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The roadlesstraveled

  1. 1. THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growthby M. Scott Peck, M.D.These pages are a summary of Dr. Peckʼs book that consist mostly of centralstatements of the various concepts. The page numbers refer to my particular copy ofthe book and may not be correct for other copies.This summary is not meant to be a substitute for the book but an encouragement to getone for your self. They are available on-line.William
  2. 2. SECTION I DISCIPLINEPROBLEMS AND PAIN p 15Life is filled with problems and pain. It takes discipline to deal with them. It is onlybecause of the problems that we grow mentally and physically. Many people attempt toavoid problems and suffering instead of dealing with them. But there are tools to dealwith them.DELAYING GRATIFICATION p 18This means to meet necessary pain first to get it over with and then experience thepleasure. “This is the only decent way to live.” Adolescents often donʼt get it.SINS OF THE FATHER p 21Some parents administer undisciplined discipline and thereby set their kids off wrong.Good discipline requires time and love. This will make them feel worthwhile and fostertheir self-discipline..PROBLEM SOLVING AND TIME p 27Take the time to develop effective solutions. Problems usually donʼt go away of theirown accord; itʼs best not to ignore them. Children often do not “grow out of it”RESPONSIBILITY p 32We must accept responsibility for a problem before we can solve it.NEUROSES AND CHARACTER DISORDERS p 35The neurotic assumes too much responsibility; the character disordered individual, notenough. The neurotic says, “I ought to”, “I should”. C.D. says, “I canʼt,” “I couldnʼt.”Big problem: to distinguish between what we are and what we are not responsible for. Ittakes self examination. Parents need to help kids in this. CDʼd people make poorparentsESCAPE FROM FREEDOM p 39Sometimes we refuse to take responsibility for a problem. We may give away ourpower to “fate,” “society,” government, corporation or boss.DEDICATION TO REALITY p 44Truth is reality The more clearly we see reality, the better we are able to deal with theworld. Many people lack a good ”map” of the world because: (a) its difficult to make the
  3. 3. map or it is too small or incomplete. And the world is constantly changing. Sincechanging the map to match the new situations, many people will try to destroy the newreality.TRANSFERENCE: THE OUTDATED MAP p46Transference is the clinging to an outmoded view of reality and is the basis for muchmental illness. One is using a childhood way of responding to the world after havingbecome an adult (or assuming that all people are like your abusive or untrustworthyparents). “Truth or reality is avoided when painful. We can revise our maps only whenwe have the discipline to overcome that pain.”OPENNESS TO CHALLENGE p 51The process of constant self examination and contemplation is necessary for ultimatesurvival. “The only way we can be certain our map of reality is valid is to expose it to thecriticism and challenge of other map-makers.” Accept--donʼt avoid challenge. We needto accept a life of complete honesty so that the words we say and the way we say themreflect the truth or reality as we know it. “The reason people lie is to avoid the pain ofchallenge and its consequences.... Lying is an attempt to circumvent legitimate sufferingand hence is productive of mental illness.”WITHHOLDING TRUTH p 59 “Lying can be divided into two types: white lies and black lies. A black lie is a statementwe make that we know is false.” White lies may be as destructive as black lies.“ A whitelie is a statement that in not in itself false, but leaves out a significant part of the truth.”Parents often white-lie to their children to “protect” them, but such protection usuallyamount to deprivation, in that the kids donʼt learn the necessary realities of life. Andtheyʼre also deprive of the assurance that might come from an open discussion of the“dangerous” topics. Selective withholding of insight or information may, at times, beappropriate. A decision to withhold the truth should never by based on personal needsbut based entirely upon the needs of the person or organization from whom the truth iswithheld--and to determine what these needs are is difficult and requires genuine love.“The energy required for self discipline and honesty is far less than the energy requiredfor secretiveness.”BALANCING p 64“The type of discipline required to discipline discipline is what I call balancing...”For example, we need to balance how we express anger--to match the right time withright style of expression. “Mature mental health extraordinary capacity toflexibly strike and continually restrike a delicate balance between conflicting needs,goals, duties, responsibilities, directions, et cetra.” You may have to give up wellestablished patterns of behavior to “travel very far on the journey of life.” Scott relatesthe story of a chess game he had with his daughter when he was so intent to win thathe was insensitive to her needs.
