ArticlePDF Available

Transcending Place Attachment Disruptions During A Public Health Crisis: Spiritual Struggles, Resilience, and Transformation



The COVID-19 pandemic has plagued the world, bringing everyday activities to a standstill. Many people are wrestling with the impact of the public health crisis on the connections they have with their environment (e.g., neighborhoods, cities), specific places (e.g., workplaces, places of worship), and people (e.g., loved ones, faith community) that are part of their daily lives. In this paper, we introduce the phenomenon of place attachment disruption as a common challenge for people who have been disconnected from their environment since the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2. We conceptualize place as a relational object and argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the attachment that people have with the physical elements of their environment, the lifeforms of the environment, and to some extent the ‘soul’ of their cities. We then consider defensive responses that may be triggered by disruptions to place attachment during the public health crisis, including the emergence of spiritual/religious struggles. The experience of place attachment disruption is discussed as an opportunity to transcend place-related COVID-19 loss by detaching from ‘what no longer serves us’ in a way that builds resilience. We conclude by highlighting some practical approaches that could facilitate psychospiritual transformation (e.g., meaning-making) to disrupted place attachment during the public health crisis, as well as those that could support the formation of new (or renewed) connections to place in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Journal of Psychology and Christianity
2020, Vol. 39, No. 4, 276-287
Copyright 2020 Christian Association for Psychological Studies
ISSN 0733-4273
social interactions. Educational institutions post-
poned in-person learning, and places of wor-
ship were obligated or chose to substitute
in-person services with digital gatherings. Orga-
nizations were also forced to adapt to an ever-
changing “normal,” with many making it
compulsory for employees to work from home.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a notable
impact on people, communities, economies,
and public health systems around the world,
including local and global economic slow-
downs due to job and financial insecurity (Bar-
tik et al., 2020), a surge in mental health
problems (Chakraborty, 2020), and problems
associated with place confinement (Husky et
al., 2020). There may also be long-term effects
of feeling constricted, disoriented, or displaced
because of place confinement during the
COVID-19 pandemic (Ramkissoon, 2020). Peo-
ple have been restricted in their ability to gath-
er together, travel, explore new locations, and
participate in cultural and religious activities
Transcending Place Attachment Disruptions
During A Public Health Crisis: Spiritual
Struggles, Resilience, and Transformation
The COVID-19 pandemic has plagued the world, bringing everyday activities to a standstill. Many
people are wrestling with the impact of the public health crisis on the connections they have with
their environment (e.g., neighborhoods, cities), specific places (e.g., workplaces, places of worship),
and people (e.g., loved ones, faith community) that are part of their daily lives. In this paper, we
introduce the phenomenon of place attachment disruption as a common challenge for people who
have been disconnected from their environment since the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2. We conceptualize
place as a relational object and argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the attachment that
people have with the physical elements of their environment, the lifeforms of the environment, and
to some extent the “soul” of their cities. We then consider defensive responses that may be triggered
by disruptions to place attachment during the public health crisis, including the emergence of spiritu-
al/religious struggles. The experience of place attachment disruption is discussed as an opportunity
to transcend place-related COVID-19 loss by detaching from “what no longer serves us” in a way that
builds resilience. We conclude by highlighting some practical approaches that could facilitate psy-
chospiritual transformation (e.g., meaning-making) to disrupted place attachment during the public
health crisis, as well as those that could support the formation of new (or renewed) connections to
place in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Victor Counted1, Megan A. Neff2, Laura E. Captari3, and Richard G. Cowden4
2Graduate School of Clinical Psychology, George Fox University
3The Albert and Jessie Danielsen Institute, Boston University
4 Human Flourishing Program, Institute for Quantitative Social Science
Harvard University
1School of Psychology, Western Sydney University
Author note
Correspondence concerning this article should
be addressed to Victor Counted at v.counted@west-
The outbreak of the severe acute respiratory
syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which
causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is
an unprecedented stressor with widespread
impact. Originating in China during late 2019,
by March 2020 SARS-CoV-2 had spread globally
at a prolific rate. Almost a year after SARS-CoV-
2 first emerged, more than 35 million cases
have been confirmed worldwide (World Health
Organization, 2020). Lack of available treatment
options prompted sweeping public health con-
cern, leading to containment measures that fun-
damentally changed people’s daily lives.
International borders were closed in most coun-
tries, and many states and countries imposed
stay-at-home orders, which limited or fully
restricted non-essential travel and in-person
an external object that is transformed into a
mental representation, influencing one’s sense
of self, others, and the world (Hamilton,
1990). Internalized objects can provide self-
soothing functions, facilitate identity continu-
ity, and help with self-esteem management.
While attachment and object relations theories
bring a rich relational understanding to per-
sonality development they are limited by their
shared tendencies. From the standpoint of
environmental psychology, such conceptual-
izations of the self are limited because they
focus narrowly on “individual, interpersonal,
and social group processes as the basis for the
development of self-identity” and neglect “the
influence of the physical settings that are
inherently part of any socialization context on
self-identity” (Proshansky et al., 1983, p. 58).
An exclusive focus on human objects likely
traces back to the enduring influence of Carte-
sian dualism within Western thought. In a psy-
choanalytic comparative analysis of Eastern
and Western concepts of the self, Roland
(1988) expands Western views of the self to
include more collectivistic aspects. The West-
ern tendency to relate subjects to objects in a
more dualistic manner results in categorical
representations (e.g., mind vs. body, spirit vs.
matter) that can lead to a mechanical and
bounded perspective. For example, in Western
contexts knowledge is traditionally sought
after with the hope of “mastering or control-
ling the object but not fundamentally changing
the subject” (Roland, 1998, p. 10). In contrast,
the traditional goal of knowledge-seeking in
non-Western contexts is to transform the sub-
ject (Roland, 1998). Whereas Western cultures
tend to have a concrete and pragmatic rela-
tionship with place, non-Western philosophies
value and emphasize sacred spaces (Mbiti,
1990; Roland, 1988). From a more non-Western
framework, place connects one to history,
ancestors, communal identity, and embodied
spirituality (Captari et al., 2019; Mazumdar &
Mazumdar, 2004).
Humans infuse places with meaning from
their subjective world. Places can facilitate
what Winnicott (1971) referred to as “transi-
tional or potential space,” where both the sub-
jective and objective intermingle and
contribute to meaning-making. Amidst the
COVID-19 pandemic, citizens of the Western
world have the opportunity to reconceptualize
their relationship to place, moving beyond a
due to the COVID-19 health crisis. This paper
considers stressors that are associated with loss
of access to the environment through the
framework of disrupted place attachment,
which provides a useful conceptual lens for
understanding the diverse ways people might
respond to losing connection with their envi-
ronment (e.g., neighborhoods, cities), specific
places (e.g., workplaces, places of worship),
and people (e.g., loved ones, faith community).
Place as a Relational Object
Research has shown that people develop
bonds with places (Low & Altman, 1992;
Manzo & Devine-Wright, 2013). Environmental
psychologists and geographers conceptualize
this place-based bond as place attachment,
the “affective bond or link between people
and specific places” (Hidalgo & Hernandez,
2001, p. 274). In some contexts, people relate
to place as an object of attachment, forming a
symbolic connection to their environment due
to its anthropomorphic attributes (Counted,
2018; Counted & Zock, 2019). Empirical stud-
ies have shown, for example, that migrants
and refugees develop an attachment with their
new countries of abode (Counted, 2019;
Counted et al., 2020). This growing body of
research also includes evidence of attachment
that people develop to beloved childhood
places (Morgan, 2010), suggesting that place
attachment intersects with interpersonal
attachment, identity formation, and spirituality
(Counted, 2018; Scannell & Gifford, 2014).
