LSD and the new map of the psyche

Geoff Ward
5 min readNov 27, 2023

‘My journey to understanding LSD and other holotropic states of consciousness resembled an exciting and challenging treasure hunt.’

‘Psychedelics have shown us that the mechanistic materialistic worldview that we have inherited from the seventeenth century is seriously outdated and needs to be replaced by a post-materialistic philosophy and cosmology that can account for the observations of psychedelic therapy and bridge the gaping chasm between science and religion.’

These are the words of the Czech-born psychiatrist Stanislav Grof who looms large in the annals of psychedelic explorations.

The first quote is from his foreword to LSD: My problem child (2005/2009) by Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD, and the second from an illuminating interview conducted by Grof’s wife Brigitte which is the centrepiece of her warm and welcome tribute to her husband’s life’s work, Stanislav Grof, LSD Pioneer: From Pharmacology to Archetypes.

Originally published in German and French in 2021 to mark Grof’s 90th birthday that year, this celebratory volume has now appeared in its first US edition (Park Street Press, September, 2023).

Honouring Grof’s importance as a ‘psychedelic elder’, the book presents testimonies from many luminaries in the psychedelic and psychological fields, including Rupert Sheldrake, Fritjof Capra, Ervin Laszlo, Christopher Bache, Richard Tarnas, Rick Doblin and Roger Walsh, together with harmonious photographs of Grof with Albert Hofmann and all the contributors.

It covers Grof’s early experiments with LSD in Czechoslovakia and the USA during the 1950s and 1960s, his work with psychedelics other than LSD including psilocybin, his discovery of the ‘perinatal matrices’, the creation of holotropic breathwork, his work with archetypal astrology, and his own LSD experiences. He conceived holotropic (‘moving towards wholeness’) states as being related to biographical material: experiences of the child in the womb and at birth, as well as diverse transpersonal phenomena.

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Geoff Ward

Writer, journalist, book editor, poet, musician and tutor in literature and creative writing (MA and BA Hons degrees in English literature).