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Religious Conflict, Attachment and Psychopathology

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A presentation at the U4 Summer School 2017, University of Groningen, Netherlands

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Religious Conflict, Attachment and Psychopathology

  1. 1. RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, ATTACHMENT, AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY A PRESENTATION BY VICTOR UDOKA COUNTED AT THE RELIGION, CONFLICT AND PEACE SUMMER SCHOOL, GRONINGEN (14 – 18 AUG. 2017) Read full article: Counted, V. (2017). Attachment Theory and Religious Violence: Theorizing adult religious psychopathology. Journal for the Study of Religion 30(1), 78 – 109
  2. 2. OUTLINE SUMMARY • ADULT ATTACHMENT THEORY • PROXIMITY TO THE ATTACHMENT FIGURE • A RELIGIOUS ATTACHMENT FIGURE • ATTACHMENT DISRUPTIONS • PROTEST • DESPAIR • DETACHMENT • CASE STUDIES • CHARLIE HABDO VERSES AL QAEDA • NIGERIA GOVERNMENT VERSUS BOKO HARAM • PASTOR TERRY JONES AND ISLAMIC INVASTION
  3. 3. ATTACHMENT THEORY • ATTACHMENT THEORY EXPLAINS THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS THAT BINDS INFANTS TO THEIR CAREGIVERS TO ENSURE INFANT SURVIVAL (BOWLBY, 1969/1982) • THIS EARLY CONTACT EXPERIENCE WITH A PRIMARY CAREGIVER FORMS WHAT BOWLBY CALLS ‘INTERNAL WORKING MODELS’ • INTERNAL WORKING MODELS ARE MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS OF SELF AND OTHERS THAT INFLUENCE EXPECTATIONS FROM FUTURE RELATIONSHIPS • THIS WORKING MODEL OF ATTACHMENT IS A STRONG, ENDURING EMOTIONAL BOND THAT CONNECTS AND BINDS TWO RELATIONAL PARTNERS AND IS EMOTIONALLY ATTUNED TO MONITOR THE AVAILABILITY AND PROXIMITY OF THE ATTACHMENT FIGURE.
  4. 4. ADULT ATTACHMENT THEORY • AS INFANTS ADVANCE IN LIFE AND BECOME ADULTS, THEY STILL MAINTAIN ATTACHMENTS WITH THEIR CAREGIVERS, AND MAY ALSO FORM FUTURE ATTACHMENTS WITH OTHER ATTACHMENT SURROGATES • SOME ADULTS MAINTAIN ATTACHMENT BOND WITH A GEOGRAPHICALLY SEPARATED PRIMARY CAREGIVER (E.G., MOTHER) THROUGH ATTACHMENT BEHAVIOURS THAT AIM AT MAINTAINING PROXIMITY WITH A CAREGIVER SUCH AS WRITING LETTERS, TELEPHONE CALLS, EMAILS, ETC. • SOME ADULTS ALSO REPLACE THEIR PRIMARY CAREGIVERS WITH OTHER OBJECTS OF ATTACHMENT THAT FULFIL THE ATTACHMENT FIGURE FUNCTION (E.G., A ROMANTIC PARTNER, GEOGRAPHIC PLACE, A DIVINE ENTITY, AMONG OTHERS) • OBJECTS OF ATTACHMENT HAVE THE QUALITY OF PRIMARY ATTACHMENT FIGURES • THEY ARE TARGETS FOR PROXIMITY-SEEKING BEHAVIOURS • THEY CAN SERVE AS A SAFE HAVEN TO TURN TO IN TIMES OF DANGER • THEY CAN FUNCTION AS A SECURE BASE FROM WHERE THE INDIVIDUAL EXPLORE THEIR BROADER ENVIRONMENT AND FORGES IDENTITY • LOSS OF ATTACHMENT WITH SUCH OBJECT MAY LEAD TO SEPARATION ANXIETY
