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

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  63,719 ratings  ·  5,794 reviews
Could psychedelic drugs change our worldview? One of America's most admired writers takes us on a mind-altering journey to the frontiers of human consciousness

When LSD was first discovered in the 1940s, it seemed to researchers, scientists and doctors as if the world might be on the cusp of psychological revolution. It promised to shed light on the deep mysteries of consci
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published May 17th 2018 by Allen Lane (first published May 15th 2018)
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Brian Not at all. The book is divided into three main sections. The first is a history of research in the (mostly psychiatric) use of psychedelics. The thir…moreNot at all. The book is divided into three main sections. The first is a history of research in the (mostly psychiatric) use of psychedelics. The third part is a look at current research into the ways these molecules actually affect the brain--in other words, it explores the question of the mechanism of efficacy. The middle section is Pollan's recounting of some of his experiences using these molecules, though I wouldn't describe this as treating the reader to his high. Rather, he tries to put into words what he experienced, and his point here is how that changed him from an open-minded, atheist skeptic into a even more open-minded revisionist of materialist views of the world. Where once he saw an opposition, as he says, between "spiritual" and "materialist," he now views the opposition as between spiritual and egotistical. As difficult as it is for members of such a stridently individualist culture to grasp, Pollan now argues that that is the source of some of our most critical health care issues, e.g., addiction and depression. So don't underrate this book because of jacket hype. He may be (still) on the cutting edge, but this book (and the research it presents) is in far from going off the deep end. He has, as usual (especially for readers of The Botany of Desire, a far better book than The Omnivore's Dilemma), opened a reasoned, thoroughly researched, and open-minded window onto an area of research that for decades has helped those suffering from anxiety, alcoholism, and more.(less)

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David Wineberg
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 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).
David Rubenstein
This is an epic book about the history of psychedelics, and their potential for improving the human condition. My first thought on the subject was of people tripping on LSD, and making a mess of their lives. But, this does not have to be the case at all. Many mental illnesses could be cured with "psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy".

The first half of the book is about the history of psychedelics. Before 1965, Time-Life Publications were enthusiastic boosters of psychedelics. For example, in Life
"There is so much authority that comes out of the primary mystical experience that it can be threatening to existing hierarchical structures."
- Roland Griffiths, quoted in Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind


"To fall in hell or soar Angelic
You'll need a pinch of psychedelic"

- Humphry Osmond


I have family that struggle with addiction, depression, PTSD, and anxiety. The idea that one group of compounds (psychedelics) could transform how we view and treat these various challenges to the human con
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Don’t expect any “nicety of style” here, to use E.M. Forster’s phrase, though the book is well organized. Nor does Pollan possess much wit, though I will not call him entirely humorless. These propensities make the reading more work than it should be. Moreover, he flattens and homogenizes his experiences with psychedelics so they’re almost nothing. He incapable of evoking moods. The opportunity is given to him to tell us about his life in the context of these psychedelic experiences. He remains ...more
Michael Perkins
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Michael Pollan said at Big Sur’s Esalen Institute in 2019 that researchers had told him, “sometimes very explicitly, sometimes less so, that these molecules have the potential to change the world. This was kind of stunning to me …To solve the environmental crisis. To end war. Bring peace.” 

“If only we could get Trump to trip,” Pollan added. 


On the path to the Murti-Bing....

Pollan was born the same year I was, which makes us what I call mid-Boomers. As he says himself, we were too you
Sarah Jane
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I thought the writing was great but the more I read, the less interested I became in this topic. One description of someone’s trip was fine, by the tenth description I was bored.
Matt Quann
A cursory glance at the cover of Michael Pollan's new book examining the science of psychedelics manages to say a lot with very little. There are no vivid colours arranged in mandalas, no kaleidoscopic landscape, no face with eyes replaced by swirls of sickening colour combinations. Instead, a black, text-laden page is only broken up by the not-quite-square dimensions of a window that looks out onto a blue sky. In one sense, this encapsulates the book perfectly: it is an attempt to reorient the ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read the Pollan essay in the New Yorker about psychedelics and so I picked this up right away. And I'm convinced. I totally want to try this! Wish it wasn't illegal.

What was really brilliant about this book is his exploration of the ego and how that leads to so much stuckness and unhappiness. The book is a sober, in-depth account of a radical idea.
Morgan Blackledge
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a great book. What a fun book. What a wonderful, interesting, informative and even transformative read.

I loved it, not because of the novelty of the subject, but because of the absolutely appropriate caution, charming naivety and utter lack of pretense with which the author Michael Pollan handles the subject.

I’m 50, I grew up in a university town, and my parents and our family fiends and acquaintances came of age in the swingin’ 1960’s.

So needless to say, far (far far far) too much of my
Liza Fireman
This is probably the most boring book of someone telling about his experience of smoking toads and using psychedelics in general. It got a little bit better towards the end, and it was interesting to read about psychedelics therapy, but I can't say that I would be reading it again or that it was a revelation.

There was a lot of history in the book, and actually not enough science. The main thing is that were some stories, that I am sure could be told in a more engaging way. I also felt that it
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, 2018, nonfiction
Self and Spirit define the opposite ends of a spectrum, but that spectrum needn't reach clear to the heavens to have meaning for us. It can stay right here on earth. When the ego dissolves, so does a bounded conception not only of ourself but of our self-interest. What emerges in its place is invariably a broader, more open-hearted and altruistic – that is, more spiritual – idea of what matters in life. One in which a new sense of connection, or love, however defined, seems to figure prominen
David Katzman
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew that in the 1960s some research had been performed that demonstrated the highly successful use of a psychedelic drug called Ibogaine to disrupt alcoholism and cocaine and nicotine addiction. One of the most interesting facts that I learned from this book was how extensive the addiction research had also been using psilocybin and LSD. And these psychological studies have actually been revived legally in university settings today.

