Stanislav Grof is a pioneering psychiatrist and a founder of transpersonal
psychology. He is also noted for his use of innovative therapies such as
non-ordinary states of consciousness to help heal, grow, and obtain insight into
the inner mind. He has also contributed to the field of psychology and the
personal development field through his many books and other writings.
Background of Stanislav Grof
Stanislav Grof was born in Prague,
Czechoslovakia on July 1, 1931. He studied at Charles University in Prague where
he received his M.D. He further trained as a Freudian psychoanalyst and received
a Ph. D. from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. After completing his
extensive training, he accepted a position at Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. Later he worked at Maryland
Psychiatric Research Center as the Chief of Psychiatric Research.
A few years
later Stanislav Grof moved across the country to work with the Esalen Institute,
where he was allowed to develop his theories and ideas. In 1977, Grof accepted a
faculty position in the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness
with the California Institute of Integral Studies. He still holds that position
as of 2012.
The Teachings of Stanislav Grof
Stanislav Grof teaches
there are two types of consciousness. One is the ordinary consensus reality he
calls 'hylotropic' and the other is non-ordinary consciousness called 'holotropic.'
While mainstream psychiatry considers these non-ordinary states to be psychosis
or mental disorders, Stanislav Grof sees them as natural mystical connections
with the divine.
Early in his career, Stanislav Grof performed research
with LSD as a way to stimulate states of non-ordinary consciousness. His studies
in this area ended when LSD became illegal, but he teaches psychedelics could
play an important role in consciousness evolution and healing of mental
Stanislav Grof has also developed other means of reaching
non-ordinary consciousness besides using psychedelics such as holotropic
The Books Of Stanislav Grof
Stanislav Grof has
written over 150 papers that have been published in scientific
journals. He has also written books for the professional
community and for the general public. These are some of the
personal development books by Stanislav Grof that would be of
interest to spiritual seekers and those interested in mind
• "Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to
Self-Exploration and Therapy
" was written by Stanislav Grof
and his wife Christina. It describes the experiences of 30
years of research and practice with a special type of
therapeutic breathing that induces altered states of
consciousness that allows for emotional and mental healings to
• "Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and
Transcendence in Psychotherapy
" is a book by Stanislav Grof
that explains his position on the state of modern psychiatry.
He challenges the current Western view of how the brain works
and takes issue with the definition of mental illness in
modern times. Grof relates stories of his research into
non-ordinary states of consciousness using psychedelics and
other means, and relates how these states could be natural,
particularly since they are accepted as normal in other
• "Spiritual Emergency: When Personal
Transformation Becomes a Crisis
" was written by Stanislav Grof
and his wife Christina. In this book, Grof describes the
difference between a spiritual emergency and genuine mental
collapse. When identified and treated in a supportive measure,
rather than being confused with a mental disorder and
medicated or controlled, a spiritual emergency can result in a
profound personal transformation.
• "The Stormy Search
for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth through
" is another book co-authored by
Christina and Stanislav Grof. This personal development book
helps readers identify when they are experiencing a spiritual
opening, or growth. The crisis or transformation that
accompanies such a happening can be mistaken for mental
disorder, particularly if mystical events occur. Rather than
being alarmed, disoriented, and seeking institutionalization,
the Grofs suggest understanding the true cause of the turmoil
and treating it supportively so the transformation can
complete itself and bring with it spiritual growth.
"When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary
" is a book where Stanislav Grof describes the various
occurrences in non-ordinary consciousness. Grof recounts
experiences from his research such as encounters with aliens,
demons, deities, feelings of connectedness with the universe,
past life memories, and out of body experiences.
• "The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and
New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration
describes the psychedelic alternative developed by Stanislav
Grof to the exploration of the psyche. He also provides
readers with his views on mysticism, shamanism, psychedelic
states, and psychotic breakdowns.
• " LSD: Doorway to
the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research into
Realms of the Human Unconscious
" takes a look into the role of
LSD and other psychedelics as a psychiatric treatment. Grof
also explores the states of consciousness produced by LSD and
compares the similarities between them and near death
experiences, shamanism, and mystical states.
• "Psychology of the
Future: Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research
" is a presentation of the views of Stanislav Grof and how they
relate to the future of psychiatric treatment. He stresses the
importance of embracing a holotropic brain view and being more
accepting of altered state experiences rather than labeling
them as mental illness.
• "The Ultimate Journey:
Consciousness and the Mystery of Death
" takes a look at birth
and death and how people face the experience of dying.
• "LSD Psychotherapy (The Healing Potential of Psychedelic
" reveals the truth about the LSD research conducted
in the 60s and how it came to an end after public outcry and
the illegalization of LSD. Grof suggests LSD and other
psychedelics could play an important role in psychiatric
• "The Cosmic Game: Explorations of the
Frontiers of Human Consciousness
" provides readers with a
metaphysical look into the mind and non-ordinary consciousness.
In it, Stanislav Grof relates stories from his research with
patients and subjects over the years. He offers personal
development advice mixed with spiritual insight and
The Work Of Stanislav Grof
Stanislav Grof maintains a website where spiritual seekers can
watch his videos, read articles, and listen to interviews he
has given. Grof continues to work and be active in his field.
He regularly lectures and holds workshops in holotropic
breathwork. He founded the Association for Holotropic
Breathwork International that holds events around the world
and instructs facilitators to carry on the work.
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