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Breaking Open the Head Breaking Open the Head Breaking Open the Head

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  2,518 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
"A dazzling work of personal travelogue and cultural criticism that ranges from the primitive to the postmodern in a quest for the promise and meaning of the psychedelicexperience.
"While psychedelics of all sorts are demonized in America today, the visionary compounds found in plants are the spiritual sacraments of tribal cultures around the world. From theiboga of the Bw
ebook, 272 pages
Published August 6th 2002 by Crown Publishing Group (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30)
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Nov 27, 2014 aloveiz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The least insulting thing I can say about this book is maybe that Pinchbeck was too young to write this when he did. It's a complicated topic and he deserves some credit for addressing its intrigue. In general, I got the feeling he wrote this to enhance his hip, New York bachelor, image. Pinchbeck's background is in journalism, and that style is expressed pretty grossly here. He travels around being the witness, relaying different accounts of psychedelic or shamanistic encounters without expound ...more
Jun 11, 2007 Nina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading through Pinchbeck's incredibly well-documented experiences with various plant substances such as iboga and ayahuasca, along with his quest for knowledge in understanding the dwindling shamanic culture of the rainforests was a thrilling way to live vicariously through someone's most intimate and trippiest moments. He's just that good at getting it all down on paper. But the best part of this book is the message that really gets driven home to the heart of who we are, the potential of what ...more
Shivatva Beniwal
Actually, the Hebraic-Babylonian concept of God is very premature. They imagine God as an object, a person, and not as a quality. And that's why Jews claim God's official name is Yahuha and Muslims claim God's official name is Allah. They describe God as a mighty Emperor.

In the Eastern religious traditions, God is a quality, not an object. They believe God is within the universe and the universe is within God. God is not God but godliness - and godliness has to be found first within ourselves.
Feb 08, 2011 masttek rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pinchbeck is the type of person that gives psychedelics a bad image. While the book starts off with a rational Pinchbeck, one can already tell his rationality is more of a misplaced materialism. By the end of the book Pinchbeck appears to have lost all rational inquiry as he comes to believe he is a modern day shaman. Highly disappointed...first time I've ever really disliked a book.
Jan 11, 2015 blakeR rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
Wow, I have rarely seen such an arrogrant prick writing so lazily. If the subject matter hadn't been absolutely fascinating, It would have gotten 1 star. Because of the subject matter, I only hated it (or more precisely, hated the author).
May 26, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this perspective on modern/ancient psychedelic experiences. The author has a frank honesty about the rationale for his drug use and seeks out spiritual experiences throughout this novel for his own personal fulfillment. I enjoy books that suggest other authors for me to check out and point back to an author's reading experience and journey as a learner and this book was not short on those suggestions. This book seemed to me to be the evolution of perspective that one might have on drug ...more
Derek Pegritz
Apr 30, 2008 Derek Pegritz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone interested in hallucinogens.
Shelves: psychedelics
Daniel Pinchbeck is a complete fucking idiot. And a tool. However, this book *does* contain some very interesting material on psychedelics in contemporary society. Too bad it's filtered through the POV of a complete and utter idiot.
Gnarly Authenticity .
Deeply and fundamentally bogue if taken on its own terms. Three and a half stars if read as a confession by an aging horndog and failed artiste attempting to found a dope/occult cult in order to slake his need for hippie poon.
Just awful! Pinchbeck,s ego just screams out from almost every page. I wonder who wants to be the next Terence Mckenna? hmmm not a chance Daniel.
Oct 16, 2014 Helmut rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dream a dream, and what you'll see will be
In einer der letzten Folgen der US-Fernsehserie "Homeland" soll ein Drogenabhängiger "auf die schnelle" vom Heroin befreit werden - und ein CIA-Agent hat die Idee, ein hochgefährliches, tödliches Mittel auszuprobieren, das die CIA früher für solche Zwecke einsetzte: Ibogain. Alle schauen den Vorschlagenden entsetzt an - waterboarding, Foltern, Morden, ja gut - aber Ibogain? Dann lieber Heroinabhängigkeit, scheint das Fazit. Ein schönes Beispiel, wie die
Jack Barten
This was a refreshing book to read when it came out and the fact that it seems a bit dated now is an indication of how much has happened since then, in terms of use of research chemicals and the expansion of festivals, than a reflection of the book.

