Expanding and Reenchanting the Psyche: The Pioneering Thought of Stanislav Grof


Leonard Gibson

Document Type

Audio File

Publication Date



Stanislav Grof’s Holotropic theory complements Alfred North Whitehead’s great design, characterized by Abner Shimony, to integrate physics into a generalized psychology. Shimony’s estimation of Whitehead’s design suggests an inversion of the idea that the deliverances of relativistic and quantum physics support Grof’s Holotropic psychology. Rather, Grof’s discoveries open avenues to understanding experientially “the complex energy, emotional and purposeful (that Whitehead characterizes),” inherent in the becoming of the fundamental actualities of existence, from which the physics characterizations of energy, time, and space are but abstractions. What is more, Shimony suggests that Whitehead offers a means to integrate the mind into a scientific picture of the world, contrary to most Cartesian-Newtonian views. Grof’s characterization of psychedelic effect as “an unspecific amplifier of mental processes” addresses Shimony’s suggestion exactly and provides an important preface to creativity toward a change in consciousness requisite for evolutionary progress.



Leonard Gibson, Ph.D., graduated from Williams College and earned doctorates from Claremont Graduate School in philosophy and the University of Texas at Austin in psychology. He has taught at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He served a clinical psychology internship at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and trained in Holotropic Breathwork with Stanislav Grof. Lenny teaches Transpersonal Psychology at Burlington College and conducts frequent Holotropic Breathwork workshops. He is a Director of the Association of Holotropic Breathwork International, and a founding Board member of the Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region. As a survivor of throat cancer, he facilitates the Head and Neck Cancer Support Group at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He raises vegetables, fruit, and beef cattle on a homestead in Pawlet, Vermont.