Laura's Reviews > The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
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's review
Sep 28, 2007

did not like it
bookshelves: non-fiction

"Dr." Peck's first doorstop. Inexplicably, this sorry waste of time and paper remained on the NYT Bestseller list for something like ten years. (I don't know why I'm surprised, actually -- this is the same country that elected George W. Bush twice, not to mention the vulgar talking yam who now sits in the Oval Office.) If you were unfortunate enough to buy this, or have it given to you as a gift, do yourself a favor now: put this one the shelf right beside that other pop-pseudo-psychology piece of shit Michelle Remembers. Leave them both within spitting distance, and leave room next to them for anything written by "Dr." Fool. Do not open any of them, ever.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 28, 2007 – Shelved
September 28, 2007 – Shelved as: non-fiction

Comments (showing 1-50 of 69) (69 new)

message 1: by Recynd (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Recynd I'd be interested to know why you hated this book so much (besides "it's tripe", or "Peck's got his head up his ass"); I loved it, but I've been known to be easily tricked (especially if distracted by something twinkly).

Peck's lunacy wasn't clear to me until recently (his obsession with Satan and exorcisms); he reminds(ed) me of David Viscott, do you remember him? He was a call-in radio psychologist, who ended up chasing UFOs or some such...

Anyway, if you're so inclined, lay it (your thoughts re "The Road Less Traveled") on me.

message 2: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Well, it's tripe! Peck's got his head up his ass!

Hahaha, I slay me.

Where to begin. First of all, Peck mouths a lot of platitudes about how ambiguity is good, and how we should never be too sure of ourselves, etc., but good lord if there's a more smug, self-satisfied person anywhere, I sure haven't found him yet.

For example, Peck preaches the gospel of not following authority, unless, of course, the authority is M. Scott Peck. Anyone who challenges his authority is presented as wrong, misguided, or maybe even evil. For example, he discusses one difficult, combative patient who doesn't immediately roll over and piss herself in his presence -- is she perhaps troubled? Perhaps depressed and anxious? Nope, she's "evil," and that's his word, not mine. (One way he knows she's evil, btw, is that she prefers overcast days to sunny ones. I mean, what the fucking fuck?) People who don't share his visions of community? Yep, you guessed it -- they're "evil" too.

And he also presents himself as wielding godlike powers over his patients, curing them immediately with a kind word. For example, he has one patient who's promiscuous; the way Peck relates the story, once he tells her that he admires her, she suddenly, and as a direct result of his sharing his positive feelings for her, turns her life around, immediately settling down and getting married. The one patient he can't cure, who's resistant to his loving kindness? Apart from the fact that she's labeled as evil, her refusal to be cured by his pure goodness is presented to the readers as being due to her failing as a person, not his failings as a doctor. He then goes on to suggest, apparently with a straight face, that the better treatment for her would have been an exorcism. Well ok then!

He also happens to be a sexist pig: the bad patients are all sexually aggressive women who dare to challenge him, and he advances the old saw that schizophrenia is caused by bad mothers. I mean, did this man read any psychiatric studies written after 1935 or so?

This is all apart from the jaw-dropping banality of his writing, offering such platitudes as (here I paraphrase) "people are similar yet different" and "The false is unreal." Um, right. He even has a tin ear for dialog, and the accounts of his therapy sessions sound like they were churned out by a bot.

I bet you're sorry you asked, right?

message 3: by Recynd (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Recynd Okay, I just wrote this long ol' THING (not an essay, exactly, but LONG) in response to your answer to my request. I'm going to do us BOTH a favor and go to bed without sending the manifesto (THAT'S the word I was looking for!), I was waaaay too loose (the Ambien, you know), and I don't want you to get the wrong idea.

NO, I'm so NOT sorry I asked for clarification. As a matter of fact, you may be the one to change my mind regarding this book, but I'll need to sleep on it; then I'll give your points some thought, skim a page or two here and there, and cogitate. Cogitatin's important.

