2009: Granqvist, Frans, Hagek
Disorganized attachment & new age spiritual beliefs and activities
The propensity to enter altered states of consciousness i.e. absorption/dissociation
Test: If unresolved/disorganized (U/d) attachment scores predicted new age engagement 3 years later? And if absorption was mediator?
AAI interview to measure U/d duck
(This article describes the interview!)
The hypothesis was supported, although weak
Granqvist writes that there can be positive aspects of absorption as well, such as being able to focus when needed, under pressure, and possibly creativity.
The therapeutic side of the new age may be something good about. With high suggestibility, so perhaps susceptible to placebo effects. Engagement can also buffer things that could lead to psychopathology otherwise.
"Failure to mentally resolve traumatic events", can they be expressed in more places than in attackment, nursing and psychopathology?
Disorganized attachment is thought to represent a break-down in attachment-related patterning during stress (Main &. Solomon, 1990), which may be present both in children (D) and adults (U/d). Using the strange situation (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978
The failure to mentally resolve traumatic events later in life is typically captured via unresolved/disorganized (U/d) speech surrounding loss and/or abuse in the Adult Attachment Interview system (AAI; Main, Goldwyn, & Hesse, 2003). Indices of U/d discourse are present in various forms of linguistic break-downs, for example, speech implying that a person lost through death would have input into the speaker's present day life (i.e., as though the dead person were in fact physically alive); by excessive details and invasion of the trauma into other (irrelevant) topics; by visual sensory intrusion of the traumatic event; and by psychologically confused statements implying that the traumatic event can be undone through manipulations of the mind (for more specific examples, see Hesse, 1999). These ''linguistic trips'' occur specifically in relation to the individual's trauma-related discussion; in other words, they are not a characteristic of the individual's discussion of other topics within the interview. Parental U/d status has repeatedly been found to predict infant D status (van IJzendoorn, 1995).
As described by Hesse and Main (2006), an important reason for why this might happen within the child's relationship with caregivers is because of the behavioural paradox in which children find themselves when their caregivers are simultaneously the source of alarm (e.g., due to being abusive, frightening, or dissociative) and the only possible solution to it (i.e., because the offspring is pre-programmed to turn to his/her stronger and wiser attachment figure to deal with potential danger). Thus, the more alarmed the child is, the more motivated he/she should be to turn to his/her attachment figure/the solution to alarm, but the closer the child gets to the attachment figure/the source of alarm, the more motivated he/she should be to flee from the attachment figure. Yet, increasing the distance to the attachment figure during high levels of attachment system activation is likely to activate the system at even higher levels, and thus the propensity again to return to the attachment figure
Whereas traditional Western religion has an attachment-like figure (i.e., a theistic God) at the doctrinal centre, the New Age movement typically does not. Instead, New Age spirituality has been thought to represent a ''celebration of the self'' (Heelas, 1996), where the individual supposedly possesses many of the attributes traditionally ascribed to the deity, and is free to pick any ingredient suitable to oneself from the various spiritual smorgasbord that characterizes the New Age movement. However, in other regards, New Age-related activities and beliefs are not typically opposites of traditional religion. For example, New Age-related beliefs and experiences (e.g., in relation to extra-theistic paranormal phenomena) are more or less orthogonal to the phenomena associated with traditional religious beliefs (e.g., Granqvist et al., 2005; Rice, 2003).
U/d attachment was indeed linked to higher New Age spirituality, as indicated via NAOS (Granqvist et al., 2007)
Dissociative inclinations have recently been proposed as an an aory candidate (Granqvist et al., 2007). Dissociation refers to a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, and perception (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Dissociation is clearly a complex, multifaceted construct. Several scholars have suggested a distinction between dissociation as detachment and as compartmentalization (for a review, see Brown, 2006). In the former case, the individual experiences an altered state of consciousness characterized by a sense of separation/ detachment from certain aspects of everyday experience
Compartmentalization, on the other hand, refers to a deficit in the ability to deliberately control normally controllable processes or actions, such as to bring normally accessible information to memory (i.e., selective amnesia). Dissociation in general, and perhaps compartmentalization in particular, is associated with deficits in selective attention, or more precisely with the inhibition of irrelevant information from ongoing mental processing (e.g., Cromer, Stevens, DePrince, & Pears, 2006). Curiously however, under conditions of high processing demand, such as during divided attention tasks or in lieu of intense stress, dissociation (and perhaps particularly detachment) may be advantageous in that it is linked with an increased capacity for inhibition (e.g., DePrince & Freyd, 1999), that is, the individual is able to detach from irrelevant information and remain absorbed by task central information.