Place attachment provides a framework for
understanding the challenges and stressors
embedded in the experience of emplacement-
displacement (e.g., restricted access to the
environment, home-bound restrictions) due to
the COVID-19 pandemic" (Devine-Wright et
al., 2020). To appreciate the magnitude of the
psychological stress of place-related disrup-
tions, we first unpack the notion of place as a
relational object.
Place Attachment in Context: Moving
Beyond a Western Concept of Self
Object relations and attachment theories pri-
marily focus on person-to-person relation-
ships, but any person, place, idea, or item can
function as an object (Counted, 2018). An
object is anything that one has invested emo-
tional energy in and can be external or inter-
nal (Hamilton, 1990). An internalized object is
mechanical, practical stance to recognize place
as a significant relational and transforming
object (Bollas, 1987), one with anthropomor-
phic attachment attributes (Counted, 2016,
2018; Scannell & Gifford, 2014).
The Multiple Dimensions of Person-Place
Conceptually, the person-place bond is mul-
tidimensional, entailing affective, behavioral,
and cognitive dimensions (Counted, 2016;
Scannell & Gifford, 2010). The affective (or
place) domain involves how people form
attachment with the physical elements of
place, such as nature and architecture.
Fornara et al. (2009) classified affective reac-
tions to places, including boredom, fear,
excitement, and relaxation, suggesting that
place attachment has similar properties to the
emotional, social, and regulatory functions of
internalized objects. The behavioral (or per-
son) dimension encapsulates attachment to
the cultural lifeforms of a place through the
actions people engage with, including reli-
gious, social, and cultural experiences (e.g.,
places of worship, cultural events), opportuni-
ties (e.g., job or work community), and mile-
stones (e.g., where one studied or met their
significant other). Finally, the cognitive (or
process) domain describes how place facili-
tates identity development and continuity.
Proshansky et al. (1983) noted that self-identi-
ty “extends with no less importance to objects
and things and the very spaces and places in
which they are found” (p. 57).
The function of place attachment is similar to
that of an internalized object or other signifi-
cant object of attachment, as it is involved in
(a) regulating difficult emotional experiences in
the affective dimension, (b) facilitating cultur-
al/social meaning-making in the behavioral
dimension, and (c) promoting identity develop-
ment in the cognitive dimension (Lewicka,
2011). People form attachments with places in
similar ways to those that they form with peo-
ple (Scannell & Gifford, 2014). Significant
places can be experienced as a safe haven,
providing a sense of stability, security, rooted-
ness, and comfort, as well as a secure base,
facilitating the development of autonomy,
curiosity, and new discoveries (Scannell & Gif-
ford, 2014). As Relph (1977) observed, “To
have roots in a place is to have a secure point
from which to look out on the world” (p. 38).
Much like all significant objects of attachment,
people can have both positive and negative
affective bonds to place.
People-Place Bonds and Disrupted Place
Bowlby et al.’s (1952) seminal study of young
children revealed how disrupted attachment can
lead to separation anxiety. This observation of
reactions to attachment separation later provided
the context for understanding expressions of
protest, despair, and detachment as emotional
signals in response to how individuals “monitor
danger in the environment, explore new learn-
ing opportunities, and enjoy social exchanges”
(Kobak et al., 2016, p. 27). The protest starts the
moment the caregiver ceases communication
with the infant, which evokes separation distress
that manifests in the child crying, clinging, dis-
playing anger, or pounding on the door. In the
subsequent despair phase, the attached infant is
most likely to be in anguish over losing commu-
nication with the caregiver. Bowlby (1973) char-
acterized this phase as “deep mourning,” a state
in which the infant interprets the separation as a
loss of the caregiver (Kobak et al., 2016).
Heinicke and Westheimer (1966) observed hos-
tile behavioral patterns directed toward other
people or objects that remind the child of the
caregiver at this second phase. The final
response to a separation experience is detach-
ment, in which the infant shows positive atti-
tudes toward alternative objects as a way of
adapting to the environment.
Although Bowlby et al.’s (1952) work
revealed how children coped with and adapted
to disrupted attachment, no such systematic
observation has been extended to adult attach-
ment experiences, particularly in situations
when people’s relational objects (e.g., place)
are under threat or have been compromised.
Drawing on the findings of Bowlby and col-
leagues about disrupted attachments within
relationships, we propose a place attachment
disruption model that applies to people who
have had their attachments to geographical
places (e.g., cities, neighborhoods, schools,
workplaces, places of worship) disrupted dur-
ing the COVID-19 pandemic (see Figure 1).
Place attachment disruptions can occur in
many ways, but here we will focus on human-
made and natural disasters as causes (Counted,
in press). First, human-made contributors to
place attachment disruptions often occur due
Figure 1
COVID-19 Pandemic Place Attachment Disruption Model
Dimensions of place attachment disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic
Behavioral (Person)
Place-based activities people par-
ticipate in (e.g., religious experi-
ences, cultural events, music
festivals, celebrations)
Cognitive (Process)
Identity and character of place
(e.g., fashion, language, culture,
Affective (Place)
Physical elements of place
(e.g., nature, city features,
urban architecture, religious
Despair Response
Agony experienced over disrup-
tion to place attachment bond
(e.g., anguish about COVID-19
lockdown regulations, loss of
confidence in the government,
feelings of hopelessness)
Detachment Response
Exploring alternative relation-
ships (e.g., finding new forms of
social relationships through
online communities, turning to
the sacred for relationship,
cultivating alternative relational
experiences and connecting
to nature)
Protest Response
Expression of disapproval over
place attachment disruption
(e.g., spread of consipiracy the-
ories, protests against COVID-19
lockdowns, disregard of public
health control measures)
Responses to disrupted place attachment
during the COVID-19 pandemic
they raise concerns about the dangers of their
home confinement and the stringent physical
distancing laws. Instances of protest have
emerged through the spread of conspiracy the-
ories about the pandemic. Some of these lock-
down protests resulted in conflict between law
enforcement agencies upholding the stay-at-
home orders and citizens who disregarded
public health safety measures. These protests
may represent ways in which people are com-
municating separation distress due to feeling
disconnected from the “soul” of their beloved
cities, neighborhoods, and local environments.
Beyond the protest phase of place attach-
ment disruptions, citizens may express anguish
about losing access to their cities and neigh-
bourhoods due to the challenges caused by the
COVID-19 pandemic. Citizens in cities and
states with the highest number of COVID-19
cases may have little hope of returning to
places (e.g., school, work, church, theatre, and
sports events) they value in the near future. For
example, Wuhan (China) was the first city in
the world impacted by SARS-CoV-2, leading to
war-like enforcement of social distancing mea-
sures in order to contain the virus. Such
approaches reflect a type of “military occupa-
tion” that can lead to anguish and despair, par-
ticularly among people who are likely to lose
hope of reconnecting with their cities and
neighborhoods. The despair phase is when
people experience “deep mourning” over los-
ing their object of attachment (Bowlby, 1973),
during which they might show signs of sad-
ness, hopelessness, helplessness, agony, or
becoming suicidal. Despair is occasionally
characterized by hostile reactions and behav-
ioral patterns. A despair response that is
attributed to place attachment disruption during
the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to civil dis-
obedience against public health measures put
in place to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
In order to cope with the COVID-19 pan-
demic and transcend place disruptions caused
by it, people may need to engage in a detach-
ment behavior by finding new forms of rela-
tionships within the confines of their homes
and online communities as well as with nature.
Detachment presents people with the opportu-
nity to identify ways of transcending shared
experiences of disrupted place attachment and
collective suffering. Detachment amidst a pub-
lic health crisis may take different forms; here,
we highlight several possible pathways with
to civil conflict, war, and human rights viola-
tions, which tend to originate from contexts in
which there is economic inequality, injustice,
marginalization, ethnic prejudice, or religious
intolerance. Local people may also feel dis-
placed when their attachment to a country,
city, community, or neighborhood is disrupted
by immigration and globalization. The second
aspect of place attachment disruption involves
natural disasters, particularly as countries are
grappling with the effects of climate change.
