Formation Oftheir Children
"The road less traveled"
Reviewed by Arlinda Cera
Professor Timothy Hagen
BINF 1, BUS 108
M. Scott Peck (Simon & Schuster Publisher, US, 1988) pp 316, ISBN : 978-9928-02-624-8
In his book, Scott Peck brings into attention the Spiritual Growth, focusing mostly on ideas about love and relationships. The title of the book itself is as suggestive as glamorous at the same time, inviting you to a road that you can rarely go through. The reader suddenlyfinds himself as a participant in the road of self-raising. Since the aim of the author is to provide you help by understanding the meaning of things, this is considered a self- help book. The author gives suggestions about how to face our difficulties and that suffering is the only way to reach a higher level of self-understanding.
The book is divided into four main parts: discipline, love, growth and religion, grace. Each part contains the author's beliefs illustrated by specific examples from the real life during his work as a psychiatrist withhis patients.
In the first part Peckaddresses the notion of discipline. Peck say "Without discipline we can solve nothing. With only some discipline we can solve only some problems. With total discipline we can solve all problems." So, as we can see, the author gives the discipline a key role in dealing with difficulties. It is up to us what amount of discipline we decide to use. This is related with our willingness to solve the problems. In this part, Peck emphasizes the role of parents as decisive in the formation oftheir children's personality. Discipline is related with the acceptance of responsibility. There are two opposite disorders of responsibility: neurosis and character disorder.The first one has to deal with people who take more responsibility then they actually should. These kind of people are most likely to blame their self if something goes wrong and they are quite unhappy as they aim always the best. Character disorder is the other side of the coin. Denying responsibility and always pointing the finger to others lead to character disorder.Peck believes that the only way to solve the problems we may face is through sufferingusing the four aspects of discipline (delaying gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth, and balancing).
In the second part, Peck assumes love as an activity, not a feeling. According to the author the definition of love is"The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." We often generalize the meaning of love, seeing it only from the romantic perspective. There also exist a gap between instinct and love. Peck denies the possibility to fall in love. He shares this opinion because he thinks that people fall in love only when they are in an unconscious way sexually motivated. Instinct is the sexual attraction which is explained by Cathexis. We can definitely say that cathexis is not love. As Peck mentions "Love is as love does". Love is about giving not only receiving. It is about knowing and understanding other's emotions. Peck says that love is a decision, " Anyone can fall in love, but not everyone can decide to love. We may never control love's onset, but we may - with discipline - remain in charge of our response. And once these 'muscles' of love have been used, they tend to stay, increasing our power to channel love in the most life-giving and appropriate way." However, he faces another problem. The other problem is that falling in love is not permanent. It is something temporary that might fade away. According to Peck love is not a dependency, in love, when one says that he or she cannot live without another, then it is not love, this is a parasitic relationship. In love, two people can live without each other but choose to live with each other.
In the third part, Peck treats the religion. He believes that every individual has a religion. According to the author, religion is related to our worldview. Peck says "One of our problems is that very few of us have developedany distinctive personal life. Everything about us seems secondhand, even our emotions." What he is trying to say is that we accept things as they are without even questioning. Everything, including our emotions take a second place. We, as individuals must decide what we think is right for us to trust, without relying on the previous beliefs of our parents. It is our obligation and right to create our own worldview and seeing things from our perspective. Here comes the mental health and spiritual growth.
In the last part, Peck talks about grace. He defines grace as a miracle, which is noticed only by a few people.He explains the characteristics of grace, which are: it serves to nurture and its action is either incompletely understandable or totally obscure. The occurrence is frequent. Its origin is outside of human consciousness. In this section he also talks aboutunconsciousness. He says that our unconscious is more intelligent than our consciousness.
According to the author, the essence of this discipline of balancing is ‘giving up’. He explained it with an example, ‘when he was 9 years old and had just learned how to ride a bike and was exploring his skills. While riding, he gathered up speed which he found ecstatic, but there came a problem. He noticed a sharp turn, but to up this ecstasy by the application of breaks seemed self-punishment. So he resolved to simultaneous retaining his speed and negotiating the corner, which resulted in badly scratched and bleeding and twisted new bike.’ He had lost his ‘balance’. He was unwilling to give up the ecstatic speed in the interest of maintaining balance. So the author says that discipline has to be balanced. Courageous people must continually push themselves to be completely honest, yet must also possess the capacity to withhold the whole truth appropriately. To be free people we must assume total responsibility for ourselves, but in doing so must possess the capacity to reject responsibility that is not truly ours. To be organized and efficient, to live wisely, we must daily delay gratification and keep an eye on the future, yet to live joyously, we must also possess the capacity, when it is not destructive, to live in the present and act spontaneously.