Roman Catholic Books
Personality flaws CAN be conquered.
Catholic University psychologist’s celebrated guide has no equal in half a century.
First, said Dr. Rudolf Allers, face the unvarnished truth. Identify the flaws. Then, get to the root causes. Finally, take the action he prescribes for the particular flaw. Change will come in time. Allers was a past master not only at explaining personality traits, but also at dispensing simple advice. And it was all “based on Christian morals,” noted the delighted Catholic Journal of Religious Instruction. His book caused a minor stir because it revealed, for the first time, that “many defects in behavior commonly excused as natural disposition or temperament have their source in willful attitudes” that are concealed even from ourselves, as Ave Maria magazine put it. More importantly: “Many of our faults and much of the difficulty that results in our lives because of them are of our own making.” Allers provides example after example chapters like these:
- Difficulties in Social Life
- Difficulties with Work
- Obstacles to Perfection
- why it’s not easy to know yourself, without training
- why “getting along with others according to generally accepted standards is not enough”
- why your actions reveal more about your personality than your intentions or thoughts or feelings do
- reasons for common misunderstandings between family members
- allegedly “intractable” husband-wife disagreements
- how to end tactless (if well-meaning) behavior
- what’s usually behind shyness
- the gossipy personality
- the “know better” type
- the “reporter of catastrophes”
- lack of punctuality, and the vice that usually accompanies it
- impatience: when it’s deeply rooted and when not
- St. Augustine’s startling self-analysis
- Confession and psychology: very different
- threefold meaning of human behavior
- why spiritual directors are valuable
- the weak will: really divided into two
- good news: personality transformations do occur -- all the time
- big myth: your personality development ends at adulthood
- heredity and environment do mold you, but not conclusively
- the importance of proper speaking; 3 common traits annoying to others
- motives of the compulsively critical person
- why ironic people are usually disliked
- male/female personality differences; why small things affect a marriage in big ways
- ways parents undermine their own authority
- the slob at home or work
- talk too much? Women and men can be guilty
- how fatigue can change you
If his guide only revealed the art of self-knowledge and getting along with others, it would be worth its weight in gold
Very often a person will know quite well that he ought to reform or to change and declare himself unable to do so, because of the weakness of his will. This weakness is believed to result from inborn dispositions, physical constitution or immutable temperament. Such a person is quite willing to change—at least he tells us he is—but all his attempts encounter the insurmountable obstacle of his will being too weak.
Exact observation of these people, however, discloses a rather strange fact. The very same person whose will is alleged too weak for seriously attempting and, even more so, for carrying through any improvement of his moral personality, becomes, under certain circumstances, quite capable of persistence and of an often amazing power of endurance for hardships. Of this there are many instances. There is a man whose will is so weak that he gives way to every unpleasant feeling resulting from fatigue and monotony of work; because of these unpleasant feelings he deserts work and prefers the life of the jobless, the vagabond or the beggar; such a life is anything but an easy one and to support it one doubtless needs quite a strong will. There is a boy who has no strength of will when he ought to concentrate on his homework, but his will proves to be strong enough to make him head of a gang of youngsters. Some people have no energy so long as there is question of work, but they have enough will left when they have to go through a long and tedious training for some sport.
From such facts we may gather that strength of will is not a constant and, as it were, given quantity; it depends very much on the goals proposed to the will.
Will and execution are so merged one into the other that it is practically impossible to say where will ends and action begins; this amounts to saying that willing—real willing—and doing are but two sides of one and the same human act. Second, that weakness of will is in truth an illusion or self-deception of the mind, resulting from man’s striving for two—or even more—goals at the same time; what is called weakness of will is due not so much to lack of energy as to lack of unity of the will. The trouble lies more with purpose than with will.
Man cannot hope for making progress in religious life unless he becomes fully conscious of the mistakes he makes; by hiding them before his own conscience he will never move on. The habit of excusing himself is therefore a real hindrance.
This habit is, however, but one side of a more general attitude—the unwillingness of becoming aware of one’s true nature. This unwillingness is in truth itself a sign of something being amiss with our personality. If we were quite sure that we never can detect a serious deficiency, nor any greater imperfection, nor something basically wrong within ourselves, we surely would gladly investigate the depths of our personality. That we shun such an exploration is a sure sign of our knowing dimly that rather unpleasant discoveries await us.
Rudolf Allers, M.D., Ph.D.–- and husband & father
After a distinguished teaching career in Europe earlier this century -– and 7 years of service on the Ecclesiastical Court –- the extraordinary Dr. Rudolf Allers came to America. Married and a father, he taught for years at Catholic University in Washington, and wrote half a dozen books and scores of articles. Several of the leading Catholic publications of the day endorsed Self Improvement, and heaped praise on his other books as well.
“Draws on the experience gained during long years of psychiatric practice and clinical experience. Shows people they can and should improve themselves both morally and in their social relations.”-—America (Jesuit weekly)
“The examples given are endlessly varied, drawn from every [walk of life].”—-The Month
“Remarkably clear and well balanced...manifestly a book of the greatest importance.”—Commonweal, 1939