Biography

Visit the Stan and Christina Grof Photo Archive at the Association for Transpersonal Psychology website.

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Two of Dr. Grof’s favorite quotes:

 “Tradition ist nicht die Bewahrung und Anbetung der Asche, sondern die Weitergabe des Feuers.“ Gustav Mahler (1860-1916), Deutscher Musiker Genius,
English translation: “Tradition is not guarding and praying to the ashes, but the giving forward of the fire.” Gustav Mahler (1860-1916) German musical genius

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T. S. Eliot, British/American Nobel-Prize winning poet (1888-1965)

Stan.Grof_Bio

Stanislav Grof’s professional career has covered a period of over 50 years in which his primary interest has been research of the heuristic and therapeutic potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. This included initially four years of laboratory research of psychedelics – LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and tryptamine derivatives – (1956-1960) and fourteen years of research of psychedelic psychotherapy. He spent seven of these years (1960-1967) as Principal Investigator of the psychedelic research program at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia. This was followed by seven years of research of psychedelic psychotherapy in the United States.

The first two of these years, he worked as Clinical and Research Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University and in the Research Unitof the Spring Grove State Hospital in Baltimore, MD. The following five years, he held the position of Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. In this capacity he headed for several years the last surviving official research project of psychedelic therapy in the USA.

From 1973 until 1987, he was Scholar-in-Residence at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, where he developed jointly with his wife Christina a powerful non-drug form of self-exploration and psychotherapy that they call Holotropic Breathwork. They have used this method in workshops and in professional training in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. They have also worked with many individuals undergoing spontaneous episodes of non-ordinary states of consciousness, psychospiritual crises or “spiritual emergencies.” During these years of psychotherapeutic research, Stan Grof has made the following contributions.

Contributions

Developed theory and practice of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and described it in his book LSD Psychotherapy, which has been until this day the only comprehensive treatise on this subject.

Published over 150 articles and 20 books discussing the theoretical and practical implications of modern consciousness research for psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy.

Created a new extended cartography of the psyche that includes, besides the biographical-recollective level and the Freudian individual unconscious, two additional levels – perinatal (related to the trauma of birth) and transpersonal (including the ancestral, racial, collective, phylogenetic, karmic, and archetypal matrices).

Developed, with his wife Christina, Holotropic Breathwork (a method of psychotherapy that uses non-ordinary states induced by faster breathing, evocative music, and focused body work), and The Grof Transpersonal Training, an extensive training program for Holotropic Breathwork facilitators that has certified over 1000 practitioners in various parts of the world.

Formulated jointly with Abraham Maslow, Anthony Sutich, Sonya Margulies and Jim Fadiman the basic principles of transpersonal psychology, a discipline that explores the full spectrum of human experience and attempts to integrate spirituality and new paradigm science. He received from the Association of Transpersonal Psychology (ATP) on the occasion of its conference in Asilomar, CA, celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of its existence, a special award for his contributions to the development of this field. Transpersonal psychology has been rapidly growing since its inception in the late 1960’s. At present, it is being taught at several American universities and accredited schools, has two special journals, and symposia at professional conferences. Associations of transpersonal psychology also exist in many countries of the world.

Attempted to provide a solid theoretical basis for transpersonal psychology by exploring in his writings its relationship with various revolutionary advances of new paradigm sciences.

Founder and past President of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA). Organized jointly with his wife Christina nine large international conferences of this association in Boston, MA; Melbourne, Australia; Bombay, India; Santa Rosa, CA; Eugene, OR; Atlanta, GA; Prague, Czechoslovakia; and Manaus, Brazil. (Click here to read: “The Past and Future of the International Transpersonal Association”, published in The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies (Vol. 28, 2008)

Together with his wife, Christina, they were invited by Metro’Goldwyn/Meyer as special consultants for the science fiction movie, Brainstorm, and later for the movie Millenium. At present, Stan Grof is interested in returning to this work in a project that would use the best of special effects available today to portray various non-ordinary states of consciousness in the context of movies with transpersonal orientation.

Christina Grof died in June of 2014.  A memorial web site for her is maintained at christinagrofmemorial.com.

Following is a 42 minute video produced by Coleen LeDrew Elgin in 2011 which presents Stan Grof’s life and work up to that point.

 

Curriculum Vitae – Stan Grof, M.D., Ph.D.

