Philosopher, psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck has passed away at his home in Connecticut. He was 69. The Road Less Traveled was more than just a self-help book. It didn't provide work sheets or personal empowerment tips, how to be more successful sellers or how to lose weight or gain the person of your dreams. It was an unadorned dose of reality. Life is difficult, are its first words, echoing the Buddha's noble truth. Pain is part of life, and it is only when we try to avoid necessary emotional pain, legitimate, existential pain, pain we are meant to feel in order to grow and change, as opposed to the misery we heap on ourselves for no good reason, do we run into psychiatric difficulty. Coping mechanisms eventually turn into neuroses when they are used too frequently. Neurotic people feel they are wrong in the world. Character disordered people believe that the world has wronged them. Neurotics are much easier to treat. The will to transform the character flaws which are instilled in us in childhood is a painful, ongoing process which frequently fails and can be of life-long duration.
There is nothing in Peck's book that sugar-coats life in America. For that reason, he is worth reading since he tries to tell it like it is. In addition, he does a masterful job of giving a crash course in psychology for the masses.