Attachment, Religion, and Spirituality: A Wider View

Colloquium | February 26 | 12:10-1:20 p.m. | 3105 Tolman Hall

 Pehr Granqvist, Visiting scholar from Stockholm University

 Department of Psychology

I will outline a book on the attachment-religion connection that I am currently composing as a visiting scholar. The book has been contracted with Guilford and has Dist. Prof. Em. Phillip R. Shaver from UC Davis as editor. I will focus the talk on four reasons for choosing “A Wider View” as subtitle. First, I argue that Bowlby restricted attachment theory unnecessarily by insisting that protection (via physical proximity) has been the sole adaptive function of attachment. Though he did so for good reasons then, time is ripe to consider cultural/social learning – and cultural evolution more generally – as an additional functional consequence of attachment. Second, rather than viewing aspects of religion and spirituality simply as “natural” output of evolved mechanisms (e.g., the attachment system) I will consider how attachment – and attachment security in particular – serves to facilitate the cultural transmission of religion and spirituality. Third, I will argue that “attachments” should no longer be approached as content-based, essentialist categories but rather as functional categories with fuzzy boundaries. Viewed this way, “attachment to God” qualifies as a “symbolic” member of that category. Fourth and finally, beyond organized theistic religion, I will consider the role of attachment in altered spiritual states, non-theistic religions, and matters of “secularism”.