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Dr. David Rosenthal, Psy.D.
Licensed Professional Counselor
8302 Indiana Avenue,
Suite 11
Lubbock TX 79423

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Personality Disorders in the Church PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Rosenthal   
Thursday, 30 December 2004 19:00

I. A general description of personality disorders from DSM-IV © 1994 American Psychiatric Association.

A. "An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture. The pattern is manifested in two (or more) of the following areas:

(1) cognition (i.e., ways of perceiving and interpreting self, other people, and events)

(2) affectivity (i.e., the range, intensity, lability, and appropriateness of emotional response)

(3) interpersonal functioning

(4) impulse control

B. The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations.

C. The enduring pattern leads to clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

D. The pattern is stable and of long duration and its onset can be traced back at least to adolescence or early adulthood.

E. The enduring pattern is not better accounted for as a manifestation or consequence of another mental disorder.

F. The enduring pattern is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., head trauma)."

II. Personality Disorder Clusters

A. Cluster A

(1) Paranoid Personality Disorder

(2) Schizoid Personality Disorder

(3) Schizotypal Personality Disorder

(4) Cluster B

(1) Antisocial Personality Disorder

(2) Borderline Personality Disorder

(3) Histrionic Personality Disorder

(4) Narcissistic Personality Disorder

B. Cluster C

(1) Avoidant Personality Disorder

(2) Dependent Personality Disorder

(3) Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

(4) Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

III. Antagonism in the Church (Antagonists in the Church by K.C. Haugk)

A. Why does antagonism occur in the church?

B. Who are antagonists?

(1) "Antagonists are individuals who on the basis of nonsubstantive evidence, go out of their way to make insatiable demands, usually attacking the person or performance of others. These attacks are selfish in nature, tearing down rather than building up, and are frequently directed against those in a leadership capacity."

C. Levels of conflict

(1) Problems

(2) Disagreements

(3) Contests

a) moderate antagonists

(4) Serious conflict (flight/fight)

a) major antagonists

(5) Irresolvable conflict (intractable situations)

a) hard-core antagonists

D. Identifying Antagonists

(1) Disruptive behavior?

(2) Irrational attacks?

(3) Initiates trouble?

(4) Insatiable demands?

(5) Minimal or fabricated basis?

(6) No personal risk or sacrifice?

(7) Selfish motivation?

(8) Negative self-concept?

(9) Narcissistic?

(10) Pervasive aggressive tendencies?

(11) Rigid and inflexible?

(12) Jealous of leaders?

(13) Authoritarianism?

E. Red flags

(1) A previous track record

(2) A parallel track record

(3) Nameless "others"

(4) Down predecessor

(5) Instant buddy

(6) Gushing praise

(7) "I gotcha"

(8) Extraordinary likability

(9) Church hopper

(10) Liar

(11) Aggressive means

(12) Flashing money

(13) Notetaker

(14) Portfolio

(15) Sarcasm

(16) Different drummer

(17) Pest

(18) Cause

(19) School of Hard Knocks

(20) Situational losses

III. Counteracting and preventing antagonism

A. Cultivate general awareness of antagonists and their tactics among church leaders.

(1) Designate functional feedback channels and procedures that everyone follows without exceptions.

(2) Follow established policies. Utilize structural authority and chain of command with the church structure and order.

(3) Clearly designated job responsibilities.

(4) Present a united front i.e. no one person, including the pastor, is able to answer or make decisions for the whole group/church (defer to committee, church staff, or other governing body).

(5) Understand the non-necessity and impossibility of pleasing all the people all the time.

(6) A heads up on emerging potential antagonists with mutual support and strategizing.

(7) Utilize appropriate church discipline where necessary without apology.

B. Continue to operate as a church and love others, but be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.


American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1994.

Haugk, Kenneth C., Antagonists in the Church; How to Identify and Deal with Destructive Conflict. Minneapolis, MN, Augsburg Publishing, 1988.


"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves." Victor Frankl

"Whenever we seek to avoid the responsibility for our own behavior, we do so by attempting to give that responsibility to some other individual or organization or entity. But this means we then give away our power to that entity." M.Scott Peck

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." Melodie Beattie

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." Carl Jung

"We are never so defensless against suffering as when we love." Sigmund Freud

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