Carl Jung, Stanislav Grof, and New Age Medical Mysticism

Magic relates to the hidden part of the psyche. It might be called the science of exploring man’s hidden powers. . . . It is the recognition of this reality that is the basis of the psychology of Jung.

Colin Wilson, The Occult: A History1

Depth psychology . . . in the last 20 or 30 years has evolved into transpersonal psychology and archetypal psychology . . . through people like Jung and Grof, there has been a real awakening to the spiritual dimensions of the human psyche.

Richard Tarnas, interview in
Towards a New World View:
Conversations at the Leading Edge2

The most neglected area in critiques of New Age mysticism and mind-body alternative medicine is the influence of Carl Jung’s model of the mind. Since the early 1970s Jungianism has helped transform the Human Potential Movement of the 1960s into today’s New Age, postmodernist, mystical, alternativehealing movement. More than any other single figure, Jung has given an appearance of scientific legitimacy to alternative medicine’s “irrational reformation”3,4 and its array of practices based on assumed intuitive access to a subconscious “realm of healing.”

Paranormal research of the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) shows Jungian influence. All 3 codirectors of the original Mind-Body Panel of the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM), which established the direction of such research in the early 1990s,5 demonstrate features traceable to Jung.

Codirector Dr Larry Dossey, explicator of “distant healing,” reveals Jungian roots in his paranormal bestseller, Healing Words,6(pp81–82) where he praises Jung for discovering the “timeless psychic forces” buried in the unconscious. He credits his own conversion to mind-body medicine to codirector Jeanne Achterberg and her husband, Frank Lawlis.6(pp26–28) Codirector Achterberg, an expert in shamanism and guided imagery, is a past president of the Association of Transpersonal Psychology. She is a professor at the Jungian-oriented Saybrook Institute and director of research at the Transpersonal Psychology Institute. Achterberg’s version of guided imagery, pioneered by Carl and Stephanie Simonton, is based on Jung’s paranormal theory of the “active imagination.”7(chap10) Achterberg has trained Russian psychedelic therapists in guided imagery.8

The third codirector, Dr James S. Gordon,9 the first chair of OAM’s Program Advisory Council, considers his own entry into alternative medicine to be an example of Jungian “synchronicity.”10(p60) Gordon’s spiritual teacher, the Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh, criticized Freudian theory in terms very similar to Jung.11(p33) Gordon believed Jung to be the only psychoanalytic theorist to understand the “higher aims and aspirations” of humanistic psychology.11(p63) Gordon has been so influential that in July 2000, President Clinton appointed him chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (WHCCAMP).12


To locate Jung relative to the other main 20th-century currents of psychodynamic approaches to psychotherapy, one must first identify and understand concepts of depth psychology. Sigmund Freud located neurosis in unresolved conflicts from early childhood sexuality. The Freudian-oriented analyst probes the “depths” of early childhood emotional memory and creates a therapeutic relationship intended to eventually resolve conflicts. Dominant from the 1920s through the 1970s, Freudian depth theory, in the wake of dramatic progress in pharmaceutical treatments for many psychological disorders, has been effectively criticized as being nonempirically based pseudoscience.

Freud’s apostate disciple Otto Rank postulated a second layer of depth beyond the Freudian model. Rank believed that the birth experience had profound psychological effects upon the child, and that in therapy, a therapist could guide or regress a patient to the point of birth in order to reexperience and resolve what he called the birth trauma. Psychiatrist Arthur Janov is a modern proponent of this type of therapy. Therapists using Janov’s Primal Scream believe that they can regress patients to reenactments of primal (birth) traumas, even claiming that the birthing obstetrician’s fingerprints can occasionally be made to reappear on a patient’s body.13(p319) Rebirthing, the procedure that in spring 2000 resulted in the smothering death of a Colorado girl wrapped in a blanket to simulate the womb, is a variant of Janov’s therapy.14

One can easily dismiss Freud, Rank, and Janov as pseudoscientists. However, since they located mind within the material, physical development of the brain, they were not spiritualists. Freud’s most famous apostate disciple, Carl Jung, a true prophet of the New Age, pioneered the exploration of a third layer of depth—a spiritual layer of mind—that he believed was based in realities beyond the brain.


