Track: Transpersonal Psychology, Psychotherapy and Clinical Studies
Plaidoyer for Transpersonal Psychology: Theoretical and Practical Importance of Its Discoveries
Transpersonal psychology is a discipline that studies the entire range of human experiences, including an important subgroup of non-ordinary states of consciousness that have healing, transformative, heuristic, and evolutionary potential. Among the states that belong to this category are the initiatory crises of novice shamans, experiences of initiates in aboriginal rites of passage, and ancient mysteries of death and rebirth, and experiences induced by “technologies of the sacred,” such as Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian and Jewish spiritual practices.
Modern psychiatry contributed to these technologies pure psychedelic substances and laboratory mind-expanding techniques. Mainstream academicians and tclinicians do not have a special place and name for the states induced by them and refer to all of them as “altered.” Since the I felt that because of their paramount importance they deserved a special name, I coined for them the term “holotropic,” meaning literally “moving toward wholeness.
Transpersonal psychology can be defined as a discipline that studies and honors the entire spectrum of human experience, including holotropic states. It is an attempt to create an approach to the human psyche that represents a synthesis of genuine spirituality and new paradigm science. The basic principles of transpersonal psychology were formulated half a century ago in the San Francisco Bay Area and has remained since that time on the periphery of mainstream psychiatry. Because of its paradigm-breaking nature it has not been accepted by mainstream academicians and clinicians.
I had the privilege to be at the cradle of transpersonal psychology and give it its name. I have also followed its history during the first fifty years of its stormy existence. I will try today to review the evolution of transpersonal psychology and describe from a personal perspective what I see as its revolutionary contributions to various areas and where I see it going in the future.
Track: Holotropic Art as an Expression of Inner Process
Modern Consciousness Research and the Understanding of Art
Stanislav Grof, M.D., is a psychiatrist with over sixty years of experience in research of non-ordinary states of consciousness and one of the founders and chief theoreticians of transpersonal psychology. He was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he also received his scientific training: an M.D. degree from the Charles University School of Medicine and a Ph.D. degree (Doctor of Philosophy in Medicine) from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. He was also granted honorary Ph.D. degrees from the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA, and the World Buddhist University in Bangkok, Thailand.
Dr. Grof’s early research in the clinical uses of psychedelic substances was conducted at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, where he was principal investigator of a program that systematically explored the heuristic and therapeutic potential of LSD and other psychedelic substances. In 1967, he received a scholarship from the Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry in New Haven, CT, and was invited as Clinical and Research Fellow to the Johns Hopkins University and the Research Unit of Spring Grove Hospital in Baltimore, MD.
In 1969, Dr. Grof became Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University and continued his research as Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in Catonsville, MD. In 1973, he was invited as Scholar-in-Residence to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, where he developed, with his late wife Christina Grof, Holotropic Breathwork, an innovative form of experiential psychotherapy that is now being used worldwide.
Dr. Grof is the founder of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA) and for several decades served as its president. In 1993, he received a Honorary Award from the Association for Transpersonal Psychology (ATP) for major contributions to and development of the field of transpersonal psychology, given at the occasion of the 25th Anniversary Convocation held in Asilomar, California. In 2007, he received the prestigious VISION 97 lifetime achievement award from the Foundation of Dagmar and Václav Havel in Prague, Czechoslovakia. In 2010, he received also the Thomas R. Verny Award from the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) for his pivotal contributions to this field. He was also invited as consultant for special effects in the Metro Goldwyn Meyer science fiction movie Brainstorm and 20th Century Fox science fiction movie Millenium.
Among Dr. Grof’s publications are over 160 articles in professional journals and the books LSD: Gateway to the Numinous; Beyond the Brain; LSD Psychotherapy; The Cosmic Game; Psychology of the Future; The Ultimate Journey; When the Impossible Happens; Books of the Dead; Healing Our Deepest Wounds; Modern Consciousness Research and the Understanding of Art; Beyond Death; The Stormy Search for the Self; Spiritual Emergency; and Holotropic Breathwork (the last four with Christina Grof).
These books have been translated into twenty-two languages: German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Russian, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Romanian, Czech, Polish, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Latvian, Greek, Turkish, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.
Since April 2016, he has been happily married to Brigitte Grof. They live together in Germany and California and travel the inner and outer worlds in tandem, conducting seminars and Holotropic Breathwork workshops worldwide.
His website is: stanislavgrof.com