Item description for Behind the Masks: Personality Disorders in Religious Behavior by Wayne Edward Oates...
Overview A leading pastoral counselor describes in everyday language eight common personality disorders that result in destructive religious behavior. Dr. Oates discusses how the Christian faith can ''unmask'' disorders so the real person can emerge. Recommended for pastoral counselors.
Wayne Oates, one of America's leading pastoral counselors, draws on psychological insights to describe in everyday language several common personality disorders that make human interaction so difficult. He examines the reasons why individuals develop as they do and illuminates how personality disorders can result in destructive relgious behavior. Proposing pastoral care approaches that combine understanding with empathy and firmness, Oates discusses how the resources of the Christian faith can unmask these disorders so the real person can emerge. He concludes with a sixfold agenda for the total ministry of the church to prevent, affect, and deal with personality disorders.
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Studio: Westminster Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.9" Width: 6" Height: 0.4" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 1987
Publisher Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN 0664240283 ISBN13 9780664240288
Reviews - What do customers think about Behind the Masks?
Useful Aug 10, 2006
The citatations and material are somewhat dated, but they are accurate, relevant, and well researched as far as I can tell. Sometimes the author presents a tone of thinly veiled contempt for the subjects, but this is balanced out well by his own admissions of weaknesses and similar failings. Overall, a good informative book that could be more useful if brought up to date with DSM IV and with a few more modern references. Also, the work could benefit by more information on how to use the knowledge that is imparted, e.g. how people in a wider range of roles might implement plans for self-improvement and helping others. Overall an insight producing easy to read book with a straightforward and appropriately narrowed topic.
Very informative book Dec 7, 2004
Dr. Oates' purpose in writing this book was to offer an insight of "disorders" found among people at church and often within our own families. He focused on "disordered behaviors" in religious people. He believed that many individuals have "semblances of sanity" and the goal of church leaders and mentors is to "unmask" these behaviors so that the "image of God" can be seen instead. He stated that he wrote the book to aid parents, teachers, future leaders, and Christian ministers to "defuse name-calling" that "downgrades" Christian brothers and sisters (15).
Dr. Oates gave an overview of various "masks" then provided descriptions of how these masks appeared in our congregations. For instance, he devoted a chapter of his book on "persons on the edge of chaos." These are the people with "severe personality disorders" like borderline, paranoid, or schizotypal personalities (108). According to Dr. Oates, these people are "stably unstable" who experience "false starts" and "failures" in school, marriage, and work (110). They tended to have "outbursts of intense anger" that are "frequent" and "inappropriate," and experienced "turbulent shifts of mood" (i.e. from depression to anxiety to irritability then rage) (110). These individuals also committed acts that are "severely impulsive" (spending, sex, overeating, etc.). Since stress aggravates the symptoms of this disorder, Dr. Oates suggestions to ministers and church members on how to help people with Borderline Personality disorder in a church setting- be aware of "impending crises" in the person's life, such as "beginning and end of a school year," "anticipation of death from a prolonged illness in a parent or spouse," and "loss of a job" (116). If a person is emotionally or mentally diminishing, then it is the responsibility of ministers and church members to accompany the person to a doctor.
Another chapter I found insightful was entitled the "Mask of the Packaged Personality," dedicated to describing the "histrionic" person (30). Dr. Oates shared that this personality type is in need of developing "steadfastness" as a character trait (which is also referred to as personal "fidelity") (40). The community of believers should reinforce ideals of "faith, hope, and love that endures," by building and maintaining covenantal relationships with church members. In forming deeper friendships, emotional and spiritual support will be in place during times of losses and disappoints (41).
Although a person with narcissistic personality disorder has an "inflated self-esteem, "lack of empathy for others," "a grandiose imagination," and an "arrogant unflappableness," I found it interesting that narcissistic traits are not all negative. For example, Dr. Oates referred to this character type as "bundles of creativity that need taming" (54). These types of people have a "certain naivete" and "guilelessness" that he considered "rare metal in the human spirit" (55).
Dr. Oates discussed "formation and transformation" in the final chapter. He highlighted Galatians 2:20 in an effort to merge Paul's purpose in writing the passage with his own purpose in writing the book-that Christ must be formed in the believer. As I read Dr. Oates' book, I kept thinking about different people I have encountered in my church and I tried to decipher which mask they were "wearing." This book made me realize that there are ways people can minister to those with personality disorders, and ways in which people with personality disorders can minister to others. I agree with Dr. Oates' statement, "whatever God has called them to be and become, He does not intend that they be permanent mental patients" (118).
A Classic Jun 28, 2001
When Wayne Oates wrote his book fourteen years ago, the literature on personality disorders was very scarce. Back then, Hervey Checkley's 1941 book, THE MASK OF SANITY, had stood as the major source for years. Wayne communicates great concern for church people whose sanity is not an outward expression of an inward possession.
Despite the formality of the liturgical churches and the informality of the revivalistic churches, these church people have only gained a veneer of religiosity. Oates makes a striking comment on why parishioners and clergy with personality disorders are not deeply changed via participation in corporate worship or revival services. These large meetings lack the power of personal confrontation found in small groups or one on one.
Wayne gained much insight about personality disorders from various biblical characters. He found the writings of the early church fathers about disorders in religious people very insightful. John Bunyan's PILGRIM'S PROGRESS portrayed for Oates the attitudes, and ways of dealing with these disorders within our encounter with God's presence.
His book seeks to guide Christians in unmasking the pseudo self overlying the image of God within the person with a personality disorder. His prayer is for such unmasking to enable the real person to emerge. His chosen audience is not the academy, but either those practicing pastor ministry or those preparing for it. He hopes the book with be discussed between pastor and people He is confident that discussing the book can help reduce much of the congregation's tension and help it serve as an instrument of healing.
Fourteen years ago, Wayne made a very pointed statement about the church's preoccupation with the corporate business model for local churches in this book. Whenever this happens, he claims, some people with very strong personality disorders are applauded as church growth heroes. Some of these `heroes' exploit those laboring under a weaker personality disorder. A few of those with weak personality disorders are either ignored or ambitiously trampled under foot.
.Staying in print for its fourteenth year is a great testimony to the usefulness of Oates' book. Each chapter discusses a personality disorder or a cluster of disorders and how the Christian can help unmask the person so that the real them can emerge. His closing chapter outlines ways for the church to prevent, affect, and addresses personality disorders. I would recommend Oates' book for those who desire to plunge deeper into this subject after reading Pate's book on the same subject. In my opinion the combination of the strengths of both books lay the needed foundation for addressing this important aspect of church health. If I were to lead a discussion on this subject with the members of my church, I would use this book as a backup resource and have them read Pate's book
Great For CPE GROUPS Feb 21, 1999
My CPE group just completed a unit of using this book in didactic learning and we found it to be very helpful in distinguishing behavioral characteristics in patients and ourselves. I reccommend it to any group who works with people.
Easy-read application of DSM to congregational dynamics May 14, 1996
Oates gives portraits of individuals with the various DSM personality disorders.
Using an accessible and interesting style and keeping jargon to a minimum,
he suggests ways to make a tentative assessment
in religious settings and ways for clergy to respond to each disorder
in a helpful fashion. Not for those with clinical training, but helpful for those without it.