Jung kept going “deeper,” formulating the idea that mental health, while affected by birth and sexuality, was rooted in the ego’s relationship to the collective unconscious, which pushes beyond the bounds of the individual physical brain. The unconscious became almost identical to the Theosophical spiritualism with which Jung had dabbled as a youth.15(chap2)

Jung’s collective unconscious is a murky concept. When thinking more scientifically, he described it as racially or genetically inherited memory, using the language of Darwin’s German follower Ernst Haeckel (ontology recapitulates phylogeny), who believed that all human evolutionary memory was encapsulated in genetic material. Jung thought ordinary memory and dreams were aspects of this unconscious.16(chap3) Jung first called his discovery the racial unconscious until, in his haste to distance himself from Nazism, a movement to which he had initially been sympathetic, he renamed this mystical substrate the collective unconscious.

Jung then moved beyond late-19th-century speculations on racial memory transmission, and interpreted the collective unconscious as a spiritual realm that patients could access by using therapeutic dream interpretation, active imagination, and forceful persuasion. Jung compiled a vast literature on world symbology, believing that every race or culture had a symbolic language, called archetypes or archetypal, representing expressions of the collective unconscious. Dream interpretations used by therapists trained to identify, interpret and manipulate archetypes became a favored way of accessing the collective unconscious.

Two recent biographies have shed light on both Jung’s long-standing paranormal beliefs and the cultic nature of his inner circle.17,18 Authors Frank McLynn and Ronald Hayman both agree with noted Jung critic Richard Noll that Jung had a psychotic episode in 1913 in which he believed he had been deified under the guidance of an ancient “spirit guide” named Philemon. Jung believed that he had conjured up Philemon from the collective unconscious through his own active imagination. After this resolution of this psychotic episode, Jung became increasingly committed to a spiritual interpretation of the collective unconscious.

Princeton University Press, the publisher of most of Jung’s writings, has provided 2 useful volumes of Jung’s writings on paranormal topics19 and on the active imagination. The influence of Jung’s method of dealing with psychosis is illustrated by this quotation from the editor of the second volume:

Jung’s analytic method is based on the natural healing function of the imagination. . . . All the creative art psychotherapies (art, dance, music, drama, poetry) as well as Sandplay can trace their roots to Jung’s early contribution.20(p1)

To Jung, psychology also explained biological disease. He believed that cancer was caused by frustrated creative development. If a person’s inner process of psychological growth were delayed, terminal cancer might result.17(p38) He also believed that his psychotherapy, through constellation of the synchronicity archetype, could produce spontaneous healing.17(p519)

The Jungian therapist’s task is to integrate the subject’s ego with the creative, healthy source of the collective unconscious through the evocation of symbolic archetypes. The ego, and therefore rationality itself, must be suppressed in order to allow the intuitive collective unconscious to assert itself.

By the end of his life, Jung was so immersed in spiritualistic and paranormal thinking that he refused to fly in jet planes, believing that their speed would outrace his soul. He elaborated on his theory of Synchronicity. He proclaimed that meaningful coincidences were non-causally arranged by the collective unconscious. He speculated that UFO sightings might herald the advent of the Age of Aquarius. Wolfgang Pauli, a Nobel Prize–winning physicist who was also an early pioneer of quantum mysticism, helped Jung develop his theory of Synchronicity.17(chap25) Pauli had been a patient of Jung’s since 1933.18(pp326–330)

By the late 1950s, Carl Jung and his followers had begun exploring the use of the newly discovered psychedelic drug LSD as a tool to reduce rational faculties so that the mind would be open to the archetypes of the collective unconscious.17(pp518–519) While Jung was concerned about the dangers of LSD triggering uncontrollable psychosis, in the last weeks before his death on June 6, 1961, he was still praising the use of LSD as a therapeutic tool.18(p449)


The postmodernist belief in multiple ways of knowing is consistent with the Jungian concept that each culture, each race, has its symbolic path to truth. Some of these symbols overlap; some are universal, others are not. Postmodernist relativism is consistent with the Jungian perspective of the many ways of access to the collective unconscious. The concept is seen in the New Age ways: the Way of the Shaman, the Way of the Healer, the Way of Psychedelics.

New Age concepts, paranormal claims, and Jungianism are looked to by spiritualists and psychotherapists alike for validation. Psychedelic therapists believe that psychedelics, especially LSD, are an efficient means of accessing and activating the collective unconscious. In recent years New Age Jungian theorists, such as psychiatrist Stanislav Grof and parapsychologist Stanley Krippner, have also endorsed the use of MDMA (Ecstasy) to achieve the same purpose.