  4. 4. THE HEALTHINESS OF DEPRESSION p 69The feeling of giving up something loved is depression. ”And since mentally healthyhuman beings grow and since giving up or loss of the old self is an integral part ofmental and spiritual growth, depression is a normal and basically healthy phenomenon.”Working your way through mid-life and other crises is painful but necessary for mentalhealth and happiness.RENUNCIATION AND REBIRTH p 72The giving up of the self is vital for the growth of the human spirit. This is calledbracketing--putting oneʼs self aside--to make room for new material into the self. In otherwords, one can and should put aside (bracket) preconceived ideas and emotionaldistortions and welcome strangeness and novelty. “For us to develop a new and betteridea, concept, or theory of understanding, means that the old idea, concept, theory ofunderstanding must die.” Yes, the spiritually evolved person must suffer to arrive andcontinue. “Then why desire to evolve at all, you may ask. If you ask this question,perhaps you do not know enough of joy. Perhaps you may find an answer in theremainder of this book; perhaps you will not.” There are no shortcut to sainthood. Youneed discipline in employing these basic techniques: delaying gratification, assumptionof responsibility, dedication to the truth or reality, and balancing.. SECTION II LOVELOVE DEFINED p 81Love is the force that provides motive and force for discipline. Peckʼs definition: “...thewill to extend oneʼs self for the purpose of nurturing oneʼs own or anotherʼs spiritualgrowth.” Many acts that seem to be of love are not. We need to distinguish betweenconscious and unconscious purposes in the mind of the lover. The act of loving helpsthe lover to evolve to a higher state and our spiritual development is important forourselves and others. ”When we love someone our love become demonstrable or realonly through our exertion; is effortful. ”Love is an act of will. We chose to love.FALLING IN “LOVE” p 84That ”falling in love” is love is a potent misconception. It is: sex-linked and temporary, arelief from loneliness, and a sudden collapse of ego boundaries. Falling in love is not anact of will. When kids grow up to be adolescent, they feel constrained by the boundariesof their flesh, the limits of their power, and societal pressures. Falling in love allows atemporary escape. When we are attracted toward, invested in and committed to anobject outside ourselves, we “cathect” that object. And this can help us give up egoboundaries.THE MYTH OF ROMANTIC LOVE p 91Some mythical elements are:--It will last forever.
  5. 5. --The match was “predetermined in the stars”--There is only one Mr. or Mrs “Right.”“The myth of romantic love is a dreadful lie. Perhaps it is a necessary lie in that itensures the survival of the species and the seeming validation of the falling-in-loveexperience that traps us into marriage.” Yet “millions of people waste vast amounts ofenergy desperately and futilely attempting to make the reality of their lives conform tothe unreality of the myth.”MORE ABOUT EGO BOUNDARIES p 94Romantic “love” and real love both involve a going beyond our ego boundaries . Theprocess of investment and commitment to a person or object beyond ourselves is called(by psychiatrists) “cathexis.” Cathecting a person or object or thing or activity givespractice in going beyond your ego boundaries and this is helpful toward doing real love.A mystical experience may, for a moment, free us from ego.DEPENDENCY p 98“The second most common misconception about love is the idea that dependency islove. Dependency is “the inability to experience wholeness or to function adequatelywithout the certainty that one is being actively cared for by another.” “People with thisdisorder, passive dependent people are so busy seeking to be loved that they have noenergy left over to love.” Passive dependent people are self-centered and lack love forothers. They envision only one effortless state of receiving care. “Passive dependencyhas its genesis in lack of love.” (from the parents of the p.d. person). When p.d. peopledo things for others it is to cement attachment and assure their own care. Lack of lovefrom the parents is the cause of p.d. in their children. P.d. may appear to be love but itis a form of “antilove.” “It seeks to receive rather than to give.”CATHEXIS WITHOUT LOVE p 106Cathexis means extreme involvement to a person or object beyond ourselves.