Wendy Kline, Ph.D, is the Dema G. Seelye Chair in the History of Medicine in the Department of History at Purdue University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, in 1998. She is the author of several articles and two books: Bodies of Knowledge: Sexuality, Reproduction, and Women’s Health in the Second Wave (University of Chicago Press, 2010) and Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom (University of California Press, 2001). Her third book, on countercultural medicine and women’s health, is under contract with Oxford University Press. She just recently published an article on countercultural midwives in Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture with University of Chicago Press
TITLE: Communicating a New Consciousness: Countercultural Medicine, Transpersonal Psychology, and the Home Birth Movement in the 1970s
This paper draws on the records of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center LSD Training Program Study and the papers of psychiatrist Stan Grof to analyze the unusual but fruitful relationship between countercultural home birth midwives and doctors studying transpersonal psychology. In particular, I investigate the development and use of Stan Grof’s BPM (Basic Perinatal Matrices), used to describe the “peak” experience of LSD, with the stages of birth. Grof worked closely with home birth midwives in the Bay Area of California in the development of his theory, and in turn, the midwives applied his theory to the structure of birth. In this way, the two seemingly disparate groups – midwives and psychedelic researchers – further legitimized the scientific and spiritual components of altered states of consciousness – whether through psychedelics or giving birth.