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The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  467 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
A world at once familiar and unimaginably strange exists all around us–and within us. It is the world of consciousness, a protean mental landscape that each of us knows intimately in bits and pieces yet understands in its totality scarcely at all. Tied to the body and the brain, consciousness is nonetheless beyond our ability to measure or quantify. Despite the attempts of ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published December 4th 2007 by Random House (first published January 1st 2007)
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May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: body-mind
I am fascinated by the various states of consciousness which Warren nicely describes in his book, and wanted very much to be an agreeable travel partner on his adventures into such realms as the hypnagogic (and all the other cycles through which we sleep), lucid dreaming, hypnotic trance, SMR training, and the PCE (pure conscious event, which is a rarified form of enlightenment attainable by certain masters after years of meditation).

However after a couple hundred pages I found myself feeling i
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely fascinating account of the lived experience of consciousness as told through a mix of popular science and accounts of self-experimentation. I’ve started this book a couple of times, but until now something always got in the way of me finishing it.

Warren goes through the “wheel” of both sleeping and waking life, with various stages like REM sleep, The Watch, the Zone, and daydreaming. At almost every stage, which is to say within every chapter, there was something that I recognized
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Heads of all stripes
This book is wonderful from so many different angles that it almost boggles my mind (like, wow, man):

—the author's Gen X sensibility and sense of humor;

—his lovely illustrations, charts, and diagrams;

—his choice of the "altered states" of consciousness to explore here, most of which the "normal" human being experiences on a regular basis, and without ingesting anything: parasomnias, hypnagogia, slow-wave sleep, "the Watch," REM dreams, lucid dreams, hypnopompia, trances, daydreams, SMR (se
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The taxonomy, psychology and physiology of different states of consciousness is for me fascinating subject matter, and I feel that Warren did a great job here.

He flawlessly combines his own personal experience, seasoned with amusing anecdotes and peaks into his introspective processes (and he's a funny guy), gonzo-stlye interviews with top researchers in the field and descriptions of participation in experiments. If Warren's quest to understand consciousness through personal experience of diffe
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.

Head Trip is the story of the author's reseraches into "consciousness" and his discovery that there are more modes of "consciousness" than he was aware before beginning this foray, and it's much more plastic, too.

There were a few places in the chapters on dreaming when the scientists quoted annoy me by speaking as though "dreaming" were *one thing* with *one purpose*, for the most part I appreciated the open-minded tone of tge author, and that - at lwast in the early-mid 2000'
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Although I do not agree with the topics arrangement's concept and all the details the author came with it under those topics, But I really did like the book's concept in general. On the other hands, Is there anyone figured out some conflicts in some ideas? I mean, without a special specialization in any field in general, as a simple reader, do anyone figured out some conflicts as I did?
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly readable blend of personal anecdotes and the latest experimental research and speculation. If you have an interest in the nebulous field of human consciousness, you'll probably enjoy this book.
This book was a jumble of neurological research findings, personal journey entries and metaphysical speculation. While there is plenty of interesting research findings in the book there is also an unfortunately significant amount of space devoted to personal journal-like entries by the author. These can occasionally serve to flesh out the subjective take for the reader but are more often distracting when the author is not capable of, or interested in, entering the said state, like in the chapter ...more
Jon Bash
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not perfect by any means, but an incredibly unique book that reveals a lot of insight about the mind from a primarily first-person perspective, with a healthy dose of neuroscience thrown in as well. Jeff isn't afraid to get a bit esoteric and even mystical, but is also careful to qualify things when necessary. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At some points I was seriously uninterested and thus not enjoying. The conclusion chapter made a lot of sense.
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fun book, I liked the writing a lot. Sort of a travelogue of various states of consciousness, along with the author’s personal experiences trying them out and talking to scientists and experts.
Mad Dog
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all
I love this book. It works wonderfully on many levels. There is lots of good information about the mind and the brain. It becomes very personal as the author goes into (or at least attempts to) all of the states of consciousness in the book. It is inspirational as one learns what the mind and brain are capable of. Also, I was continually inspired by the process of the author's writing of this book. The author(Warren) worked so very hard and long on this book, and this process became for me part ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wow! Jeff Warren's restless intellect takes you on

a journey through the known (non drug induced) states of consciousness that is truly mind expanding. Quoting research and interviewing internatonal experts in the emrerging field of consciousness studies, Warren's treatise is at once fascinating, mind boggling and suprosongly hilarious as he includes his own experiences and anecdotes while he takes us through his journey of writing this book. Warren's style is refreshing and lucid. His use of di
Brom Kim
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: mind
Personally and societally, I, we have strayed away from introspection in the last few years. This is probably a side-effect of our nation at war, and its self pity and xenophobia. We focus on 'practicalities' like who we should be killing, and who wants to kill us.