“Sometimes, it is precisely because they are substitutes for self-development thathobbies are so popular. Itʼs unfortunate that we say he ”loves” golf. Some mothers willlove their children until they get to be a “nuisance” (at about age 2) and then almosttotally abandon them---thereby instilling a depressive and/or passive dependentpersonality pattern. Paternal instinct is not really love. “Love is judicious giving,withholding, arguing, confronting, urging, struggling, pushing and pulling in addition tocomforting.”“SELF SACRIFICE” p 111“The motives behind injudicious giving and destructive nurturing are many but suchcases invariably have a basic feature in common: the ʻgiverʼ,under the guise of love, isresponding to and meeting his or her own needs without regard to the spiritual needs ofthe receiver.” Peck relates the story of a minister who provided everything for his familyexcept thoughtful guidance. A more serious perversion of love is masochism--”in whichpeople unconsciously desire hurt and be hurt by each other through their non-sexualinterpersonal relations.” A woman may allow herself to be continually mistreated by her
  6. 6. husband in order to feel superior. “In the case of genuine love, the aim is alwaysspiritual growth. In the case of non-love the aim is always something else.”LOVE IS NOT A FEELING P 116Love is action, an activity, not a feeling. “The misconception that love is a feeling existbecause we confuse loving with cathecting. We may cathect an an object with orwithout a spirit. “The fact that we cathect another does not mean we care about thatpersonʼs spiritual development. The intensity or our cathectilng has nothing to do withwisdom or commitment.“ “Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional.”THE WORK OF ATTENTION P 120Moving ourselves against laziness is called work. Moving out in the face of fear is calledcourage. Love is a work (or courage) directed toward the nurture of our own oranotherʼs spiritual growth. “The principal form that love takes is attention. ”Attention isan act will, of work, against the inertia of our own minds. The most important way inwhich we can exercise attention is by listening. Here are five way one might respond toa six-year-old:(1) Forbid talking.(2) Permit the chatter but donʼt listen to it.(3) Pretend to listen.(4) Selective listening(5) Full and complete attention. This requires the most energy.You donʼt have to do #5 all the time What is required is a balance when listening to thekids. Donʼt be deceived. What you think is # 5 listening may only be # 3. Why bother?Your kid (s) will feel valuable, they will rise to your expectation of them; youʼll discovertruly significant stuff; and the more you know about your child, the more you will be ableto teach. Most couples never truly listen to each other. True listening will graduallyimprove with practice but it never becomes effortless. While listening is the mostimportant form of attention, there are others: game playing with children, familyactivities, chauffeuring, etc.THE RISK OF LOSS P 131Peck relates the story of that reclusive church-goer who sits in the back pew and leaveseven before the minister can greet his flock at the exit. She is afraid to extend herself tomeet and interact with people. “If you move out to another human being, there is alwaysthe risk that that person will move away from you, leaving you more painfully alone thanyou were before.” If someone is unwilling to risk pain, that person must do without manythings, like getting married, having children, etc. A full life will be full of pain--and joy asreward. “The attempt to avoid legitimate suffering lies at the root of all emotional illness.”THE RISK OF INDEPENDENCE P 134“Growing up is the act of stepping from childhood into adulthood. Actually, it is more ofa fearful leap than a step, and it is a leap that many people never really take in theirlifetimes. Peck tells the story of his own leap. Obviously, he survived--because of theexcellent parenting he had received. Many never take the leap and remain “children” of