The COVID-19 pandemic encompasses both
aspects of disrupted place attachment. Many
countries impacted by SARS-CoV-2 did not act
swiftly enough to contain its transmission.
Delays in closing international and state bor-
ders, inconsistent communication from govern-
ment officials about SARS-CoV-2, and decisions
made by individuals and groups to disregard
public health prevention measures (e.g., stay-
at-home orders, wearing of masks) contributed
to the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Thus, place
attachment disruption in the midst of the
COVID-19 pandemic is both a human-made
and natural event.
As shown in Figure 1, COVID-19 place
attachment disruption can occur at the affec-
tive, behavioral, and cognitive domains of
place to which people form attachment. People
are not able to travel to their favorite locations
or reconnect to the physical features of their
urban environment as they did before the pub-
lic health crisis emerged. The lifeforms of many
places, including social, cultural, and religious
events or activities, have been cancelled or
moved to digital formats, making it impossible
to truly connect with what makes places feel
alive—the process dimension. With an
increased reliance on technology during the
COVID-19 pandemic, people are beginning to
form new ways of learning about themselves
and renewing their identities in a world that
has shifted dramatically to virtual operations
and interactions.
The disruption of place attachment has elicit-
ed reactions among those concerned about
upending relationships with their cities and
neighborhoods. Such responses can be under-
stood as displays of protest, despair, and
detachment, signaling concerns about the
threat of the COVID-19 pandemic to place
bonds. Recently, groups of concerned citizens
have been seen physically protesting lock-
down laws in several parts of the world, as
consideration to the role of the sacred. First,
non-believers may form new types of relation-
ships with the sacred to cope with their felt
loss of place. This process has been conceptu-
alized as the circle of place spirituality in which
there is circular movement between place and
the sacred (Counted, 2018; Counted & Zock,
2019). Second, people of faith are likely to
rekindle their relationship with God as their
source of hope within disaster and vulnerable
contexts (Chen et al., 2019; Counted et al., in
press). Lastly, it is also possible that people of
faith who feel abandoned by God and/or their
religious community may seek non-religious
ways of transcending the distress of place-relat-
ed loss, such as connecting with nature, volun-
teering, artistic creativity, hopeful thinking, or
use of substances. Each of these different ways
of coping and adapting to lost place attach-
ment will be explored below.
Transcending and Transforming Place
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has differ-
entially impacted citizens based on their loca-
tion, minority status, and social vulnerabilities
(Karaye & Horney, 2020), the expectancies and
routines of daily life—including religious
life—have been notably disrupted. From empty
city streets to churches, parks, and community
arts gone dark, society’s relationship to place
has been fundamentally altered. A variety of
systemic and contextual factors may influence
the type, intensity, and long-term impacts of
attachment disruptions experienced in relation
to one’s city, neighborhood, workplace, school,
or place of worship. While some people have
voluntarily relocated to less population-dense
areas and enjoy increased access to nature
(Haynes, 2020), others have been confined to
small, shared living spaces while grappling
with daily stressors that have emanated from
the public health crisis (e.g., financial instabili-
ty, food insecurity). Places that vitalize and
constitute daily life—going to work or school,
gathering with friends for meals, exercising,
attending religious services, participating in
community events (e.g., theatre, music), and
travelinghave become anxiety-provoking
contexts for potential transmission of SARS-
CoV-2. Further, community rituals that facilitate
psychological adaptation and meaning-making
(e.g., weddings, graduations, funerals, festivals,
sports) have been infeasible in traditional form.
Disruptions to place attachment during the
pandemic exist on a continuum ranging from
constructive to catastrophic. Significant and
prolonged disruptions in availability, constancy,
and responsiveness of one’s relationship to
place can activate the attachment system, pre-
cipitate separation distress, and ultimately lead
to coping via detachment (Kobak et al., 2016).
This process may be especially likely to unfold
when there is no context for repair and re-con-
nection, a painful reality for many citizens
uncertain of when it is safe and feasible to re-
engage with place-related religious activities.
For example, how can people fully mourn lost
loved ones when there is no embodied oppor-
tunity to gather with spiritual kinship networks
to grieve and remember?
Religion and spirituality can provide a mean-
ing-making framework, a context for solidarity
with others, and comfort in the midst of suffer-
ing. However, much of the imagery, story, ritu-
al, and symbolism inherent within religious
experience is often facilitated through place
attachments (Counted, 2018). We have previ-
ously argued for the centrality of place in con-
necting to the sacred:
[T]he embodied experience of
attachment to God is inseparable
from physical architecture (e.g.,
churches, synagogues, mosques,
temples), natural landscapes (e.g.,
rivers, mountain peaks, forests),
human-made environments (e.g.,
spiritual labyrinths, prayer walls),
practices (e.g., lament, Eucharist,
pilgrimage), and a larger social
milieu (e.g., felt sense of connec-
tion with believers around the
world and across history). (Captari
et al., 2019, p. 57)
The COVID-19 pandemic may destabilize or
collapse the “potential space” of cultural and
religious life that provides creative vitality, call-
ing into question people’s ability to “go on
being” (Winnicott, 1971) amidst the disorienta-
tion and discontinuity that has accompanied
the public health crisis. The impacts of COVID-
19 include not only a loss of mobility, freedom,
and place contact, but also complex existential
dilemmas about how to understand the divine’s
role (e.g., “Where is God in the midst of so
much suffering?”) and negotiate one’s relation-
ship with the sacred amidst disruptions to place
attachment (e.g., “How can I connect with God
while isolated from my religious community?”).
To the extent that individuals’ meaning systems
are challenged or ruptured, stressors during the
COVID-19 pandemic may stir up “ontological
anxieties inherent in threats to existence, self-
hood, and relational and spiritual security”
(Sandage et al., 2020, p. 89). The disintegration
of “life as we knew it” affords a number of
possibilities for losing and reimagining the
intersectionality of religion and place through
the process of detachment, each of which we
examine below by drawing on the framework
of relational spirituality.
Finding God and Engaging with Faith
Death can evoke profound fear and anxiety,
particularly if death is understood as ultimate
separation (Becker, 1973). The COVID-19 pan-
demic has forced people to honestly face the
reality of death. The brevity of our lives and
limitations of human control have been thrust
into public consciousness, evoking a variety
of spiritual, existential, religious, and theologi-
cal questions. Individuals who do not identify
as religious or spiritual may reflect more on
ultimate concerns and turn to organized
meaning-making frameworks in the search for
transcendence and transformation of death
anxiety. This increased focus on the sacred,
broadly defined as “a person, object, princi-
ple, or concept that transcends the self” (Hill
& Pargament, 2003, p. 65), may be a salutary
means of adapting to lost place attachments
through spiritual seeking. Thus, the collapse
or inability to access places of creativity,
hope, and sociocultural meaning—whether
theatre, art, music, or sports—may motivate
the search for containing and vitalizing objects
in the religious realm.
Seeking proximity to and comfort from
whatever is considered divine or sacred can
provide a non-corporeal object relationship
that constitutes a compensatory bond in the
face of disrupted attachment to place (Count-
ed, 2018). In this way, detachment from one’s
familiar place-related bonds may motivate
engagement with religion/spirituality because
of salient concerns about meaning, destiny,
and the afterlife. Research suggests that attach-
ment bonds may buffer the negative psycho-
logical toll of mortality salience (Steele, 2020).
Individuals with a secure attachment relation-
ship exhibit less anxiety when primed with
death reminders (Mikulincer & Florian, 2000);
thus, we might expect that attachment security
in relation to the divine could ameliorate exis-
tential distress over pandemic-related loss,
separation, and death. Sandage and col-
leagues (2020) consider the dialectical rela-
tional processes of spiritual seeking (e.g.,
deconstructing or adapting previous views,
discovering new meanings and values to
guide one’s life) and spiritual dwelling (e.g.,
finding comfort, solace, and support in God
and one’s spiritual kinship network) as
dynamic and changing based on each individ-
ual’s needs, stresses, and motivations at a
given moment.
