Today’s show is all about meeting a legend called Stanislav Grof. Why “legend”? Simply, Stan was around when the first wave of psychedelic research started, but more than that, he was a thriving force in bringing psychedelics into psychiatry and helping to create a scientific base to explore psychedelics as a tool. Today, Stanislav is one of the most important sources for the new mental health industry and new psychedelic therapies.
You might have even heard his most famous quote: “LSD is a catalyst or amplifier of mental processes. If properly used it could become something like the microscope or telescope of psychiatry.”
I talked to both Stan and his wife Brigitte, collaborators and partners of several years, and also because Stan had a stroke a few years ago, he feels more comfortable with Brigitte by his side. Honestly, I could not believe that this conversation was happening, the possibility to talk to someone from the first wave of psychedelics.
Speaking to these two was truly a gift and I’m really thrilled to be able to share this conversation with The New Health Club community.
Who is Stanislav Grof?
Stan 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 in 1931 where he also received his scientific training: an MD degree from the Charles University School of Medicine and a PhD from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. He was also granted honorary PhD degrees from the University of Vermont in Burlington and the 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. Essentially, Grof was one of the first doctors using LSD in psychiatry!
In 1969, Dr. Grof became Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, one of the most important universities now researching psychedelics now. 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.
Esalen is the famous institute in California, where all the great masters of consciousness were teaching (Alan Watts was one of them). Dr. Grof is the founder of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA) and for several decades served as its president. 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. In May 2020 Stan and Brigitte Grof launched their new training in working with holotropic states of consciousness, the Grof® Legacy Training— what an amazing career!
More Stanislav and Brigitte Grof resources:
The Way Of The Psychonaut (film)
The Way Of The Psychonaut (book)
Join a very special online live screening of “The Way Of The Psychonaut” a documentary exploring the life and work of Stanislav Grof and one of the best documentaries out there explaining the power of psychedelics. This event will be hosted by Stan & Bridgitte Grof and Susan Hess Logeais and after the screening there will be a live panel featuring Rick Doblin and Dennis McKenna discussing how psychedelics changed their lives.
Save the date: February 13th, 10 PST, 1pm EST, 7pm CET and reserve your ticket here.
A Research Round-Up By Ewan Waddell.
In Decriminalisation news: Just as many suspected, the dominoes set in motion by Oregon and Washington to relax laws on psychedelics have started to fall. But where?
Florida which surprisingly still has tight drug laws (shocking, I know). The new developments involve a Florida lawmaker drawing up a bill that would legalize psilocybin-therapy - as Oregon did in November.
Massachusettswell... maybe not the entire state (yet) but the town of Somerville recently passed a bill, unanimously, to decriminalize the possession of psychedelic plants such as psilocybin mushrooms, ibogaine and more.
Iceland Yep. That’s right. It was the government themselves who recently proposed for the decriminalization of drugs, and are currently in the process of gauging public opinions surrounding the proposition. Do the right thing, Iceland!
In drug tourism news: Amsterdam’s Mayor has suggested a new policy that would ban tourists from accessing the city’s cannabis coffee shops.
Why? The goal would be to make tourism in the city more manageable. Not that freely smokeable, commercial-grade cannabis is the rare luxury it once was, or even that tourism is an important consideration amidst the pandemic, but a more restrictive drug policy is an interesting policy nonetheless for Europe’s marijuana capital.
In psychedelic therapy news: New research suggests that Western classical music might not be the holy grail of psychedelic-assisted therapy that many thought it was.
So what is? Gongs. If you can believe it. Although it’s not necessarily by a large margin, the research suggests a simple gong could work “just as well, if not better” than Mozart. Much like how mental health medicine is now looking towards ancient practices for answers, psychedelic therapy itself can also apparently benefit from a simplification of structural elements.
In dementia news: LSD and psilocybin are being talked about as the next important step in exploring treatments for dementia/alzheimers - a degenerative condition with no current cure. A paper published last year that outlined the need for more research into the area has amassed tens of thousands of views since (that’s a lot for a research paper!). The Psychedelic Science Review, as always, broke down the research into an accessible, bitesize format, which you can find here.
That’s all for now. Talk next week! :)