How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

by Michael Pollan

Paperback, 2019

Publication

Penguin Books (2019), Edition: Reprint, 480 pages

Description

When Michael Pollan set out to research how LSD and psilocybin 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 the experience of 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 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 struggle and beauty, we can do our best to be fully present and find meaning in our lives.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member DavidWineberg
Michael Pollan’s Brain – on Drugs

Neither LSD nor magic mushrooms harm you. They are not addictive, toxic, debilitating or destructive. They cause no illness and have no side effects. They seem to unlock receptors in the brain, causing mashups and unexpected connections (and therefore
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perceptions). They dissolve the ego by restricting blood flow to the Default Mode Network of the brain, which can cause users to lose the border between their persona/self/ego and everything else (eg. the universe).

They do not take over (unless you allow it). You can manipulate your bad trip as well as your good trip if you so desire. You can switch from love to hate, you can send demons away, and explore more of what you are appreciating. It’s something like directing your dreams, except you will remember everything, and it will change your outlook. Possibly for life.

Michael Pollan has done the research and tried four different psychedelics, always under the administration of guides, either underground/outlaws or in labs. They were psilocybin (mushroom), LSD (artificial chemical compound), DMT (the venom of the Sonoran toad), and ayahuasca (Brazilian plant compound). How to Change Your Mind is an exploration of the experience and the potential of these chemicals. From what Pollan has seen, it is all very positive. And he is not alone. Engineers, doctors and other researchers all seem to have one thing in common: once they’ve tried psychedelics themselves, they want absolutely everyone to try them too. No other drug has that rep.

The mind-expanding powers of psychedelics is a function of the infinite connections the brain goes through when its receptors are unlocked and the Default Mode Network (DMN) powers down. The DMN runs the core brain and defines the ego/conscious/persona. It fights to keep control and sends corrective signals to reinforce what it has learned over its lifetime, to the point of denying/correcting what you see in front of you.

We spend our lives specializing, becoming more expert in an ever-decreasing number of subjects. To the DMN, anything that diverts from that is irrelevant and a waste. The ego actively suppresses them. So we lose our childlike appreciation of most everything. We also become set in our ways and our perceptions.

By opening up to all the possibilities at once, users flood themselves with new appreciations and insights – to plants, animals, the planet, the stars, music – anything that pops into their minds during their trip. Instead of all inputs being directed to their appropriate receptors, it is possible for music to have shape and color, for rocks to become animated, for objects to melt into the scenery. And for the now borderless, bodiless self to merge with nature (“I was swimming in the ocean. I was the ocean” for example). Suddenly, absolutely everything is possible.

For all the dozens of trips Pollan describes, the most common change is being one with nature or the universe (for some it is seeing God). No one seems to have incredible sex or become fabulously wealthy. It’s not about peace on Earth, but merging with and appreciating the facets of the universe. And as Pollan found, “You bring a different self to the journey every time.” Perhaps disappointingly, he says, the most common takeaway from psychedelic trips is that love is everything. Trite, but that by itself seems to change everyone who tries them.

When directed by guides, psychedelics help the dying be relieved and appreciate their position and role in the universe. (Aldous Huxley had his wife inject him with one final dose of LSD on his deathbed.) It has stopped people from smoking because smoking is so superficial and irrelevant. It can reverse depression and anxiety. And it’s all quite illegal, thanks in large part to Timothy Leary.

There is a long tale of Timothy Leary in all this. He is reviled by the community for making such loud and obnoxious noises that all such compounds became illegal and research all but completely halted. Leary set back the discipline by decades, though at the same time, he made it known to the world. His gleefully unscientific approach (Tune in, turn on, drop out) remains a horror to medicine to this day. They’re still trying to live down that reputation.

Pollan is not the most economical of writers. The book could have been a hundred pages shorter and still imparted the same information. There is a lot of description, history, speculation and self-questioning that becomes a little tiresome. It often reads like an infomercial, with endless testimonials from satisfied customers – including Pollan – that on television would be followed by an 800 number. But the information he delivers is valuable. He dispels myths, corrects wrong impressions and sets the record straight.

The science of the brain is fascinating. We are still just cracking the code. Importantly, Pollan shows how seriously beneficial such compounds can be, and how seriously research scientists take them. There is a huge future for psychedelics in medicine. How to Change Your Mind tackles the small-mindedness (in every sense of the term) and beats it up pretty good.

