THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED: The Psychology of Spiritual Growth by

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED: The Psychology of Spiritual Growth

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sensible pop psychology by a religiously-minded psychiatrist. Peck builds his ideal vision of mental health around strenuous discipline, which rests in turn on love, defined as the will to extend oneself for the sake of spiritual growth, one's own or others'. The ""original sin"" in this scheme is laziness or ""entropy,"" i.e., inaction or cowardice in the face of love's challenges. What distinguishes Peck's approach from ordinary humanistic psychologies is his personal and professional experience of ""grace."" By this he means the whole range of phenomena, from the merely unexplained to the paranormal, which support the human spirit--serendipity, for example, or miraculous survival in devastating accidents. Grace operates in the ""interface between God and man,"" which is the frontier between our conscious and unconscious selves. Peck suggests that the unconscious is actually the indwelling presence of God. The goal of spiritual growth, then, is nothing less than the individual's becoming God, the ""attainment of godhead by the conscious self."" Exactly what Peck has in mind here isn't too clear. Nor does he shed much light on the connection between this ""new life form of God"" and the banal, bruising struggles of workaday life. But he offers a lot of reasonable advice (e.g., on the delusions of romantic love), and he backs it up with suitably disguised data from his private practice. His system, it seems, could get along quite well without religion, but his religious insights are alive and refreshingly non-dogmatic. Peck's faith in the virtues of psychotherapy, on the other hand, is far less critical, and he speaks of his backsliding patients with truly clerical indignation. On the whole, a useful, occasionally provocative, book.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Simon & Schuster