  5. 5. “ ” THE GOAL OF ADULT ATTACHMENT IS THE NEED FOR ‘FELT SECURITY’ ADULTS CAN DEPEND UPON THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE WHEREABOUTS OF THEIR SYMBOLIC ATTACHMENT FIGURES FOR THEIR ATTACHMENT SATISFACTION. (Sroufe & WATERS, 1977; SROUFE, 2005)
  6. 6. A RELIGIOUS ATTACHMENT FIGURE • A RELIGIOUS FIGURE CAN BE PERCEIVED AS AN OBJECT OF ATTACHMENT • MOST MONOTHEISTIC RELIGIONS (E.G., CHRISTIANITY, ISLAM) PARTICULARLY DEMONSTRATE THE IDEA OF A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE DIVINE • A RELIGIOUS BELIEVER MAY ATTAIN A SENSE OF FELT SECURITY THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE WHEREABOUT OF THEIR DIVINE ATTACHMENT FIGURE THROUGH SEARCHING SACRED TEXTS, PRAYER, MEDITATION, RELIGIOUS PARTICIPATION, AMONG OTHERS • A RELIGIOUS FIGURE MAY SERVE AS A SAFE HAVEN FOR COMFORT IN TIMES OF DANGER • A RELIGIOUS FIGURE MAY ALSO SERVE AS A SECURE BASE FOR EXPLORING THE WORLD OF DANGER AND FORMING IDENTITY • LOSS OF ATTACHMENT WITH A RELIGIOUS ATTACHMENT FIGURE MAY TRIGER A SEPARATION ANXIETY • SEPARATION ANXIETY IN ATTACHMENT RELATIONSHIPS HAVE BEEN LINKED TO ATTACHMENT DISRUPTIONS
  7. 7. ATTACHMENT DISRUPTIONS • ATTACHMENT DISRUPTION THEORY SHOWS HOW THE RECEIVER OF ATTACHMENT MONITORS THE CAREGIVER’S WHEREABOUTS, AND, THEIR PHYSICAL PROXIMITY TO THE OBJECT OF ATTACHMENT • “THIS SHOWS A SHIFT FROM OBSERVING REACTION TO SEPARATIONS TO OBSERVING PATTERNS OF EMOTIONAL COMMUNICATION IN [ATTACHMENT RELATIONSHIPS]" KOBAK ET AL. 2016, P.26) • REACTIONS TO ATTACHMENT DISRUPTIONS MAY TAKE THE FORM OF ‘PROTEST’, ‘DESPAIR’, AND ‘DETACHMENT’ AS THE ATTACHED ‘MONITOR DANGER IN THE ENVIRONMENT, EXPLORE NEW LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES, AND... SOCIAL EXCHANGES’ (KOBAK ET AL. 2016, P.27).
  8. 8. THE STORY OF LAURA, A 2-YEAR-OLD GIRL, WHO SPENT 8 DAYS IN HOSPITAL AWAY FROM HER MOTHER FOR A MINOR OPERATION. PHASE 1: PROTEST AT THE FIRST PHASE, LAURA WAS SEEN SIGNALLING HER SEPARATION DISTRESS THROUGH CRYING LOUDLY, FRETTING, FOLLOWING THE MOTHER WHEN SHE WAS LEAVING THE HOSPITAL, SHOWING ANGER, AND POUNDING THE DOOR. PHASE 2: DESPAIR AT THE SECOND PHASE, LAURA WAS SEEN WITHDRAWN, SHOWING DEEP MOURNING WHEN SHE REALISED THAT SHE HAS LOST HER MOTHER. LAURA WAS ALSO SAD AND IN AGONY, AND SHOWING HOSTILE BEHAVIOURAL PATTERNS TOWARDS OTHERS (NURSES, AND MEDICAL STAFF) PHASE 3: DETACHMENT THE THIRD PHASE MARKED THE FINAL PHASE OF LAURA’S EMOTIONAL SIGNALS IN WHICH SHE WAS SEEN WARMING UP TO STRANGERS AND SHOWING POSITIVE ATTITUDES TOWARD ALTERNATIVE CLOSE OTHERS AS A WAY OF SURVIVING IN THE ENVIRONMENT Laura was showing three emotional defensive signals in her separation anxiety. These signals were patterned into three forms: protest, despair, and detachment. Adapted from Bowlby, Roberton, and Rosenbluth (1952).
