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LSD, Stan Grof, and The Myth of the Bad Trip
January 31 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
In the 1960s the idea of the bad trip or bummer joined the lexicon with the spreading use of LSD. The spectre of the bad trip keeps many people from the deeper exploration of the psychedelic, and people may spend a lot of energy to avoid the possibility of a bad trip. It is my contention that there is no such thing as a bad trip. I am not saying that LSD and psychedelic experiences cannot be hellish and terrifying–many of the most valuable experiences are.
What is needed is the framework to hold such experiences. The work of Dr. Stanislav Grof regarding unconsciously held trauma is essential in the integration of such difficult experiences.
During a psychedelic experience , deeply held trauma may surface. If you have no idea of the nature of such an experience it can be overwhelmingly frightening and painful, and this is what has led to the idea of the bad trip. While I am not saying that everyone has unconsciously held trauma, it is very common in this culture. And if you are going to work deeply with psychedelics, it is prudent to arm yourself with knowledge regarding what can happen during a trip. You will be much more able to turn a difficult experience into a valuable experience, instead of rejecting the unconscious material and making it wrong. You may also change your idea idea of set-and-setting, from having a “good time”, to seeing set-and-setting as creating a space where it is safe to have whatever experience you need to have no matter how difficult.
Kara is the founder of Vancouver’s Psychedelic Shamanism meetup group, the first psychedelic meetup group in the greater Portland area. She is an electrical engineer by trade and by day a very rational, Western and scientific individual. In 1987, via the experience of MDMA, she discovered that she was profoundly traumatized coming from an alcoholic and violent household. In 1988 she discovered the work of Stanislav Grof and began the process of trauma integration via LSD and also LSA, in the form of Morning Glory seeds. She has seen that everything serves more than one master, and what began as a process to utilize a psychological healing tool, has also become a profound introduction to a spiritual path.