Anyway, a debt of gratitude is owed...I won't forget! Later, gator.

(Edited due to Ambien-induced prattling)

message 4: by Robbie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Robbie Bashore Laura:

I, too, was happy that Recynd asked you for clarification. I read this book so long ago that I couldn't really remember the specifics. For better or for worse, if I don't remember hating or loving a book, I usually give it a three. In reading your review, though, I'm sure I had a lot of the same complaints. I think the main thing I remember from the book was thinking of love as concern about somebody's spiritual development, which was a new idea for me. I doubt that I actually read the whole book, because the things you mentioned would have really turned me off.

I wanted to leave this comment about you reviews in general, though. I have had so many genuine lol's from them. Not the kind where I just type lol but only smile, but I really laugh out loud and my husband has to ask me what is so funny. Yet, your reviews are also quite intelligent. Thank you for contributing so much to goodreads. By the way, I have to say that one of my favorite Laura quotes is, "Fuck you, Nancy Drew!" :)

message 5: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:36PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Aw, thanks, Robbie, I really appreciate that so much!

message 6: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:36PM) (new)

Jessica Dear Laura,

You are an effing genius.


message 7: by Holly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:36PM) (new)

Holly Honestly, I think I love you now. :-)

I've never read this book but now I sort of want to, in a sick way. Used to work in a bookshop when this was on The List. Along with: The Rules, Men Are From Mars, The Celestine Prophecy, Conversations With God, and A Boy Called "It." It was like a double trifecta of Psychobabblistic Crap.

message 8: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:37PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura If I saw people buying this thing a few times a week or a day, I would probably have bitten my tongue so hard it would have been cut in half eventually.

message 9: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:37PM) (new)

Jessica "a double trifecta of Psychobabblistic Crap" is very fine.

message 10: by Recynd (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:38PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Recynd After considerable thought (Hee! Right. But SOME thought, for sure.), your take on this book (and Peck, in general) is 100% accurate.

I read this book over 20 years ago (and closer to 25, I'm afraid); I was young, and most certainly dumb. Now, I've never been accused of being a deep thinker, but back in the day, I was a bit of Though I did a lot of reading, it was mostly of the light-ish variety (Jackie Collins, Harold Robbins, Rona know, the classics). When I picked this baby up, I think it was the first time I really realized that there was more to my world than just ME.

But just because the book jolted me a little, in the right direction, doesn't mean that it was GOOD, because, on second look, yeesh.

Peck is (was), indeed, an insufferable, smug, self-satisfied boor. At best.

Your points are all spot-on accurate. And while Peck managed to impress a 17-year-old nitwit with all the depth of sitz bath, you were able to impress a much older and much wiser one.

I AM glad I asked!!

Oh, and to Holly: You want a train-wreck? Try "People of the Lie" and his most current one, about exorcisms and the Devil (forget the name)...those'll do it :)

message 11: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:39PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Woo! Book burning party at Recynd's house!

Patricia Terry I enjoyed the book tremendously and it seems to me you missed the point...your preconceived notions about Peck seemed like an attack on his character not his message. Your ability to be so uncivil and rude lead me to believe you are almost too smart for your own good and I wonder what type of road you are traveling on.
Too bad you attack the person which such incredible lack of class it leads me to believe you may be a person described in people of the lie...they lie to themselves on a day to day basis and congratulate themselves over how smart they are.
My question to you... is are you at least over forty? have you raised children? have you experienced a tremendous illness like this man did? Do you walk the walk or do you live in a house of matches that will one day go up in. Smoke.

message 13: by Laura (last edited Aug 23, 2010 05:57AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Actually, there's only one person in this thread who's been uncivil and rude. I'm having some trouble remembering, but it was the one who came around making unfounded, ill-informed accusations about what kind of a person I am and what kind of life I'm living, and -- oh, wait, that's you! And wait, I see you also attacked me and not my review! Huh. Looks like Peck has nothing on some of his followers in the hypocrisy department.

