Critical Remarks on Holotropic Breathwork
and the MAPS Strategy

l to r: Stanislav  Grof,  Rick  Doblin


New  Introduction  2020

The pro-drugs lobby declared a “new epoch” or a “new age” via the late 1960s hippy boom and subsequent neo-hippy milieux. LSD ingesters were regarded by partisans as cultural heroes. Richard Alpert (d.2019) became known for ingesting 2400 micrograms of LSD daily, according to his own count. He soon changed his name to Baba Ram Dass, believing himself to be an advanced Yogi. The delusion and deceits multiplied, including the “measured safety dose” prescribed by the LSD high priest Stanislav Grof. The entrepreneurial Grof found that MDMA was another means of keeping the minds of clients in suspension at Esalen.

Grof imposed the belief that LSD users could achieve "personal growth" in their psychedelic sessions. He elaborated a "therapeutic" interpretation using Jungian themes, plus bizarre explanation of drug experiences. This led to much psychological stress in a number of cases. All drawbacks were excused and obscured by the extravagant neo-Jungian exegesis. Grof called his resort "LSD psychotherapy." Many affluent clients were deceived by this strategy, which was endorsed by Richard Tarnas and other influential subscribers. LSD is a powerful hallucinogen, not a spiritual experience or psychological transformer. Grof continually dosed clients with LSD, influencing their mental faculties by this means. The enemy was here medical science and criticism of Grof, the psychedelic angel.

The craze for “holistic workshops” started in the 1970s. LSD psychotherapy was a trigger for “transformation,” the new game in rip-off commerce. High prices were charged for the means to transform, which included hyperventilation, a risk presented by Grof as Holotropic Breathwork (HB). Screaming and projectile sickness were just two of the negative side effects in HB clients.

The LSD pioneers of the “new epoch” were typically academics who did little or no manual work. Bored with their studies and tutoring, the postgraduates and Ph.D’s  escaped into psychedelic fantasies and hallucinations. They had the time to sit in luxury armchairs. This sport was declared to be the new spirituality. Critics were described as hopelessly non-progressive materialists. A burgeoning array of alternative therapists assimilated many of the "holistic" psychedelic slogans in highly commercial variants. "Healing" is a major deception for commercial gain, being administered for thousands of dollars to affluent clients lacking in critical acumen.

The accompanying vogue for marijuana passed effortlessly into heroin. Glassy eyed rock stars were the proof of euphoria and serious psychological dysfunction. LSD, MDMA, cocaine, and other intakes, were the diet of those unable to draw inspiration from their own self-recollection. The bizarre excitements fell into an afflicting trap laid by big business projects such as Grof Transpersonal Training Inc.

Diverse critics of the new epoch activities were ridiculed as “two-dimensional response to multidimensional reality.” Some critics say that drug victims never knew the spiritual truth, because they chose instead the substitute of hallucinogens and chemicals. LSD psychotherapy adepts like Grof and Richard Tarnas are beyond criticism, according to partisans. In their opinion, only the neo-Jungian rationale is science. Sceptics observe that archetypes are easily compatible with hallucinations. Many of the dazed victims became fodder for mercenary Indian gurus, while others were converts to the Western scenario of Jungian archetypal beliefs, a “new age” support act of canonical status.

The psychedelic enthusiasts talk about archetypes, the perennial philosophy, the influence of Uranus, the new epoch of peace and transformation. The confusions and excesses often end in rehabilitation (which does not always work). Drug legalisation is supposedly the panacea for all ills, a theory potentially disastrous.

According to critics, the Grof-inspired MAPS has acted as a superspreader of drug use disguised as healing, progressive enlightenment, and social improvement. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) definitely seeks to develop psychedelics and marijuana into prescription medicines, also to legalise "MDMA therapy." Psilocybin is a favoured component of this project. Silicon Valley and Wall Street are not immune to the psychedelic message, being heavy donors according to MAPS promotionalism.

The MAPS leader is MDMA Therapy Expert Rick Doblin (to use a description on advertising media). Hundreds of alternative therapists have been recruited into this project, for the anticipated use of MDMA as a tool of "psychotherapy." LSD is strongly rumoured to follow in the plan for “experimental psychedelics.” Psychotherapy is an industry that could hypnotise far more clients than is already the case. An underlying intention of this trend is evidently to rival medical doctors, who may yet be superseded by MAPS therapists if bureaucratic incompetence prevails. Instead of an aspirin or paracetamol, take microdose LSD and forget your way home. A message from MAPS is: “In big cities, young professionals say microdosing psilocybin and LSD helps them to stay on top of their game.”

Strong criticism of MAPS ideology comes from reputable sources outside the psychedelic lobby. Empirical knowledge about the effects of MDMA (Ecstasy) has accumulated since the 1980s; this data is misrepresented by MAPS, who have created extensive confusion. In contrast to Grofian romantic portrayal, the drawbacks in MDMA use extend to retrospective memory, prospective memory, higher cognition, complex visual processing, sleep rhythms, pain, and neurohormonal activity. The psychiatric status of MDMA can be substantial. The damaging effects of MDMA were far more widespread, for many years, than was generally known (Parrott 2014a).

Doblin and his colleagues objected to the scientific data. An operative researcher addressed all the points they made. “I have been able to refute each of their criticisms by citing the relevant empirical data, since many of their points were based on inaccurate summaries of the actual research findings” (Parrott 2014a). Andrew C. Parrott is a Professor of Psychology at Swansea University; he has contributed many research papers of note (e.g., Parrott 2014b, 2015, 2017). 

Relevant observations from researchers indicate the distorting manner in which MAPS present theories as facts, while minimising drawbacks known to scientists (as distinct from psychedelic enthusiasts). Eager to gain donations from the credulous, MAPS have generated what amounts to a deception, recently furthered by fantasists like Rupert Sheldrake who support commercial myths about psychedelic activity (Sheldrake, Ways to Go Beyond, 2019).

Sheldrake is deceptively advertised on web media in terms of: “He combines the latest scientific research with his extensive knowledge of mystical traditions around the world to show how we may tune into more-than-human realms of consciousness through psychedelics, such as ayahuasca, and by taking cannabis.”  The ayahuasca rape problem is more socially relevant than fashionable new age lore and “tune in” sloganism. Contemporary readers need to develop solid critical ability before they fall prey to soporific mysticism leading to giant problems. Cannabis is imposed upon the young by unscrupulous commercial interests and committed drug users (including politicians) who have formed a long term cannabis habit.

