Dr Stanislav Grof - biography of the founder of Transpersonal Psychology

"Western Science is approaching a paradigm shift of unprecedented proportions, one that will change our concepts of reality and of human nature, bridge the gap between ancient wisdom and modern science, and reconcile the differences between Eastern spirituality and Western pragmatism." Dr Stanislav Grof in ‘Beyond the Brain’.

Dr. Stanislav ‘Stan’ Grof, M.D. has done a lot of work to further the understanding of human consciousness. Much of this biography is taken from Dr. Grof’s own website and there is a link to the site below. Dr. Grof. 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.


Currently, Dr. Grof is Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness in San Francisco, CA; he has also taught at Wisdom University in Oakland, CA, and the Pacifica Graduate School in Santa Barbara.


Dr. Grof is well known for his psychedelic research but also for his work on near death experiences (NDE’s). More recently Grof has been the face of Gaia in their online advertisments where he is seen stating that “We have no proof that consciousness is generated in the brain”. Grof has entered mainstream culture being cited by VICE earlier this year. With his significant experience in psychedelics and breathwork and his medical credentials, Grof has the authority to say that breathwork had the potential to expand consciousness in the same way as LSD (read article here).


There is ongoing research being undertaken at some high level institutions such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Imperial College London to name a few at the efficacy of psychedelics in the treatment of depression, with some studies claiming amelioration of symptoms in refractory (not responding to escalating levels of therapy) depression after a single dose of psilocybin (the active component of magic mushrooms) with patients reporting significant benefit after 6 months follow up.


Such research has the pharmaceutical industry rightly concerned given the widespread use of SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, drugs in the same class as Prozac). We are going to need Psychiatrists with the gravitas of Dr. Grof to ensure current regulations limiting the medical use of these substances are lifted.


Article written in part by Vikas Pandey

Website of Dr. Stanislav Grof

Working with:
British School of Meditation
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