David Wineberg
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LibraryThing member nog
Before I express my thoughts on this book, I should mention my own familiarity with psychedelics. I first became curious about them in my early teens, listening to many of the acid rock bands of the era, most of whom were based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I suppose my marijuana use in high
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school prepared me somewhat for the full-blown psychedelic experience, if only because it made me aware of a political system that would tell outrageous lies about marijuana in its attempt to discourage its use. My first experience with LSD at age 21 was not only a spiritual one, but it completely cured the mild form of depression I was having at the time and revealed its causes, mostly centered around a somewhat unhappy childhood lacking in parental love. I experimented with LSD, psiiocybin, and mescaline over the course of about six years. After my first trip, I started to read Eastern philosophy (mostly Taoism and Buddhism) as well as books by Aldous Huxley Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, and Alan Watts, which helped me to understand an alternative world view to that of rigid rationalism of the Western tradition — a direction that many LSD veterans have taken. I also read up on the pharmacology in the college library. Using these texts as a guide, I continued the use of psychedelics until I felt that I had learned everything I needed to — about 45 experiences in all. Did I experience any lasting negative psychological or physical effects during or after my use? No. This alternative education in no way interfered with my ability to earn a math degree from Stanford.

In his preface, Pollan asserts that a psychedelic should only be administered to a mature adult, one has had some real life experience (this sentiment is later repeated by a psychotherapist). I couldn’t disagree more. Many of the negative aspects of socialization that children experience and internalize is a problem here in the United States, and both Huxley and Watts describe these harmful forms of control as something that need to be undone (see “The Island” and “The Book”, for instance). For one thing, they engender an unhealthy view of nature. Then there are experiences that children have growing up in a family where all sorts of dysfunctional behavior can take place — damage that might seem permanent. Are they really suppose to wait decades to have an experience that will hopefully undo a lot of psychological damage? Or are they to spend money on therapists instead? I feel that the forms of psychological control over the individual have become so pervasive and damaging in the 21st century that it is no wonder that millions of people are taking antidepressants. It is important to keep in mind the vested interests; back in the 60’s, the power structures of government, medicine, and business saw a threat in a young generation ingesting substances that might result in them challenging our institutions and that might have economic consequences when an enlightened generation rejected mindless consumerism and unfettered capitalism.

Note that little or no research on psychedelics was done during the Republican administrations of Reagan and Bush 41. The book does not make clear the antagonism that those governments had for illegal drug use and psychedelics research. Despite the fact that the “war on drugs” started in 1971 with Nixon, subsequent Republican administrations saw an increase in prison populations due to severe penalties for possession. (The Carter administration had tried to decriminalize marijuana but faced stiff Republican opposition.). Instead of working on the social problems of the underclass, the idea was to incarcerate them. As the book describes, little or no psychedelic research was possible between 1977 and 1999 (Bill Clinton continued the drug war policies).

Obviously, that matters if you are trying to understand the historical attitudes toward drugs, and the resulting two decades of lost time for researchers. Pollan (deliberately, I conclude — after all, you want to sell as many books as possible) avoids talking about the politics of drug policy. There is no mention of Reagan, for instance, in the entire book. And he glosses over the fact that the government paid people in the medical community to concoct stories about damaging effects of psychedelics
(both psychological and physical) which were designed to instill the fear of chromosome damage —there’ll be deformed babies!

For some reason, Pollan often excludes dosage information for the many studies he otherwise describes in detail (I could have done without so much biographical information on the researchers themselves). The early researchers come across as elitists, disdaining the street use of the drugs, despite the fact they were taking the drugs themselves and thus not subjects of the studies. Instead, they seem to have been acting more like highly invested shaman-types. In other words, LSD for them was not a democratic option.

Most of the countercultural references to psychedelic use center on Tim Leary, as though he was the official “guru” whom all the young people were listening to. But roughly concurrent with Leary’s involvement (which I have always was thought to be clownish and damaging) was Ken Kesey’s, which really bootstrapped the entire “hippie” scene in the San Francisco Bay Area; fueled by literally millions of hits of pure LSD provided at minimal (or no!) cost by the legendary chemist Owsley Stanley. They are mentioned only briefly, curiously enough, despite how Pollan wants to get into the full history of LSD use. I also think that the level of usage by the 60’s generation is overstated; I bet that less than 10% ever tried LSD even once, and my own anecdotal evidence would suggest less than 5%. Pollan keeps referring to Leary and others “turning on a whole generation”. That’s just nonsense.