“Doblin and colleagues are proponents of the use of MDMA for drug-assisted psychotherapy” (Parrott 2014a). That project does not qualify as scientific research, despite implications to the contrary by drug users. “MDMA can induce a wide range of neurophysiological changes, many of which are damaging to humans” (ibid). Regular use of MDMA can cause neurotoxic damage (Parrott and Mead, 2020). MDMA can adversely affect the liver and heart. Similar to LSD, this drug is noted for unpredictability in the nature of psychological materials released. One user temperament for MDMA is that of a rave drug. Rave excesses are not too far removed from psychedelic therapy, because the latter has been interpreted as an excuse for the former by young revellers.

MAPS has enrolled over 500 psychedelic therapists in the much advertised project of legalisation for “MDMA therapy,” which critics interpret in very negative terms. There is a controversy about unlicensed practitioners. MAPS has favoured a short cut. This tactic is not able to prevent due criticism from several angles.

MAPS wishes to overlook the untested nature of a disputed therapy (with a dubious Grof precedent at reckless Esalen). Criticism from professional scientists is dangerously ignored by omniscient drug users. Another feature meriting strong reserve is the repute of “MDMA therapy” for sexual abuse. This drawback dates back to the early 1980s, when psychedelic “therapy” encountered a wave of sexual abuse allegations. One psychedelic “therapist,” namely Richard Ingrasci, was accused of sexually abusing multiple patients. One woman whom he sexually assaulted afterwards attempted suicide. In another instance, Ingrasci reportedly told a patient that sexual contact (with him) would help cure her cancer.  Beware the “new epoch” healers.

Many years later, the Grof-oriented therapist Richard Yensen (a Ph.D colleague of Grof) was accused of assaulting a PTSD patient, namely Meghan Buisson. The episode dates to 2016-17. Yensen is described as a pioneer in transpersonal psychology since 1972. His lapse occurred during a MAPS “clinical trial” of MDMA. Doblin failed to warn clients (or patients), also the FDA, of what could happen during “psychotherapy.” In 2018, Buisson filed a civil court claim in British Columbia (Canada), charging Yensen with  sexual assaults, in the plural (Olivia Goldhill, Psychedelic therapy has a sexual abuse problem, 2020). MAPS did make a public announcement of Yensen's ethical violation (dated 24/05/2019).

Subsequently, Yensen and an assistant continued “healing work.” In August 2019, they conducted a ten day retreat at a charge of over two thousand American dollars. This event was entitled “Heart of the Shaman,” being further described in terms of “personal exploration and spiritual growth” (Goldhill cited). The shamanic theme has been ubiquitous in the new age for many years, innovated by the calculating Grof and others of commercial instinct. The comic strip is persuasive amongst an affluent clientele who exhibit scant mental protection against predators. Healing is a big business deception, decoding to dollar growth.

Many psychedelic drugs reduce inhibitions, creating potentially dangerous situations. Ayahuasca retreats in South and Central America are notorious for “accusations of sexual assault and rape” (Olivia Goldhill article, linked above). The perennial philosophy of rape is not attractive to victims. Ayahuasca can provide "an extremely erotic experience" (Rachel Monroe, Sexual Assault in the Amazon, 2017). A victim can lose the ability to walk, a hindrance which is not advisable during coercion from predatory shamans. "Respected academics and experts in the psychedelic scene" are known to have discouraged a well known victim (Lily Kay Ross) from complaining about abuse. These calculating "experts" included "a key figure in organising medical research in psychedelics" (Monroe, article linked).

Such embarassments are obscured by psychedelic therapists and deceptive writers on “new spirituality.” One apologist is reported to have stated that the risk of disclosing details is too great, being enough to tarnish the image of psychedelics (Goldhill, article linked). Victims are overlooked in this trend; only pseudo-shamans and the tourist industry count.

An earlier female critic of Grof psychedelic therapy was sidelined by the infiltration of that activity into Britain. Since that time, academic LSD partisans and Grof enthusiasts have been pushing their agenda at all costs. They invoke theories about therapy, terminal illness, prescription medicines, and anything else to support their underlying desire for mass conversion to hallucinogenic drugs.

In North America, the MAPS project of legalisation for “MDMA therapy” is symptomatic of a dangerous confusion. The underlying incentive of MAPS is to legalise LSD. The awaited status of legalised MDMA and LSD, as “mental health” drugs, may signify a bureaucracy unable to diagnose hazards and predators. Even at the more familiar level of cannabis, such a fashionable pastime in casual sectors, “there is insufficient evidence to support the safety of cannabis” (Parrott et al, 2017).

Kevin R. D. Shepherd

November 2020





1.       Influence  of  Stanislav  Grof  at  Esalen  and  CIIS

2.       Holotropic  Breathwork  and  LSD  Therapy

3.       Rick  Doblin

4.       The  MAPS  Website

5.       Critical  Research

6.       MDMA  Therapy

7.       Dosages  of  MDMA

8.       Wikipedia  Article  on  Holotropic  Breathwork

9.       MAPS  and  Royal  College  of  Psychiatrists  (RCP)

10.     Scientific  and  Medical  Network  (SMN)   

11.     Influence  of  Grof  at  the  Findhorn  Foundation



1. Influence  of  Stanislav  Grof  at  Esalen  and  CIIS

Stanislav Grof taught his psychedelic ideology to hundreds of students at the Esalen Institute in California. This innovation promoted "LSD therapy" and "MDMA therapy," also Holotropic Breathwork (HB) on a commercial scale. Grof spent fourteen years at Esalen (1973–87), becoming a Trustee; his influence upon the new age in California and elsewhere was acute and disastrous. The trend has been called Grof transpersonalism. Some uncritical accounts of Grof are nauseating when one knows the background of Grof Transpersonal Training Inc.

Critics are not persuaded by the HB book in which a Grof article asserts: "Hyperventilation can result in healing of emotional and psychosomatic problems" (Taylor 2003, sub-titled Selected Articles from a Decade of The Inner Door). There are too many drawbacks when the "inner door" (or psychological safety mechanism) comes off the hinges (The Inner Door is a partisan journal associated with HB and the Assn of HB International).

Grof is reported to have ingested high dose LSD more than a hundred times. His high dose ranged from 300 to 1200 micrograms, sufficient to cause shock in more sober directions. He supervised more than 4,000 LSD sessions of other people. Grof elaborated a controversial interpretation, believing that his psychedelic experiences were "unquestionably spiritual" (Horgan 2003:163-4; Shepherd 2005:408). He was also very keen to use MDMA when LSD became illegal.

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1931, Grof gained an M.D. at Prague in 1957. This psychiatrist first ingested LSD in 1956, when he was only 25, never outgrowing that hazard. His subsequent adventures with high dose LSD signified a strong preoccupation with this hallucinogenic drug. Moving to America in 1967, Grof again administered LSD to terminally ill cancer patients, a measure for which he has received due criticism. He became a countercultural hero when LSD became illegal. In 1973 he transited to the eccentric Esalen Institute, where he resorted to MDMA “psychotherapy” and the trademark “therapy” Holotropic Breathwork (HB).

