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psychoanalysts

Grof on LSD Therapy 6

From “Effective Therapeutic Mechanisms of LSD Therapy” in LSD Psychotherapy (1980):

LSD can greatly intensify the therapeutic mechanisms of traditional psychotherapy. “Freudian psychoanalysis is of great help while the LSD sessions concentrate on the biographical level” (294). For example “emotional responses of the subject are dramatically enhanced” which allows “powerful abreaction and catharsis” (276). “Repressed unconscious material, including early childhood memories, becomes easily available” (276). “Suggestibility is usually markedly enhanced” (277). “The transference relationship is typically intensified” and “the transference nature of the phenomena becomes obvious to both the patient and the therapist” (276).


But we need to appeal to Rank and Jung as well if we are going to understand the therapeutic effects of transpersonal experiences. “The problem whether the emphasis in LSD psychotherpay should be on reliving conflicts and traumatic memories or on achieving transcendental experiences has been one of the most controversial issues between psycholytic and psychedelic therapists” (279). Grof calls for both, as they are “mutually interrelated in a dialectic fashion” (279). As a result of LSD therapy the dynamics which govern the psyche may undergo “transmodulation” in which, at times, “the patient moves into a completely different diagnostic category” (278). This involves “dramatic shifts of focus” for the patient (278). Grof suggests that LSD psychodrama therapy may permit an “archetypal remedy,” so that a crucifix might be used therapeutically on a patient who believes themselves to be possessed by the devil (293).

We might wonder if Grof doesn’t idealize the ego because “the ultimate goal of the treatment” is supposed to be “work on the barrier that separates him or her from the Self,” but surely Grof’s promotion of ego death therapy would qualify such a claim (279). Grof insists on “the powerful healing potential of the death-rebirth process” (279). “Experiential sequences of dying and being born can result in dramatic alleviation of a variety of emotional and psychosomatic problems” (279). Patients taught Grof that “suicidal tendencies had actually been unrecognized cravings for the ego death and transcendence” (280). “The experience of psychological death tends to eliminate or greatly reduce suicidal tendencies and ideation” (280). When experiencing a rebirth process, we should understand that we are talking about a corrective ego rebirth, “the experiential content of the perinatal matrices cannot be reduced to the memory of biological birth” (282).

By enhancing the effectiveness of psychodramatic therapy, LSD facilitates “corrective emotional experiences” if the therapist can remain consistently supportive (276). “It is a well-established fact of developmental psychology that the blissful egoless states a child experiences during the early period of its life are very important for his or her future emotional development, stability, and mental health” (282). The LSD experience “can thus be seen as a retroactive intervention in the individual’s history and an anachronistic satisfaction of basic infantile needs” (282). For example Grof considers it a therapeutic success if homosexuals leave therapy “with less guilt” about their sexuality (293).
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