Where Does It Come From? A Summary of Literature Related to Neonatal and the Possible Nature of the Ex-Utero Spirituality Journey

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Book Chapter

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Spirituality: An Interdisciplinary View pp. 57-66



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130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified

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The aim of this chapter is to unpack the findings of a focused review of the neonatal research medical literature related to learning in-utero and its implications for later spiritual development. Arising out of the initial coding of data related to a qualitative project that sought to understand how one cohort of tertiary students defined spirituality, the ensuing themes revealed a high degree of modality in their responses. The nomothetic question naturally arose as to ‘where did the definitive realisation of spirituality come from?’ In seeking an answer in the research literature as a responsive direction to our findings, our reading journey became increasingly focused on the medical literature related to learning. However, the more we theoretically dug, the more the notion of Attachment Theory rose to the fore which eventually led to a chance reading of medical neo-natal research.

Attachment theory suggests that early childhood experiences with significant others have a profound impact in regard to how one connects with others later on in life. Both the desire and ability to connect to others is an oft-cited defining aspect in the spirituality research base. However, medical research suggests that the foundations for these ex-utero experiences are laid down in the synaptic layers and pathways before birth. We are not arguing that a foetus has preformed aspects of spirituality, but rather that all children are born predisposed and hard wired ready to commence a spiritual journey.


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