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The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives Paperback – May 28, 1993
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From Library Journal
Grof ( The Stormy Search for Self , LJ 4/1/90) offers this New Age book which purports to unravel the complexities of the human mind through the assessment of observations of "non-ordinary" states of consciousness (LSD-induced, etc.). The mind, according to Grof, is essentially "holotropic," that is, like a hologram wherein the whole can be reconstructed from a tiny part. The book's first part analyzes memories of life in the womb and the painful process of birth. This is largely a rehash of Grof's Realms of the Human Unconscious ( LJ 7/75, o.p.). The rest of the book is given to a discussion of our "infinite transpersonal consciousness," wherein we can transcend not only the time-space continuum but even visit other dimensions and parallel universes. Grof purports to be scientific--the word appears often throughout the book--but he is surprisingly short on validation. He accepts without question the spoon bending of Uri Geller and the mental photography of Ted Serios. This book is suitable for the New Age shelf if you don't have the author's earlier treatment.
- Dave Summers, Holly Twp. Lib., Mich.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Hal Zina Bennett, Ph.D., is a lecturer, consultant, and the author or co-author of twenty-seven books, including The Lens of Perception, The Well Body Book (with Mike Samuels, M.D.), The Holotropic Mind (with Stanislav Grof, M.D.), and Follow Your Bliss (with Susan J. Sparrow). He is also a contributing editor to Shaman's Drum magazine
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Top Customer Reviews
Dr. Grof is skilled psychiatrist and researcher with solid academic credentials in the US and Europe. He was one of the first to experiment with LSD--experiment in the laboratory sense, not in the adolescent escapade sense. His decades of research with thousands of subjects, including himself, has convinced the doctor that altered states of consciousness are the gateway to understanding the nature of the human experience.
P. 133 neatly summarizes Dr. Grof's approach, and his book's challenge to the typical Western reader: "The prevalent bias of the modern industrialized world is one of excluding all forms of spirituality as erroneous and misleading. ... While the existence of the experiences is a fact that can be confirmed by any serious researcher familiar with non-ordinary states of consciousness, there are various ways to interpret the same data. This is not so different from any other scientific question. After all the theory of gravity is not the same as gravity itself. Similarly, while we might refuse to take seriously past life experiences because we do not like the theories of reincarnations, we would not think of applying the same thinking to gravity, that is, denying that objects are falling because we do not like the theories of gravity that explain it. There are observable facts about reincarnation. ... It is important to remind ourselves that science never 'proves' anything; it only 'disproves' or 'improves' existing theories."
This book is an easy read because it is filled with compelling case histories and stays away from polemic or 'newage' (rhymes with 'sewage') cant. Grof presents his data, places it in the context of other's theories, for example, Jung, William James and Maslow, then leaves the reader free for his own explorations and meaning-making. I wished for more details on his experimental methods, but perhaps that is better covered in one of his many other publications rather than in this slim and brisk volume.
Grof's research suggests that profound healing happens automatically when people enter certain non-ordinary states of consciousness that are intrinsic to their own being. The process usually begins with a working through of emotionally charged memories from the lifetime. Eventually it deepens into a confrontation with biological birth and the inevitability of death, sequences that are intermixed with historical, karmic, and archetypal themes. Finally the process opens out into ecstatic transpersonal and spiritual realms, beyond the boundaries of individual consciousness. This book is full of fascinating case histories of people who have had the courage to look beneath the surface of everyday reality. Some of the accounts of healing and personal evolution described here will move and inspire you.
Self-exploration of this type is truly a kind of final frontier. Grof makes a solid case for the reintroduction of healing practises that use non-ordinary states of consciousness, techniques that have been used in non-industrial cultures for thousands of years. The documented effects of these suggest a potential for healing and transformation "undreamed of" in traditional psychotherapy.
Grof further references current research, thus blending ancient and new cutting-edge science into something like a total synthesis. With good reason and convincing arguments, he refers to David Bohm’s theory of a constantly unfolding universe as one of the first holistic science concepts in modern times.
One of the most daring thinking habits to overcome, that are connected with mechanistic science, is the illusion of separateness. Grof writes:
—The holographic model offers revolutionary possibilities for a new understanding of the relationship between the parts and the whole. No longer confined to the limited logic of traditional thought, the part ceases to be just a fragment of the whole but, under certain circumstances, reflects and contains the whole. As individual human beings we are not isolated and insignificant Newtonian entities; rather, as integral fields of the holomovement each of us is also a microcosm that reflects and contains the macrocosm./10
But apart from systems theory, in which he knows to excel, Grof is really the specialist for LSD-based psychiatry, and his two decades of experience together with sound judgment of his many observations have led to something like an integrated concept of LSD-based psychiatry.
While all this research had been stopped because of the fact that LSD, together with number of natural plant psychedelics, has been forbidden by our administrative oversoul, the insights and miracles remain an ecstatic outlook in a possible future of psychiatry.
Contrary to Freudian psychoanalysis, Grof, following a tradition created by Otto Rank, includes perinatal experiences in his psychoanalytic exploration.