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A Retrospective Commentary on the Consciousness Mapping of John C. Gowan Part I

Iona Miller


We can hark back for more than nostaligia to the classic chronicles of the psychedelic revolution. In 1974, creativity expert John C. Gowan published “Development of the Psychedelic Individual: A Psychological Analysis of the Psychedelic State and Its attendant Psychic Powers.” Gowan extracts the philosophical gold from such X-Events or "extreme events". This article is not about drug-induced psychedelia, but about the natural psychedelic state of consciousness, as accessed through the process of self-actualization.  Gowan's orientation is summarized, including his concepts of escalation and developmental dysplasia, and the creation of the Northridge Developmental Scale, a test for self-actualization.  Gowan's work and taxonomies remain useful to the transdisciplinary community, including the fields of parapsychology, paranthropology, consciousness studies, psychotherapeutics, neurobiology, psychology of religion, neurotheology, child development, and more. In developing creative talent, imagery is more fluid and malleable to processing than language. He collates research from several then-new fields and provides valuable bibliographies of foundational works.  While not widely known and applied, Gowan's work remains a vital resource, deserving curation within the literature of all sciences researching psi, nonordinary, and exceptional experiences (anomalous, transpersonal; neither or both). Gowan's work is invaluable for navigating the universe of meanings. Symbols are the currency of consciousness. They open the way for "ultraculture", wherein we become conscious co-creators of reality.

Part I of this article contains: A Prospective Retrospective; Gowan’s Orientation; The Psychedelic Stage in Experiential Therapy; and The Tree of Life: An Ancient Model of Escalation.

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ISSN: 2153-8212