Deepening Intimacy and Wrestling with
Religion and spirituality have been found to
play an important role in providing emotional
comfort and regulation, cultivating social capi-
tal and spiritual kinship networks, buffering
against physical and mental illness, and culti-
vating resilience and well-being (Davis et al.,
2018). One explanation for this effect is the
provision of a commonly held framework that
helps people “make sense of their lives and
experiences, sustain a sense of higher purpose
and direction, and maintain a sense of sacred
significance and value” (Davis et al., 2018, p.
1). However, this framework interacts with and
in some ways is dependent on place spirituality
(Counted, 2018; Counted & Zock, 2019), such
that “spiritual meaning-making is an inherently
relational process rooted in particular places”
(Captari et al., 2019, p. 58).
Stay-at-home orders and health precautions
have changed the landscape of religious prac-
tice: Eucharist and Easter gatherings within
Christianity, Passover Seders within Judaism,
and Ramadan celebrations within
Islamalong with daily and weekly group
observances—have been forced to adapt
using technology and online streaming,
which may not be an option in less-resourced
and more rural contexts. While preserving
some sense of connection, online gatherings
may fall short of the tangible rituals and
embodied symbolism of a familiar space,
which can be psychologically grounding and
regulating. For some, connection with nature
has also been limited, compromising access
to physical spaces of beauty, rejuvenation,
and tranquillity that hold spiritual signifi-
cance. When physical spaces deemed sacred
are inaccessible, people of faith lose access to
the center of religious life. Without the
embodied communal presence of fellow
believers, which can function as a spiritual
safe haven, parishioners may experience spir-
itual disorientation and struggle.
However, much like social and emotional
development, spiritual development unfolds
over time and is impacted by life experiences
that shift and expand ways of thinking, feel-
ing, and relating to the sacred (Sandage et al.,
2020). Stress and struggle are inherent within
the human maturational process and are help-
fully understood through the lens of spiritual
seeking (Sandage et al., 2020). Religious texts
include many such examples, including
Jacob’s wrestling with the angel (see Genesis
32:22-31), Job’s questions and lament (see Job
3:1-26), and David’s open expressions of
anger toward God (see Psalm 109). Drawing
on religion to cope through meaning-making
and developing a transcendent perspective
about God’s presence amidst human suffering,
injustice, and loss has the potential to ulti-
mately strengthen and transform one’s rela-
tionship to the divine and help resolve
conflicts with others (Counted et al., in press).
For people of faith, loss of access to spiritual
places may necessitate creative adaptation in the
pragmatics of daily religious life. Spiritual
dwelling may be strengthened through (a)
embodied practices (e.g., prayer, lighting a can-
dle, yoga, meditation, listening to religious
music, reading sacred scriptures, creating art and
poetry) that promote down-regulation of anxiety
and fear; (b) meaning-making processes that
facilitate the development or expansion of
theodicies, including reaffirming God’s benevo-
lent presence as a source of comfort, refuge,
and hope amidst suffering; and (c) adaptive
coping strategies, such as spiritual surrender or
partnering with God to address needs in one’s
community, which may restore a sense of agen-
cy and purpose. Research is beginning to docu-
ment diverse adaptations of spiritual life during
the pandemic, including family rituals drawing
on belief systems to cultivate resilience (Walsh,
2020), spiritual hotlines and online support
groups (Ribeiro et al., 2020; Viswanathan et al.,
2020), and chaplaincy and spiritual care for
COVID-19 patients and their loved ones (Ferrell
et al., 2020; Roman et al., 2020).
Considering that necessity is often the mother
of invention, disrupted contact with religious
places and barriers to conducting communal
mourning rituals may paradoxically facilitate
spiritual evolution, the discovery of new
“potential spaces” of religious experience, and
a deeper sense of connection with the sacred
(e.g., even in the midst of quarantine, there is
no place where God is not there). Whether
receiving communion at the park, joining Shab-
bat dinners virtually, celebrating Eid with
household members, strengthening bonds with
one’s spiritual heritage through reading or shar-
ing stories, connecting with nature by planting
a garden, or beginning to develop other
rhythms of spiritual life, all of the diverse ways
that people of faith are reimagining and trans-
forming daily religious life remain to be seen.
Losing God and Leaving Faith
For some people, religion may be a source of
turmoil, pain, and heartache during the COVID-
19 pandemic. Traumatic deaths, isolation from
loved ones, unemployment and financial insecu-
rity, and loss of relationships, hopes, and
dreams are just a few of the multifaceted and
often domino-like stressors and uncertainties
that can weigh on the soul (Walsh, 2020).
Parishioners whose disrupted attachment to their
places of worship is not effectively compensated
by other avenues may feel “stuck” in their strug-
gles and questions, which could be exacerbated
by sensing judgement or criticism from one’s
spiritual community for questioning faith (Aten
et al., 2019). When existential questions and
angst lead to seemingly unsolvable dilemmas,
individuals may enact the detachment phase of
separation distress by leaving their faith tradi-
tion. Research on deconversion narratives sug-
gests that chronic, unresolved spiritual struggles
may influence this decision. For example, Wright
et al. (2011) found that two-thirds of deconverts
identified God’s apparent passivity, indifference,
or absence in the face of suffering as prominent
factors. Further, nearly half of the sample point-
ed to God’s failures, sometimes framing their
“broken relationship with God as one might talk
about a marital divorce. They are emotional, bit-
ter at times. [They] did so much for God—pray-
ing, attending church, following God—but God
did little in return” (Wright et al., 2011, pp. 8-9).
A number of psychological trajectories may
emerge for those who deconvert or disaffili-
ate with a religious/spiritual tradition. In a
longitudinal study, Hui and colleagues (2018)
found that half of “exiters” reported initial
relief from psychological distress, while the
other half reported a spike in mental health
symptoms. During the COVID-19 pandemic,
individuals who leave religion may experi-
ence heightened levels of isolation as they
search for new social support networks,
which may be difficult to accomplish in times
of physical distancing and mobility restric-
tions. Furthermore, reformulating and
expanding one’s worldview, values, and
meaning-making framework amidst a time of
collective disorientation can leave people
feeling caught in limbo. Losing attachment to
place and God simultaneously may leave
individuals particularly vulnerable to feeling
as if their “potential space” has collapsed.
Loss of social and religious capital may
necessitate and activate new processes of
seeking, exploration, and affiliation with
groups, identities, and support networks that
may be alternate sources of transcendence
and personal transformation.
Practical Implications and Concluding
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a
multifaceted array of challenges, the implica-
tions of which are emerging in studies that
have begun to investigate its impacts on spiri-
tual and psychological well-being (González-
Sanguino et al., 2020; Wang et al., 2020). Given
that much of the psychospiritual distress during
the public health crisis appears to be tethered
to emplacement and displacement experiences
(Ramkissoon, 2020), clients of mental health
practitioners may obtain therapeutic benefits
from intentional exploration of their place-
based experiences (e.g., place attachment dis-
ruption). For example, identifying which
aspects of clients’ subjective experiences are
rooted in their connection to places of signifi-
cance may promote self-discovery and mean-
ing-making in a way that integrates place
attachment disruption within their holistic psy-
chospiritual experience. In approaching themes
related to place attachment, practitioners ought
to be sensitive to the spiritual/religious belief
systems and cultural dynamics that influence
clients’ relationships with place-based objects.
