REALMS OF HUMAN UNCONSCIOUS: Observations From LSD Research by

REALMS OF HUMAN UNCONSCIOUS: Observations From LSD Research

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Grof began clinical research with LSD back in 1956 and because he did most of his work in Prague where psychedelics became neither a fad nor scientific anathema, he has acquired a unique professional knowledge of the drug's potential. This is the first and most general (though by no means popularized) volume of a projected five-part study which refutes both the model psychosis and toxic substance hypotheses. Grof conducted multiple sessions with a broad cross section of volunteers, who included psychiatric patients, ""normal"" people, and intellectuals from many different fields. Here he tries to organize the results into a ""cartography of the inner space."" Although this territory will be generally familiar to the amateur LSD user, the preponderance of psychoanalytical material may be surprising. One can't help wondering why these LSD experiences conform so closely to Freudian, Rankian and Jungian models; is this result spontaneous, as Grof claims, or were the subjects influenced by the therapeutic situation and by Grof's own expectations? Grof outlines here four major categories of LSD experience. The first includes aesthetic experiences which play a surprisingly small part; the second is labeled ""psychodynamic""--the bringing up of memories from the Freudian unconscious. The third category is called ""perinatal"" and here Grof fits the religious and mystical phenomena so common in LSD sessions into a Rankian schema of womb and birth trauma experiences. The fourth, and most controversial point in this outline involves incursions into fetal and ancestral memories, the collective and racial unconscious, and extrasensory perception. In addition to claims of startling psychoanalytic successes, Grof's case histories contain an incredibly rich fund of mythological, literary and mystical reference points. Even the most unsophisticated subjects seem to attain a remarkably unified set of cosmological and philosophical visions. Grof's theory on why this should be so is highly heuristic and unfortunately there is little immediate prospect of further large-scale research. However both his findings and his vast accumulation of raw data should stimulate interest among philosophers, academic psychologists, and clinicians--though the layman might find this heavy going.

Pub Date: May 5th, 1975
Publisher: Viking