A pioneering book that explores the unknown landscape of human consciousness induced by LSD and other psychedelics
• Shows the relationship between shamanism, near death experiences, and other mystical and altered states with those induced by psychedelics
• Lays the conceptual foundation for the creation of important new therapies in psychiatry and psychology
Stanislav Grof’s first 17 years of research into nonordinary states of consciousness induced by LSD and other psychedelics led to a revolutionary understanding of the human psyche. His research was the impetus behind a vastly expanded cartography of the unconscious, including two new realms still unacknowledged by official academic circles--the perinatal domain, which holds memories of the various stages of birth, and the transpersonal domain, which mediates experiential identification with other species and mythic figures, visits to archetypal realms, access to past life memories, and union with the cosmic creative principle.
The research presented in this book provides a map of the psyche that is essential for understanding such phenomena as shamanism and near death experiences as well as other nonordinary states of consciousness. This map has led to the development of important new therapies in psychiatry and psychology for treating mental conditions often seen as disease and therefore suppressed by medication. It also provides a new threshold to understanding and entering the numinous realm of spirit.
In 1955, psychiatrist Grof (The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death), then a Czech medical student, began studying the effects of LSD on human subjects (including himself) in pioneering experiments focused on schizophrenia symptoms. Over time, Grof's interest shifted to diagnostic and therapeutic use of psychedelics, in part because of his first visit to the U.S. (where he now lives) in 1965, when "the American psychedelic movement was profoundly influencing contemporary culture." First published in 1975, this book foresees the psychedelic experience causing a "radical revision of the current scientific worldview" comparable to the 20th century "conceptual cataclysm" in Newtonian physics-a view Grof appears to hold still. Though the LSD experience can encompass virtually "any perceptual, emotional or psychosomatic manifestations," and varies wildly among individuals and individual trips, Grof finds subjects' reported experience entirely credible, and indicative of complex mental processes at work: some subjects relive childhood and "perinatal" experiences, some "regress" to previous lives and non-human life forms. Whether or not one accepts his case studies at face value, Grof's engrossing state-of-the-science overview argues convincingly that continued LSD research will help patients, parents, policymakers and even spiritual seekers.