Given the pervasive and ongoing place
attachment disruptions that have occurred
during the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be
value in finding creative ways for clients to
process disconnection, loss, and future recov-
ery of place-based attachment. One therapeu-
tic framework that could support adaptive
emotional transformation in response to place
attachment disruption is the use of experien-
tial therapies (Benoit & Kramer, 2020). For
clients dealing with psychospiritual distress
associated with place attachment disruption,
reflective activities and expressive tools (e.g.,
role-playing, use of imagery) could be used to
process emotions about past issues, present
difficulties, and future possibilities related to
place attachment. Although this can be facili-
tated digitally through virtual, web-based
interactions (Benoit & Kramer, 2020), experi-
ential therapies that make use of outdoor
activities set in nature itself (e.g., adventure
therapy) could offer clients physically-dis-
tanced opportunities to explore, restore, or
establish new attachments to the divine in
places that may not have held spiritual signifi-
cance in the past. Experiential therapies also
offer the opportunity to re-experience places
lost by processing the loss, re-establishing
attachment, or building new attachments to
places of spiritual significance by being pre-
sent in significant places that evoke self-reflec-
tion and emotional awareness, ultimately
promoting self-integration. More generally, as
stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, people can
utilize available opportunities to explore out-
door places that provide avenues for experi-
encing the presence of the divine,
reinvigorating attachment to the sacred, and
broadening a spiritually-imbued capacity to
remain resilient and thrive through the ongo-
ing challenges of the public health crisis.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has
challenged the way people experience places
they had a connection with before the SARS-
CoV-2 outbreak; in the process, it may elicit
questions about divine presence and protection.
The fear of contracting the virus and disruption
of place attachment could potentially shake the
foundations of one’s faith, leaving people sus-
ceptible to spiritual anxiety and struggles (e.g.,
feeling abandoned by God or one’s faith-based
community). In response to the disrupted place
attachment that has emanated from the COVID-
19 health crisis, detachment and reorientation
can help people find new ways of reconciling
loss of place by drawing on relational objects
and resources that facilitate positive adjustment.
Relationship with the sacred is one of the path-
ways through which the process of detachment,
adaptation and establishment of new attach-
ment connections occur. Future research should
continue to explore the diverse ways that
attachment to the sacred, place, and kinship
networks interact and evolve throughout the
COVID-19 pandemic in ways that promote
resilience and transformation.
Aten, J. D., Smith, W., Davis, E. B., Van Tongeren,
D. R., Hook, J. N., Davis, D. E., Shannonhouse,
L., DeBlaere, C., Ranter, J., O’Grady, K., & Hill, P.
(2019). The psychological study of religion and
spirituality in a disaster context: A systematic
review. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research,
Practice, and Policy, 11(6), 597–613.
Bartik, A. W., Bertrand, M., Cullen, Z., Glaeser, E.
L., Luca, M., & Stanton, C. (2020). The impact of
COVID-19 on small business outcomes and
expectations. Proceedings of the National Acade-
my of Sciences, 117(30), 17656-17666.
Becker, E. (1973). The denial of death. Free Press.
Benoit, A.T., & Kramer, U. (2020). Work with emo-
tions in remote psychotherapy in the time of
Covid-19: A clinical experience. Counselling Psy-
chology Quarterly,
Bollas, C. (1987). The shadow of the object: Psycho-
analysis of the unthought known. Columbia Uni-
versity Press.
Bowlby, J., Robertson, J., & Rosenbluth, D. (1952).
A two-year-old goes to hospital. The Psychoana-
lytic Study of the Child, 7(1), 82-94.
Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and loss: Volume II:
Separation, anxiety and anger. The Hogarth Press.
Captari, L. E., Hook, J. N., Aten, J. D., Davis, E. B.,
& Tisdale, T. C. (2019). Embodied spirituality fol-
lowing disaster. In V. Counted & F. Watts (Eds.),
The psychology of religion and place (pp. 49-79).
Chakraborty, N. (2020). The COVID?19 pandemic
and its impact on mental health. Progress in Neu-
rology and Psychiatry, 24(2), 21-24.
Chen, Z. J., Bechara, A. O., Worthington Jr, E. L.,
Davis, E. B., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2019).
Trauma and well-being in Colombian disaster
contexts: Effects of religious coping, forgiving-
ness, and hope. The Journal of Positive Psycholo-
gy, 1-12.
Counted, V., & Zock, H. T. (2019). Place spirituality:
An attachment perspective. Archive for the Psy-
chology of Religion, 41(1), 12–25.
Counted, V. (2016). Making sense of place attach-
ment: Towards a holistic understanding of peo-
ple-place relationships and experiences.
Environment, Space, Place, 8(1), 7-32.
Counted, V. (2018). The Circle of Place Spirituality
(CoPS): Towards an attachment and exploration
motivational systems approach in the psychology
of religion. Research in the Social Scientific Study
of Religion, 29, 149-178.
Counted, V. (2019). The role of spirituality in pro-
moting sense of place among foreigners of
African background in the Netherlands. Ecopsy-
chology, 11(2), 101-109.
Counted, V. (in press). The roots of radicalization:
Disrupted attachment systems and displacement.
Rowman & Littlefield.
Counted, V., Pargament, K. I., Bachera, A. O.,
Joynt, S., & Cowden, R. G. (in press). Hope and
well-being in vulnerable contexts during the
COVID-19 pandemic: Does religious coping mat-
ter? Journal of Positive Psychology.
Counted, V., Possamai, A., McAuliffe, C., &
Meade, T. (2020). Attachment to Australia,
attachment to God, and quality of life outcomes
among African Christian diasporas in New
South Wales. Journal of Spirituality in Mental
Health, 22(1), 65-95.
Davis, E. B., Kimball, C. N., Aten, J. D., Andrews, B.,
Van Tongeren, D. R., Hook, J. N., Davis, D. E.,
Granqvist, P., & Park, C. L. (2018). Religious mean-
ing making and attachment in a disaster context: A
longitudinal qualitative study of flood survivors.
The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1-13.
Devine-Wright, P., de Carvalho, L. P., Di Masso, A.,
Lewicka, M., Manzo, L., & Williams, D. R. (2020).
“Re-placed”-Reconsidering relationships with
place and lessons from a pandemic. Journal of
Environmental Psychology, 72, 101514.
Ferrell, B. R., Handzo, G., Picchi, T., Puchalski, C.,
& Rosa, W. E. (2020). The urgency of spiritual
care: COVID-19 and the critical need for whole-
person palliation. Journal of Pain and Symptom
Management, 60(3), e7-e11.
Fornara, F., Bonaiuto, M., & Bonnes, M. (2009).
Cross-validation of Abbreviated Perceived Resi-
dential Environment Quality (PREQ) and Neigh-
borhood Attachment (NA) indicators.
Environment and Behavior, 42, 171-196.
González-Sanguino, C., Ausín, B., ÁngelCastellanos,
M., Saiz, J., López-Gómez, A., Ugidos, C., &
Muñoz, M. (2020). Mental health consequences
during the initial stage of the 2020 Coronavirus
pandemic in Spain. Brain, Behavior, and Immu-
nity, 87, 172-176.
Hamilton, G. N. (1990). Self and others: Object rela-
tions theory in practice. Jason Aronson.
Haynes, S. (August 21, 2020). COVID-19 is prompt-
ing wealthy people to move out of cities. TIME.
Heinicke, C. M., & Westheimer, I. (1966). Brief sepa-
rations. International U. Press.
Hidalgo, M. C., & Hernandez, B. (2001). Place
attachment: Conceptual and empirical questions.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 21, 273-28.
Hill, P. C., & Pargament, K. I. (2003). Advances in
the conceptualization and measurement of reli-
gion and spirituality. Implications for physical
and mental health research. American Psycholo-
gist, 58, 64–74.
Hui, C. H., Cheung, S. H., Lam, J., Lau, E. Y. Y.,
Cheung, S. F., & Yuliawati, L. (2018). Psychologi-
cal changes during faith exit: A three-year
prospective study. Psychology of Religion and
Spirituality, 10(2), 103-118.
