I still haven’t come to any clear conclusion about when a spiritual emergence becomes a psychosis or vice versa. But it was Stansilov Grof’s work that originally helped me look at my own experience from a different perspective. I definitely have spiritual experiences that are either ignored or pathologised by the mental health services and this is a form of neglect.
I’m less clear about Grof’s work with psychedelics and whether these chemical effects on the brain can have anything to say about consciousness in general. Perhaps they can only ever point to what happens to us when we have ingested LSD.
Grof talks about psychosis as a kind of expression of psychological material from the unconscious, like a bad trip, that needs to be looked at. This material needs our attention not medication. It contains important information that points to what wants to be healed. This is where we agree and I look forward to the day that it is common knowledge.
In spite of my reservations I would like to share an interview with Stanislov Grof talking about psychosis, psychedelics and the spiritual emergence process.
Stanislav Grof, M.D., (stanislavgrof.com) is a psychiatrist with more than 60 years of experience in research of “holotropic” states of consciousness, a large and important subgroup of non-ordinary states that have healing, transformative, and evolutionary potential. He coined the term spiritual emergency and founded the Spiritual Emergence Network.
Previously, he was Principal Investigator in a psychedelic research program at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, and Scholar-in-Residence at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA.
Currently, Stan is Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco, CA, and conducts professional training programs in holotropic breathwork and transpersonal psychology, and gives lectures and seminars worldwide. He is one of the founders and chief theoreticians of transpersonal psychology and the founding president of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA).
You can find the transcript of this episode here.
Edited highlights from The Tim Ferriss Show.