At the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Grof imposed serial LSD "therapy" on psychiatric patients and terminally ill cancer patients. The agonies of these victims were recorded as follows:

[They] spent hours in agonising pain, gasping for breath with the colour 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... there was often nausea with occasional vomiting and excessive sweating. (Curry 2002, quoting Joseph Campbell)

These and similar agonies were interpreted by Grof as "cosmic consciousness," transpersonal achievements, affinity with all mankind. Grof, and other Jung enthusiasts like Campbell, believed that these psychedelic problems afforded proof of Jung's archetypal theory, an influential belief system amounting to sheer fantasy. Grof repeated his bizarre experiment with a hundred terminally ill cancer patients at Spring Grove State Hospital, near Baltimore, where he gained control in 1971 (Curry 2002:86-87). His own close assistant in this project (his wife) later suffered acutely from LSD use.

The fate of the hapless cancer patients at Baltimore can only be imagined. They are known to have suffered terror and the typical hallucinations in their so-called "death and rebirth" experiences (Grof 1977). The nurses were also sedated with LSD, losing any critical sense of propriety. Grof regarded his experiment as a great success. Some critics say that he should have been jailed. Fortunately, this was the last "clinical LSD research" permitted in America. No long term study of the victims could be undertaken, as they were all conveniently dead soon after.

In the disconcerting belief system he presented in his books, Grof emphasised the disputed birth trauma theory of Otto Rank. Grof employed this exaggeration for his “cartography of the human psyche,” based on psychedelic experiences. Adding Jungian elements, Grof associated his neo-Jungian innovation with features of Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Historical complexities were not detailed. Instead, the “perennial philosophy” was invoked as a blanket term; the same misleading phrase is now a widespread popular cliché averse to history.

Grof glorified unpleasant LSD hallucinations, which include "bestial murders, tortures of all kinds, mutilations, executions, rapes, and bloody sacrifices" (Curry 2002). These supposedly led, in neo-Jungian fantasy, to "spiritual rebirth." Grof's wife Joan Halifax, who worked with him in the role of an "archetypal therapist," experienced a major nervous breakdown as a consequence of LSD usage. Halifax was then still married to Grof (Curry 2002:88). She afterwards became a Buddhist "teacher," encountering other LSD survivors like Baba Ram Dass (Richard Alpert). These eccentric persons all believed they were "spiritual teachers," attracting numerous followers (many of them LSD users, or persons recovering from LSD use).

The equations and suppositions of Grof are contested by critical analysts. His followers were lured into “safe psychedelic drug use.” Grof personally administered many dosages, his victims regarding him as a hierophant of the psychedelic mysteries. He knew how to gain converts. Powerful hallucinations mesmerised many academics, who believed they had gained “spiritual vision” as a consequence. Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. can be attributed to an archetypal “lazy mystic” who tried to make his straitjacket theory into a universal explanation of economic convenience.

During his Esalen phase, Grof is known to have invoked astral travel as one ingredient of an MDMA trip (Shepherd 2005:126). The American investigator E. Patrick Curry deduced that Grof’s method was "drug-aided mind manipulation in order to create paranormal beliefs" (ibid). Many people were dosed with drugs at that period by Grof, believing totally in the proclaimed safety of Grof therapy. Curry concluded: "It is quite probable that hundreds of persons were injured – physically and/or psychologically – during Grof’s long tenure at Esalen" (ibid). Grof could interpret the MDMA trip as an "out-of-body experience." A sober analyst is not obliged to condone the exotic transpersonal idioms which abet so many delusions in HB workshops and MDMA trips. The MDMA project was curtailed when that drug became illegal in 1984-5.

Hyperventilation was the nearest matching disability for affluent clients. This practice "attempts to produce hallucinatory altered states through severe cerebral hypoxia by reducing oxygen to the cortex of the brain" (Curry 2002).

Converts to Grof therapy spread the attendant doctrines far afield. Commercial "workshops" and courses were accompanied by the underground use of illegal LSD and other drugs. Elaborate and unconvincing explanations were employed in the belief that LSD and MDMA are agents of Jungian archetypal profundity. Grof claimed that 200 milligrams of MDMA were a safe portal to the archetypes. As a dispenser of drugs and archetypes, Grof was invested with mystical significance of a reckless kind. He was the new Jung, the great hierophant, the controller of client destiny. The factor of hallucinations was totally mystified.

The converts were indoctrinated with a peculiar form of initiatory jargon known as the perinatal theory. This perinatal syndrome led converts to believe that their drug experiences were a transcendental mystical phenomenon.... [Christopher] Bache has written of his experiences in both LSD therapy and Holotropic Breathwork. Shock, exhaustion, and suffering were key consequences. He had to interrupt his involvement with psychedelic therapy for several years because the extreme psychological states he encountered proved too stressful for his family to endure. (Shepherd 2005:6,8)

Grof joined the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), where he remained influential. CIIS claims an interest in "spiritual transformation," also advocating psychedelic experience in relation to “mental health.” Stanislav Grof and Richard Tarnas are two of the celebrity names involved. Tarnas has stated: "Through people like Jung and Grof, there has been a real awakening to the spiritual dimensions of the human psyche" (cited in Curry 2002). In that quote, for awakening, read slumber. The exploitation achieved by psychedelic promotion is considerable, though unrecognised by numerous clients suffering from hallucinations and other side-effects and after-effects. Independence from psychedelic stranglehold remains an ideal in contrasting circles.

Transpersonal psychotherapists, some of them associated with Grof, are obsessed with “altered states” of consciousness, a career pursuit contributing to acute delusions and misinformation imposed upon the public. The extensive exploitive scenario includes “underground psychedelic guides” who dose gullible clients with MDMA, psilocybin, and ayahuasca.  Clients are inducted into “trips” lasting for many hours, while being taught that they can incorporate “healing lessons” from psychedelic experiences into their daily lives. Some of the "lessons" transpire to be severe ordeals.

2.   Holotropic  Breathwork  and  LSD  Therapy

Some analysts long ago concluded that the underlying reason for promotion of the controversial Holotropic Breathwork (HB) was the fees involved. Stanislav Grof’s "therapy" emerged as a trademark device, early appearing with the logo of Holotropic Breathwork™, furthermore conducted under the auspices of Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. (Castro 1996:79ff). Such factors arouse strong reserve about the nature of these activities, which are not philanthropic.