Patricia Terry You are wounded

Get help.

message 15: by Laura (last edited Sep 30, 2012 09:07PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Oh blah blah blah, you sanctimonious twat. Save your concern trolling for someone who gives a shit.

message 16: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn I haven't read this book (and now, after reading your review, will not), but I have thoroughly enjoyed this exchange.

message 17: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Yay! (I have to admit I get a little nervous when I see someone has commented on this review, in fear it'll be another one like ol' What's-Her-Name up there.

message 18: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn I feel like I found my support group for people who can't stand people like Liz Gilbert.

message 19: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Oh my god, DO NOT GET ME STARTED on her.

message 20: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Please tell me you've written a review on her; I am going to look for it now..

message 21: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura No, I haven't, I'm afraid. I tried Eat, Pray, Puke, and threw it across the room maybe 25 pages in. If that much.

message 22: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn I'm only slightly further; I hate not finishing books but I don't know if I can read any more without developing anger management problems.

message 23: by Jason (new)

Jason M I liked it

message 24: by Anne (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anne R You don't have to agree with every word written in this book but I think those who had such a negative reaction might need to open their minds to a different way of looking at themselves. If after thoughtfully and calmly, instead of with manic anger, considered what they read and simply cannot relate to it then fine but many people found help and healing from this book.

message 25: by Laura (last edited Mar 08, 2011 10:17AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Yes, I understand that. The review is, obviously, my own opinion.

message 26: by Anne (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anne R Laura, I give you 5 stars for calmly responding to my comment. So often I have found people just shot off unkind hurtful remarks. Thanks for helping restore my faith in the good people out there and letting us just have a friendly exchange of idea.

message 27: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Well, I don't argue with the characterization of "manic anger." That's how I always react when I feel condescended to, and I felt condescended to when I read this book.

Derek Manuel Laura, while I agree that Peck's presentations of his patients are often simplistic, his "bad patients" were not all sexually aggressive women, and he actually told more than one story about patients he could not cure. He is a pompous ass, to be sure, but unlike his later shenanigans, I find his pompous-assedness essentially charming in this one. Of course, I read this book during an extremely difficult time in my life and it actually did help me, so make of that what you will.

message 29: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura I'm sure you're right that they're not all sexually aggressive women; they were certainly the ones that stood out in my mind when I wrote my comments above, and I probably just tended to just forget about the other ones.

Derek Manuel Understandable. I expected not to enjoy this book at all and not to get anything helpful out of it, and it surprised me on both counts. However, I'm really surprised it's as popular as it is. It seems to me as though it should, for one reason or another, turn off almost everyone who reads it.

message 31: by Kurt (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kurt Gielen Sometimes life is "stranger than fiction" is one of my favourite Bad Religion songs.
After this discussion I can only hope that somebody someday will right a song called "Sometimes life is stranger than non-fiction"!

Thank you all for this highly entertaining discussion and I'm sorry Laura but all of this makes me want to read this book even more! :-)

message 32: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Everyone should read it; that way everyone will know how badly it sucks. Ha ha, just kidding. Sort of.

Benjamin Hulme @Laura. Forgive me if I missed it, but what is a better alternative? I thought this book was great, but if you have a better alternative, I would love to check it out. :)

Crystal I think he said important things, and the book can't be discredited so readily. I also don't think I'm stupid. So, it's one of those books I hope people at least TRY to read. Either you get something out of it, or you don't. But chances are, what you do get out of it will be really helpful. I've read books that were almost painful to read--terrible writing, horrible citation, lots of eye-rolling moments--but the overall message was extremely good, life-changing even. It seems a pity that a bad review (like this one) could stop people from giving it a go. You have a right to your opinion for sure, but surely it wasn't completely irredeemable. Right? I'm curious to know what books you DO find "life-changing"? I'm genuinely interested since you seem to set such a high bar.