It journals a mans journey from that of a cynical hack to a new age neo shamanic enthusiast, via assignments to the jungles to take shamanic potions and also via the use of research chemicals. Those descriptions are a touch navel gazing but better th
Aug 27, 2009 Nicholas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since November of 2007 to present day August 27, 2009 I have read an estimated 160 books. Daniel Pinchbeck is a voice that speaks to me more than any I've encountered along my self-developmental path. With a supreme command of the English language, Pinchbeck accounts the history of his and many great minds of the "Beat" generation while venturing into unfamiliar cultures, ritualistic initiations, and transcendent states of being and alteration through a number of organic substances and synthetic ...more
Jeff Phillips
May 31, 2011 Jeff Phillips rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came across this randomly in a bookstore and was intrigued, partly by the hallucinatory cover. But I'm glad I did. I've always had a fascination with altered consciousness, particularly with a more spiritual slant to it, as though the hallucinations represent a different world altogether. I appreciate books that change the way I think to a degree, and this book did in the fact that I do look at plant life differently. At times his tone seems like it pushing too hard to open one's mind to a psy ...more
Jan 05, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susan by: Colin Mortensen Sánchez
It's an intriguing, educating and inspiring read. Don't get discouraged by the overdone literary analysis at the beginning (or just beyond the beginning) of the book; there's some good stuff in there but if that's not your thing just keep going and he gets back on his psychedelic journey where he accesses parallel dimensions and his ethical reflections on human life on this planet. For me it was one of those books that sort of changes your whole perspective on things, or better put, it brings yo ...more
Cindy Brandner
Feb 01, 2015 Cindy Brandner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love a book that makes me look at the world and my own way of thinking differently and this one definitely did that for me.
Graham Cope
Some parts were fascinating, others a little scary. It's well written in readable journalistic prose. Recommended if you're interested in the exploration of consciousness.
Brittaney Freiheit
That moment when you finish a book and your entire conception of what it means to be a human being changes. The kind of book that leads you to a fantasmical realm as you hold hands with reality.
Mar 09, 2008 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE this book! Reading this book was like having mental masturbation for me. It breaks open your head. For psychedelic lovers.
Joseph Y
Oct 08, 2012 Joseph Y rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this is one of the few books I've ever thrown across a room
Dec 28, 2016 No rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Plants are revered because of their potential to awaken the mind to other levels of awareness and to act as gateways to other dimensions - bringing about a holographic vision of the universe." - Daniel Pinchbeck

"I did not want what other people wanted, but I didn't know how to find what I needed. I wanted truth - my own truth, whatever bleak fragment of whatever hellish totality it might turn out to be." - Daniel Pinchbeck (Breaking Open the Head, Pg.14)

"Because they are so closely related to s
Diann Blakely
Though Daniel Pinchbeck’s name will doubtless gain familiarity with the publication of this book, heretofore he has been known mostly to the younger literary cognoscenti who comprise the target audience for OPEN CITY, the literary magazine he began with the late fiction writer Rob Bingham. Since Bingham’s untimely death from a heroin overdose in 2000, Pinchbeck has continued OPEN CITY, publishing, among others, poet/musician David Berman. But his new book represents a personal quest that at firs ...more
Mary Karpel-Jergic
This is so much more than his experience of taking psychedelic drugs. Shamanism, mysticism and the nature of reality all get explored here. I love his articulation and the style of his writing and found the book hard to put down. He prompted me to think about reality in a totally different way and I warmed to his analysis of his proposed alternate understandings of how the world might operate on a spiritual rather than materialistic foundation.

Joseph Conrad's quote at the beginning of the book
Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D. Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D.
Pinchbeck’s Breaking Open the Head is my first exposure to the long term effects of the psychotropic drugs on the human brain. I’m not saying Pinchbeck is a pot-head, but in my opinion he is a connoisseur of selected mind altering drugs that have the power to diminish prefrontal cortex functioning (although it did inspire me to seek Terrance McKenna’s counter culture’s lectures, that are quite thought provoking). And the returns of this prolong investment has the potential to produce abstract wo ...more
Marija S.
Jan 20, 2013 Marija S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am ambivalent about this book. Experimenting with drugs is not my thing, however Pinchbeck's insights and posed questions do have a merit. It is clear that the author is a well read erudite, a man who travels a lot (which I admire) and is either brave or crazy enough to put his sanity and life on line in order to try and dig deeper under surface of reality, which makes the book a fun and educative read.

