Wayne Oates

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Wayne Edward Oates (24 June 1917 – 21 October 1999) was an American psychologist and religious educator who coined the word 'workaholic'.

Born to a poor family in Greenville, South Carolina in June 1917, Oates was abandoned by his father in infancy and was brought up by his grandmother and sister while his mother supported them by working in a cotton mill. At the age of fourteen he was one of a small number of impoverished clever boys selected to serve as a United States House of Representatives Page. He enjoyed the experience and it inspired him to become the first of his family to enter higher education. He studied at Mars Hill Junior College, Wake Forest University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and the University of Louisville School of Medicine. After graduating from Southern with a PhD in Psychology of Religion, Oates joined the School of Theology in 1947 as professor of psychology of religion and pastoral care. He held the post until he joined the University of Louisville Medical School in 1974.

Oates' cross-disciplinary approach combined psychological models with pastoral sensitivity, and biblical teaching. The result changed conventional attitudes to counselling to yield the modern pastoral care movement. Oates developed the 'trialogue' form of pastoral counseling: a conversation between counselor, counselee, and the Holy Spirit. The first of his fifty-seven books, was a short volume entitled Alcohol in and out of the Church (1940) and there was a long interval before the reworking of his doctoral thesis The Significance of the Work of Sigmund Freud for the Christian Faith under the autobiographical title The Christian Pastor (1951). The trialogue concept was introduced in The Presence of God in Pastoral Counseling (). With the publication of Confessions of a Workaholic in 1971 he brought his neologism 'workaholic' into public use and it was soon included in the Oxford English Dictionary.

In 1984 the American Psychiatric Association granted Oates the Oskar Pfister Award for his contributions to the relationship between psychiatry and religion.

He married Pauline with whom he had two sons. They lived in Louisville, Kentucky until his death in October 1999. He is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.


  • Alcohol in and out of the Church, (Nashville TN: Broadman, 1940)
  • The Christian Pastor, (Philadelphia PA: Westminster, 1951)
  • Grace Sufficient, (Nashville TN: Broadman, 1951) —pamphlet
  • The Revelation of God in Human Suffering, (Philadelphia PA: Westminster, 1952)
  • The Bible in pastoral care (Source books for ministers), (Grand Rapids MI: Baker, 1953) ISBN 0-8010-0561-2
  • Anxiety in Christian Experience, (Philadelphia PA: Westminster, 1955)
  • Religious Factors in Mental Illness, (New York NY: Association, 1955)
  • Introduction to A. Graham Ikin, New Concepts of Healing Medical, Psychological, and Religious, (New York NY: Association, 1956)
  • Where to go for Help, (Philadelphia PA: Westminster, 1957)
  • The Religious Dimensions of Personality, (New York NY:Association, 1957)
  • What Psychology Says About Religion, (New York NY:Association, 1958)
  • An Introduction to Pastoral Counseling, (Nashville TN: Broadman, 1959)
  • Christ and Selfhood, (New York NY: Association, 1961)
  • The Minister's Own Mental Health, (Great Neck: Channel, 1961)
  • Protestant Pastoral Counseling, (Philadelphia PA: Westminster, 1962)

[The rest of this list is incomplete.]