Contributor

Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D.

Psychiatrist and one of the founders of transpersonal psychology

Stanislav Grof’s professional career has covered a period of over 50 years in which his primary interest has been research of the heuristic and therapeutic potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. This included initially four years (1956-1960) of laboratory research of psychedelics -- LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and tryptamine derivatives -- and 14 years of research of psychedelic psychotherapy. He spent seven of these years (1960-1967) as Principal Investigator of the psychedelic research program at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia. This was followed by seven years of research of psychedelic psychotherapy in the United States.

The first two of these years, he worked as Clinical and Research Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University and in the Research Unit of the Spring Grove State Hospital in Baltimore, MD. The following five years, he held the position of Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. In this capacity he headed for several years the last surviving official research project of psychedelic therapy in the USA.

From 1973 until 1987, he was Scholar-in-Residence at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, where he developed jointly with his wife Christina a powerful non-drug form of self-exploration and psychotherapy that they call Holotropic Breathwork. They have used this method in workshops and in professional training in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. They have also worked with many individuals undergoing spontaneous episodes of non-ordinary states of consciousness, psychospiritual crises or “spiritual emergencies.” During these years of psychotherapeutic research, Stan Grof has made the following contributions.

-Developed theory and practice of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and described it in his book LSD Psychotherapy, which has been until this day the only comprehensive treatise on this subject.

-Published over 150 articles and 20 books discussing the theoretical and practical implications of modern consciousness research for psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy.

-Created a new extended cartography of the psyche that includes, besides the biographical-recollective level and the Freudian individual unconscious, two additional levels -- perinatal (related to the trauma of birth) and transpersonal (including the ancestral, racial, collective, phylogenetic, karmic, and archetypal matrices).

-Developed, with his wife Christina, Holotropic Breathwork (a method of psychotherapy that uses non-ordinary states induced by faster breathing, evocative music, and focused body work), and The Grof Transpersonal Training, an extensive training program for Holotropic Breathwork facilitators that has certified over 1000 practitioners in various parts of the world.

-Formulated jointly with Abraham Maslow, Anthony Sutich, Sonya Margulies and Jim Fadiman the basic principles of transpersonal psychology, a discipline that explores the full spectrum of human experience and attempts to integrate spirituality and new paradigm science. He received from the Association of Transpersonal Psychology (ATP) on the occasion of its conference in Asilomar, CA, celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of its existence, a special award for his contributions to the development of this field. Transpersonal psychology has been rapidly growing since its inception in the late 1960s. At present, it is being taught at several American universities and accredited schools, has two special journals, and symposia at professional conferences. Associations of transpersonal psychology also exist in many countries of the world.

-Attempted to provide a solid theoretical basis for transpersonal psychology by exploring in his writings its relationship with various revolutionary advances of new paradigm sciences.

-Founded and served as president of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA). Organized jointly with his wife Christina nine large international conferences of this association in Boston, MA; Melbourne, Australia; Bombay, India; Santa Rosa, CA; Eugene, OR; Atlanta, GA; Prague, Czechoslovakia; and Manaus, Brazil. (Click here to read "The Past and Future of the International Transpersonal Association," published in The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies [Vol. 28, 2008].)

-Together with his wife, Christina, was invited by Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer as special consultants for the science fiction movie Brainstorm and later for the movie Millenium. At present, Stan Grof is interested in returning to this work in a project that would use the best of special effects available today to portray various non-ordinary states of consciousness in the context of movies with transpersonal orientation.