Pollan recounts in detail his own trips that he took as part of the book project. I didn’t find this especially helpful unless you’re really interested in what his hang-ups are. He comes across as a slightly cynical, neurotic New Yorker with way too many preconceived ideas and beliefs; not exactly the sort of open mind one needs for the “transformative” experience he was seeking. It’s this mind set of his that almost guarantees that he won’t have that sort of trip. Anyway, this stuff goes on for way too long and can be skipped by the reader. (To be fair, Pollan has taken the first steps toward that “transformative” trip, and if he’s serious about that, he’ll probably need to take a dose several times larger than he has.)

The central problem with this book, though, is that the psychedelic experience is one that cannot be described using language (Pollan himself repeats that it is “ineffable”), and there are way too many descriptions of experiences here. What can be said is that many people, in trying to describe their experiences, often use the same words. These are people from many economic and social backgrounds, yet what LSD and other psychedelics do to the mind “seem” remarkably consistent across the spectrum of humanity. Just about any thought or feeling can be felt during a trip, so it’s pretty useless to try to tell someone what the experience would be like for them. Anyway, there are plenty of other books out there that have trod this path over the last decades.

After my first experience, my first thought was: everyone needs to try this! It does indeed “change your mind”. Unfortunately, at this point in its history, the prospect of taking LSD for the first time makes most people fearful. “Yeah, he took acid and was never the same again. It completely messed him up.” I wanted to read this book because, after that first thought, my second was that it had tremendous potential for treating depression and terminal cancer patients (I have no fear of death now.) And there could be and probably are a host of other medical uses. That’s why I found the last hundred pages the most interesting. Still, toward the end it gets pretty repetitive.

For me, one of the real ironies here is that there has been considerable success in treating alcoholism (a dangerously addictive drug which the System had for many decades decided should be the only legal one for the populace*, and thus bears a lot of the responsibility for its abuse) with psychedelics (a non-addictive drug that has been demonized ever since use started outside the medical establishment).

*except for nicotine, which can also kill you.

I would think that many psychiatrists could see their revenue streams diminish as therapies could proceed much faster with LSD involved (solution: make therapy more expensive!). It should be interesting to see how things play out. I’m betting that if it’s used medically in the future, it will only be affordable for the wealthy. Sort of like when Cary Grant could take it by forking over $500, but a regular Joe was SOL. So, four stars for the treatment section, two for all the repetition and "self-realization for Pollan" part, and three for the rest. Average of 3.

P.S. The hardback edition of this book uses the smallest asterisks I’ve ever seen. It’s sort of a Where’s Waldo search to find them on the pages that contain footnotes.
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LibraryThing member bobbieharv
Fascinating and informative book. His accounts of his personal experiences were fun to read and made a non-fiction book, not usually my wont, so much more enjoyable.
LibraryThing member Niecierpek
Like all other Michael Pollan's books I have read, this one is very clearly written.
LibraryThing member willszal
It was late at night, reading up in my bunk from the pages of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” that I was first introduced to the work of Michael Pollan. That was ten years ago during my time as a student farmer at the Farm School in North Orange, Massachusetts.

Two years ago, I had the archetypal
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Berkeley experience—while staying with a friend at his housing coop, we bumped into Pollan at the farmer’s market.

I share these experiences because the help to explain the utmost credence I give his work. There are few people’s scholarship I appreciate as much as Pollan’s.

With these caveats, I’ll state that I found “How to Change Your Mind,” nothing short of magnificent. At the core of the text is the question, “how do we derive meaning?” or more specifically, “is meaning internally or externally mandated?” Illustrating some of my cosmology, I would answer that these are one in the same.
I’ve had a fascination with the numinous since youth. I don’t hesitate to describe my childhood as full of magical significance. It is these early experiences that often serve as touchstones for me in adulthood, reminding me that if I’m not surrounding by meaning and significance I’m doing something wrong.
Having been brought up in the Fourth Way, a spiritual lineage founded by G. I. Gurdjieff, I’ve long been aware of the importance of the ability to cultivate different states of consciousness. According to Pollan’s research, psychedelics can be an excellent tool on this pathway.

One of my mentors in my journey surrounding consciousness has been Bill Plotkin—depth psychologist and founder of the Animas Valley Institute. During my Yearlong Soulcraft Intensive with Plotkin, I was exposed to ancient techniques of stepping into communion with an animate world (without the assistance of any mind-altering substances).

