The Adventure of Self-Discovery

Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration

By Stanislav Grof

Subjects: Psychotherapy
Series: SUNY series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology
Paperback : 9780887065415, 344 pages, January 1988
Hardcover : 9780887065408, 344 pages, January 1988

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Table of contents


I. Dimensions of the Consciousness: New Cartography of the Human Psyche

The Sensory Barrier and the Recollective-Biographical Level

Encounter with Birth and Death: Dynamics of the Perinatal Matrices
First Basic Perinatal Matrix (BPM I): The Amniotic Universe
Second Basic Perinatal Matrix (BPM II): Cosmic Engulfment and No Exit
Third Basic Perinatal Matrix (BPM III): The Death-Rebirth Struggle
Fourth Basic Perinatal Matrix (BPM IV): The Death-Rebirth Experience Beyond the Brain: Transpersonal Dimensions of the Psyche
Experiential Extensions within Consensus Reality and Space-Time
1. Transcendence of Spatial Boundaries
a. Experience of Dual Unity
b. Identification with Other Persons
c. Group Identification and Group Consciousness
d. Identification with Animals
e. Identification with Plants and Botanical Processes
f. Oneness with Life and All Creation
g. Experience of Inanimate Matter and Inorganic Processes
h. Primary Consciousness
i. Extraterrestrial Experiences
j. Identification with the Entire Physical Universe
k. Psychic Phenomena Involving Transcendence of Space
2. Transcendence of the Boundaries of Linear Time
a. Embryonal and Fetal Experiences
b. Ancestral Experiences
c. Racial and Collective Experiences
d. Past Incarnation Experiences
e. Phylogenetic Experiences
f. Experiences of Planetary Evolution
g. Cosmogenetic Experiences
h. Psychic Phenomena Involving Transcendence of Time
3. Physical Introversion and Narrowing of Consciousness Experiential Extension Beyond Consensus Reality and Space-Time
a. Spiritistic and Mediumistic Experiences
b. Energetic Phenomena of the Subtle Body
c. Experiences of Animal Spirits
d. Encounters with Spirit Guides and Suprahuman Beings
e. Visits to Other Universes and Meetings with Their Inhabitants
f. Experiences of Mythological and Fairy-Tale Sequences
g. Experiences of Specific Blissful and Wrathful Deities
h. Experiences of Universal Archetypes
i. Intuitive Understanding of Universal Symbols
j. Creative Inspiration and the Promethean Impulse
k. Experience of the Demiurg and Insights into Cosmic Creation
l. Experience of Cosmic Consciousness
m. The Supracosmic and Metacosmic Void
Transpersonal Experiences of Psychoid Nature
1. Synchronistic Links between Consciousness and Matter
2. Spontaneous Psychoid Events
a. Supernormal Physical Feats
b. Spiritistic Phenomena and Physical Mediumship
c. Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis
d. Unidentified Flying Objects 3. Intentional Psychokinesis a. Ceremonial Magic
b. Healing and Hexing
c. Siddhis
d. Laboratory Psychokinesis Philosophical Challenges from Transpersonal Experiences
II. New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration
Principles of Holotropic Therapy Therapeutic Effects of Intense Breathing (Pneumocatharsis)
The Healing Power of Music
Focused Bodywork
The Procedure of Holotropic Therapy Effective Mechanisms of Healing and Personality Transformation
Intensification of Conventional Therapeutic Mechanisms
Dynamic Shifts in the Psyche's Governing Systems
Therapeutic Potential of the Death-Rebirth Process
Therapeutic Mechanisms on the Transpersonal Level
Healing as a Movement toward Wholeness Potential and Goals of Experiential Self-Exploration Emotional and Psychosomatic Healing
Pursuit of a More Rewarding Life Strategy
Philosophical and Spiritual Quest
III. Appendix A: Psychedelics in Self-Exploration and Psychotherapy

Psychedelic Plants and Substances
Ritual and Therapeutic Use of Psychedelics
Principles of Psychedelic Therapy
Appendix A: Psychedelics in Self-Exploration and Psychotherapy


Here Grof presents a useful model of the psyche—a model extended by his thirty years of studying non-ordinary states of consciousness. It is useful for understanding such phenomena as shamanism, mysticism, psychedelic states, spontaneous visionary experiences, and psychotic episodes. The model is also useful in explaining the dynamics of experiential psychotherapies and a variety of sociopolitical manifestations such as war and revolution.

This book might have been entitled Beyond Drugs. The second part describes the principles and process of the non-pharmacological technique developed by the author and his wife, Christina, for self-exploration and for psychotherapy. Grof explores in detail the components of this technique. He describes its method, its effective mechanisms, as well as its goals and potential. Its practice is simple, since it utilizes the natural healing capacity of the psyche.

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 Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science; Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy; 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.


"The data, much of which is precious anecdotal material from the field's most creative explorer, stirs the mind to consider new possibilities. It is a wonderfully open and inviting text." — Richard D. Mann