Peck's latest offering is the final installment of his ""Road Less Traveled"" trilogy (The Road Less Traveled, 1978, Further...


THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED AND BEYOND: Spiritual Growth in an Age of Anxiety

Peck's latest offering is the final installment of his ""Road Less Traveled"" trilogy (The Road Less Traveled, 1978, Further Along the Road Less Traveled, 1993) and a synthesis of his thinking to date. Is there a link between personal growth, spirituality, and basic mental health? Peck has spent much of his adult life arguing that such a link exists and struggling with the more difficult task of describing it. In this new work he focuses not on health but on its absence, asserting that many forms of human evil can be traced to a failure to face up to the challenge of thinking for ourselves. Confronted by life's complexities, we fall back on stereotypes in the way that we see things and treat each other. Peck goes on to argue that we must cultivate the ability to think clearly, as well as a healthy love of self (and an awareness of our own mortality), if we are not to be swept up in damaging group-driven behavior. He criticizes the denial of God and the human soul in many circles, not least by psychiatrists and the helping professions generally, as instances of simplistic thinking. As in The Road Less Traveled, Peck warns that, contrary to what our culture tells us, difficulty and pain are unavoidable ingredients of the process of personal growth. However, he now believes that his earlier stance in favor of traditional American individualism needs to be amplified by an awareness of our common interdependence and the notion of community. Peck speaks from his own personal and professional experience as a psychiatrist. This gives his writing a powerful existential quality; yet together with his habit of frequently quoting from his own books, it sometimes makes him sound pompous, as if he alone has honestly wrestled with the perennial philosophical and theological issues he raises. Generally balanced, though, and challenging; sure to appeal to Peck's large following.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997


Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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