This book does a lot in not very many pages—covering the hidden history of psychedelics, describing personal experiences with these substances, reviewing the scientific research, and exploring the neurology of psychedelics.

Before I picked up this book, I thought psychedelics came onto the scene in the United States in the 1960s with the hippie movement and Timothy Leary. But it turns out that they really hit the US in the ‘50s, championed by a vanguard movement including business leaders, prominent members of the Catholic Church, Hollywood, the medical establishment, and the CIA (in their notorious MKUltra mind control programs). Yasha Levine is right in more ways than he knows with his 2018 book, “Surveillance Valley;” the “counterculture” scene of the Bay Area gots its start with the elite, not with the masses.

Moving on to the medical relevance of this book, pure psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin) have no discernible physical effects, making them far safer than both commonplace legal drugs (tobacco, alcohol), and commonplace medical drugs (opioids). They’ve shown phenomenal ability—when administered by a trained practitioner—to help the dying face existential crisis, and helping with addiction and depression.

From the neurological perspective, psychedelics support us to be more perceptive, and less judgmental. Whereas our brains under normal conditions are constantly disregarding sensory inputs and jumping to conclusions via habitual shortcuts, psychedelics can help us see the world (and ourselves) in a new light. Psychedelics can assist us in forming new neural pathways, both to get out of ruts, and to step into creativity.

Being an atheist, Pollan’s philosophical musing come up short, although he does at least earmark some interesting theories, such as that we can exist without a “self,” and that consciousness and animacy may be distributed across matter and the universe, rather than something the human mind possesses. For further reading on this subject, the seeker might explore the writings of David Abrams. To be fair, these questions are tangental to the core of Pollan’s material.

If I’m truthful with myself, I was lightly judgmental of psychedelics before reading this book, and all of that internal resistance has now been dispelled. Like so many ideas that were introduced in the postwar period, which are only now making it to the mainstream, Pollan’s cheerleading may herald the coming of a new age for psychedelics, a long-awaited return for which we should all be grateful.
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LibraryThing member jasoncomely
An engrossing read and comprehensive summary of what we know so far of the self and mind through the lens of neuroscience, psychotherapy, Buddhism and psychedelics. Too bad Pollan still seems close-minded to the idea of a loving God. The evidence is everywhere, and in everything.

LibraryThing member Nickelini
When I read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma years ago, it changed my life. This book could be life changing for many people too. It is a detailed look at using guided psychedelic therapy to treat a wide-range of mental health issues, including but not limited to the fears of the terminally
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ill, addiction, and treatment-resistant depression. Clearly the mental health field needs to find some different solutions, because what we have now isn't working.

How to Change Your Mind is a highly readable and interesting account of the history, present use, and future possibilities of LSD, psilocybin (a word I never remember how to say or spell) and a few other more obscure drugs.

Like me, Michael Pollan eschews pseudo-science and new age flakiness, and thus he takes an evidence-based, factual approach to this topic.

I look forward to a future when I can visit a guided psychedelic therapy spa, although I'm not holding my breath. Maybe in Europe . . .

Recommended for: Everyone. The people who should read it most--those who think psychedelics are horrible, dangerous substances, won't be open to it though. Otherwise, anyone interested in mental healthy, philosophy, psychology, alternative ways of looking at the world . . .

Why I Read This Now: a few weeks ago I found out Michael Pollan, an author I adore, is coming to Vancouver. I thought it would be best if I read his latest book before the event. Yay, me, I finished it today and see him tomorrow night.

Rating: Because this isn't a topic that is particularly pertinent to my life at this time, and because I didn't need over 400 pages on this topic . . . 4 stars.
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LibraryThing member anitatally
AMAZING. JUST AMAZING.
LibraryThing member brangwinn
Although, there is way too much detail for me, the story of the research into psychedelics is fascinating. I probably would have complained if there weren’t all these details as well, because all the details show the seriousness of the research. As a person who just discovered that cannabis
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isn’t destroying me, but is managing my pain, I appreciate knowing reliable research is going on.
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LibraryThing member rivkat
Psychedelics, particularly psilocybin and LSD, may hold the potential for helping lots of people with depression, addiction, or just opening their minds to the vastness of the world. The effects are real but also really powerfully shaped by expectations and surroundings—“[mind]set” and
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“setting.” So you can’t just send someone off with a dose and expect them to be cured of addiction. I realized that reading about others’ psychedelic experiences is much more boring to me than reading about others’ adorable children; there’s a certain sameness. But I did appreciate Pollan’s point that these experiences can make faith in a larger power superfluous, because they provide what is to the perceiver direct knowledge—when the ego dissolves and the “I” disintegrates, “it becomes impossible to distinguish between what is subjectively and objectively true. What’s left to do the doubting if not your I?”
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LibraryThing member urnmo
I skimmed some parts, as I have done enough drugs to not need any of Pollan’s convincing.