The same concepts are increasingly found in standard texts and references and manifested in people in important policy-making positions. Krippner recently joined fellow Jungian and Saybook Institute faculty member Jeanne Achterberg in writing a proparanormal chapter on anomalous healing experiences in a book published by the American Psychological Association (APA).21 The book also contains a discussion of the LSD mysticism theories of Stanislav Grof as well as a chapter on psi-related experiences by Elisabeth Targ and Marilyn Schlitz. Schlitz, research director of the paranormal Institute of Noetic Sciences, was appointed scientific advisor to the WHCCAMP. Krippner, who coedited the APA book, wrote a seminal paranormal medicine book, The Realms of Healing, in 1976.22

While most official Jungian therapists restricted their depth probing to dream interpretation and interviewing, by the 1950s and 1960s there was increased interest among some in finding more efficient methods and new classes of psychedelics to access the collective unconscious. Jung was a great friend of Duke Parapsychology Laboratory ESP researcher J. B. Rhine. The paranormal community, which intersected the Jungians, sponsored conferences as early as the 1950s discussing whether psychedelic drugs enhanced paranormal powers.


A famous American Jungian, Ira Progoff, was a participant in one such conference.23 His books, The Death and Rebirth of Psychology and Depth Psychology and Modern Man, were influential in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Doctors at Johns Hopkins and the Menniger Clinic praised them and they received favorable reviews in the New York Times Book Review. Progoff is known for his technique of “journaling,” using daily journal writing to reinforce Jungian therapeutic breakthroughs. The Jungian mechanism is described in his 1973 book, Jung, Synchronicity and Human Destiny: Non-Causal Dimensions of Human Experience.24 While not explicitly mentioning psychedelics, this book opens a window into how Jungians think. Progoff maintained that many events are “noncausal.” He embraced Jung’s paranormal concept of Synchronicity, a scientific-sounding word explaining “meaningful coincidence.” A meaningful coincidence occurs when the collective unconscious arranges—or, rather, synchronizes—significant events into one’s life. One of his chapters is titled “The Synchronistic Ground of Parapsychic Events.”

Progoff’s description of Jungian therapy might concern ethical therapists because of its manipulation of vulnerable patients. Through unspecified methods, the therapist reduces the influence of the rational ego, something he and Jung call abaissement, using the French term meaning “lowering, falling, abatement, depression, humiliation, abasement.” With the ego defenses lowered, the therapist “activates” the powers of archetypal symbols, which, connecting to the “collective unconscious,” cause a “reconstellation” of the personality with “intuition” dominating thought. The Jungian term for this process is integration—therefore “the integrated personality” is in constant connection with the intuitive, creative font of the “collective unconscious.” This is the Jungian model of mental health.

Progoff’s book illustrates the links between conversion therapy and paranormal thought liberated from the rational ego. Progoff was only one of many Jungians and other “mind explorers” inside and outside academia who became influential in the 1960s.


From the late 1950s through, possibly, the early 1970s, the federal government was surreptitiously financing academic LSD research as part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s investigation of “brainwashing.”25 Under a barrage of criticism and scandals, LSD research was finally discontinued. American Medical Association president Roy Grinkler called for the elimination of psychedelic studies, saying that “at one time it was impossible to find an investigator willing to work with LSD-25 who was not himself an ‘addict.’ ”26(p91)

One LSD investigator, Stanislav Grof, left Czechoslovakia in early 1967 during a period of post-Stalin liberalization, having received a fellowship from the Foundation’s Fund for Research in Psychiatry at Yale University.* Grof, an early convert to LSD spiritualism through his own personal use, had conducted multiple-session serial LSD therapy on psychiatric patients and terminal cancer patients at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague.27(pp19–21) A sympathetic account of this research is given in a book of Grof’s close friend, Jungian editor, scholar, and mystic Joseph Campbell:

“The patients,” states Dr. Grof, “spent hours in agonizing pain, gasping for breath with the color of their faces changing from dead pale to dark purple. They were rolling on the floor and discharging extreme tensions in muscular tremors, twitches and complex twisting movements. The pulse rate was frequently doubled, and it was threadlike; there was often nausea with occasional vomiting and excessive sweating. . . . Subjectively,” he continues, “these experiences were of a transpersonal nature—they had a much broader framework than the body and lifespan of a single individual. . . . The identification involved all suffering mankind, past, present and future.”28(pp258–262)

Campbell believed that Grof ’s patients’ LSD-induced hallucinations contained mythological material that provided empirical evidence for the existence of Carl Jung’s collective unconscious.