Education

1950-56
Student at the Charles University School of Medicine in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
1956
Graduation from Charles University, M.D. degree.
1956-59
Psychiatric residency in the State Mental Hospital in Kosmonosy near Prague.
1959
A three-month course in the Postgraduate Medical Training Center in Prague and specialization examination in psychiatry.
1961-67
Psychoanalytic training (personal training analysis with Dr. T. Dosuzkov, former President of the Czechoslovakian Psychoanalytic Association, attendance of psychoanalytic seminars, and case conferences.
1964
Fellowship from the Soviet Ministry of Public Health to study Soviet psychiatry, psychotherapy, and research in experimental neuroses in Leningrad, Moscow, and Suchu-mi, Georgia.
1965
Completion of the postgraduate training at the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences, dissertation on the clinical uses of psychedelic drugs, and the Ph.D. degree (Doctor of Philosophy in Medicine).
1966
Examination for the Educational Council for Foreign Medical Graduates. Certified in October 1966. ECFMG #81377.
1967-69
Fellowship for advanced research from the Foundations’ Fund for Research in Psychiatry in New Haven, Connecticut. Clinical and Research Fellow at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
1971
Maryland Medical License Examination at the Board of Medical Examiners of Maryland. Certified in January 1971. Lic. Reg. Cert. No. D 9076.

Positions Held

1994
Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA.
1987
Self-employed, conducting professional training in Holotropic BreathworkTM and transpersonal psychology, lecturing, and writing.
1973-87
Scholar-in-Residence at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. Since 1983, also Member of the Board of Trustees.
1969-73
Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in Catonsville, Maryland, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
1967-69
Clinical and Research Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University and at the Research Unit of the Spring Grove State Hospital in Catonsville, MD.
1961-67
Research Psychiatrist in the Department of the Study of Psychogenic Disorders and Psychotherapy of the Psych-iatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
1. Participation in a team studying the mechanisms of psychogenic disorders and psychotherapy.
2. Principal Investigator in a project studying the possibilities of the use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs for personality diagnostics and therapy of psychogenic disorders.
1960
Assistant Professor at the Postgraduate Medical Training Center in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
1959-60
Out-Patient Psychiatrist at the Psychiatric Clinic of the National Institute of Health in Prague.
1957-60
Participating researcher in a multidimensional dynamic study of psychedelic drugs and anticholinergic delirogens in the Research Institute in Prague-Krc.
1956-59
Clinical psychiatrist in the Psychiatric Hospital in Kos-monosy near Prague.
1954-56
Student volunteer at the Psychiatric Department of the Charles University School of Medicine in Prague. Participation in clinical LSD research and the study of artistic expression of psychiatric patients.

Awards & Honors

1959
Kuffner Award for Psychiatry (Czechoslovakian national award granted annually for the most important contribution in the field of psychiatry) for the study of Benactyzine and other anticholinergic delirogens (shared with Drs. M. Vojtechovsky;, V. Vítek, and K. Rysánek).
1964
Fellowship from the Soviet Ministry of Public Health in Moscow to study Soviet psychiatry, psychotherapy, and experimental neuroses in monkeys.
1967-69
Fellowship from the Foundations’ Fund for Research in Psychiatry in New Haven, Connecticut, for advanced research in psychedelic therapy.
1982
Consultant for the experiential sequences in the Hollywood science-fiction movie Brainstorm (with Christina Grof). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Director Douglas Trumbull.
1988
Consultant for experiential sequences in the Hollywood science-fiction Millenium (with Christina Grof), producer John Foreman.
1992
Consultant for the BMW Museum “Horizons in Time” in Munich, Germany.
1993
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 at Asilomar, California, on August 25-29, 1993.
2000
Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Burlington College, Burlington, Vermont.
2007
>>Vision 97<< Award from the Vaclav and Dagmar Havel Foundation in Prague

Honorary Positions

1980-83
Board Member of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology (ATP).
1982-83
Member of the Board of Trustees of the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.
1982-85
Board Member of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA).
1989-2004
President of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA) and coordinator of International conferences in Santa Rosa, California, Eugene, Oregon, Atlanta, Georgia, Prague, Czechoslovakia, Manaus, Brazil, and Palm Springs, California
Editor of the Re-Vision Journal, and Consulting Editor of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Journal of Near-Death Studies, Journal for the Study of Consciousness, Synthesis, and Psychedelic Review.

Major Fields of Research Interest

  1. Phenomenological, therapeutic and heuristic aspects of non-ordinary states of consciousness.
  1. Experiential psychotherapy using psychedelics and non-drug techniques, especially the Holotropic Breathwork, a therapeutic modality developed with wife Christina.
  1. Alternative approaches to psychoses, the problem of “spiritual emergencies”, treatment of transpersonal crises.
  1. Implications of the new developments in quantum physics, information and systems theory, biology, brain research and consciousness studies for psychiatric theory and the new paradigm for science.
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