In this fear mongering climate we forget to ask important questions like "why do folks want to kill us?" Introspection is not impractical. At the very least, Sun Tzu said, "Know thyself, know thy enemy" At best, perhaps some of our cur
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating to me as someone who is interested in mindfulness and observing how the mind works. This is less of a science book and more a first-hand account of Warren's adventures in studying his own brain: getting hooked up to all kinds of equipment (no fMRI, though, sad!), having his brain examined from all kinds of angles, experimenting with different states of consciousness in various controlled (and uncontrolled) settings, and interviewing top thinkers in neuroscience and psyc ...more
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brain
Well, it's my first review on goodreads. And the last book which I get from my read list is Head Trip. I choose it on the behalf of God of randomness :) I rate it as 4/5.
After couple of days after reading I could remember only some facts - about catching the moment when I fell to sleep, Salvador Dali or Albert Einstein (I don't remember) uses a spoon in their hand, to wake up immediately after left away in the result of noise falling spoon made on metal object.
Lucid dreaming - every time I focu
Mar 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating tour of the many states of consciousness the brain is capable of, in all their subtle variations. It is written in a light, personable style and marketed toward a popular audience, but the guy has definitely done his homework. He combines the latest scientific experiments with perspectives from spiritual groups, then does personal experiments (lucid dreaming, etc.) and reports on the results. He does not pretend to offer any deep insights of his own, but he is thorough and ...more
Stephen Collins
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Stephen by: New Scientist magazine
Before reading this, stand up and flip the light switch on and off. If it works, then you're probably not dreaming...
I probably enjoy non-fiction reading more than most, but this is a book a will recommend to just about anyone. Jeff Warren sets out to experience and describe the various states of consciousness - REM sleep, meditation, the SMR, the Watch, and eight others. In addition to outlining the research already done into each state, interviewing experts, and describing the physiological co
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Head Trip is something like gonzo popular science. It's a personal look at the wide and mostly uncharted world of consciousness. There's a lot to ingest so it's a good thing Jeff Warren is a likeable guy (he's Canadian - the world's most affable creatures).

Each of the chapters deal with a different state of consciousness, such as REM sleep or being in 'the zone'. First Jeff will explain the scientific background for each of the states, then he'll give it a spin himself. The book never gets b
Tom Otvos
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Head Trip" was an awesome book, if you are interested in that sort of thing. Jeff has a really easy-going style, which makes a potentially deep topic very easy to read. And the content was really fascinating, taking you through the current research (although not *really* current as the book is a few years old now) on the body's states of consciousness throughout the day. And no, it is not simply "awake vs. asleep".

I first heard Jeff on a CBC radio show that talked about sleeping and dreaming ca
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I had limited time with this book and had to speed through it. It's a study of the different states of consciousness- both awake and asleep. The author does a lot of experiments, and conducts interviews with experts. He also goes to lucid dream camp and on a meditation retreat.

The lucid dream section read like something out of Inception. I found some parts of this book really interesting, as I've always been interested in consciousness. The author tries to make things light, but it's still a pr
Kevin Conlon
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book that takes what is potentially a very complicated subject matter and makes it accessible to all. The insights into the different stages of consciousness are illuminating and it manages to change one's perceptions of consciousness as a simple case of waking and sleeping and allows one to realise the many different strands that make up consciousness. The author's enthusiasm for the subject matter shines through at all times, and the approach which he took to research his book is ...more
Elaine Nelson
Date read is a wild guess...I happened to remember this book after someone tweeted about first sleep/second sleep, then posted an Ask MetaFilter question because I couldn't remember the name!

I do remember that I enjoyed it, and little bits of what I learned from it still filter into my head from time to time. (Ergo first/second sleep, which is something I learned about in that book. Very common before industrialization, people falling asleep at dark, waki
Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a brain
I really can't adequately explain how great this book is. I stongly encourage any current owner of a brain to get thineself to a bookstore or library and pick up a copy to read, posthaste. The author describes, in a humorous and for the most part easy-to-read manner the many varied states of consciousness from sleeping to waking. I had my first lucid dream after reading the chapter on lucid dreaming - so totally awesome. I haven't yet finished reading it, but it has gotten to the point now where ...more
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psychonauts, experience junkies, day dreamers
Head Trip reads like a neurological/psychological travelogue. The author is a literature graduate turned science journalist and has a self-deprecating and friendly way of introducing us to current research into consciousness with personal stories of his visits with various researchers. Probably not for anyone who wants deep research, dipping into various states of mind as it does, but there's plenty of suggestions for further reading. It made me want to pay more attention to my hypnagogic vision ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-mind
The writer uses a lot of repetition of some words (f.e: Needless to say -), very long footnotes and it feels like he's distracted about the subjects very easy (for example in the middle of his own story he starts talking about a research and 2 pages later he continues with his own story), yet a very interesting book to read. Even if you are not new to stuff about consciousness you will still learn something from this book. I wanted to give it a 3.5 but that's not possible, so I'm gonna give it a ...more
Travis McKinstry
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great, great book. The author was extremely through on the study of consciousness from (what seemed like) the beginning of time to now.

If you want to learn more about consciousness, read this. If you're looking for an interesting read on the brain, read this. If you're looking to get your mind blown, read this. If you like facts, read this. If you like to try new things that can alter your brain legally and in a healthy way, read this.
Jazzmin Hunter
Often rambling in a way that both entertains and gives plenty to think about. While the author discussed various states of consciousness, I found it difficult to pay attention because the things he was saying would cause my mind to go spinning off on journeys of its own.

Many topics are covered in depth without too much rehashing of the same old group of worn out experiments that other psychology based books are filled with.
John Martindale
Interesting subject, but I did not really care all that much for the book. It did not help that Jeff mentioned his inspiration was a book called "Mind wide open" Which I really did not care for. It kinda of got me off to a bad start. The book covers different stages of consciousness, the "watch", lucid dreaming, meditation, trance, day dreaming and other states, from his atheistic perspective. Towards the end of the book he gushes over Buddhism for quite awhile, it got old
Apr 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I'm more of a fiction guy, so I'm taking my time reading this, but it's fascinating. The author is very engaging and keeps it personal, interesting, and yet still scientific. I've been a chronic sufferer of sleep paralysis since my teens, so I'm particularly interested in the sections on lucid dreaming, and the hypnagogic and hypnopompic states.
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