Grof’s operation at Esalen was commercially geared. He wanted a substitute for LSD therapy when the danger drug became illegal. HB was improvised in the 1970s as a way out of the entrepreneurial dilemma. HB involves hyperventilation (abnormally increased speed and depth of breathing). HB also became one of the tools in the strategy of MAPS (Multidisciplinary Assn for Psychedelic Studies), founded by Grof disciple Rick Doblin in 1986. That Grof-related organisation has an underlying aim to spread the use of psychoactive drugs according to the Grof mandate, which connotes a psychedelic society.

HB practitioners endlessly repeated the mantras of Grofian Esalen. They so frequently asserted that critics do not understand the HB prowess in mysticism. An alternative angle is that the activities of HB partisans prove that they do not comprehend the obscured subject of mysticism, which they replaced with Grof theory and Grof commerce.

The influence of Dr. Stanislav Grof was (and is) total amongst HB practitioners, many of them having been trained by him. Some of them have stated that they do not rely upon psychoactive drugs, that HB is an independent subject. This is a contradiction, because the underlying ideology involved in HB is inseparably related to Grof’s LSD and MDMA therapies, as attested by the books of Grof.

An underground movement in LSD therapy was attested by the report of E. P. Curry, an American consumer health advocate (Shepherd 2005:17). MDMA therapy was strongly implied in this underground trend, closely associated with MAPS, founded by a well known disciple of Grof noted for his partiality to MDMA (Ecstasy), as dosed by Grof in the recreational activities of this sector. The underground movement was deduced to be percolating various alternative organisations in different countries, bodies which were typically evasive about such matters.

HB workshops have relied upon hyperventilation, evocative music, and strenuous bodywork. This situation produces unpredictable emotional states, often extreme. A more relaxed preference for lying on mats is deceptive, because hyperventilation can produce drawbacks in any bodily position. Continual delusions were fostered in clients by practitioners who claimed a healing process in HB. Some clients experienced euphoria, while others found difficulty in regaining equilibrium. Acute traumas and hallucinations could too easily occur, plus a variety of disruptive symptoms lingering long afterwards.

Some aftermath dysfunctions created by HB are mentioned in my Letter to BBC Radio (2006, booklet version, pp. 3, 5). These drawbacks were constantly camouflaged by Grofian propaganda. Misleading explanations were maintained via Grof’s fantastic theme of HB being a spiritual technique with an ancient shamanistic lineage (Shepherd, Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer, booklet version, p. 17). These beliefs were promoted by the Findhorn Foundation during the early 1990s, even while the many states of aftermath dysfunction were being witnessed by close observers in that sector. The gullible BBC ignored the observer data, preferring to portray the Foundation as a progressive wonder. A member of the BBC camera team militated against a critic (in my own home, an event which I am never likely to forget).

There were constant references to Grof’s theory of "spiritual emergency" by the Findhorn Foundation partisans of HB. Grof claimed to assist personal crises which he invariably deemed "spiritual." In actual fact, he continually created such crises by his recommendation of psychoactive drugs and hyperventilation.

The "spiritual emergencies" require a far more realistic description unsuspected by the indoctrinated HB practitioners at the Findhorn Foundation. These people imagined that the "spiritual technique" of HB was exercising constantly benevolent effects. In reality, a support group had to be created behind the scenes at the Foundation for victims of HB. Objectors to various casualties were ruthlessly suppressed (and even ejected). The theory of "spiritual emergency" is a drug-related fallacy promoted by people who facilely accept Grofian misconceptions.

See Holotropic Breathwork as Commercial Fantasy.

3.   Rick  Doblin

Rick Doblin founded MAPS in 1986, soon after becoming a practitioner of Holotropic Breathwork as a consequence of studying at Esalen with Stanislav Grof. Doblin was one of the first enthusiasts to be certificated by Grof in HB. Grof (with his wife Christina) conducted what were known as "certification training programmes" in HB. These programmes were not recognised by medical doctors, who duly pointed out the dangers of hyperventilation.

During the 1970s, the LSD experiences of Doblin caused him to drop out of college. In 2001, Doblin gained his Ph.D. in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His dissertation was entitled Regulation of the Medical Use of Psychedelics and Marijuana. His commitment is to alteration of drug law, meaning the laws criminalising the use of drugs he advocates. Doblin is not a medical doctor, as some parties are still liable to assume. The content of articles in his name has been contested by scientists (the articles nevertheless being listed on Wikipedia without comment).

Doblin has pursued the aim of gaining FDA approval for the use of MDMA, both as a prescription medicine and as a therapy. A partisan web feature informs:

His [Doblin's] professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise 'healthy' people, and to also become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist.

The MAPS President is noted for being a long term advocate of the "recreational and spiritual use of both LSD and Ecstasy[MDMA]" (Shepherd 2005:18). The recreational use of psychedelics is evidently high on the agenda. The underground LSD therapy could emerge from cover with disconcerting results, even if these are considered spiritual by practitioners.

4.   The  MAPS  Website

The MAPS website, in 2007, stated: "MAPS has been working since it was founded in 1986 to initiate research into the therapeutic use of MDMA." Critics have been observing for many years that MAPS is able to penetrate the defences of lax officialdom.

Founded by Rick Doblin, MAPS was based in California. In 2007, the MAPS website mentioned "a five year, five million dollar plan to develop MDMA into a prescription medicine for the treatment of PTSD." The abbreviation means post-traumatic stress disorder. This website also stated that MAPS had obtained approval for a study in Israel into the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, in subjects with war and terrorism-related PTSD. MAPS was also attempting to mount a similar project in Switzerland. A related MAPS project in Spain "was halted due to political pressure from the Spanish Anti-Drug Authority." MAPS had also funded the MDMA project in relation to cancer patients (a detail evocative of Grof’s early association with terminal cancer patients, an activity of LSD dosage which received strong criticism from some parties).

The underground movement in LSD therapy/recreation regarded the MDMA proposal as the bridge to legal availability of LSD. Many of the partisans involved in Grof trends lament the laws against psychoactive drugs as being "draconian." Their attitude has been considered influential in America and elsewhere. The MAPS website featured details of partisan concepts, including a description of four strategies which can be adopted by psychedelic supporters (Shepherd 2005::20–1). The four strategies are:

1)  the political legalisation debate.

2)  the underground strategy which ignores the law.

3)  the non-drug approach of HB.

4)  the MAPS strategy of gaining FDA-approved research with the aim of achieving prescription access to psychedelic drugs on the part of psychiatrists.

5.   Critical  Research

A non-psychedelic source gave relevant details about both Grof and the MAPS project in America. E. P. Curry, an American researcher, exposed the flaws in Grof’s early "research" with terminal cancer patients, whom Grof dosed with searingly painful intakes of LSD. One conclusion is that Grof should have been dismissed from his post (there is also a stronger verdict that he should have been jailed). Curry states that all Grof’s cancer patients were deceased within months; no due study of the long-term consequences of his "therapy" was undertaken (Curry 2002:86-87).