Husky, M. M., Kovess-Masfety, V., & Swendsen, J.
D. (2020). Stress and anxiety among university
students in France during Covid-19 mandatory
confinement. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 102,
Karaye, I. M., & Horney, J. A. (2020). The impact of
social vulnerability on COVID-19 in the US: an
analysis of spatially varying relationships. American
Journal of Preventive Medicine, 59(3), 317-325.
Kobak, R., Zajac, K., & Madsen, S. D. (2016).
Attachment disruptions, reparative processes, and
psychopathology. Handbook of attachment (pp.
25-39). Guilford Press.
Lewicka, M. (2011). Place attachment: How far have
we come in the last 40 years? Journal of Environ-
mental Psychology, 31(3), 207-230.
Low, S. M., & Altman, I. (1992). Place attachment.
Manzo, L. C., & Devine-Wright, P. (2013). Place
attachment: Advances in theory, methods and
applications. Routledge.
Mazumdar, S., & Mazumdar, S. (2004). Religion and
place attachment: A study of sacred places. Jour-
nal of Environmental Psychology, 24(3), 385-397.
Mbiti, J. S. (1990). African religions & philosophy.
Mikulincer, M., & Florian, V. (2000). Exploring
individual differences in reactions to mortality
salience: Does attachment style regulate terror
management mechanisms? Journal of Personali-
ty and Social Psychology, 79(2), 260-273.
Morgan, P. (2010). Towards a developmental theory
of place attachment. Journal of Environmental
Psychology, 30(1), 11-22.
Proshansky, H. M., Fabian, A. K., & Kaminoff, R.
(1983). Place-identity: Physical world socialization
of the self. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 3,
Ramkissoon, H. (2020). COVID-19 place confine-
ment, pro-social, pro-environmental behaviors,
and residents’ wellbeing: A new conceptual
framework. Frontiers in Psychology, 11.
Relph, E. (1976). Place and placelessness. Pion.
Ribeiro, M. R. C., Damiano, R. F., Marujo, R., Nasri,
F., & Lucchetti, G. (2020). The role of spirituality
in the COVID-19 pandemic: A spiritual hotline
project. Journal of Public Health, 1-2.
Roland, A. (1988). In search of self in India and
Japan: Toward a cross-cultural psychology.
Princeton University Press.
Roman, N. V., Mthembu, T. G., & Hoosen, M.
(2020). Spiritual care–‘A deeper immunity’–A
response to Covid-19 pandemic. African Journal
of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine, 12(1),
Sandage, S. J., Rupert, D., Stavros, G., & Devor, N.
G. (2020). Relational spirituality in psychothera-
py: Healing suffering and promoting growth.
American Psychological Association.
Scannell, L., & Gifford, R. (2014). Comparing the
theories of interpersonal and place attachment. In
L. Manzo & P. Devine-Wright (Eds.). Place attach-
ment: Advances in theory, methods and research
(pp. 23-36). Routledge.
Scannell, L., & Gifford, R. (2010). Defining place
attachment: A tripartite organizing framework.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30(1), 1-
Steele, H. (2020). COVID-19, fear and the future: An
attachment perspective. Clinical Neuropsychiatry,
17(2), 97-99.
Viswanathan, R., Myers, M. F., & Fanous, A. H.
(2020). Support groups and individual mental
health care via video conferencing for frontline
clinicians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psy-
chosomatics, 1-6.
Walsh, F. (2020). Loss and resilience in the time of
COVID?19: Meaning making, hope, and transcen-
dence. Family Process, 59, 898-911.
Wang, C., Pan, R., Wan, X., Tan, Y., Xu, L., McIn-
tyre, R. S., ... & Ho, C. (2020). A longitudinal
study on the mental health of general population
during the COVID-19 epidemic in China. Brain,
Behavior, and Immunity, 87, 40-48.
Winnicott, D. W. (1971). Playing and reality. Burns
& Oates.
World Health Organization. (2020). WHO coron-
avirus disease (COVID-19) dashboard.
Wright, B. R., Giovanelli, D., Dolan, E. G., &
Edwards, M. E. (2011). Explaining deconversion
from Christianity: A study of online narratives.
Journal of Religion and Society, 13, 1-17.
Victor A. Counted (Ph.D. in Psychology, Western
Sydney University; Ph.D. in Religion & Society, Uni-
versity of Groningen) is a behavioural and social
scientist, health psychologist, and research fellow of
the School of Psychology at Western Sydney Universi-
ty. Dr Counted writes and speaks on various aspects
of psychosocial processes and human-environment
interactions that shape health, quality of life, and
human connection. His research fuses psychology,
religion, and health. He is the author of The Roots
of Radicalization: Disrupted Attachment Systems
and Displacement (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021) and
The Psychology of Religion and Place: Emerging
Perspectives (Palgrave/Springer, 2019).
Megan A. Neff (M.Div, M.A., Doctoral Candidate,
George Fox University Graduate School of Psycholo-
gy). Neff's primary professional interests include the
integration of psychological and religion, dialogical
education, and civil communication.
Laura E. Captari (Ph.D. in Counseling Psycholo-
gy, University of North Texas) is a postdoctoral fellow
at The Danielsen Institute at Boston University. Her
research explores the developmental and relational
impacts of trauma, disaster, and loss, with attention
to the intersections of culture, spirituality, and the
mind-body connection as potential pathways to
resilience and flourishing.
Richard G. Cowden, Ph.D., is a social-personality
psychologist and Research Associate for the Human
Flourishing Program at Harvard University. He is
broadly interested in intersections between cultural-
contextual dynamics and psychosocial processes
that shape adaptive functioning, personal growth,
and well-being. Much of his research agenda focus-
es on character strengths and positive adjustment,
especially the implications of forgiveness for health
and well-being in diverse cultures and contexts.
... However, the lack of contact with these places can have an unwelcome effect on them, which was also shown in our study. Counted et al. (2021) report that place attachment disrupted responses during a COVID-19 pandemic can be loneliness, despair, or protests. Meagher, Cheadle (2020) found that people with a greater connection to their home showed better mental health during the constraints associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. ...
Full-text available
It was not officially possible to leave the cadastral territory for recreational purposes in Czechia during the period from the 1 March to the 21 March 2021. The aim of this study was to evaluate how this lockdown affected the amount of time young people spent outdoors and their health and mental well-being. Our research was aimed at students at all levels of school. Immediately after the end of the strictest phase of the lockdown, we conducted a questionnaire survey and collected data from more than a thousand students at elementary schools, secondary schools and universities, as well as 160 parents of 269 pre-school and primary school children. The answers to the close-ended questions were evaluated by statistical analysis, while the answers to the open-ended questions were evaluated using thematic analysis. The results show that the impact of restrictive measures on the health and psyche of young people was significant, especially for female students. Lockdown significantly reduced respondents’ opportunities to spend time outdoors. Male students spent significantly more of their free time in front of computer screens. Respondents living in buildings without a garden and young people who could not use a recreational building outside the district of residence were most affected by restrictions during the lockdown.
... Environmental psychologists and researchers Counted et al. (2021a;2021b) theorized that physical separations from meaningful places and people within spaces during the pandemic resulted in disruptions in place attachment 1 (p. 37). ...