I do not know what to make of that. I am certainly not compelled to try out psychedelic drug
Natalie Armstrong
There's really no arguing that Daniel Pinchbeck has many illuminating ideas, just sometimes I see him slip completely into absurdity in his writing and he gets hard to take seriously among his egotistical lapses. His accounts of Antonin Artaud, DMT, plant life, and general psychedelics were fun for me, but as when I was reading 2012 the Return of Quetzacoatl I couldn't help but hate the author on occasion.
I found Daniel Pinchbeck's account of his hallucinogenic escapades to be overly romanticiz
Feb 11, 2011 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have long thought that if I were to experiment with any kind of drug it would be with hallucinogens. I like reading about trips and the rituals surrounding hallucinogens in various cultures throughout history. So when I saw this book at my local Barnes & Noble, I had to sit down and take sample.

The thing I liked most about this book is how Mr. Pinchbeck combines his sources - scholarly, historical, philosophical, esoteric and personal - and provides a much more detailed perspective on hal
Patrick Graham
Having eaten shrooms, dropped acid, and smoked the ole DMT I am very excited to see how this books pans out. Shrooms were my first dabbling into a psychedelic awareness expansion and were taken with no intention, hence no spiritual growth occured. Acid and DMT found me around 22 and 23 years old so it was less of a 'can't wait to try this' and more of a focused 'journey'. The fact that the author is getting a readership of people who apparently would never touch a psychedelic, out of fear or som ...more
May 01, 2012 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“In contemporary life we do whatever we can to deny intuition of the invisible realms. We clog our senses with smog, jam our minds with media overload. We drown ourselves in alcohol or medicate ourselves into rigidly artificial states with antidepressants. Then we take pride in our cynicism and detachment. Perhaps we are terrified to discover that our “rationality” is itself a kind of faith, an artifice, that beneath it lies the vast territory of the unknown.” — Daniel Pinchbeck, Breaking Open t ...more
May 31, 2014 Jared rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Individuals interested in learning about other's experiences with mind altering plants.
An interesting account of one author's personal journey through experimentation with entheogens. Pinchbeck shares his experiences with Iboga (African psychotropic ritual substance) and Ayahuasca (South American hallucinogenic tea) in a manner that is very personal and immersive, thinking out loud about his reliance on alcohol throughout life and how these substances have effected his permanent consciousness. I found the continual speculation about the meaning of "life, the universe and everythin ...more
Aug 17, 2011 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pyschonaut
This is much more than a cultural history of psychedelics. It is an argument for 21st century spirituality, which Pinchbeck claims is necessary to regain different levels of consciousness lost to the Western world. Towards the end, the book takes a rather bizarre turn but until then it's a good read. As a person who had previously only taken psychedelics for fun, Pinchbeck's book really made me reconsider the possibilities of these drugs and what other realities could be out there. It could have ...more
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Heathens, Pagans ...: August / September 2012 - Breaking Open the Head 10 24 Sep 18, 2012 12:34AM  
  • The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens & the I Ching
  • The Archaic Revival
  • Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers
  • Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon
  • The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
  • DMT: The Spirit Molecule
  • Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind
  • The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia
  • Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals
  • Rational Mysticism: Spirituality Meets Science in the Search for Enlightenment
  • Ayahuasca in My Blood: 25 Years of Medicine Dreaming
  • Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft
  • LSD My Problem Child: Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science
  • The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead
  • Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story
  • Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Bollingen)
  • Generation Hex: New Voices from Outside Reality
  • Satan Is The New Cupid
Author Daniel Pinchbeck has deep personal roots in the New York counterculture of the 1950s and 1960s. His father was an abstract painter, and his mother, Joyce Johnson, was a member of the Beat Generation and dated Jack Kerouac as On the Road hit the bestseller lists in 1957 (chronicled in Johnsons bestselling book, Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir). Pinchbeck was a founder of the 1990s literary m ...more
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“In shamanic cultures, sychronicities are recognized as signs that you are on the right path.” 18 likes
“The plants that produce visions can function- for those of us who have inherited the New World Order of barren materialism, cut off from our spiritual heritage by a spiteful culture that gives us nothing but ashes- as the talismans of recognition that awaken our minds to reality.” 10 likes
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