Grof boasted that he could convert a Jewish rabbi into a Zen Buddhist using his LSD dosages. This psychedelic conversion emphasis has aroused criticism, i.e., Grof had no concept of how Zen monks live and think, and himself was incapable of the traditional Zen ideal. Grof’s wife Joan Halifax experienced a "major nervous breakdown due to LSD usage while still married to him" (ibid:88). Nevertheless, Dr. Stanislav Grof emerged in Esalen circles as a countercultural hero with the reputation of being a great scientist. In 1978 he and the two Esalen founders (Michael Murphy and Richard Price) launched the International Transpersonal Association. This development gained the applause of many uncritical subscribers favouring alternative therapy and neo-Jungian mysticism.

Grof’s contribution basically amounted to Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. From this business activity extended his misleading books like Beyond the Brain (1985), which is based on LSD psychotherapy. His very controversial LSD Psychotherapy (1980) is a neo-Jungian extreme. His Spiritual Emergency (1989) is also viewed with strong reserve by critics, who emphasise that the theme does not amount to transformation, despite the misleading sub-title When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis.

One of the typical new age responses to commercial transpersonalism was that of Andrew Weil, an enthusiast of psychedelic drugs and Jung. At a 1990s conference in transpersonalism, Weil credited "the development of his own ‘natural mind’ to LSD," while informing that he "still occasionally uses LSD" (Curry 2002:89). Weil’s psychedelic orientation was approvingly broadcast on the MAPS website after being incorporated in the Bulletin of MAPS (1998), like other testimonies. In contrast, hard analysts find inconsistencies in the elevation of LSD by users of that hallucinogen.

6.    MDMA  Therapy

The non-drug expedient of Holotropic Breathwork (HB) sits easily alongside the other three favoured strategies of the psychedelic lobby. All four are strongly interlinked (section 7 above). HB is said to create some similar symptoms to drug experiences, or is interpreted in that light by Grof. HB was strongly implied in the MAPS programme to resuscitate MDMA therapy during the years 2001–2. Two HB practitioners were prominent in this programme.

One of these practitioners was Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a Grof-trained HB facilitator and assistant professor of psychiatry at a medical university in South Carolina. The proposal was to employ MDMA as a treatment for PTSD. However, Mithoefer’s university showed scruple, refusing to give sponsorship (Curry 2002:88). MAPS funded the resisted proposal and persuaded bureaucracy in Charleston to grant support. In Nov. 2001, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the radical proposal for research. Very few persons were aware of what was happening (outside MAPS). A group of American scientists then opposed the bureaucratic blunder in Charleston, knowing what was actually at stake in the struggle between Grofian and non-Grofian ideologies (Shepherd 2005:17–18).

As a consequence of MAPS ingenuity, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) succumbed to persuasion in July 2002, approving the MDMA proposal. Subsequently, intervention from non-Grofian academics caused a reshuffle. The IRB dramatically reversed their decision, now refusing support for the research proposal, which bore connotations of a hidden agenda to informed parties. Professors Lilienfeld and Sampson were very disturbed by the bureaucratic vulnerability, which did not exhibit much (or any) critical ability or knowledge of medical processes.

The consumer health advocate E. P. Curry was also involved in the opposition. He reported with alarm on the attitude of the American press, who were discovered to be in support of MAPS as a consequence of propaganda tactics mounted by the drugs lobby. Scientific rejection of the MAPS strategy was ignored by the media. "The drastic social consequences of this neglect should not need underlining to serious thinkers" (Shepherd 2005:19). Serious thinkers are increasingly scarce. Lax bureaucracy subsequently demonstrated the worst fears of critical spectators when another IRB approved the MAPS proposal in September 2003. The vote was reversed by media-influenced officials and Grof supporters in medical ranks.

MAPS state that a revised protocol for their proposal was approved by the FDA in June 2002. However, they had to pass through an Institutional Review Board (IRB), initially the Western IRB. In September 2002, the Western IRB rescinded their approval as stated above. This led to a vigorous attempt by MAPS for reinstatement. MAPS were again rebuffed in November 2002 by the alerted IRB. MAPS then began a search for "a more malleable IRB," according to the report by Curry dated December 2002. The Western IRB took due heed of a critical press release from Professors Scott Lilienfeld and Wallace Sampson that was ignored by the media. The critics emerged after the bungling FDA approval had been given. The press release from two distinguished scientific journal editors (Lilienfeld and Sampson) informed:

… the president of MAPS, Rick Doblin, is a long-time proponent of recreational and spiritual use of both LSD and Ecstasy. The protocol was developed in the Charleston, S. C. area with the assistance of MAPS. The proposed study subjects would be 20 victims of violent assault who have been given diagnoses of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. MDMA has recently received national attention because of research published in the journal Science, implicating MDMA in damage to dopamine receptors in mammalian brains.…

The editors found the (MAPS) research to be potentially dangerous and possibly in violation of human subjects research ethical standard. They also note that evidence for effectiveness that would justify such research was lacking.… the (MAPS) study itself is scientifically questionable at best and meaningless at worst, because the treatment will not be compared with a meaningful and properly blinded control group consisting of either no therapy or a comparison treatment of known effectiveness.…

MAPS President Doblin, whose organisation is funding the PTSD research, was first introduced to MDMA personally by Grof at Esalen in the early 1980s.…

Both therapists involved in the (MDMA proposal) research, principal investigator Dr. Michael Mithoefer, and his wife Ann Mithoefer a psychiatric nurse, are trained practitioners of Grof’s Holotropic Breathwork. The investigators’ background, although not bearing directly on the methodological quality of the study, raises troubling questions concerning the capacity of the investigators to conduct the research and to evaluate the data impartially without strong a priori allegiances. Drs. Sampson and Lilienfeld question how such an experiment was approved by the FDA and an IRB.

(Prometheus Press release dated 08/11/02, edited by E. P. Curry in consultation with the two experts of Stanford University and Emory University, Sampson being a Professor of Medicine and Scott Lilienfeld being a Professor of Psychology)

Professor Wallace Sampson, a senior M. D., was perturbed by the MAPS "research," which he identified as "the exclusive project of believers in psychedelic mysticism." He and Lilienfeld despaired over what the press made of the "research." Journalists had mistakenly associated this claim with medical research into MDMA, assuming that MAPS was a legitimate rival which might produce more evidence. The verdict of Sampson and Lilienfeld stated that the MAPS research proposal was "scientifically flawed and potentially dangerous."

Sampson and Lilienfeld were both editors of reputable journals specialising in scientific investigation of controversial and largely untested practices in alternative medicine. The critical article of E. Patrick Curry appeared in one of these journals (edited by Sampson). That contribution was amplified in correspondence with a British contact known to the present writer.

