Attachment theoretic perspectives
Attachment theoretic aspects I
Research on New Age followers using the Adult Attachment Interview instrument has yielded interesting findings. At the group level, followers of the New Age exhibit a pattern of attachment generally associated with difficulties in life and close relationships.
The main issue is disorganized and preoccupied/ambivalent attachment style, and the authors clarify that these are both associated with a high degree of suffering and inconvenience in the normal population, such as borderline personality disorder, dissociatone, and anxiety.
In a Belgian survey (NN??, In 2003 ref in Farias &granqvist, 2007), the researchers concluded that individuals with an ambivalence/pre-occupied attachment style enjoy reading spiritual esoteric literature more.
People with high scores on the NAOS scale also scored high on romantic attachment disorganisation, which includes things like the individual withdrawing from proximity (more def!) (Granqvist & Hagekull, 2001).
Kaplan (ref i Farias &Granqvist, 2007) has found that infants classified with disorganized attachment, at the age of six, tell of child-parent separations with elements of "invisible agents".
Mothers with disorganized attachment tend to attribute such things as "psycic powers" and the ability to stand in touch with those who have died (George &. Solomon, 1999, ref in Farias &granqvist, 2007).
Researchers have also found that a so-called "disorganized speech" in AAI interviews correlates with the interviewee reporting a variety of experiences and beliefs that are also found within the New Age, such as astrology, notice, contact with the dead, obsession, telepathy and reincarnation (Hesse, 1999, ref in Farias &granqvist, 2007).
The researchers (Farias &granqvist, 2007) refer to phenomena that have all been linked to a readiness to enter different degrees of dissociative states, namely disorganized attachment in a young age, disorganized talk in adulthood, and high values on the NAOS scale (see above).
Granqvist and colleagues added with the AAI instrument (2007). A survey asked a group of adults (n=84) recruited from different religious contexts to answer NAOS and interviewed with AAI. The results showed, among other things, that those who responded highly to NAOS were also judged to have had a significantly less loving upbringing, with more of such things as rejection and role reversals than those who received low scores.
(Granqvist, ?) From AAI interviews with new age followers, in which he demonstrated similarities with people with disorganized affiliations.
"Privacy of Thought."
Research on 6-year-olds with an ambivalent attachment (Main, 1991, referenced in Farias &. Granqvist, 2007) has shown that they have difficulty understanding the "privacy of thought", just as they had an elevated belief in paranormal phenomena and context.
It is believed to be attracted to the popular psychology view that is common in the New Age, with talk of "toxic parenting"
The authors say that the time has now come to seek the biological correlates of new age interest (Far&gran, 2007).
Attachment theoretic perspective. ??
Suggests that it is a combination of biology (cognitive and personality factors, constitution, cognitive style) together with early experiences of parents etc that is behind the new age interest, p124 (Farias &granqvist, 2007)
The authors suggest that it "are basic underlying processes of cognition and emotion, related to a particular pattern of personality traits and attachment organization, which may make some individiual more likely to report such unusual experiences and participate in the New Age", p124 (Farias &Granqvist, 2007).
Although things like personality traits have a genetic component, the authors do not want to rule out that the findings they have made can also arise as an effect of being interested in and involved in The New Age (Farias & Granqvist, 2007)
Personality traits and cognitive dispositions are largely genetic, which is why this is likely to play into the NA interest as well. When people tell us that their spiritual search has begun in adulthood, it is probably not true, but it is based on a certain cognitive predisposition that has been there before (Farias & Granqvist, 2007)
But the authors say that it cannot be ruled out that it is the New Age commitment itself that has shaped the supporter to some extent (Farias &granqvist, 2007).
A person with a disposition to magical thinking does not need to be interested in NA, even if the probability is greater (Farias &Granqvist, 2007)
"This sense of connectedness is of a cognitive and emotive kind but does not extend into the interpersonal domain, as people with thin boundaries typically find it difficult to feel part of a group" (Farias &Granqvist, 2007).
"The association between New Age practices and thin boundaries is particularly interesting, as this latter scale taps into a sense of social alienation, of not belonging to any particular group, a particulary associative thinking style, but also an emotional vulnerability or hypersensitivity" (Farias &Granqvist, 2007).
Farias and Granqvist (2007) see a connection between the special cognitive traits of the NA supporter, and the fact that many people change groups and activities without getting stuck or bonding with a close network, as in traditional religious contexts (Farias &granqvist, 2007).
Granqvist (2004) argues in The Psychological Journal ("The Myth of Openness and Tolerance") that followers of the New Age risk living with "underdiagnosed suffering" if one does not pay attention and learn more about their world of thought.
Reflections and criticisms
Nyandlighet/new age is a group that deserves its own study, and where conclusions and findings gained in studies on more traditional religiosity cannot be easily transferred.
The researchers also point out that some of the personality traits that NA followers appear to exhibit in the studies may also be adaptive, such as absorption, schizotypia, etc. (Far&gr, 2007)
(Buxant, et al, 2007, 2008, 2010) The authors argue that the viewfinder exhibits a greater sensitivity, a greater fragility. This may be understood in the light of attachment experiences, but does not have to involve greater mental illness.
"A Grand Theory"?
In light of the above research, it seems reasonable to ask whether something that a great theory, for any kind of religion or spirituality, should be possible to formulate? From a historical perspective, are the similarities possibly greater than they are seen from a psychological perspective? Granqvist and others have also suggested that both the way to, as well as what the individual gets out of this, looks different for the new interest compared to the involvement in, for example, a Christian church, a Christian faith.