  7. 7. their parents--even when their parents are long dead and buried. These leaps are actsof self love, which provides the motive and courage. “It is only when one has taken thestep into the unknown of total selfhood, psychological independence, and uniqueindividuality that one is free to proceed along still higher paths of spiritual growth andfree to manifest love in its greatest dimensions.”THE RISK OF COMMITMENT P 140“Whether it be shallow or not, commitment is the foundation, the bedrock of anygenuinely loving relationship. Deep commitment does not guarantee the success of therelationship but does help more than any other factor to assure it.” Characterdisordered people seem to lack the capacity to form commitment; neurotics arefrequently paralyzed by the fear of it. Peck relates the story of Rachel, who, because ofpoor parenting, was unable to “let go.” After several years of therapy (commitment fromPeck) she came to realize that she might safely release at least parts of her being tobecome joyful and light-hearted. “It is impossible to truly understand another withouttruly making room for that person within your self. This making room... requires anextension and therefore a changing of the self.” Parents should be able to change toadjust to their growing (adolescent) children.THE RISK OF CONFRONTATION p 150“...Possibly the greatest risk of love is the risk of exercising power with humility. Themost common example of this is the act of loving confrontation.” Impulsive criticism andconfrontation, “usually made in anger or annoyance, does more to increase the amountof confusion in the world than the amount of enlightenment.” Those who truly love mustask themselves “Am I being self-serving in believing that my beloved needsredirection?” Although one shouldnʼt confront impulsively, “to fail to confront whenconfrontation is required for spiritual growth represents a failure to love...” “Mutualloving confrontation is a significant part of all successful and meaningful humanrelationships.” Parents need to decide whatʼs best for their kids--confrontation or praiseor increase attention or story telling or some other form of influence. With confrontationyou are attempting to exert your will upon the world, that is playing God. Yet with “humility and love, humans can dare to be God.”LOVE IS DISCIPLINED P155We need to learn to manage our feelings (self-discipline).”If we are fortunate enough tobe in a position in which many people ask for our attention, we must chose among themwhom we are actually to love....Many factors need to be considered. primarily thecapacity of a prospective recipient to respond to that love with spiritual growth.” Somepeople can love not only family but other outside their family. But great self-discipline isrequired to avoid “spreading oneself too thin.” Yet, “genuine love is self-replenishing.The more I nourish spiritual growth in others, the more my own spiritual growth isnurtured.”LOVE IS SEPARATENESS P160“A major characteristic of genuine love is that the distinction between oneself andanother is always maintained and preserved....In its most extreme form the failure to
  8. 8. perceive the separateness of the other is called narcissism...Since they donʼt perceiveothers as others, but only as extensions of themselves, narcissistic individuals lack thecapacity for empathy, which is the capacity to feel what another is feeling. This lack ofseparateness can interfere with parenting and with marriage. It is the separateness ofthe partners that enriches the union...”sacrifices” on behalf of the growth of the otherresult in equal or greater growth of the self.” Marriage should be “a truly cooperativeinstitution, requiring great mutual contributions and care,time and energy but existing forthe primary purpose of nurturing each of the participants for individual journeys towardhis or her own individual peaks of spiritual growth.” “Genuine love not only respects theindividuality of the other but actually seeks to cultivate it, even at the risk of separationor loss.” From Kahil Gibran, in The Prophet: Let there be spaces in your togetherness And let the winds of the heavens dance between you Love one another but make not a bond of love Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls Fill each otherʼs cup but drink not from one cup Give one another your bread but eat not from the same loafLOVE AND PSYCHOTHERAPY P 169“ It is necessary to be honest in therapy at all times and to go out on a limb to trulyinvolve oneself on an emotional level in the relationship, to actually struggle with thepatient and with oneself.” True love between patient and therapist is normal and helpful.