Soon after his arrival in the United States in March 1967, Grof became involved the Maryland Psychiatric Institute’s LSD research at Spring Grove State Hospital near Baltimore. The research—the last clinical LSD research carried out in the United States—was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health. Grof is best known for his research combining Jungian psychotherapy with LSD-invoked near-death experiences to treat anxiety in terminally ill cancer patients.

Walter Pahnke, a Harvard associate of Timothy Leary with degrees in medicine and theology, originally organized this experiment. After Dr Pahnke’s disappearance and presumed death, Grof assumed control of the research in 1971, using his then-wife, Joan Halifax, as archetypal therapist. Halifax had received her Jungian training with Joseph Campbell, her teacher and mentor at Sarah Lawrence College. Therapists and nurses underwent “psychedelic training sessions” themselves so that they could empathize with the “death and rebirth” experiences of the 100 patients enrolled in the research.27(pp31,130) Terminally ill cancer patients were given LSD to facilitate the intense Jungian therapy intended to treat their anxiety about death. Grof claimed great success, even bragging that he could convert a Jewish rabbi into a Zen Buddhist using this method. Given that the patients were all deceased within months, no study of the long-term consequences of this therapy was undertaken.

Grof and Halifax’s book about this research, The Human Encounter with Death (foreword by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross), was written after the Spring Grove research was shut down in 1974 and Grof became Scholar in Residence at the Esalen Institute.27(pxii) The Esalen Institute is generally considered a birthplace of the New Age movement.

Grof’s main interest in this research was in having the opportunity to explore in extremis what he calls “the cartography” of the mind. His aim was to probe the deepest strata of the mind, from the Freudian layer to the Rankian layer to the Jungian “transpersonal” layer, the level of the collective unconscious where he believed that the subject makes contact with the “spiritual” side—with cosmic consciousness. Grof describes at great length the terror and hallucinations of his patients experiencing “life/death struggles” on their way to spiritual peace. One example:

LSD subjects in this state experience powerful currents of energy streaming through their bodies and accumulation of enormous tensions alternating with explosive discharges. This is typically accompanied by images of raging elements of nature, apocalyptic war scenes . . . and vivid destructive and self-destructive experiences. These involve bestial murders, tortures of all kinds, mutilations, executions, rapes, and bloody sacrifices.27(p50)

Among Grof’s advisors and supporters in this “stress reduction” research were Joseph Campbell, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Margaret Mead,>** and Mead’s daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson. Mead’s former husband, Gregory Bateson—friend of both Grof and Dr James S. Gordon11(pvii)—was a founder of the Esalen Institute, Grof’s base of operations after leaving academic LSD research.

Grof, his many prominent supporters, and the National Institutes of Health never questioned the ethics of using human subjects in this type of research.


Grof represents the apex of New Age Jungianism—a parapsychological experimenter willing to use extreme methods to “transform” subjects into spiritual beings like himself. Grof’s magnum opus is his book Beyond the Brain: Birth, Transformation and Transcendence in Psychotherapy, published in 1985 by the State University of New York Press as part of its Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology.†† In this book—based on his experience in supervising more than 3000 LSD sessions— Grof outlines all the psychological “depths,” cataloging them as a series of 4 “Basic Perinatal Matrices” (BPM) from prenatal (or preconception) to birth itself. The moment of birth, at BPM IV, is typified by feelings of “total annihilation” changing to “light of supernatural radiance and beauty.”29(p123) At BPM III, the life-death movement through the birth canal, patients report “crushing mechanical pressures . . . anoxia and suffocation.”29(p116) BPM II, the preparation for birthing, is typified by fear of “cosmic engulfment.”29(p111)

At the deepest BPM I level, where “transpersonal” cosmic consciousness is accessed, Grof claims his subjects share “the consciousness of animals, plants, or inanimate objects . . . of all creation, of the entire planet, or of the entire universe.”29(p42) At this level, he discerns “transpersonal experiences” involving “telepathy, psychic diagnosis, clairvoyance, clairaudience, precognition, psychometry, out-of-body experiences, traveling clairvoyance, and other paranormal phenomena.”29(p44)

Documenting his research are paintings of the oftengrotesque visions of LSD-hallucinating patients that are interpreted according to Jungian symbology and/or Rankian theory. He gives credit to Freud, Rank, Jung, Wilhelm Reich, and Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard. He describes how these phenomena—especially what Grof calls his theory of the Holotropic Universe—can be explained by the New Physics.