Both detachment and compartmentalization usually denote processes that are associated with serious psychopathology, for example in the dissociative disorders, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. However, there is a low-level aspect of dissociation qua detachment, known as absorption, which is more normally distributed in the general population (Tellegen &Atkinson, 1974).
The term absorption was coined by Tellegen and Atkinson (1974) and refers, technically, to individual differences in ''the disposition for having episodes of 'total' attention that fully engage one's representational (i.e., perceptual, enactive,
388 P. Granqvist et al.
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imaginative, and ideational) resources'' (p. 268). In other words, a high absorption disposition signifies that the individual is prone to having his/her attentional system fully absorbed by whatever mental process that is under execution at any given moment, whether it be his/her own imagination or some external stimulus. Such absorption is believed to be associated with an altered state of consciousness
Phenotypically, the New Age movement is replete with activities, experiences, and beliefs that would seem to suggest that propensities for dissociation in general and absorption in particular are disproportionately common. For example, one of the most common therapy practices within the movement is regression (aka reincarnation) therapy, in which the client is hypnotized to re-experience one of his/ her previous incarnations, in whose life traumatic a experience may have occurred
following an experimenters' deceptive suggestion that there are hidden patterns in a visual display of truly randomly distributed dots, Farias and colleagues (2005) found that participants scoring high in New Age spirituality were more inclined than others to detect such patterns.
Breuer and Freud's Studies of Hysteria (1893/1957), psychoanalysts have held that trauma-related fear may provoke dissociation, which is understood by them as a primitive defence mechanism.
no research that illuminates how both disorganized attachment and absorption express themselves in everyday life domains, such as in people's general beliefs and activities. As part of previous research and theorizing about attachment and aspects of religion, we have suggested that New Age spirituality may be one such domain (Farias &Granqvist, 2007; Granqvist et al., 2007; Granqvist & Hagekull, 2001
Moreover, many important pathways to New Age spirituality are likely to be orthogonal to attachment, as is suggested by the fact that the prototypical New Ager is a middleclass, middle-aged, fairly well-educated female (e.g., Kemp, 2007). This alone should effectively block any reductionist attempt to explain New Age spirituality as a whole on the sole basis of attachment theory. However, there are likely other attachment pathways besides the failed resolution of trauma. Our previous cross-sectional findings (Granqvist et al., 2007) suggest that preoccupied attachment as well as global breakdowns in attachment patterning (i.e., the "'Classify'' AAI category) are also positively linked with New Age spirituality.
New Age spirituality may also have some psychologically adaptive correlates that should be noted and subjected to further research.
It is not inconceivable that for some individuals and in some contexts, such as in well-established New Age communities (e.g., Sedona, Glastonbury), New Age spirituality may similarly be socially based in the individual's relationship with a reliably sensitive caregiver who endorsed the beliefs and engaged in the activities associated with the New Age movement during the individual's upbringing. However, there are two important differences between traditional theistic religion and New Age spirituality which complicate this analogy, and which should be borne in mind by future investigators. First, unlike New Age spirituality, theistic religiousness tends to be more or less orthogonal to AAI-assessed attachment security (Granqvist et al., 2007); if anything, it is linked to higher security (Cassibba, Granqvist, Costantini, & Gatto, 2008). Second, presumably via the operation of generalizing working models, the spirituality/religiousness of secure individuals tends to have the perception of a transcendent yet personal, loving and caring attachment-like figure (i.e., God) at its centre (Granqvist &kirkpatrick, 2008; Kirkpatrick, 2005), while New Agerelated beliefs often negate such a perception in favour of a more immanent yet impersonal perception. By extrapolation from God to others, this might indicate that the working models of many New Agers signal distrust in others' availability, which is an indication of insecure attachment (e.g., Bowlby, 1973).
Just like New Age philosophies, traditional religions contain paranormal beliefs and may include hypnotic-like procedures (e.g., in conjunction with glossolalia and healing during Pentecostal services), which might suggest that dissociative inclinations and disorganized attachment are present to a comparable extent among the traditionally religious as among New Agers. While we do not dismiss that possibility in relation to some branches of traditional religions (see page 399), the empirical evidence thus far suggests that, at least among mainline Christians, such is not the case
absorption is believed (and has been presented here) as a subtle indicator of dissociation (e.g., Waller, Putnam, & Carlson, 1996), but it differs in many ways from other kinds of dissociation; for example, absorption is not a strong marker of psychopathology (Waller, Putnam, & Carlson, 1996). Consequently, the results presented here cannot be generalized a priori to other dimensions of dissociation, whether it be in the form of detachment or compartmentalization