Editorial: "Volume 35, Issue 1, of the Canadian Journal of Art Therapy: Research, Practice, and Issues/Revue canadienne d’art-thérapie : recherche, pratique et enjeux presents the theme of art therapy education in a broad sense—beyond postgraduate and graduate education, to include continuing education, educating colleagues about art therapy, and innovating on new methods with diverse populations, etc. This special issue welcomed submissions with various research methodologies that addressed trends, movements, and new programming that aligned learning with the current needs of populations in the field. The intention of this issue is to present different ways that art therapy education can enhance and move the field forward" (Toll, 2022, p. 1)
... R/S survivors may (a) draw closer to the sacred and a R/S community to cope (e.g., spiritual dwelling), (b) grapple with spiritual dilemmas that lead to spiritual evolution over time (e.g., spiritual seeking), or (c) disaffiliate with religion/spirituality because of unsolvable spiritual dilemmas, pursuing other groups and support networks that can contribute to meaning. Finally, 752 (d) previously non-R/S survivors may reflect on ultimate concerns following disaster and turn toward faith as a result (Counted et al., 2020). Contextual factors can also affect the relationship between survivors' experience and outcomes. ...
... The consistently negative associations between the dimensions of religiosity and the domain of close social relationships speak to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on religious communities (VanderWeele, 2020), and point to the challenges of maintaining cohesive religious communities during a public health crisis. Despite widespread online religious services and opportunities to participate in virtual religious activities organized by faith-based communities (Counted et al., 2020), our findings suggest that parishioners may have found it challenging to sustain their flourishing if their sense of connectedness with other faith community members was disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic. ...
Full-text available
This study explored the extent to which perceived changes in religiosity from before to during the COVID-19 pandemic are associated with flourishing. Participants from a diverse set of faith communities in two United States metropolitan regions ( N = 1,480) completed an online survey between October and December 2020. The survey included items capturing perceived changes in four dimensions of religiosity (i.e., importance of religion, frequency of prayer, frequency of religious service attendance, and sense of connectedness to one’s faith community) and a multidimensional measure of flourishing. Based on multilevel regressions, results indicated that self-reported decreases in each dimension of religiosity were associated with lower overall flourishing. This pattern of findings was largely similar for the domains of flourishing, with some variation in the strength of associations that emerged. An increase in frequency of religious service attendance was associated with lower overall flourishing and lower scores on selected domains of flourishing (e.g., mental and physical health), indicating possible evidence of religious coping. Faith communities might have to find ways of supporting members during the challenging COVID-19 period to prevent long-term declines in flourishing.
... Our study shows that people actively seek refuge in virtual worlds when they feel deprived of those "places" that are significant to them. Prior research found that COVID-19 pandemic disrupted place attachment (Counted et al., 2021), namely the emotional bond that people establish with certain places (Lewicka, 2011;Ramkissoon, 2020). Research also stressed that several emergency situations, like earthquakes and floods, might threaten the sense of belonging to a place (Carroll et al., 2009;Marshall et al., 2019;Schlosberg et al., 2020). ...
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic led to dramatic changes in people's lives. The Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) community widely investigated technology use during crises. However, commercial video games received minor attention. In this article, we describe how video game play impacted the life transformations engendered by the pandemic. We administered a qualitative online survey to 330 video game players who were living in Italy during the lockdown measures. We found that the COVID-19 pandemic altered the participants' sense of time and space, reshaped both their intimate and wider social interactions, and elicited a wide spectrum of disturbing emotions. Players escaped from this unsatisfying reality into video game worlds, searching for a new normality that could compensate for the unpredict-ability and dangerousness of the pandemic life, as well as seeking uncertainty in the game environments to balance the flatness of the lockdown everydayness. In doing so, they "appropriated" the gaming technologies, which also led to several unexpected outcomes. Starting from these findings , we propose a model of escapism that points out four ways to escape from reality into video game worlds. Moreover, we outline some design implications that might inspire future strands of research in the field of crisis technologies.
... & Feeney, 2017). Second, online religious participation is unlikely to provide the same benefits as in-person services because sacred places often play a central role in inner religious/spiritual experiences (Counted, Neff, Captari, & Cowden, 2020;Fancourt & Steptoe, 2019;Mazumdar & Mazumdar, 2004). Third, online services may not have provided the same quality of faith teachings and communal religious/spiritual experiences as in-person services. ...
Full-text available
Background In-person religious service attendance has been linked to favorable health and well-being outcomes. However, little research has examined whether online religious participation improves these outcomes, especially when in-person attendance is suspended. Methods Using longitudinal data of 8951 UK adults, this study prospectively examined the association between frequency of online religious participation during the stringent lockdown in the UK (23 March –13 May 2020) and 21 indicators of psychological well-being, social well-being, pro-social/altruistic behaviors, psychological distress, and health behaviors. All analyses adjusted for baseline socio-demographic characteristics, pre-pandemic in-person religious service attendance, and prior values of the outcome variables whenever data were available. Bonferroni correction was used to correct for multiple testing. Results Individuals with online religious participation of ≥1/week ( v. those with no participation at all) during the lockdown had a lower prevalence of thoughts of self-harm in week 20 (odds ratio 0.24; 95% CI 0.09–0.62). Online religious participation of <1/week ( v. no participation) was associated with higher life satisfaction (standardized β = 0.25; 0.11–0.39) and happiness (standardized β = 0.25; 0.08–0.42). However, there was little evidence for the associations between online religious participation and all other outcomes (e.g. depressive symptoms and anxiety). Conclusions There was evidence that online religious participation during the lockdown was associated with some subsequent health and well-being outcomes. Future studies should examine mechanisms underlying the inconsistent results for online v. in-person religious service attendance and also use data from non-pandemic situations.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, recreation sites around the country experienced a rise in visitation numbers as residents looked for alternatives to staying home. The researchers hypothesized that the social and cultural changes associated with the pandemic have increased the level of visitor place attachment towards these sites. This research works to identify the level of connection guests have towards Arkansas State Parks (ASP) during COVID-19. Results from this study have shown that attachment towards ASP has grown throughout the pandemic and has increased the likelihood that these visitors will return to the site in the future.
Full-text available
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic was one of the most devastating disasters of the twenty-first century and has exacted a steep health and economic toll. During times of suffering caused by the pandemic, religion/spirituality may prove to be a consistent and valuable coping resource. Purpose: We situate changes in religious importance and reliance on God as key aspects of religious life that may be important coping mechanisms in response to pandemic-related financial hardship, addressing a gap in the literature on religious coping during the pandemic and considering self-reported changes in religiosity. Methods: We use data from a nationally representative sample of Americans that was collected in 2021 (N = 1704) and employ a series of OLS Regression Models. Results: Our results suggest that relying more heavily on God was associated with lower psychological distress, and a stronger reliance on God buffered the deleterious consequences of financial strain on psychological distress. No such patterns were documented for religious importance. Conclusion and implications: We discuss our findings within the broader religion and health literature as to whether secondary control via a divine power reduces or enhances individual agency and discuss religion/spirituality may be a consistent and valuable coping resource through adversity and suffering. Though it may be challenging to maintain, or increase, religious/spiritual beliefs in the face of adversity, that there were observed benefits to well-being for doing so could serve as insightful guidance for both religious leaders and R/S individuals.
This paper explores how religious beliefs influence meaning-making and prosocial action among community responders. Fourteen non-professional rescue and relief volunteers were interviewed post the 2018-19 floods in Kerala, India. The study adopts Braun and Clarke's Thematic Analysis with a critical realist approach. Several participants viewed the disaster as an act of God but simultaneously engaged in scientific sense-making; religious meaning-making offers a means of coming to terms, while rational causal attributions promote mitigation measures. Suffering was seen as a test of faith. Many volunteers experienced the disaster as a reminder that re-oriented them to piety and iterated human vulnerability. Although the disaster evoked a lack of control, they found meaning in the service of others and viewed their actions with humility and gratitude. Service was often both intrinsically meaningful and religiously motivated. The findings underscore the role of religious meaning-making in promoting prosocial action and community resilience post disasters.