Grof claims that his “altered states” therapy can radically alter the belief structure of his patients away from a standard scientific worldview. He states:

After the individual has been confronted with a considerable sample of transpersonal experiences, the Newtonian-Cartesian world view becomes untenable as a serious philosophical concept. . . . At this point, the mystical alternatives appear to be much more appropriate and reasonable.29(p50)

Thus, Grof’s psychotherapy is used to undermine a patient’s belief in the modernist view of science. The achievement of a mystical worldview is Stanislav Grof’s measure of mental health.

A number of persons involved in Grof’s original Spring Grove research have become important “alternative” medicine figures. Grof’s former wife, Joan Halifax, with whom he wrote The Human Encounter with Death, had a major nervous breakdown due to LSD usage while still married to him.30 She is now a Buddhist teacher Roshi, teaching New Age geriatrics from her Upaya Institute in New Mexico.31 At Upaya, Halifax organizes “Being with Dying” seminars with former OAM Mind-Body Panel leaders Larry Dossey and Jean Achterberg. They train health professionals in spiritualistic geriatrics.32 Ram Dass (formerly psychology professor Richard Alpert), Timothy Leary’s former collaborator at Harvard, shares her involvement with the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Halifax was invited to give the Harold Witt lecture at Harvard Divinity School, following the path of another Jungian LSD researcher, Jean Houston, to prominence on the Harvard Divinity School stage.

Another alumna of Spring Grove is the pioneer of paranormal music therapy Helen Bonny,27(p33) who prepared the music to accompany the LSD sessions.33 Bonny found “alternative” medicine success through advocating the paranormal healing powers of music. The Bonny Method has been used to help access not only prior, but future lives.34 Helen Bonny is a founder of the World Congress of Music Therapy and developer of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM), which purports to “to integrate mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of well-being, as well as awaken to a greater transcendent identification.”35

Even in his first book on the Spring Grove research, Grof portrayed his therapy as affecting the human body as well as the mind. He claimed that his research unearthed evidence that LSD therapy strengthens the body’s resistance to cancer. The claim supports another tangent of Jungian theory, the “visualization therapy” of Carl and Stephanie Simonton. The Simontons—supported by OAM advisor Jeanne Achterberg—claimed that emotional blockages cause cancer.27(p109) A wing of the burgeoning field of psychoneuroimmunology currently supports the Simonton approach.

Grof was Scholar in Residence at the Esalen Institute from 1972 until the early 1990s, where he collaborated with a variety of mystics, healers, psychotherapists, and parapsychologists, including “remote viewer” Russell Targ and his daughter, Elisabeth.36(pp105–110) There he taught hundreds of Esalen students LSD and MDMA therapy and Holotropic Breathwork. The latter, an apparently legal yet dangerous method, attempts to produce hallucinatory altered states through severe cerebral hypoxia by reducing oxygen to the cortex of the brain.37 Grof’s influence today is seen in “rebirthing” science, parapsychology, “alternative” medicine, and the New Consciousness movement. He and Arthur Janov are considered by the Primal Psychotherapy movement to be the most significant living birth trauma theorists.

Grof is considered the central founder of the mystically oriented Transpersonal Psychology Movement, which has spun off several educational institutions producing “spiritual” psychotherapists.‡‡ In the late 1960s Grof joined Abraham Maslow in founding the Association for Transpersonal Psychology. In 1978 he and Esalen founders Michael Murphy and Richard Price launched the International Transpersonal Association.29(ppxvi–xvii)

In November 2001 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved research proposals for MDMA (Ecstasy) treatment based on Grof’s LSD research protocols, combined with Grof’s Holotropic Breathwork, as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder.38 On July 10, 2002, an independent Institutional Review Board approved the research, involving 20 assault victims, after its proponents failed in their attempt to gain sponsorship from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). The principal investigator will be MUSC clinical assistant professor of psychiatry Dr Michael Mithoefer, a Grof-trained Holotropic Breathwork practitioner. A second FDA-approved study, using psilocybin as a treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder, is currently in progress at the University of Arizona. In this case, the research staff themselves are undergoing Holotropic Breathwork therapy in order to empathize with the altered states of their subjects.38

All of this research is organized by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Research Studies (MAPS),38 whose president, Rick Doblin, is a longtime user of both LSD and Ecstasy. Doblin was first introduced to Ecstasy therapy by Grof at Esalen Institute sessions in the early 1980s.

