Stanislav Grof (born July 1, 1931 in Prague, Czechoslovakia) is one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a pioneering researcher into the use of altered states of consciousness for purposes of healing, growth, and insight. Grof received the VISION 97 award granted by the Foundation of Dagmar and Vaclav Havel in Prague on October 5, 2007.
Grof is known in particular for his early studies of LSD and its effects on the psyche—the field of psychedelic psychotherapy. He constructed a theoretical framework for pre- and perinatal psychology and transpersonal psychology in which LSD trips and other powerfully emotional experiences were mapped onto one's early fetal and neonatal experiences. Over time, this theory developed into an in-depth "cartography" of the deep human psyche. Following the legal suppression of LSD use in the late 1960s, Grof went on to discover that many of these states of mind could be explored without drugs and instead by using certain breathing techniques in a supportive environment. He continues this work today under the title "Holotropic Breathwork".
Grof received his M.D. from Charles University in Prague in 1957, and then completed his Ph.D. in Medicine at the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences in 1965, training as a Freudian psychoanalyst at this time. In 1967, he was invited as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, United States, and went on to become Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center where he worked with Walter Pahnke and Bill Richards among others. In 1973, Dr. Grof was invited to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, and lived there until 1987 as a scholar-in-residence, developing his ideas.