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Publishers WeeklyIn 1955, psychiatrist Grof (The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death), then a Czech medical student, began studying the effects of LSD on human subjects (including himself) in pioneering experiments focused on schizophrenia symptoms. Over time, Grof's interest shifted to diagnostic and therapeutic use of psychedelics, in part because of his first visit to the U.S. (where he now lives) in 1965, when "the American psychedelic movement was profoundly influencing contemporary culture." First published in 1975, this book foresees the psychedelic experience causing a "radical revision of the current scientific worldview" comparable to the 20th century "conceptual cataclysm" in Newtonian physics-a view Grof appears to hold still. Though the LSD experience can encompass virtually "any perceptual, emotional or psychosomatic manifestations," and varies wildly among individuals and individual trips, Grof finds subjects' reported experience entirely credible, and indicative of complex mental processes at work: some subjects relive childhood and "perinatal" experiences, some "regress" to previous lives and non-human life forms. Whether or not one accepts his case studies at face value, Grof's engrossing state-of-the-science overview argues convincingly that continued LSD research will help patients, parents, policymakers and even spiritual seekers.
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