Beyond the Brain

Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy

By Stanislav Grof

Subjects: Transpersonal Psychology
Series: SUNY series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology
Paperback : 9780873958998, 488 pages, August 1985
Hardcover : 9780873959537, 488 pages, August 1985

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Table of contents

1. The Nature of Reality: Dawning of a New Paradigm
Philosophy of Science and the Role of Paradigms
The Newtonian-Cartesian Spell of Mechanistic Science
Conceptual Challenges from Modern Consciousness Research
New Understanding of Reality, Existence, and Human Nature
The Holonomic Approach: New Principles and New Perspectives
2. Dimensions of the Human Psyche: Cartography of Inner Space
The Sensory Barrier and the Individual Unconscious
Encounter with Birth and Death: The Dynamics of Perinatal Matrices
Beyond the Brain: Realms of Transpersonal Experiences
The Spectrum of Consciousness
3. The World of Psychotherapy: Toward an Integration of Approches
Sigmund Freud and Classical Psychoanalysis
The Famous Renegades: Alfred Adler, Wilhelm Reich, and Otto Rank
Existential and Humanistic Psychotherapies
Psychotherapies with Transpersonal Orientation
4. The Architecture of Emotional Disorders
Varieties of Sexual Experience: Dysfunctions, Deviations, and Transpersonal Forms of Eros
Roots of Violence: Biographical, Perinatal, and Transpersonal Sources of Aggression
Dynamics of Depressions, Neuroses, and Psychosomatic Disorders
The Psychotic Experience: Disease or Transpersonal Crisis
5. Dilemmas and Controversies of Traditional Psychiatry
The Medical Model in Psychiatry: Pros and Cons
Disagreements about Theory and Therapeutic Measures
Criteria of Mental Health and Therapeutic Results
Psychiatry and Religion: Role of Spirituality in Human Life
6. A New Understanding of The Psychotherapeutic Process
The Nature of Psychogenic Symptoms
Effective Mechanisms of Psychotherapy and Personality Transformation
Spontaneity and Autonomy of Healing
Psychotherapy and Spiritual Development
7. New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Self-Exploration
Principles of Psychotherapeutic Assistance
Techniques of Psychotherapy and Self-Exploration
Goals and Results of Psychotherapy
8. Epilogue: The Current Global Crisis and the Future of Consciousness Evolution



Beyond the Brain seriously challenges the existing neurophysiological models of the brain. After three decades of extensive research on those non-ordinary states of consciousness induced by psychedelic drugs and by other means, Grof concludes that our present scientific world view is as inadequate as many of its historical predecessors. In this pioneering work, he proposes a new model of the human psyche that takes account of his findings.

Grof includes in his model the recollective level, or the reliving of emotionally relevant memories, a level at which the Freudian framework can be useful. Beyond that is perinatal level in which the human unconscious may be activated to a reliving of biological birth and confrontation with death. How birth experience influences an individual's later development is a central focus of the book.

The most serious challenge to contemporary psycho-analytic theory comes from a delineation of the transpersonal level, or the expansion of consciousness beyond the boundaries of time and space.

Grof makes a bold argument that understanding of the perinatal and transpersonal levels changes much of how we view both mental illness and mental health. His reinterpretation of some of the most agonizing aspects of human behavior proves thought provoking for both laypersons and professional therapists.

Stanislav Grof, MD, is a psychiatrist with more than fifty years of experience in research of non-ordinary states of consciousness. He has been 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 the Johns Hopkins University; and Scholar-in-Residence at the Esalen Institute. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, conducts professional training programs in holotropic breathwork, 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). In 2007, he was granted the prestigious Vision 97 award from the Vaclav and Dagmar Havel Foundation in Prague. He is the author and editor of many books, including The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration; Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science; The Cosmic Game: Explorations of the Frontiers of Human Consciousness; Human Survival and Consciousness Evolution; and Psychology of the Future: Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research; all published by SUNY Press.