“For the most part, mental illness is caused by an absence of or defect in the love that aparticular child required from its particular parents...” and so the the therapist shouldsupply some of that missing love. But “in-love”-ness and sex are no-nos. You can, withmaturity, even practice psychotherapy with oneʼs family.THE MYSTERY OF LOVE P 180How us it that some individuals transcend a poor childhood to become mature andhealthy? And that some fail to respond to even expert therapy? “Clearly, there aredimensions of love that have not been discussed and are the most difficult tounderstand.” SECTION III GROWTH AND RELIGIONWORLD VIEWS AND RELIGION p 185“...No matter how limited or primitive or inaccurate--everyone has a religion. This fact,not widely recognized, is of the utmost importance: everyone has a religion.” (or worldview) We tend to define religion too narrowly. “But the fact of the matter is that everyonehas an implicit or explicit set of ideas and beliefs as to the essential nature of the world.”“Usually a personʼs religion or world view is at best only incompletely conscious.” “Whatwe learn about the nature of the world when we are growing up is determined by theactual nature of our experience in the microcosm of the family.” “But the most importantfactor in the development of the religion of most people is their culture...We tend to
  9. 9. believe what people around us believe.” The most important part of our culture is ourparticular family. “...Most of us are not fully aware of our own world views, and muchless the uniqueness of the experience from which they are derived.”THE RELIGION OF SCIENCE P193“The road to spiritual growth...lies in distrusting what we already believe, by activelyseeking the threatening and unfamiliar, by deliberately challenging the validity of whatwe have previously been taught and hold dear. The path to holiness lies throughquestioning everything.” “There is no such thing as a good hand-me-down religion.”By science, Peck means that our beliefs should be grounded on trusted repeatableexperience that can be verified by other people.THE CASE OF KATHY P197Peck relates the case of Kathy, a young woman who was so terrified that God mightpunish her for sins, that she had developed a system of chanting abbreviated prayers.This derived from narrow and misguided mothering and unsophisticated views of whatthe Catholic Church considered sin and what to do about it. It took several years oftherapy to get Kathy to think for herself and become a fully functional woman.THE CASE OF MARCIA P 209Marcia was a “poor little rich girlʼ whose life was completely joyless. She professedbeing a strident atheist Yet, with therapeutic help,”the concept of God began to assumeincreased influence.”THE CASE OF THEODORE P 210Ted had been living as a hermit for several years--unable to make any significantdecisions. Although he had an ordinary childhood in a stable, well-to-do home, he gotʻmessed up” after several disappointing love affairs when he was entering collegeand,also, a few months later. He had a lack of enthusiasm. It was revealed that his bestfriend had died. Although, in earlier years, he had been active in the church, theseevents evidently triggered a rejection of God. It was revealed that in Tedʼs youngeryears, he had been picked on by two older brothers (without parental intervention).“All life seemed a maelstrom of death and suffering, danger and savagery.” Ted, withPeckʼs help, overcame his neurosis and went to divinity school and used his wholename, Theodore, which means lover of God.THE BABY AND THE BATH WATER P 221“In their desire for simple solutions, scientists are prone to fall into two traps as theyquestion the reality of God. The first is to throw the baby out with the bath water. Andthe second is tunnel vision.” Some of the dirty water is: holy wars, inquisition, animalsacrifice, human sacrifice, superstition, stultification, dogmatism, ignorance, hypocrisy,self-righteousness, rigidity, cruelty, book-burning, witch-burning, inhibition, fear,conformity, morbid guilt, insanity. etc.” Yet scientists, themselves may be immature anddogmatic. Peck suggests that it is possible to “mature into a belief in God.” “There isreason to believe that behind spurious notions and false concepts of God, there lies areality that is God.”