This is like good but not enthralling reportage with some erowid reports in the middle.

Still, I’m glad a middle of the road pop science book about psychedelics exists, and Michael Pollan does a better job
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than most with the task.
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LibraryThing member grandpahobo
This is a fascinating book with a wealth of information and insight into the potential for psychedelic drugs to impact people and society as a whole.

The author does a brilliant job of presenting a subject with a lot of baggage in a thorough and thoughtful way. He presents a tremendous amount of
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information in a very easy to understand manner.
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LibraryThing member tmph
Fascinating history; very interesting personal experiences by the author; foundering, repetitive last third of the book.
LibraryThing member librorumamans
Fascinating and easy to read.
LibraryThing member brianinbuffalo
After watching a “60 minutes” segment on psychedelics research a couple years earlier, I became mildly intrigued by the topic. This led me to Pollen’s book. Sadly, it might have taken a couple magic mushrooms for me to wade through the tome without becoming a bit restless. I realized a third
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of the way through that a 15-minute broadcast report on the topic is one thing, and a 480-page narrative is a different fungus. There’s no disputing that the author meticulously traces the history of this phenomenon. But as I hit the one-third mark, the material felt a bit repetitive in numerous spots. I don’t fault the author. Anyone who is looking for a deep-dive into this field will likely be sated. For me, it was a bit much. On the positive side, the final third of the book is the most powerful and fascinating section. Pollen provides a series of vivid anecdotes demonstrating how psychedelics can change behaviors can change and shift outlooks on even the most weighty subjects such as death. Pollen cites experts who are convinced that psychedelics have the potential to “dope – slap“ people into changing destructive or unproductive habits, whether they be addictions or fear of death. The experts hypothesize that these drugs are a “Biological reboot“ of the system – our natural version of control-alt-delete. Psychedelics afford us “mental flexibility“ in which we can let go of the mental models we employ to define our individual realities.
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LibraryThing member john.cooper
After reading this detailed, intelligent, and eminently reasonable in-depth exploration of the history and possible future of psychedelic substances in Western society, it seems incredible to imagine that the situation might not change, and that the experiences that come to those who are willing to
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work with psilocybin, LSD, and similar "entheogens" will stay out of reach to most. Pollan, after all, is a respected member of the American meritocracy, and his enthusiasm should carry a lot of weight. It's impressive to see what can happen when the subject is investigated with commitment, honesty, and courage: with what one blurber calls Pollan's "innocence and integrity."

Pollan covers it all here: the early promise of psychedelics during the 1950s, when mainstream figures including Cary Grant and Clare Booth Luce openly discussed their experiences with LSD and when clinical trials hinted at tremendous therapeutic potential, to the 1960s, Leary, and criminalization, to the 1970s and beyond, with the "War on Drugs" and virtually complete suppression of research. He profiles not just the big names of psychedelic history, but lesser-known figures who made major contributions both above and underground. And, despite an openly acknowledged fear of losing his mind, he investigates psilocybin, LSD, and DMT himself and reports, as well as he can, where they took him.

There are dangers associated with these substances, and Pollan doesn't minimize them. But the dangers—and the benefits—have often been misrepresented and misunderstood, and Pollan does a good job of reporting this, too. How to Change Your Mind is written for people of intelligence and seriousness, like him, and in particular to (as I can't help but believe) policymakers and thought leaders. I hope everyone listens.
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LibraryThing member jpsnow
This is a thorough and balanced update about the revitalized practice of using psychedelics to open new windows of therapeutic insight. Pollan covers the history, the contemporary trends and his how experiences, which were prompted by his research. It seems like this field of study and practice has
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turned a beneficial corner after decades of political and cultural avoidance.
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LibraryThing member Tytania
Amazing.

I'm not sure how to begin. Michael Pollan is about my age and a materialist - an atheist, with the perspective that the physical laws of matter should be able to explain everything there is. And yet. Those who go on psychedelic journeys so often have mystical experiences - "the conviction
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that some profound objective truth has been disclosed," like they "have been let in on a deep secret of the universe, and they cannot be shaken." William James wrote, "Dreams cannot stand this test."