  9. 9. CAN ATTACHMENT DISRUPTIONS INCREASE THE RISK OF RELIGIOUS PSYCHOPATHOLOGY AND PREDISPOSE AN INDIVIDUAL TO PERPETRATE ACTS OF RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE?
  10. 10. DEFENSIVE SIGNALS IN RELIGIOUS ATTACHMENT DISRUPTIONS DISRUPTING THE ATTACHMENT BOND IN RELATIONSHIP EXPERIENCES WITH RELIGIOUS ATTACHMENT FIGURES MAY BECOME THE GENESIS OF ADULT RELIGIOUS PSYCHOPATHOLOGY, ESPECIALLY IN ASPECTS OF RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE THAT ARE OFTEN INTERPRETED AS ‘PROTEST’ = ‘DESPAIR’ = ‘DETACHMENT’
  11. 11. TWO RATIONALE DEFENDING AN EMOTIONAL BOND • EVERYONE WANTS TO PROTECT THEIR SOURCE OF SAFETY AND SECURITY • IN A SITUATION WHERE A RELATIONSHIP WITH A RELIGIOUS FIGURE IS UNDER THREAT, OR THE EMOTIONAL BOND DISRUPTED, THIS SEPARATION EXPERIENCE MAY INITIATE DEFENSIVE PROCESSES THAT ARE MOTIVATED BY A DESIRE TO RE-ESTABLISH CLOSENESS WITH THE RELIGIOUS FIGURE AND RESTORE CONFIDENCE IN THE RELATIONSHIP. DEFENDING A SOURCE OF IDENTITY • BECAUSE DIFFERENCES IN IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT ARE OFTEN FORMED BASED ON ATTACHMENT EXPECTATIONS. • A RELIGIOUS FOLLOWER IS LIKELY TO MODEL THEIR IDENTITY AND PERCEPTION OF SELF BASED ON THE VALUES OF THE RELIGIOUS ATTACHMENT FIGURE TO WHOM THEY ARE DEVOTED. • FOR EXAMPLE, A CHRISTIAN IS LIKELY TO MODEL THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF JESUS CHRIST. THE SAME WAY A DEVOUT MUSLIM MAY FORM HIS OR HER IDENTITY BASED ON THE TEACHINGS OF PROPHET MOHAMMED.
  12. 12. PROTEST: CASE EXAMPLES • CHARLIE HEBDO VERSUS AL-QEADA • NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT VERSUS BOKO HARAM • PASTOR TERRY JONES AND THE ISLAMIC INVASION OF THE WEST
  13. 13. “ ” ATTACKING ALL RELIGIONS IS THE BASIS OF OUR IDENTITY GEORGE BIARD (SENIOR EDITOR, CHARLIE HEBDO)
  14. 14. “ ” ‘WE HAVE TO CARRY ON UNTIL ISLAM HAS BEEN RENDERED AS BANAL AS CATHOLICISM’ STEPHANE CHARBONNIER IN 2011 CHIEF EDITOR OF CHARLIE HEBDO
  15. 15. “ ” WE, AL-QAEDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA (AQAP), CLAIM RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS OPERATION AS VENGEANCE FOR THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH … THE LEADERSHIP OF AQAP WAS THE PARTY THAT CHOSE THE TARGET AND PLOTTED AND FINANCED THE PLAN ... IT WAS FOLLOWING ORDERS BY OUR GENERAL CHIEF AYMAN AL- ZAWAHIRI … THE HEROES WERE CHOSEN AND THEY ANSWERED THE CALL … TODAY, THE MUJAHIDEEN AVENGE THEIR REVERED PROPHET, AND SEND THE CLEAREST MESSAGE TO EVERYONE WHO WOULD DARE TO ATTACK ISLAMIC SANCTITIES OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM AL-QAEDA BY NASR AL-ANSI, A TOP RANKING AL-QAEDA COMMANDER
  16. 16. AL-QAEDA • THE CARICATURE OF THEIR RELIGIOUS FIGURE (PROPHET MOHAMMED) WAS NOT PERCEIVED AS A FRIENDLY GESTURE, BUT RATHER WAS SEEN, AS NAR AL-ANSI PUTS IT, AS “AN ATTACK ON ISLAMIC SANCTITIES” • SUCH ‘ATTACK’ IS A THREAT TO UNDERMINE THEIR SOURCE OF ATTACHMENT AND ISLAMIC IDENTITY WHAT WE KNOW
