By Stanislav Grof
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Extra resources for Beyond the brain : birth, death, and transcendence in psychotherapy
The description of the essential experiential elements of unusual states of consciousness would not be complete without mentioning an entire range of powerful emotions that are their standard components. The psychedelic state has a multilevel and multidimensional quality, and the NewtonianCartesian sequences, if they occur, appear to be arbitrarily teased out of a complex continuum of infinite possibilities. The pictures can also be clarified by overcoming the distortions caused by fear, defenses, and resistances, or by letting the content evolve along the continuum of linear time.
It is interesting in this connection that Wilder Penfield (the worldfamous neurosurgeon who has conducted groundbreaking brain research and has made fundamental contributions to modern neurophysiology) expressed in his last book, The Mystery of the Mind (1976), which summarizes his life work, a deep doubt that consciousness is a product of the brain and can be explained in terms of cerebral anatomy and physiology. The present medical model recognizes the possibility of such transmission for the information concerning the mechanics of embryological development, constitutional factors, hereditary dispositions, parental characteristics or talents, and similar phenomena, but certainly not for complex memories of specific events preceding the individual's conception.
The two major approaches used in this work—psycholytic and Page 31 psychedelic therapy—have been described in detail elsewhere (Grof 1980). Thus, all the issues in question have general validity for the understanding of the human mind in health and disease. The description of the essential experiential elements of unusual states of consciousness would not be complete without mentioning an entire range of powerful emotions that are their standard components. The psychedelic state has a multilevel and multidimensional quality, and the NewtonianCartesian sequences, if they occur, appear to be arbitrarily teased out of a complex continuum of infinite possibilities.