1st Edition

Attachment in Religion and Spirituality
A Wider View

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ISBN 9781462542680
Published June 9, 2020 by Guilford Press
424 Pages

USD $45.00

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Book Description

Synthesizing diverse strands of theory and research, this compelling book explores the psychology of religion and spirituality through an innovative attachment lens. Pehr Granqvist examines the connections between early caregiving experiences, attachment patterns, and individual differences in religious cognition, experience, and behavior. The function of a deity as an attachment figure is analyzed, as are ways in which attachment facilitates the intergenerational transmission of religion. The book also shows how the attachment perspective can aid in understanding mystical experiences, connections between religion and mental health, and cultural differences between more and less religious societies. Granqvist's conversational writing style, concrete examples, and references to popular culture render complex concepts accessible.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Phillip R. Shaver
Prologue: Setting the Stage
I. Normative Aspects of Attachment, Religion, and Spirituality
1. Normative Features of Attachment
2. God as a Noncorporeal Attachment Figure
3. Religious and Spiritual Development in Relation to Attachment Maturation
II. Individual Differences in Attachment, Religion, and Spirituality
4. Individual Differences in Attachment
5. The Correspondence Pathway
6. The Compensation Pathway
III. Expansions: A Wider View of Attachment and Religion/Spirituality
7. Religion as Attachment in Relation to Mental Health
8. Altered Spiritual States, Dissociation, and Attachment Disorganization
IV. Points of Convergence and Divergence
9. Attachment Theory and the Psychology and Psychoanalysis of Religion
10. Attachment and the Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience of Religion
V. Beyond Attachment, Religion, and Spirituality: The Psychology of Secularism
11. God versus the Welfare State

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Pehr Granqvist, PhD, is Professor of Developmental Psychology at Stockholm University, Sweden. He has studied the attachment–religion connection since the mid-1990s, originally as part of his doctoral studies at Uppsala University, Sweden. His research in this area--as well as in the psychology of religion and the field of attachment more generally--is widely cited and recognized internationally. Dr. Granqvist is a recipient of the Margaret Gorman Early Career Award from Division 36 (Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) of the American Psychological Association and the Godin Prize from the International Association for the Psychology of Religion, among others. In 2018, he was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.


“An intriguing, indeed remarkable book. Drawing on both his own and many others’ interview-based and observational studies, Granqvist finds that our attachments to God can be characterized similarly to our attachments to intimate friends, partners, and parents--as secure, avoidant, ambivalent and/or disorganized. Bowlby and Ainsworth would have found great value in this work."--Mary Main, PhD, Department of Psychology (Emerita), University of California, Berkeley

"Granqvist reminds me at times of William James, and, like James's work, much of this book sings. It is a delight to read. Granqvist combines a keen, critical mind with an appreciated humility. No one should consider studying attachment and the psychology of religion/spirituality without first thoroughly mastering this book.”--Ralph W. Hood, Jr., PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

"Fascinating, informative, and thought provoking, this book is a 'must read' for researchers and students concerned with the psychology of religion, and for anyone interested in understanding the psychodynamic basis of religious beliefs. Granqvist advances his innovative thesis with tight logic and irrefutable evidence, revealing that religion and spirituality have a surprisingly simple beginning in infant–parent interactions. The book provides an up-to-date, comprehensive synthesis of attachment research and ideas from other areas, such as theology, psychoanalysis, and evolutionary perspectives. His elegant and scientifically sound 'religion-as-attachment' approach helps explain much about people's religious beliefs and behavior. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, both as an attachment researcher and as someone seeking to understand why religion and spirituality can sometimes lead to happiness and thriving, and other times to suffering and pain."--Mario Mikulincer, PhD, Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel

"Attachment in Religion and Spirituality is a stunning achievement. Drawing from across a host of disciplines, this exciting book offers surprises at every turn about the nature of human psychology and religious life. It may be among the most lively and accessible pieces of scholarship I have read."--Robbie Duschinsky, PhD, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

"Much important new theorizing and creative research on religion has been done in psychology and related fields, inspiring Pehr Granqvist to write this important and fascinating new work. Fortunately for anyone interested in attachment theory, religion, and their interconnections, the book is a gem! It is very broad ranging (hence the subtitle’s “wider view”), impressively multidisciplinary, and beautifully organized and argued.…Granqvist has done an excellent job of combining modern evolutionary, cognitive, and developmental theories and research….The book is destined to become a classic."--From the Foreword by Phillip R. Shaver, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology Emeritus, University of California, Davis-