  10. 10. SCIENTIFIC TUNNEL VISION P 225This probably results from the notion that pertinent fact must be measurable. Thingsnot easily studied do not merit study. In recent decades, however, technology hashelped to expand the range of scientific study. “The other development that is assistingus escape from scientific tunnel vision is the relatively recently discovery by science ofthe reality of paradox. for example, is light a wave and a particle at the same time? Theunification of science and religion is beginning. Peck states that his work with patients,at times seems to be “remarkably assisted in ways for which I had no logicalexplanation--that is, ways that were miraculous.” Peck cites a work by Stark andWashburn in which the miraculous is described not as extraordinary phenomena but asa way of perception of the world, ie,”paying full and close attention to the givens of life.”Peck urges caution. “This interface between science and religion can be shaky.” SECTION IV GRACETHE MIRACLE OF HEALTH P 235 “What follows will demonstrate grace to be a common phenomenon and, to a certainextent, a predictable one but the reality of grace will remain unexplainable within theconceptual framework of science and “natural law” as we understand it. It will remainmiraculous and amazing.” Peck is aware of many cases of mental and physical healththat are so much better than expected they could be called miraculous. ”There is aforce, the mechanism of which we do not fully understand, that seems to operateroutinely in most people to protect and encourage their physical health even under themost adverse conditions.”THE MIRACLE OF THE UNCONSCIOUS P 243The conscious mind is only a small part of the mind. The rest (some 95 percent) isunconscious. Dreams reveal the unconscious and therefore help psychotherapists withtheir work. And, the unconscious may communicate with us when we are awake. Forexample, idle thoughts. “Freud and his followers tended to perceive the unconscious aa repository of the primitive, the antisocial, and the evil within us.” Jung, helped tocorrect this contention with the phrase: “The wisdom of the unconscious.” Peck hasfound that many with mental illness are that way because they repressed unconsciousfeelings in order to avoid the pain of dealing with them. Sometimes the unconscioussneaks out with a “Freudian slip.”THE MIRACLE OF SERENDIPITY P 253“The fact that highly implausible events, for which no cause can be determined withinthe framework of known natural law, occur with implausible frequency has come to beknown as the principle of synchronicity.” Peck relates the story of his serendipitous stopon a mountain curve to avoid a terrible crash. There are freak accidents and well a freaknon-accidents, but these, says Peck, are in the minority.
  11. 11. THE DEFINITION OF GRACE P 260There seems to be a powerful force, “originating outside of of human consciousnessthat nurtures the spiritual growth of human beings.” It, perhaps, is responsible forphenomena with the following characteristics: they support and enhance human life andspiritual growth; their mechanism is obscure or paranormal; their occurrence is frequent;their origin is outside of conscious will. This is grace. Does it come from God?THE MIRACLE OF EVOLUTION P 263“Spiritual growth is the evolution of an individual.... Our lifetime offers us unlimitedopportunities foe spiritual growth until the end.” Evolution (spiritual or physical) ismiraculous. The second law of thermodynamics states that energy goes from greater tolesser states of organization. The end of this winding down or measure of disorderhas been termed entropy. But there seems to be a process (evolution) that worksagainst entropy in that animals and humans, over time, develop more complex physicaland mental systems.--thus defying the “natural law.” Regarding spiritual evolution, Pecksays: “There is a force that somehow forces us to chose the more difficult path wherebywe can transcend the mire and muck into which we are so often born.” Although humanbehavior seems “bad” today, in generations past such “bad” was acceptable. We have,through love, evolved. A miracle!THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA (the Beginning and the End) P 268Where does love come from? Or grace? We cannot answer these question withpresent-day science. We may answer, however, by affirming the existence of a lovingGod. What does God want of us? “God wants us to become Himself (or Herself orItself). We humans do not want to work that hard. But “growing toward Godhood is thegoal of evolution.” “The idea that God is actively nurturing us so that we might grow upto be like Him brings us face to face with our own laziness.”ENTROPY AND ORIGINAL SIN P271If we overcome laziness, other impediments to spiritual growth will beovercome. .”Laziness if the force of entropy as it manifests itself in the lives of all of us.”“Our failure to conduct --or to conduct fully and wholeheartedly--this internal debatebetween good and evil is the cause of those evil actions that constitute sin.” Humanbeings “fail to consult the God within them, the knowledge of rightness which inherentlyresides within the minds of all mankind.” This failure to listen to the God within Peckcalls laziness or original sin. a force of entropy. It may take the form of fear of having tochange and make adjustments. “Those who are in the advanced stages of spiritualgrowth are the very ones most aware of their own laziness.”THE PROBLEM OF EVIL P 277Peck states the four conclusions he has reached regarding the nature of evil.(1) Evil is real. There are people and institutions...who respond with hatred in the
