A brilliant and brave investigation into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugsand the spellbinding story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences
When Michael Pollan set out to research how LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) are being used to provide relief to people suffering from difficult-to-treat conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety, he did not intend to write what is undoubtedly his most personal book. But upon discovering how these remarkable substances are improving the lives not only of the mentally ill but also of healthy people coming to grips with the challenges of everyday life, he decided to explore the landscape of the mind in the first person as well as the third. Thus began a singular adventure into various altered states of consciousness, along with a dive deep into both the latest brain science and the thriving underground community of psychedelic therapists. Pollan sifts the historical record to separate the truth about these mysterious drugs from the myths that have surrounded them since the 1960s, when a handful of psychedelic evangelists inadvertently catalyzed a powerful backlash against what was then a promising field of research.
A unique and elegant blend of science, memoir, travel writing, history, and medicine, How to Change Your Mind is a triumph of participatory journalism. By turns dazzling and edifying, it is the gripping account of a journey to an exciting and unexpected new frontier in our understanding of the mind, the self, and our place in the world. The true subject of Pollan's "mental travelogue" is not just psychedelic drugs but also the eternal puzzle of human consciousness and how, in a world that offers us both suffering and joy, we can do our best to be fully present and find meaning in our lives.
Michael Pollan is the author of seven previous books, including Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to the New York Times Magazine, he also teaches writing at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, TIME magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.
San Francisco Bay Area, California
Date of Birth:
February 6, 1955
Place of Birth:
Long Island, New York
Bennington College, Oxford University, and Columbia University
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence 5 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
This is a challenging book, both for Pollen to write and for average people to read.
If you lived during the "60s", you have ideas of what psychedelics are: how they act, what they do to the user, what type of person uses them.
If you read this book, you will find out that your ideas are not totally accurate.
There is a history of these "medicines" being used for reasons other than "dropping out". They have been investigated for their healing properties for years.
They have also been used (psilocybin in particular) by people for thousands of years.
Pollan has given us much to explore and consider.
More than 1 year ago
Absolutely excellent book. An in-depth exploration of the subject from all angles that doesn't shy away from strange or unconventional conclusions. Thoroughly honest and open-minded, Pollan does the subject the justice it deserves. It's also written in such a way as to be engaging, informative, and entertaining to both psychedelic veterans and curious newcomers.
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
What a fantastic book! Pollan undertook this at the age of 60, which I find fascinating. Though he grew up during a time when these substances were plentiful and not nearly as scary as people find them today, he does a good job pointing to actual research and practical uses other than "Turn on, tune in, and drop out" doctrine of Leary. He makes a solid case for enthogenic uses and therapeutic uses without giving them a "Let's all have fun at Burning Man" kind of vibe. Having grown up in the 90s when MDMA, Psilocybin, and LSD were everywhere, I find this refreshing. It seems everyone is on one side or the other of this issue: "These drugs are bad and will definitely kill you!" which is as ludicrous to me as "These drugs are totally harmless and actually good for you!". Check out his work tracing back to the dawn of LSD as the years wear on and the War on Drugs strangles use of virtually all psychedelics to his own research and checking with his doctor before deciding to take on three journeys of his own- AT SIXTY YEARS OLD. While much of the book focuses on spiritual growth, it's important to understand that Pollan isn't a spiritual man, by his own admission. Take it for what you will, it's a solid read from a solid author.
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