Curry’s appended revisions to his journal article state that the MDMA proposal did not specify the use of HB, "though there is nothing in a Grofian protocol that would necessarily preclude the use of HB." Curry added that the MDMA proposal was based upon Grof’s LSD psychotherapy. The identity of the two MAPS-funded researchers, as HB practitioners, served to strengthen the association of the MDMA project with HB.

These important considerations were ignored by the media and forgotten by bureaucrats. MAPS now poses as an educational body (deemed scientific by the drugs lobby) with a pressingly valid research proposal. The consequences have already confused many onlookers. The way was open for Grof’s former research colleague Richard Yensen to seek FDA approval to resume the LSD research of the 1960s. This was the tip of the iceberg. The Grofian drugs lobby were described as being saturated in the recreational use of illegal drugs, which goes somewhat further than the underground LSD therapy attested in some sources.

Curry drew attention to an online text, entitled The Secret Chief, relating to this underground movement. That text, containing a prologue by Grof, was available on the MAPS website. The underground activity involved "hundreds of illegal practitioners" (Curry 2002:89), an estimate which may be very conservative by now. The Secret Chief was authored by Myron Stolaroff and published by MAPS in 1997; this text glorifies the psychedelic "therapy" of an illegal practitioner. Informed commentators had no difficulty in decoding the underlying objectives of MAPS, which have long been reflected in the ideology of Rick Doblin, whose circles favour "recreational and spiritual use" of illegal drugs (see further Shepherd 2005:6–24, 125–6).

7.   Dosages  of  MDMA

MAPS have insisted that low dosages of MDMA are harmless in their programme. In contrast, Dr. Maartje M. de Win, a member of the Academic Medical Centre at the University of Amsterdam, warned of the danger to new MDMA users. The relevant research was made known in 2006.

The warning was based upon a relevant study specifically investigating the neurotoxic effects of low dosages of the recreational drug. There were discoveries of "decreased blood flow in some brain regions, suggesting prolonged effects from the drug, including some cell damage." A decrease in verbal memory performance was emphasised. There is a risk involved even in using small doses of Ecstasy (MDMA). These details were reported on the MAPS website, but contested by MAPS, with an invitation to consult the MAPS Psychedelic Bibliography. That bibliography is not everywhere considered authoritative.

MDMA is an illegal drug defined as both a stimulant and psychedelic. Research has long shown that long-term or heavy usage of MDMA can damage serotonin neurons and cause depression, anxiety, confusion, difficulty in sleeping, and decrease in memory. The low dosage probe of Dr. de Win used 188 volunteers. The results were announced at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in November 2006. Dr. de Win concluded: "Recreational use and prescription of Ecstasy as adjuvant in psychotherapy should be discouraged." A protest was expressed (11/12/2006) in a letter of Rick Doblin to Dr. de Win, filed at the MAPS website.

In 2004, a survey undertaken in America by the NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse), discovered that 450,000 Americans (aged 12 and over) had used Ecstasy in the past thirty days. Such large numbers were even then significant for the carefree approach to drug dangers. That indulgent and uninformed attitude was no doubt encouraged, at least to some extent, by influential writings of Stanislav Grof. His widely read The Adventure of Self-Discovery (1988) mixes drug experiences and HB theory.

Grof explicitly favoured MDMA (and MDA). His account of "visions," experienced during amphetamine indulgences, has contributed to public susceptibility. Cf. Shepherd 1995:99, criticising Grof’s intake of 200 milligrams of MDMA producing hallucinatory effects. "This description is supposed to prove that he [Grof] has transpersonally experienced the 'universal archetypes'." The neo-Jungian fantasy is not science. If more people knew of the (potential and actual) cost of such hallucinatory indulgences, then SUNY Press (one of Grof’s publishers) might have received a comeback in terms of legalities. The American alternative scene is too often one in which "psychotherapy" is elevated at the expense of consumer health.

8.   Wikipedia  Article  on  Holotropic Breathwork

The Wikipedia entry on Holotropic Breathwork (HB) proved revealing (accessed January 2007). The partisan version was supplemented by a critical extension that met with the typical attempts to re-edit, a procedure for which Wikipedia is well known. On the related discussion page, HB partisans demonstrated an ignorance of critical sources. They can be accused of a basic illiteracy in this respect, a feat attested by the anonymous editor who asserted that Kate Thomas was "reacting (to HB) in support of the technique of kundalini yoga" (edit dated 20/10/06). In actual fact, Thomas was totally in opposition to the technique of kundalini yoga, as her book on the subject attests to the more literate readerships (see Thomas, The Kundalini Phenomenon, Forres 2000).

Thomas was not one of the supposedly ubiquitous parties attempting to prop up the status quo or the medical profession, a standard (and very tiresome) refrain of HB exponents deriving from Esalen simplicities (alternative therapists are too often the worst specimens of scholarship in the entire academic and quasi-academic scene). The partisan HB editing of 20/10/06 does not mention the known fact that Thomas was a close observer of severe aftermath symptoms involved in many HB sessions occurring at Findhorn and Forres during 1989–93. Unless or until HB exponents become capably versed in the sources they misdescribe or dismiss, there is additional reason to reject their inappropriate claims.

The pseudonymous editor abovementioned was also unfamiliar with the critical report on HB written by Regius Professor Busuttil (of Edinburgh University). This document was described by the HB enthusiast as "reminiscent of the hysteria against the medical use of LSD in the 70s." There was no hysteria in Busuttil, either in his original report (of 1993) or in his later confirmations. HB partisans employ stock phrases deriving from the MAPS repertoire. There has been hysteria in many HB workshops, on the part of numerous victims. The "medical use of LSD" is discrepant in the Wikipedia quote, because Grof's activity was not in that category.

The anonymous editor (on the discussion page) also made the accusation that certain of my own comments, made in an Appendix about HB, invoke a "standard medical claim," which is not in fact true. That Appendix in Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One (pp. 945ff.) is an independent statement convergent with medical cautions while possessing additional accents, e.g., "various ancient cults probably worked the same kind of unbalancing magic" (ibid:946) as HB in relation to hallucination. HB partisans had evidently not read the Appendix specified; they were merely cribbing from the critical extension in the Wikipedia article.

There has never been any partisan HB acknowledgement of Grof critique in the introduction to Minds and Sociocultures. Criticism is anathema to Grof therapists. It is not sufficient to describe an opposing argument, using annotations, in Wikipedia slang terms of "setting a moralistic tone about cathartic techniques." That soporific idiom, of the anonymous HB partisan, again represents a standard emphasis of the drugs lobby, often interpreted as an excuse not to read the books being rejected by the contemporary exploiters in catharsis.

Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. was contrived in the acutely permissive atmosphere of the Esalen Institute in California, where affluent drug users did more or less what they wanted. In this psychedelic bastion, MAPS President Rick Doblin was introduced to MDMA (Ecstasy) by Grof in the early 1980s. MDMA soon after became illegal, leaving HB as a means of continued income for Grof therapists.

The partisan HB argument, that critics of HB are always trying to devalue mystical experience, is a convenient myth for Grof doctrine and slang idiom. The Esalen pretensions to mysticism were rejuvenated at the Findhorn Foundation, which took many cues from the commercial programme of Esalen. The HB critic Kate Thomas was an exponent of a very different form of mysticism. She was segregated as a threat by the Findhorn Foundation therapy corps led by Craig Gibsone, a convert to Grof doctrine and a practitioner of HB who unleashed that intemperate exercise (causing many casualties) upon the Foundation community. HB was the underlying cause of the process resulting in the attempt of Findhorn Foundation staff to place a legal interdict upon the (mystical) autobiography of Thomas in 1992, as is recorded in a relevant book (Castro 1996:15–16).

The suppression of Thomas continued in other forms equally dogmatic and evasive. This matter is accentuated by the fact of Grof’s earlier personal involvement in promotion of HB at the Findhorn Foundation. In 1990, Grof failed to reply to a letter of Thomas duly complaining about problems evident in HB (Thomas 1992:938–9). Real and drastic emergencies had occurred for victims of HB that were glossed by HB practitioners like Gibsone, who used clone jargon acquired from Grof. The failure of Grof to reply to Thomas (even while he was staying in the local Findhorn area at Minton House) occurred during a phase in which Grof himself conducted supposedly expert workshops in HB at the Findhorn Foundation. The admiring Gibsone was another of the great disciples like Doblin and Bache. Close analysts know what to expect in cases of "spiritual emergency," a flippant theme of Grof Transpersonal Training Inc.

The HB therapy commerce, together with related trends, comprised a milieu of fantasy, fees, sensation, and uncritically received Grof doctrine. There is at present no reason to believe that HB exponents will improve upon their current standard of critical assimilation by the year 2100.

The partisan HB editor Jablett (Wikipedia 01/11/06 edit) invoked the MAPS website for information on the MDMA protocol (launched by MAPS), while informing that HB was included in the proposal denoted. MAPS are noted for a persistent attempt to award MDMA (Ecstasy) the status of a research drug in relation to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Wikipedia partisan entry on HB did not at first provide sources until countered by the critical extension. The sources then proffered were all in the Grofian domain. Medical convention was stigmatised in an accusing response to the critical extension. The partisan HB editor Jablett subsequently resorted to copying the example of Gerald Joe Moreno, a supporter of the Sathya Sai Baba Organisation, in voting that reference to myself should be removed (21/11/06 edit, HB discussion page). A parallel with the Sathya Sai Baba cult is relevant for the Grof HB cult (especially as the latter here referred with evident approval to the Moreno cordon against myself which had recently appeared on Wikipedia). Cults feel the need to censor writers who are in disagreement. See Wikipedia Issues and Wikipedia, Moreno, Google.

This situation was so suspicious that the countering editor Jedermann stated: "Serious concerns about safety, efficacy, competence to practice, and commercial interests have been raised, and should remain till disproven. Interesting that (HB) proponents offer no evidence to counter the concerns, but just remove caveats and criticism. And now they are so desperate they are trying to personalise the issue, instead of debating the evidence" (23/11/06 edit).

Jablett also enlisted the support of an entity who called himself Minehunter. This HB partisan mistakenly believed that author Stephen Castro was the communicator in the critical extension. Minehunter even publicly addressed "Steve Castro, aka The Communicator," exhorting him in an accusing vein with such loaded phrases as: "make sure your material is relevant" and "be cautious about excessive citation of your own work" (21/11/06). Castro had nothing to do with the Wikipedia entry, and was unaware for some weeks that he had been cited in the critical extension. Unlike some of the internet presences, Castro had full time employment with the Inland Revenue in Britain. He first heard of the minehunt ten days after he had been addressed as the communicator.

Meanwhile, the real communicator had to patiently inform Minehunter that a mistaken identity had occurred. The real communicator was a researcher in Australia who possessed a master’s degree in philosophy; this academic furthermore had a valid link with the HB issue via his correspondence in 1994–5 with medical authorities (including Regius Prof. Busuttil) and the Scottish Charities Office. The assumption of Minehunter was disproven (The Communicator was Simon Kidd, as that academic subsequently revealed; see his own report of the Wikipedia episodes).

In the view of many assessors, the HB contingent here demonstrated their role as internet yobs via their tactics on Wikipedia. They became identified as a backward trend converging with the apologetics of the Sathya Sai Baba Organisation. The flaws in some Wikipedia presentations are extensive to say the least, frequently confusing readers who fail to develop a critical acumen.

9.   MAPS  and  Royal  College  of  Psychiatrists  (RCP)

The exponents of Holotropic Breathwork (HB) constantly demonstrated a total ignorance of events occurring in various locales such as Findhorn and Charleston, events which are documented elsewhere, in sources not favoured by HB enthusiasts. MDMA was the favoured tool of MAPS, an organisation intent upon bypassing legal constraints (Shepherd 2005:19ff). The MAPS founder was an early enthusiast of HB; indeed, Rick Doblin was one of the first to be certified in HB by his tutor Stanislav Grof.

An article in a psychiatry journal sanctioned MAPS for summarising experimentation with drugs like psilocybin, treating at face value the talk about Grof-related projects such as "MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder." This is a favoured theme of MAPS, who instigated a notorious event in Charleston when two HB practitioners were funded by MAPS to reintroduce untested MDMA therapy. Scientists subsequently opposed the MAPS strategy (ibid:17–18).

The psychiatry journal fails to mention any of the details. Instead, the deceptive article dwells upon a related MAPS theme about psychedelics reappearing in psychiatry. See B. Sessa, "Can psychedelics have a role in psychiatry again?", British Jnl of Psychiatry (2005), 186, 457–8. The MAPS infiltration of psychiatry was here proceeding according to the Grofian plan. The public can no longer trust the sector under discussion, in case the psychiatrist transpires to be dosing psychoactive drugs instead of due prescriptions.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) gained the repute of being a danger spot in contemporary psychology, becoming noted for an extremist wing associated with such trends as regression therapy. This branch was responsible for entertaining, on the RCP website, a misleading paper about Grof’s "spiritual emergency" theory. This development is associated with Dr. Andrew Powell, a member of the SMN (Scientific and Medical Network) and founder of the RCP branch that became controversial.

