Life And Works Of Stanislav Grof

Stanislav Grof is one of the pioneers of transpersonal psychology. Learn more about his life and research!
Life and works of Stanislav Grof

Stanislav Grof is one of the most influential figures in psychology. He has made himself known through fascinating research on consciousness and holotropic breathing. He is also one of the founders of the greatest trends in recent psychology: transpersonal psychology.

Stanislav Grof was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on July 1, 1931. He studied medicine and psychiatry. He also studied Freudian psychoanalysis for more than seven years. Grof has been conducting research and clinical trials for over 50 years.

In this article, we tell of a man who has studied the mind with the help of psychedelic drugs and summarize his great achievements in psychology.

Stanislav Grof and Transpersonal Psychology

Transpersonal psychology was invented in 1969, thanks in part to Grof.  He worked with other researchers such as James Fadiman, Miles Vich, Sonya Marguiles and Anthony Sutich. He also worked with Abraham Maslow and Ken Wilber. In 1978, Grof founded the International Transpersonal Association.

Grof believed that other disciplines of psychology did not focus enough on spirituality and for that reason he thought we could better understand the human mind through patient-based research. Thus he proved that spirituality is a legitimate part of the psyche.

Through his clinical trials, research in transpersonal psychology, and the participation of other researchers, psychology is a much broader field today.

psychedelic image

Stanislav Grof and psychedelic drugs

Grof voluntarily participated in an LSD study conducted by the University of Prague. It was his first experience with that substance. He then began to study all kinds of substances and their effect on the brain. Together with other researchers, he studied psilocybin, LSD, and mescaline in a group of 40 people.

They did many psychotechnical tests and physical experiments to see if the substances had certain effects or produced a similar state of being when used together. According to Grof, they also wanted to see if it caused “experimental psychosis,” which would help them unravel the mystery of psychosis.

Grof spent 20 years in psychotherapy related to psychedelic drugs in Prague and the United States. But when the study was banned because of its potential damage to chromosomes, he began working at the Esalen Institution. He wrote his first book during that time.

Holotropic breathing

After starting her work at the institution, she also developed the concept of holotropic breathing with Christina Grof. Technology can create a state of being similar to that produced by psychedelic drugs.

The word “holotropic” comes from the Greek “Holos” ( whole ) and “trep” ( turn ). So holotropic means moving or turning towards the whole. It is a kind of self-examination in which man uses his subconscious. It is also associated with different spiritual traditions.

According to transpersonal psychology, negative symptoms and mental barriers result from forgetting or suppressing things. In theory, we can achieve these things through open consciousness or a holotropic state of being.

Holotropic states of being involve many different stages of consciousness, sometimes going back to the moment of birth or even going back in time.

a woman enjoys her environment

Books by Stanislav Grof

Grof has published more than 160 books and articles.  Here are some of the most interesting works:

  • The stormy search for the self: a guide to personal growth through a transformative crisis. This is a self-help book. In it, Grof tells of the states of consciousness that some cultures perceive as psychotic. It’s a good example of how difficult mental states can be a good thing.
  • The holotropic mind: the three levels of human consciousness and how they shape our lives. In this book, Grof describes his experiences with transpersonal psychotherapy. He also shows how past experiences, mystical experiences, death and rebirth are all connected.
  • LSD psychotherapy. This book made Grof famous. It is practically a guide that explains how to use LSD in psychotherapy.
  • When the impossible happens: Adventures in non-ordinary Realities. This is Grof’s psychonautical autobiography.
  • Beyond the brain: birth, death, and transcendence in psychotherapy. In this book, Grof talks about the basic ideas and benefits of transpersonal psychology. He also addresses issues of other therapeutic models in the field of psychiatry.

Stanislav Grof is currently a professor of psychology at the San Francisco Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. He married Brigitte Grof in 2016. They have traveled around the world together teaching holotropic breathing in seminars and courses to help spread that technique.

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