Attachment theory provides a robust framework for understanding spiritual development and perceptions of God. An integration of research from attachment theory, affective neuroscience, emotional information processing, and trauma, is clarifying the competing research findings involving compensation and correspondence in spiritual development. Empirical evidence suggests the distinction between explicit theological beliefs and implicit perception of God as an attachment figure may explain the discrepancy between compensatory practices and correspondence, and how one interacts with God, and copes with negative life events. Studies of post-traumatic stress disorder suggest specific association between the extreme stress of trauma and alterations in emotional processing. Trauma repudiates basic human needs for safety, protection, and belonging, shattering assumptions about self, others, and God. Scientific evdience is accumulating suggesting cognitive interventions and interpersonal experiences, occuring explicitly and implicitly, can cause neurobiological changes. Thus, whether or not religious issues are explicitly addressed, the therapeutic process has the potential to improve intimacy with God by altering neural networks associated with authority figures, creating new ways of experiencing and interacting with God.
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Gardner, Jodie Kathleen
"Attachment, Trauma, and Intimacy with God,"
Conversations: A Graduate Student Journal of the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology: Vol. 1:
2, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/conversations/vol1/iss2/1