Grof’s Cartography Of The Psyche

In our western culture the modern psychiatry model sees many forms of non-ordinary states as pathological. People experiencing them have been, and can be, tranquilised or hospitalised, whereas in other cultures they can be seen as extremely valuable.

In our ordinary lives we experience only a fragment of our experiential potential. Holotropic States give you the possibility to transcend the usual boundaries we put in place, between us and the rest of the world/universe, such as the animal kingdom or the plant kingdom and even different planets. We can experience ourselves in these kingdoms when in these states. We can experience being in other countries or time frames and, whilst we may never have physically visited these places, they have a feel of being very familiar. It is possible to have experiences with or of mythological and archetypal beings/realms of cultures we have never studied and to have experiences at the micro and macro level.

The psyche is infinitely larger than is currently portrayed in modern psychiatry which operates from the premise that psychosomatic distress or dis-ease starts after birth. Grof challenges this premise by asking questions such as:

What about the birth process itself?

What about the experience of gestation or conception?

What about genetic coding from the ancestors or karma from past lives?

What about the mythological and archetypal influences?

What about the instances of recognition that we are one with the universe or with nature or with the organising principle and their healing potential?

When you take all the above and more into account how could it not affect ones way of being in the world? And where is the accepted framework for that, for us to hang our experience on, so as not to have it unnecessarily pathologised? Grof offers a much wider and inclusive cartography of the psyche. It was composed after his observations of thousands of sessions as part of his LSD research and the Holotropic Breathork that followed after it was banned.


“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” – Buckminster Fuller

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