Dr. Grof’s consciousness research over the last five decades has shown that the deepest roots of trauma often lie in experiences from birth or in events from human history that have not yet been resolved and are still active in the collective unconscious. This unresolved personal or collective history then expresses through an individual or group that has some connection to the earlier events. Traditional therapeutic approaches which focus only on events in the personal biography or tranquilizing medications do not access or heal these deeper wounds in the human psyche.
From a more general perspective, Dr. Grof examines the broad problems of violence and greed in society and finds that the widespread fear and aggression between individuals and groups may also originate in large part from the unconscious acting-out of unresolved historical traumas from the collective unconscious.
The message of Dr. Grof and this book is, however, a hopeful one: there are approaches to therapy which utilize a specific non-ordinary state of consciousness which enables individuals, with support, to access and heal these deeper levels of trauma from the personal and collective unconscious. He has named this state of consciousness Holotropic, a composite word which means “oriented toward wholeness” or “moving in the direction of wholeness” (from the Greek holos = whole and trepo, trepein = moving toward or in the direction of something).
Dr. Grof describes various approaches to achieving this Holotropic state and using it for healing, with his focus on Holotropic Breathwork, which he developed with his partner Christina, and psychedelic therapy, which he pioneered in the 1950s and which is now experiencing a renaissance of clinical research for treatment of addictions and PTSD.