  12. 12. presence of goodness...”(2) “Evil people hate goodness because it reveals their badness.” “Ordinary laziness if non-love; evil is anti-love.” “Evil is laziness carried to its ultimate, extraordinary extreme.”(3) “MY third conclusion is that evil is inevitable, at least at this stage in human evolution.(4) “I have come to conclude that while entropy is an enormous force, in its most extreme form of human evil, it is strangely ineffective as a social force.” Most of us are so horrified by evil that we attempt to purify ourselves and others. “Our personal involvement in the fight against the evil in the world is one of the ways we grow.”THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS P 280Spiritual growth is the growth or evolution of consciousness. “The development ofconsciousness is the development of awareness in our conscious mind of knowledgealong with our unconscious mind, which already possesses that knowledge.” In otherwords, we come to know consciously what we already “know” unconsciously. ”But westill have not explained how it is that the unconscious possesses all this knowledgewhich we have not yet consciously learned.” Possible answer: “The unconscious is Godwithin us”. This is the same as the Christian concept of the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit.“It is because our conscious self resists our unconscious wisdom that we become ill.”THE NATURE OF POWER P 285There are two kinds of power: political and spiritual. “Political power is the capacity tocoerce others, overtly or covertly, to do oneʼs will.” It derives from a personʼs positionand not from the person. The capacity of spiritual power is the “capacity to makedecisions with maximum awareness. Most people most of the time make decisions withlittle awareness of what they are doing.” But, with spiritual maturity, we can. ”We cancome to power.” Those who have “succeeded in coming into alignment with the mind ofGod” have a joyful humility. “The experience of spiritual power is also terrifying.” Ourgreater awareness may involve us in complex decision-making situations. Those withspiritual power can make those decisions wisely and with awareness and not shrinkfrom the job. Another problem with spiritual power is aloneness (not loneliness).Politically powerful people have their cronies; spiritually powerful people “will likely haveno one in his or her circle of acquaintances with whom to share such depth ofunderstanding.”GRACE AND MENTAL ILLNESS: THE MYTH OF ORESTES P 289All of us employ defense mechanism to limit our awareness of unpleasantries. Theunconscious may, however, attempt to wake us up through bad dreams, anxiety attacks,depressions, and other symptoms. This attempt of the unconscious to wake us up, Peckcall “grace, a gift of God.” Peck relates the story of Betsy, whose anxiety attacksprompted her to get help--which she did through Peck. Sadly, most people reject thisgift. Orestes, in the myth, takes responsibility for murdering his mother--even thoughApollo was willing to take the blame. Eventually,Orestes was relieved of the curse.
  13. 13. psychotherapists would like us to be like Orestes and take responsibility for our mentalillness.RESISTANCE TO GRACE P 297Why do so few people chose the path of spiritual growth? Typical pattern:Psychotics come from parental deprivation in early childhood (first nine months)Neurotics received poor parenting between the ages of two and five.Character-disordered. [not clear how or when] Some types are more difficult to healthan others. In any case the individual must have “the will to grow” in order to regainmental health. Lack of this will to grow is lack of love--or resistance to grace. Why?Laziness! --”the original sin of entropy with which we all have been cursed. ”The call tograce is a call to a life of effortful caring, to a life of service and whatever sacrificeseems required.”...”It is a call to total adulthood.”THE WELCOMING OF GRACE P 306Some who experience the new life of grace do not feel that they have earned it. “Thosewho are closest to grace are the most aware of the mysterious character of the gift theyhave been given.” And this awareness will give them a surer sense of direction andprovide encouragement. “The paradox that we both choose grace and are chosen bygrace is the essence of the phenomenon of serendipity...the gift of finding valuable oragreeable things not sought for.” “While the words of the prophets and the assistanceof grace are available, the journey must still be traveled alone--”and it is so lonely anddifficult that we often become discouraged.” Yet,”once we perceive the reality of grace,our understanding of ourselves as meaningless and insignificant is shattered.”AFTERWORD P 312Peck relates comments and questions from some readers of a prior edition of this book.Some questioned the efficacy of psychotherapy. Many, however, contributed letters andother things that were enriching. If you think you need a therapist, donʼt hesitate toshop around. Do trust your feelings and intuitions. Is he or she genuinely caring? Askthe the therapistʼs take on issues that are important to you. Word of mouth is a goodway to get started in your search. Government or hospital supported clinics areavailable for those who need financial help.