Full-text available
Many people relied on their faith as one resource in order to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Germany, between the eighteen months from June 2020 to November 2021, different participants at different times were assessed during different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The total sample of this continuous cross-sectional survey consisted of 4,693 participants. Analyses revealed that with the 2nd wave of the infection and its 2nd lockdown, trust in a Higher Source, along with praying and meditation decreased. Also, the sharp increase in corona-related stressors was associated with a decline of wellbeing and a continuing loss of faith. These developments were observed in both Catholics and Protestants, and in both younger and older persons. In addition, the long phases of insecurity and social isolation lacking the significant support usually given by religious communities may have likewise challenged the religious-coping capacities of religious/spiritual people themselves.
Full-text available
This brief paper summarizes and appraises two prominent psychological accounts of the role fear plays in human life: (1) terror management theory and (2) attachment theory, highlighting research demonstrating that attachment security moderates the experience of fear. Moreover, the suggestion is made that fear of loss of loved ones, and fear of loss of love, is the primary source of fear and anxiety in human life. This paper also highlights the importance and value of showing 'reflective functioning' regarding our anxieties or 'mentalizing' fear so that we are better prepared for inevitable pandemics in the future. Public health infrastructures must be nourished and reinforced, just as heroic economic and technological changes are needed, so that we may more effectively cope with the fears, destruction and death arising on a regular basis on account of the radical adverse events (hotter and bigger wild fires, longer and more damaging storms) brought on by climate changes, directly linked to foolish and greedy human choices and behaviors.
Full-text available
There is an undoubted movement of thought towards a restatement of radicalization and extremism along the lines of recent psychological achievements. This has already taken place, to a large extent, in social and behavioral sciences where concepts such as religion, place, and people are discussed as objects of attachment. This book examines the expressions of attachment-related radicalization. It argues that radicalization is rooted in experiences of disrupted attachment in religion, places, or with people who are perceived as sources of security. The book treats the subject of radicalization with great insight and empathy and interprets it in the light of recent cases of radicalization around the world.
Full-text available
To identify potential protective mechanisms that might buffer the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on well-being, the current set of studies (NStudy 1 = 1172, NStudy 2 = 451) examined the roles of hope and religious coping (positive and negative) in promoting well-being during stay-at-home orders that were implemented in Colombia and South Africa. After controlling for relevant sociodemographic characteristics (Study 1), subjective health complaints, and sleep quality (Study 2), hope was positively associated with well-being and the relation between hope and well-being was moderated by religious coping. Whilst well-being was highest when levels of hope were high (irrespective of positive or negative religious coping levels), when reported hope was low, well-being tended to be higher when positive religious coping was high (Study 1) and negative religious coping was low (Study 2). Implications of the findings for maintaining well-being during a public health crisis are discussed.
Full-text available
Residents’ wellbeing in the present COVID-19 global health crisis requires a deeper understanding to determine appropriate management strategies to promote sustainable behaviors and contribute to human and planetary health. Residents’ behavior can have a profound influence in contributing to personal and global community’s health by responding effectively to emergency strategies in disease outbreaks such as the Coronavirus. It is evident that an understanding of residents’ behavior(s) pre COVID-19 across fields have relied on over-simplistic models, many of which will need to be revisited. Our interaction with people and nature while respecting social distancing has profound positive impacts on our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. The current health pandemic has called that people be confined in their homes across many nations as a means to control the spread of the virus and save lives. This calls for research exploring the mechanisms; this paper develops and proposes a conceptual framework suggesting that place confinement promotes pro-social and household pro-environmental behaviors which could become habitual and contribute further to our people’s and our planet’s health. Some evidence shows that human connectedness to place may contribute to engagement in desirable behaviors. Interaction with other members of the household can help create meanings leading to collective actions promoting psychological wellbeing. Promoting hygienic behaviors in the household (frequent hand washing) while at the same time being conscious not to keep the water flowing when not required would contribute to a range of benefits (health, financial, biospheric, altruistic) and promote wellbeing. Engaging in pro-social behaviors may result in positive effects on psychological wellbeing, reducing mental distress giving rise to a sense of attachment and belongingness, trust and overall life satisfaction. Engaging people in low-effort pro-environmental behavior to maintain some levels of physical activity and biological harmony with natural environmental settings (e.g. gardening) may help reduce anxiety and distress. This is the first study exploring the interplay of relationships between place confinement, pro-social behavior, household pro-environmental behaviors, place attachment as a multi-dimensional construct and presenting their relationships to residents’ wellbeing. Behavioral change interventions are proposed to promote lifestyle change for people’s wellbeing and broader societal benefits. Keywords: COVID-19, Place confinement, pro-social behavior, Pro-environmental behavior (PEB), place attachment, habits, Residents' wellbeing, behavior change
Full-text available
Recent correspondence letters to the editor of this journal pointed out to the need of implementing psychological support during the pandemic and post-pandemic period to both general and frontline workers. Especially, they highlighted the importance of religious/spiritual interventions in order to provide an integral and holistic care. In this perspective, an important consequence of the social isolation is the closure of churches and the suspension of religious meetings in order to avoid agglomeration and contagion. However, although this is a very important approach in terms of public health, a question is raised: how to promote spiritual care and help spiritual/religious individuals to cope with their problems while maintaining compliance with social isolation? To address this question, we report the Spiritual Hotline Project, a project designed by many Brazilian healthcare workers intended to give spiritual and religious assistance to people with different cultural background. So far, the hotline was able to assist people from different parts of the world, including Brazil and Portugal as well as with
Full-text available
This article addresses the many complex and traumatic losses wrought by the COVID‐19 pandemic. In contrast to individually‐based, symptom‐focused grief work, a resilience‐oriented, systemic approach with complex losses contextualizes the distress and mobilizes relational resources to support positive adaptation. Applying a family resilience framework to pandemic‐related losses, discussion focuses on the importance of shared belief systems in (1) meaning‐making processes; (2) a positive, hopeful outlook and active agency; and (3) transcendent values and spiritual moorings for inspiration, transformation, and positive growth. Practice guidelines are offered to facilitate adaptation and resilience.
Full-text available
While necessary from a public health standpoint, Covid-19 confinement strategies are often contrary to evidence-based therapies used to treat mental disorders. University students may be particularly vulnerable to mental health problems, but recent studies have indicated only a negligible impact of confinement strategies. French respondents to a World Mental Health survey of university students completed questions concerning Covid-19 confinement. The sample experienced increased anxiety as well as moderate to severe stress during confinement. Respondents who did not relocate to live with parents were disproportionately affected. Knowledge of confinement effects may be used to reduce its negative impact in vulnerable populations.
Full-text available
Significance Drawing on a survey of more than 5,800 small businesses, this paper provides insight into the economic impact of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) on small businesses. The results shed light on both the financial fragility of many small businesses, and the significant impact COVID-19 had on these businesses in the weeks after the COVID-19–related disruptions began. The results also provide evidence on businesses’ expectations about the longer-term impact of COVID-19, as well as their perceptions of relief programs offered by the government.
The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted a reconsideration, perhaps even a fundamental shift in our relationships with place. As people worldwide have experienced 'lockdown,' we find ourselves emplaced in new and complex ways. In this Commentary, we draw attention to the reworking of people-place relations that the pandemic has catalysed thus far. We offer insights and suggestions for future interdisciplinary research, informed by our diverse positionalities as researchers based in different continents employing diverse approaches to people-place research. The article is structured in two sections. First, we consider theoretical aspects of our current relationships to place by proposing a framework of three interdependent axes: emplacement-displacement, inside-outside, and fixity-flow. Second, we identify six implications of these dialectics: for un-making and re-making 'home'; precarity, exclusion and non-normative experiences of place; a new politics of public space; health, wellbeing and access to 'outside' recreational spaces; re-sensing place, virtual escapes and fluid places, and methodological and ethical considerations. Across these topics, we identify 15 key questions to guide future research. We conclude by asserting that learning lessons from the global pandemic is necessarily tentative, requiring careful observation of altered life circumstances, and will be deficient without taking relationships with place into account. Keywords: Covid-19; Place; Place attachment; Home; Theory; Implications