Pollan writes, "The most straightforward [explanation]...is that it's simply true: the altered state of consciousness has opened the person up to a truth that the rest of us... simply cannot see."

Pollan then gives us a pretty long history of the research on psychedelics done in this country in the last century; and details about his experiences, which do qualify as "mystical" (a survey told him so). He trips on three different psychedelic substances: mushrooms, LSD, and "the toad," literally toad venom. This last is the most amazing and the most difficult for him to put into words. What can definitely be said is that the effects of smoking the distilled venom of this toad kick in before the smoker even has a chance to exhale - you inhale one puff and you are transported to before the Big Bang, before there was any being at all. Pollan remarks on how often people express gratitude for "being alive" - after smoking the toad, he was on his knees with gratitude for there being "being" at all.

This actually was an interesting complement to my recent reading of LOST IN MATH by Sabine Hossenfelder. That was about the fundamental question of why we should ever expect the laws of physics to be "beautiful", why we are bothered that quantum mechanics doesn't seem intuitive - why should it be? There would have been no reason for our species to evolve to have a fundamental understanding of quantum mechanics or to have brains that "like" the laws of physics. Why the hubris that we should be able to know and understand everything? Maybe there are things we can't know.

Not without physical tweaks, that is - in the form of certain pharmaceuticals, mushrooms, or toads - that change our perceptions enough for us to see something beyond what we can usually see.

Maybe there is something "beyond" after all.

The book also has a great section on how psychedelics are slowly finding their way back into medical research, and are showing promise to treat an array of disorders: addiction, depression, end-of-life anxiety. The story of the end days of the cancer patient who turned his mind around with psychedelics almost brought me to tears. The description of how psychedelics can alleviate addictions was enlightening - OK, existential dread being lifted by a mystical experience, that makes a certain kind of sense; but how and why should tripping help you quit smoking? I loved one woman's explanation: "It put smoking in a whole new context. Smoking seemed very unimportant; it seemed kind of stupid, to be honest."

We've seen such sea changes in the legalization of marijuana, in the acceptance of gay marriage - maybe we'll live to see psychedelics taken off the list of controlled substances; maybe shrooms will start "popping up" someday in a store near you. This book made me really want to do drugs. Maybe not the toad. But some of the others, for sure.
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LibraryThing member steve02476
Such a good writer! It’s been many decades since I’ve had any psychedelic drugs but his descriptions are spot on, in my memory. His discussions about the relationship between chemistry and mind are very good. Very interesting history of psychedelic drugs and society.
LibraryThing member annbury
This fascinating and revelatory book about psychedelic drugs has changed everything I thought I knew about them -- what they do, what they risk, and what the history of research and regulation actually was. I came of age in the 1960's, but I never tried these drugs: too scared. As time went by, I
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became very afraid of them, and totally unaware that a lot of research had actually been done on the drugs, suggesting very positive uses. Pollen goes into that history, and -- even more interesting -- goes into his own experience of these drugs. He is clearly an evangelist for psychedelics, but I find his arguments (and experience) convincing. It all leaves me very curious. At 78, this book may have pointed me in a new direction.
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LibraryThing member Andjhostet
Monthly thematic read #3 (counterculture/drugs for April)

An interesting book about the history of psychedelics, and goes in depth into their utility for medical treatment and spiritual discovery. Well written, and well researched. Good mixture of objective reporting of the facts, and mixing in
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personal experiences and perspectives.
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LibraryThing member k6gst
Interesting.
LibraryThing member catseyegreen
An interesting take on a controversial subject. I really most appreciated the chapters on the history of psychedelics and the last part of the book which addresses the potential therapeutic applications of these drugs. the mapping of our minds and development of neurochemical pathways is
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fascinating.
The center of the book is taken up with mystical accounts and the author's own experiences taking some of these substances.
Honestly, I think you would have to be crazy to want to bring on the effects described in a "recreational" way. These are powerful substances that need to be treated with respect.
library book read 1/24/2023
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LibraryThing member quantum.alex
Extremely well-researched book that certainly changed my mind about the safety and efficacy of psychedelics. I also learned that are parts of the brain that control traffic between the different parts and which could be the seat of the ego.

I bought a copy for my dad and I'm going to pick one up
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myself for reference.
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LibraryThing member dualmon
Also, suprisingly good.

Original publication date

2018

ISBN

0735224153 / 9780735224155
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