Richard Yensen, Grof’s former research colleague, is seeking FDA approval to resume the 1960s LSD research. Grof himself continues to be at the center of an underground LSD therapy movement consisting of hundreds of illegal practitioners. The Secret Chief, a book describing this movement with a prologue by Grof, is available on the Web site of MAPS.39

Popular “alternative” psychologies have shifted from the materialist-based hypothetical proposals of Freud to the paranormal spirituality of Jung and his followers. This is the terrain of New Age psychotherapy and much of mind-body medicine today. Numerous leaders of “alternative” medicine—from Norman Shealy,40 founder of the American Holistic Medical Association, to Andrew Weil—are educated by or associated with the transpersonal psychology movement.


What makes Jungianism so influential? Two reasons come to mind. First, Jungian method and its variants make people more irrational, with the therapist or therapeutic circle having suggestive influence over the subject. The model values intuition over rational objectivity. The addition of psychedelics or other severe consciousness-altering methods amplifies this effect.

Second and equally important, because of Jung’s pop reputation as a psychotherapeutic scientist, equal to or surpassing Freud, his collective unconscious provides a pseudoscientific rationale for a variety of speculative claims. The placebo effect, distant healing, homeopathy, bioenergetics, intuitive diagnostics, paranormal guided imagery, Q’i Gong, and Therapeutic Touch energies can all be attributed to Jungian-type unconscious and spiritual forces.

Science-oriented critics are frustrated by the lack of clear mechanism in mind-body spiritualism. However, to the Jungian mindset, spiritualism is mechanism and intuition is evidence. Research—to a Jungian—consists of manipulating the symbols of science in order to arrive at a result already intuitively known. When research does not confirm that result, the research must be wrong or improperly designed. The mechanism of assumed “spontaneous” healing is attributed to the spiritual realm of the collective unconsciousness, which the natural mind, freed from the restrictions of ego skepticism, can creatively access. This is what Andrew Weil writes in his book The Natural Mind. He praises psychedelic drugs and Carl Jung. He posits the Jungian-based theory that psychotics, whose natural minds are unimpeded by rational ego control, are the vanguard of evolution.41 Weil stated at a recent conference of the Association of Transpersonal Psychology that he credits the development of his own “natural mind” to LSD, and still occasionally uses LSD.42

One cannot attribute all of modern mind-body medicine and New Age concepts to Jungianism and the LSD mysticism and conversion therapy of Stanislav Grof. However, advocates of the ideology nest at the center of the mind-body mystical movement. The ideology features mind manipulation and drug-induced revelations, while it diminishes or “abases” rationality in the process. The New Age movement’s variations and permutations have created a large pool of dedicated followers, many of whom adhere to the Jungian model of the mind. They influence many in the federal government and in medicine who believe their claims and who seek an alternative, cheaper, and more spiritually based medicine. Pseudoscientific mind theories, psychedelics, disillusionment with contemporary society, formation of alternative communities, romantic wishes to return to “nature,” old-fashioned quackery, and a society that is focused on new economic opportunities all contribute to the popular confusion.


* In 1967 Robert Jay Lifton held the foundation’s Fund for Research in Psychiatry professorship at Yale. Lifton is the nation’s most prominent scholar of brainwashing theory and coercive persuasion. Lifton completed his classic study, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “Brainwashing” in China, while a research associate at Harvard in 1961.

†Grof recounts his personal conversion from rationalism to mysticism under the influence of LSD in The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives. New York, NY: Harper/SanFrancisco; 1993: 14–17.

‡The Maryland Department of Mental Hygiene and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation provided additional funding.27(pxi)

** Prominent skeptic Martin Gardner has written about Margaret Mead’s various paranormal interests and endeavors. In addition to supporting Russell Targ’s research on “remote viewing,” Mead, as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in 1969 convinced the AAAS board to admit J. B. Rhine’s Parapsychological Association as a member organization. Gardner M. The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books; 1991: 19–24.

†† In 2000 SUNY Press published Grof’s latest book, Psychology of the Future: Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research.

‡‡ Transpersonal Psychology institutions include Saybrook Graduate School, California Institute of Integral Studies, John F. Kennedy University, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Naropa Institute, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology (ATP), the International Association of Spiritual Psychiatry, the Council on Spiritual Practices (CSP), Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Links to these sites along with other information is available at the Guide to the Transpersonal Internet Web site,


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