love" others). And for a person who has lived a life without a formal religious background or any other "spiritual training," it's an interesting introduction to the definition and concept of spirituality. It's an uncomfortable read at times, but also very exciting. I highly recommend this fascinating book.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 1998
This is a very inspiring book for those who need answers about self discipline, love, faith and spiritual growth. Psychology professors have recommended this book from some time and I understand why. It takes the reader into a deeper look at what love is and the author spends quite some time explaining what it is not. I agree on some of his proposals but the only problem I find with his insights is that they are too simplistic. His definition of love is way to general and although he painstakingly emphasized that, all and all, love is the basic act of a couple's boundaries collapsing, I still feel that this does not apply in all situations. And I really didn't agree with his idea that falling in love is as a "trap" into marriage. Again too simplistic and not to mention cynical and sarcastic. There are a lot of things that disturb me about this book. I feel the author is a little rough on the parents and should read Louise L Hayes books and give parents some credit. No one is perfect!! Remember: one should understand how parents work with their children. They are doing the best they can from what they have learned themselves from their own parents. This is how they've been conditioned. Come on..I know there are some really BAD parents out there. But for those who do not live up to their child's EVERY need, one can not equate that with evil (yes, he equates laziness with evil.. again too simplistic and false, but that's another book). Toward the end of the book... Peck practically gives us his testimony.. It was very inspirational for those seeking to reach their higher self.. but if you are not a Christian you will feel left out i would have given this book fewer stars but there ARE a look of good insights in this books.. especially the chapters on self-discipline.. can't blame the world for your troubles.. you got to get up and work to achieve you main goals in life... eventually into spiritual growth. I also agreed with his view on changing and how he equated it with maturity. Peck's a very stern, no-nonsense speaker and a good thinker. I would recommend this book for those looking for answers to why their life is going no where, but at the same time I would recommend they disregard some of his theories to achieve the maximum effect of this book (and also prevent them from getting upset and throwing the book). Remember it's ok to disagree with what you read in this book. Peck has a way of making things seem so definite and written in stone just because he says so. I've read plenty of his books so I know!
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2004
This is a book Ive bought about 10 times to give to friends who need some support and ideas to rejuvenate their lives. Packed full of straight talking wisdom this book has made my friends gasp with the revelations of how life can be when we are given examples of how to live. Its not religious, its not really even moralistic its just plain old back to basic thinking.
In times when the world confuses most of us and our lives seem to be skidding out of control this allows you to put the breaks on and even change direction. Sound impossible? I promise once you read this book your life will change forever. Unmissable and important to your collection however large or small.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2001
This is a life changing book. It was given to me by an ex-partner who in turn received it from a friend who thought he would benefit from it. However my ex-partner couldn't get past the first few pages - it was already too painful.
M.Scott Peck writes so fluently that it is almost as if he's in the room with you, as if you were in a therapy session. That is the first time you feel his genuine love for you despite his never meeting you. The book had been described before as an act of love itself and that basically sums it up. I have now passed the book on to a friend in need after reading it for the second time. It has given me the courage to seek therapy for myself with no sense of shame and indeed with a hunger to face the pain that is necessary for spiritual growth.
This book should be compulsary reading for all mankind. The human race would then have the chance to achieve it's true potential. Peck has managed to untangle so many strands of psychology then re-weave them again with consumate "grace". So much of my life is now filtered through this book and I will always be indebted to M Scott Peck for this gift, despite the pain that goes hand in hand with this life long spiritual development.
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