In Emotions: The Devils[sic] Playground, Ian Bartley explores the causes of burnout among the Christian ministry and related compassion professions.
As a minister and counselor, Bartley experienced burnout and wanted to help others dealing with this emotional exhaustion. Each short chapter centers around one aspect of burnout, including its causes—such as over-commitment and perfectionism —and its effects. It also examines the positive aspect of burnout. The author notes that burnout can indicate a need to make positive changes and “creates a space for the real true self to emerge.”
Bartley typically begins chapters with information from researchers (the book offers an extensive list of references) and then adds his commentary. For instance, Chapter 5, “Burnout and the Ego,” includes material from Freud and more contemporary writers. Chapter 26, “Antidote to Burnout,” is from S.Y. Tan’s faith-based book, Rest: Experiencing God’s Peace in a Restless World (2003).
While the content is educational, the writing style often makes accessing the information difficult. Sentences range from understandable and correctly punctuated to run-on and confusing, such as this: “The trouble is related to what I said earlier and that is differentiating the outer from the inner with the Greek mindset mentioned earlier is this obsession with appearance and perfectionism.”
A more thorough edit could improve sentence structure and correct the missing punctuation, repetitions, indiscriminate capitalization and typos, which make reading this book challenging. Errors are found in the book title (“Devils” for “Devil’s”), chapter titles (“Verses” for “Versus,” “Faulty Thing” for “Faulty Thinkings”) and within the text (“sort” for “sought”; “form” for “from”; “souse” for “spouse”; “their” for “there”; and many more).
These writing issues greatly detract from the credibility expected in a research-based book. If corrected, Emotions: The Devils Playground could be a useful resource for church workers dealing with burnout or those wishing to read an overview of the research on the topic.
Also available as an ebook.