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Stanislav Grof


Stanislav Grof (born 1931 in Prague, Czechoslovakia) is one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a pioneering researcher into the use of altered states of consciousness for purposes of healing, growth, and insight. Grof received the VISION 97 award granted by the Foundation of Dagmar and Vaclav Havel in Prague on October 5, 2007.

Grof is known in particular for his early studies of LSD and its effects on the psyche—the field of psychedelic psychotherapy. He constructed a theoretical framework for pre- and perinatal psychology and transpersonal psychology in which LSD trips and other powerfully emotional experiences were mapped onto one's early fetal and neonatal experiences. Over time, this theory developed into an in-depth "cartography" of the deep human psyche. Following the legal suppression of LSD use in the late 1960s, Grof went on to discover that many of these states of mind could be explored without drugs and instead by using certain breathing techniques in a supportive environment. He continues this work today under the title "Holotropic Breathwork".

Grof received his M.D. from Charles University in Prague in 1957, and then completed his Ph.D. in Medicine at the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences in 1965, training as a Freudian psychoanalyst at this time. In 1967, he was invited as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, United States, and went on to become Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center where he worked with Walter Pahnke and Bill Richards among others. In 1973, Dr. Grof was invited to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, and lived there until 1987 as a scholar-in-residence, developing his ideas.

Being the founding president of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA) (founded in 1977), he went on to become distinguished adjunct faculty member of the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies, a position he remains in today.


Despite Grof's continued emphasis on the concept of "birth trauma" as a critical psychic experience, mainstream psychiatry has not accepted his concept (Grof, 1992). In fact, most professionals would argue that such a conceptualization of retained memory falls outside of the physiological potential of the newborn. “Despite the growing number of reports of memories of past lives, life in the womb, and the birth experience, there is no scientific evidence to substantiate these claims (Mark L. Howe and Mary L. Courage, 2003; also see Spanos, 1996). Despite substantial psychiatric evidence[citation needed] against the Holotropic Breathwork theory, Grof continues to put on workshops, and promote the concept. “Some analysts conclude that the underlying reason for promotions of the controversial Holotropic Breathwork is the fees involved”. (Critical Remarks on Holotropic Breathwork and the MAPS Strategy by Kevin Shepherd Citizen Initiative.)

In response Grof points out that the currently accepted theory of memory being stored in the neocortex lacks evidence and is even "contradicted by widely accepted psychological and physiological theories that attribute great significance to the early relationship between the mother and the child, including such factors as bonding and nursing" (p. 31, Grof 2000). Also of note in this regard is Bertil Jacobson's research. Jacobson found significant correlations between birth experience and method of suicide in teenagers (Jacobson et al. 1987), while the British journal The Lancet has found that "resuscitation at birth is conducive to a higher risk of committing suicide after puberty" (Grof, 2000).


  • Realms Of The Human Unconscious: Observations From LSD Research (1975)
  • The Human Encounter With Death (1977) with Joan Halifax
  • LSD Psychotherapy (1980)
  • Beyond Death: The Gates Of Consciousness (1981) with Christina Grof
  • Ancient Wisdom And Modern Science (1984) Edited by Stanislav Grof
  • Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death And Transcendence In Psychotherapy (1985)
  • Human Survival And Consciousness Evolution (1988) Edited with Marjorie L. Valier
  • The Adventure Of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness And New Perspectives In Psychotherapy (1988)
  • Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes A Crisis (1989) Edited with Christina Grof
  • The Stormy Search For The Self: A Guide To Personal Growth Through Transformative Crisis (1990) with Christina Grof
  • The Holotropic Mind: The Three levels Of Human Consciousness And How They Shape Our Lives (1992) with Hal Zina Bennet
  • Books Of The Dead: Manuals For Living And Dying (1993)
  • The Thirst For Wholeness: Attachment, Addiction And The Spiritual Path (1994) by Christina Grof
  • The Transpersonal Vision (1998) book and audio
  • The Cosmic Game: Explorations Of The Frontiers Of Human Consciousness (1998)
  • The Consciousness Revolution: A Transatlantic Dialogue (1999) with Peter Russell and Ervin Laszlo. Foreword by Ken Wilber
  • Psychology Of The Future: Lessons From Modern Consciousness Research (2000)
  • Caterpillar Dreams (2004) with Melody Sullivan
  • When The Impossible Happens: Adventures In Non-Ordinary Reality (2006)
  • The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness And The Mystery Of Death (2006)

"New Perspectives in Understanding and Treatment of Emotional Disorders," Chapter 13 in Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogens as Treatments, Michael J. Winkelman and Thomas B. Roberts (editors) (2007). Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood.

See also

  • Archetype
  • Holotropic Breathwork
  • Ego death
  • Integral theory (philosophy)
  • Jungian psychology
  • Otto Rank
  • Frank Lake
  • Transpersonal psychology

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Stanislav_Grof". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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