  17. 17. “ ” WE WANT TO REITERATE THAT WE ARE WARRIORS WHO ARE CARRYING OUT JIHAD (RELIGIOUS WAR) IN NIGERIA AND OUR STRUGGLE IS BASED ON THE TRADITIONS OF THE HOLY PROPHET. WE WILL NEVER ACCEPT ANY SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT APART FROM THE ONE STIPULATED BY ISLAM BECAUSE THAT IS THE ONLY WAY THAT THE MUSLIMS CAN BE LIBERATED. WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN ANY SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT, BE IT TRADITIONAL OR ORTHODOX, EXCEPT THE ISLAMIC SYSTEM WHICH IS WHY WE WILL KEEP ON FIGHTING AGAINST DEMOCRACY, CAPITALISM, SOCIALISM, AND WHATEVER. WE WILL NOT ALLOW THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION TO REPLACE THE LAWS THAT HAVE BEEN ENSHRINED IN THE HOLY QUR’AN, WE WILL NOT ALLOW ADULTERATED CONVENTIONAL EDUCATION (BOKO) TO REPLACE ISLAMIC TEACHINGS. WE WILL NOT RESPECT THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL. WE WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT ITS MILITARY AND THE POLICE BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT PROTECTING ISLAM. WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE NIGERIAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM AND WE WILL FIGHT ANYONE WHO ASSISTS THE GOVERNMENT IN PERPETRATING ILLEGALITIES (SALKIDA 2009). OFFICIAL BOKO HARAM STATEMENT IN 2011
  18. 18. BOKO HARAM • BOKO HARAM GROUP SEEMS TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES AS SOME SORT OF ‘DEFENDERS’ OF THE ISLAMIC IDENTITY • THERE SEEM TO BE AN UNDERLYING BOND WITH THEIR FAITH AND WHAT IT REPRESENTS TO THEM, AND ANYONE WHO STANDS CONTRARY TO THIS SENSE OF IDENTITY OR POSE A THREAT TO THEIR ATTACHMENT IDENTITY WILL BE TARGETED AS THE ENEMY WHAT WE KNOW
  19. 19. “ ” WE WANT TO SEND A MESSAGE TO THEM THAT RADICAL ISLAM, SHARIA LAW, OR WHAT THEY WISH TO INSTITUTE FOR A PERIOD OF TIME IS NOT ACCEPTED IN AMERICA ….WE ALSO WANT TO SEND A MESSAGE TO THE MODERATE MUSLIMS TO STAY PEACEFUL AND MODERATE ... BUT WE DO NOT WANT, AS IT APPEARS TO BE IN SOME PARTS OF THE WORLD, AFTER THEY GAINED SOME NUMBERS IN THE POPULATION THEY BEGIN TO PUSH FOR SHARIA LAW AND THAT TYPE OF GOVERNMENT ... WE EXPECT THE MUSLIMS THAT ARE HERE IN AMERICA TO RESPECT AND HONOUR AND OBEY AND SUBMIT TO OUR CONSTITUTION PASTOR TERRY JONES WATCH ONLINE HERE: HTTPS://YOUTU.BE/HQTRYRAEOTM
  20. 20. TERRY JONES • JONES’ FEAR OF AN ISLAMIC INVASION MAY HAVE GIVEN RISE TO HIS DEFENSIVE PROTEST TO BURN THAT WHICH HE TRANSLATES TO BE A THREAT TO HIS SAFE HAVEN AND SECURE BASE IN TERMS OF HIS CHRISTIAN FAITH AND HIS COUNTRY AMERICA. • THE RATIONALE FOR WANTING TO BURN HUNDREDS OF KORANS, ACCORDING TO JONES, WAS TO DEMONSTRATE THAT ISLAM WAS A THREAT TO HIM, HIS CHRISTIAN BELIEFS, AND HIS ‘BELOVED’ COUNTRY. WHAT WE KNOW
  21. 21. PROTEST • AT THE PROTEST PHASE, THE RELIGIOUS ADHERENTS ARE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT HAVING THE RELIGIOUS ATTACHMENT FIGURE BACK WHILE DISPLAYING DOMINANT EMOTIONS SUCH AS FEAR, ANGER, AND DISTRESS. • INDIVIDUALS OR GROUPS COULD EXHIBIT DEMONSTRATIONS THAT ONLY SIGNAL A POTENTIAL SEPARATION DISTRESS AND A DISRUPTION OF ATTACHMENT WITH THEIR RELIGIOUS FIGURE.