The RCP extremists became known as the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group. In 2005, they hosted talks like that given by an HB practitioner who referred glowingly to Grof and related concepts, including the "inner healer." There was no accompanying critical data about Grof’s very controversial activities, or the many flaws in his doctrines. See N. Crowley, "Holotropic Breathwork™ – healing through a non-ordinary state of consciousness" (2005), using Grof’s diagram of the perinatal matrices, while informing that the author had enrolled in the Grof Transpersonal Training Program in HB. The Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Section of the Royal Society of Medicine were also part of the gullible audience. Cf. Shepherd 2005:6ff.

The so-called "progressive" psychiatric sector may be held responsible for failure to diagnose social afflictions and public hazard. The "inner healer" is often credited with the most unlikely achievements in a manner evading any proof. The subject is related to "channelling" lunacies, in which virtually anything goes, except science, logic, and sanity.

10.   Scientific  and  Medical  Network  (SMN)

The American "alternative" scene has for long been strongly impregnated with Grof theory, overspilling into British new age sectors. A major focus here is the so-called Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), catering for a large subscriber base of alternative therapists and related categories. The key SMN figure, David Lorimer, is not known as an HB or LSD exponent. However, his partiality for promoting Stanislav Grof was indication enough of SMN tastes and proclivities.

In 1995, the SMN booked Grof to appear in a seminar at St. John's College, Cambridge. This SMN event was conducted in collaboration with the Institute of Noetic Sciences, a pro-Grof organisation in America. David Lorimer was here sponsoring an alternative therapist whose books promoted the use of LSD and MDMA, both of these being illegal drugs during the 1990s. Cambridge was now a focus for the pro-drugs lobby (Economic Strategy of David Lorimer).

The following decade, the SMN website featured for six years a misleading paper by Christopher Bache, a professor of religion and a disciple of Grof, who explicitly recommended LSD therapy in his book Dark Night, Early Dawn (2000). Holotropic Breathwork is is also closely identified with that book as an ingredient of Bache’s practice (which caused some severe discomforts). The SMN website failed to incorporate the contesting articles by Kate Thomas, which likewise appeared in the SMN magazine (the suppressed argument is included at Against Grof Therapy).

The SMN policy created a strong dispute. Bache is both a hero and supporter of MAPS. He stated that he does not "encourage the hit-or-miss, open-and-close methods of workshop spirituality" (Bache, "Sacred Medicine," Network, Spring 2004, 84:23). The theme of "workshop spirituality" is a misnomer for commercial operations involving fantasy and miseducation for gullible clients. Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. amounts to an epic of misinformation, very much a part of the workshop vogue associated with Esalen, whether or not Bache is an isolationist. Bache is certainly very explicit in his partisan description of experiences in LSD therapy and HB, a narration which is partner to the workshop sensations and delusions spread by Grof theories such as the "perinatal matrices" and "spiritual emergency."

The controversial Bache article, dating to 2003, remained on public view at the SMN website for six years until 2010, despite complaints expressed elsewhere. The SMN are considered an alternative grouping by conventional scientists and medics. See also Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer. In 2011, Lorimer elevated the doctrines of Jung and Grof over and above the content of conventional psychology tuition. Archetypes and psychedelic drugs have confused large numbers of people.


11.   Influence  of  Grof  at  the  Findhorn  Foundation

The Holotropic Breathwork (HB) entry on Wikipedia proved revealing. Even one of the HB supporters, calling himself MAJ, described the original partisan entry as an HB advert, while justifying his substitution of a revised entry, criticisms included. This suspect pseudonymous tactic met with due reaction from a critic (Simon Kidd), who disputed the neutrality of both the MAJ version and the original partisan entry (discussion page, 01/01/2007).

MAJ described himself as an HB practitioner who had gained personal contact with Grof. Amongst other matters, MAJ stated that he was present during the visit of Grof to the Findhorn Foundation in the early 1990s. He supplied a very incomplete version of why the Findhorn Foundation withdrew further invitations to Grof. No mention is made of the SCO or Edinburgh University, which were off the map in HB lore. Grof partisanship could not get to grips with realistic details of dissidents, eyewitnesses, victims, and official correspondence relating to HB. Instead MAJ declared that the reason for Grof’s disappearance was "the continuing precarious relationship [of the Findhorn Foundation] with the local Findhorn population." The major disputants of HB actually lived in Forres and Edinburgh.

The real reason for Grof’s disappearance at Findhorn was the converging unison of the SCO (Scottish Charities Office), Edinburgh University, dissident reports, complaints of victims, and complaints of a local medic (living in Forres). Plus the Findhorn Foundation fear of possible legalities ensuing in a fraught situation, over which Grof had no control whatsoever in his unconvincing assurances about the "safety" of HB.

Grof failed to reply to a pressing letter sent to him, by dissident Kate Thomas, in the early stages of this memorable episode. HB lore failed miserably to catch up with the facts. The partisan HB entry on Wikipedia continued to contract the scope of criticism before being terminated by resisting editors.

Kevin  R. D. Shepherd

January  2007 (modified 2020)



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--- "Is the Sacred Medicine Path a Legitimate Spiritual Path?" Network: The Scientific and Medical Network Review (April 2003) 81:19-22.

Castro, Stephen J., “New Age Therapy – higher consciousness or delusion?” The Therapist, 1995, 2(4):14–16 (featured on this website).

Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation (Forres: New Media Books, 1996), chapter six.

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— ed., Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis (Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, 1989).

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--- “The Potential Dangers of Using MDMA for Psychotherapy,” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (2014b) 46(1):37-43.

--- “Why all stimulant drugs are damaging to recreational users; an empirical overview and psychobiological explanation,” Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental (2015) 30:213-224.

Parrott, Andrew C., Talitha Ford, Amie Hayley, Luke A. Downey, “Cannabis: An Overview of its Adverse Acute and Chronic Effects and their Implications,” Current Drug Abuse Reviews (2017) 10(1):6-18.

Parrott, Andrew C., and Jessica Mead, “Mephedrone and MDMA: A Comparative Review,” Brain Research (May 2020) 1735, article 146740.

Shepherd, Kevin R. D., Meaning in Anthropos (Cambridge: Anthropographia, 1991), introduction.

Minds and Sociocultures Vol. One (Cambridge: Philosophical Press, 1995), introduction 1.7, pp. 61-84, and Appendix 5 “On Holotropic Breathwork,” pp. 945ff.

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Thomas, Kate, The Destiny Challenge (Forres: New Frequency Press, 1992), chapter 14.

— “Transpersonal Experiences – a Need for Re-evaluation?” Network: The Scientific and Medical Network Review (April 2003) 81:15–18.

Copyright © 2020 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved. Page uploaded August 2007, last modified December 2020.