Ornette Waite I can hear Dr. Peck ringing your phone now. . . "Laura, please come back to therapy. . . " Far be it for me to change your mind or your opinion but something tells me anyone that would actually be dissuaded from reading this book by buying into your scathing rhetoric and overt hostile sarcasm should consider otherwise. Distasteful.

message 36: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura I'm sorry -- are "scathing rhetoric" and "overt hostile sarcasm" supposed to be insults? How hopelessly un-New Age of you.

message 37: by Mary (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mary Storm I found the book both off putting in its condescension and also refreshing in its attempt to "de-medicalize" psychological pain. Maybe we need to look at the era of its publication....We are perhaps more sophisticated 40 years on? Why do you put "Dr" in quotation marks, didn't he have a legit medical degree?

message 38: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Ah, another one of Dr. Peck's gentle, enlightened disciples. Well played, sir.

message 39: by Desiderata (new)

Desiderata With those anger issues you need some kind of self help book. Hope you find it soon.

message 40: by Laura (last edited Sep 22, 2013 08:34PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Thanks, but I'd rather stick to non-stupid methods of getting whatever help I need. I might suggest that you do the same.

James so, is there a book in the self-help category you would recommend?

message 42: by Ritchey (new)

Ritchey Canada You all seem like very angry people, why all of the anger? And no matter the cause why inflict more damage than has already been done to others if you already know how it feels to be hurt?

message 43: by Vivienne (new)

Vivienne Murray Thanks for the review. The book sounds Pop-Psychology and out-dated.

As a Remedial Massage Therapist for 25 years i have minimal tolerance for self-help stuff which follows/offers 'scripted' like cliches as enlightened advice.

Whilst i agree that simple truths can be life changing, the premise that any dissenting view is evil rather than say a different view or even challenging the accepted view i.e. healthy is dangerous/authoritarian. These books e.g. Celestine Prophecy attain cult-like status and can result in bull-shit mentality behaviour on a collective scale.

In the 90's in the Natural Therapies Industry it was commonly accepted/expected that before doing a massage you, the practioner, should 'protect yourself with white light'. The premise being that the 'pure, nearly enlightened, western hippie' had to ensure OUR fantastical healing abilities weren't sullied by the 'negativity' of the 'unhealed' (paying) client. Absolutely, f#@king nauseating. And dangerous - only because Western natural pra tioners present this rubbish with such God-given authority. And unsuspecting clients bekieve it.

Like the client i massaged several years ago who had been told by her undoubtedly enlightened Massage Therapist (10 years prior) that the client's 'negative' energy had adversely affected the therapist.This client look ed very worried and asked whether i would be harmed by her evidently 'extremely negative' energy during the massage. I assured the client that her energy was fine/normal and pointed out all the above, cited the Celestine Prop. as western hippie rubbish and that she had paid for a massage, NOT a spiritual assesment.

Another reviewer said the author if ARLT suggested he would sleep with/have sex with a client if he considered that may help his client to heal. I rest my case.

James You have a lot to say about a book you haven't read.

message 45: by Sean (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sean Lawrence You made 0 points against this book. more of a rant than a review

message 46: by Gari (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gari Worzalla Perhaps you are too far gone to find the utility of this amazing book!

message 47: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Tuttle "... pearls to the swine"

Khris Devoto Questions:

when did this deep hostility start in your life?

What does Peck have to do with Bush (other than the song my grandmother used to sing to me that she loved me 'a bushel and a peck and a hug around my neck)?

Have you gotten help yet?

If not, why not? (Happiness is a choice)

If so, what route did your salvation come from?

These are not rhetorical questions.

Even though we have never met, I know God loves you and has an important purpose for your life. I hope you find it.

Many, MANY blessings to you whether you choose to respond or not!

Nemanja dont agree...

message 50: by Abhijiet (new)

Abhijiet In the past 12 minutes, I read 8 years worth comments. A book, is a book, is a book! We all have opinions. I like Brain Tracy's thought process and his books, my close friend doesn't..... We still talk to each other, about other stuff.

This book is a three for me, I would suggest "How to Live on 24 hours a Day" by Arnold Bennett.

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