  22. 22. DESPAIR • AT THIS PHASE, THE INDIVIDUAL INTERPRETS THE SEPARATION EXPERIENCE AS A LOSS OF THE ATTACHMENT FIGURE • BOWLBY (1973) CALLS THIS ‘DEEP MOURNING’. • THE INDIVIDUAL SHOWS SIGNS OF SADNESS AND AGONY AND EXHIBIT ABNORMAL BEHAVIORAL PATTERNS TOWARD THE RELIGIOUS ‘OTHER’. • THIS SECOND PHASE IS WHERE ACTS OF EXTREME VIOLENCE AND TERRORISM ARE ADOPTED TO MAKE A STATEMENT ABOUT THE HOPELESSNESS OF LOSING AN ATTACHMENT BOND OR A RELIGIOUS FIGURE UPON WHICH IDENTITY IS FORMED. • THE INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP BECOMES ALIENATED FROM THEIR TRUE VALUES TO PERPETUATE HORRIFIC ACTS OF TERROR AND VIOLENCE.
  23. 23. DESPAIR
  24. 24. DETACHMENT • THE CASE OF THE NIGER DELTA EX-MILITANTS • NIGER DELTA MILITANTS FINALLY ABANDONED THEIR WEAPONS AND SOUGHT FOR CLOSURE BY AGREEING TO THE AMNESTY PROGRAM OFFERED TO THEM BY THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT AS A WAY OF SURVIVING IN THE NIGERIAN ENVIRONMENT
  25. 25. IN CONCLUSION RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE CAN BE REINTERPRETED AS THE BY-PRODUCT OF ATTACHMENT BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES AND A PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEM, ONE THAT IS INTERNALISED AND CREATED WHEN A GROUP OR AN INDIVIDUAL, OVER TIME, DISRUPTS THE ATTACHMENT PROCESS OF ANOTHER GROUP. THE ORGANISED DEFENSIVE RESPONSES TO THIS VIOLATION OF ATTACHMENT IN THE FORM OF PROTEST, DESPAIR, OR DETACHMENT IS A REASONABLE FORM OF THERAPY, ALBEIT A NEGATIVE ONE, THAT IS USED AS A REPARATIVE PROCESS FOR RESTORING CONFIDENCE IN THE ATTACHMENT BOND. THE STARTING POINT TO RESOLVING THE ISSUE OF RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE WOULD BE TO AMPLIFY THE ROLE PLAYED BY THE HUMAN BRAIN IN CREATING TOXIC PREJUDICES AND EXPECTATIONS FROM WHICH DEFENSIVE RESPONSES ARE INITIATED. TO THIS END, THERE IS A NEED TO IDENTIFY THE WAYS IN WHICH ATTACHMENT DISRUPTIONS ARE EXECUTED IN THE MODERN WORLD IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE EXTENT TO WHICH WE CAN CONCEPTUALISE AND PROBLEMATIZE THE CONFLICTS THAT HAVE NOW BEEN LABELLED ‘RELIGIOUS’, ‘POLITICAL’, AND ‘VIOLENT’ (ADAPTED FROM: COUNTED, 2017, P.102) “ “
  26. 26. THANK YOU VICTOR UDOKA COUNTED victor@counted.org.uk www.counted.org.uk

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