How to Change Your Mind, was an interesting journey that expl
Lou (nonfiction fiend)
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have such a wide range of non-fiction reading interests that sometimes, until I actually see the book and its subject, not even I knew that I wanted to read it! But if it is something I am eager to know more about, I know right away.

Let me start by saying, the only drugs I have even taken are those prescribed for me by a doctor, so I have no idea about other drugs, including psychedelic ones. What I do know about is how strong painkillers (morphine, fentanyl, buprenorphine, oxycodone etc) can
Over 400 pages of psychedelics: its history, its big players, its experiences, its possibilities, its science. No one could do it justice, probably. No one but Michael Pollan. If you want to talk technical merit, this is a 5-star product, start to finish, even if you're only 4-star enjoying it as a read.

Chiefly Pollan deals in magic mushrooms (here referred to more technically as psilocybin), LSD, and 5-MeO-DMT (a.k.a. "The Toad," and don't ask, but it's something out of a giant gland that you
Renee Amberg
Feb 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a struggle to get through. Unfortunately, it was more of a history book than a "How To Change Your Mind" book. Over half of the book is about the history of psychedelics and made me feel like I was reading a history textbook with unnecessary dates, people, and irrelevant facts. On top of that, the authors style of writing wasn't for me, there was a lot of fluff and unnecessary details in his writing. I would have liked the book better if it was actually about what psychedelics taught us ...more
Theresa Alan
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’d read Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, so when a friend bought this book for me, I already knew that Pollan was a respected journalist. I’d read a couple news articles about how LSD and psilocybin may be able to help with addictions. Since I believe the ridiculously high rates of incarceration the United States engages in since the war on drugs began with Nixon in the ‘70s, primarily because of people who battle substance abuse but aren’t violent criminals, I’m for anything that ...more
Mario the lone bookwolf
Nature's miracle products reveal many immediate healing options. Perhaps they even made the incarnation possible aka "stoned ape theory".

Please note that I have put the original German text to the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

The pharmaceutical industry has a logical aversion to non-industrial medicines. As a result, coverage of all alternative therapies is always biased and described one-sided negative. One of the favorite arguments is the lack of exact dosing and varying
Gretchen Rubin
Fascinating. I love Michael Pollan's work. I have to say, his account made me want to try psilocybin as part of my research . I'm not sure how one goes about doing that. If you have any suggestions, email me. ...more
da AL
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating info about LSD as well as mental illness, and philosophical musings on how the mind works -- past, present, future. Moreover, a first-person account by a respected science journalist!
Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤
Trippy Mushroom GIF - Trippy Mushroom Psychedelic GIFs

Prior to reading this book, I didn't know much about LSD or other psychedelics. If you'd asked me about them, I'd have furrowed my brow, bit the bottom corner of my lip, and remarked, Umm..... The Grateful Dead? So of course when I saw this book, realising it's something I knew nothing about, I wanted to read it. Seeing all the raving reviews about it, I wanted to read it even more. Sadly, I didn't love it as much as I expected I would and most others do.

Some of the history of LSD and psilocybi
Remarkable book. I hope this will gain the same prominence that Omnivore's Dilemma did several years ago. ...more
Mar 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
WOW! Sometimes you read something that is so eye opening and this is most certainly one of those books for me. Having always been intrigued by psychedelics and their effects on brain chemistry in particular - this was an unbelievably interesting, informative study. Especially from a philosophical and psychological viewpoint. It is easy to be fearful of these types of drugs and the effects they can have on people - nobody wants to experience a bad trip.
Also, this opens up a great discussion abou
Once again I seem to be in the minority. Oh well, I'm used to that. Having read The Omnivore's Dilemma and Botany of Desire. I had fairly high expectations for this book. Those high expectations were only slightly dampened by the tidal wave of praise for this book, which these days is more often a sign of brilliant marketing and/or controversial content than a sign of brilliant writing/content.

Three are three sections to the book:
1. A very brief history of psychedelics' use through time and a
Elizabeth Theiss Smith
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Prepare to change your mind about the role of psychedelic drugs in western culture. Or, if you have experience as a psychonaut, get ready for a broad, expansive review of history, research, and the possibilities for public policy.

When LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, and other psychedelic drugs first became known in the 1950s and 1960s, academic and medical researchers explored their potential for relieving depression, addiction, and other mental problems. The promising research results were abandone
Cathrine ☯️
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: group-challenge
5 🍄 🍄 🍄 🍄 🍄
You can’t always get what you want but you just might get what you need.
Among many others, what do Anaïs Nin, Jack Nicholson, Stanley Kubrick, André Previn, James Coburn, Aldous Huxley, Bill “W”, Ram Dass, Andrew Weil, Ethyl Kennedy, Steve Jobs, and Cary Grant have in common? Psychedelic therapy.


Are there other uses for mushrooms beyond sautéing them in butter, garlic, and dry sherry? Yes!
They can wipe out carpenter ant colonies, clean up pollution and industrial waste, and act as a
Daniel Chaikin
Now that I'm using audible.com I feel some responsibility to pick good books with good narration and I spent a lot of time struggling to come with a one this time and nothing seemed quite right enough, then I listened to this oddball title and Pollan won me over with his passion in the sample - he reads this himself. And, he also completely won me over with this book.

There was a time when psychedelics were a serious medicine under serious study, especially for alcoholics. Then Timothy Leary came
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pollan’s research regarding psychedelics is all-encompassing—covering everything from the time LSD was first discovered in 1938 by Albert Hofmann, a Swiss scientist working for Sandoz; to ingesting LSD, psilocybin and the crystallized venom of the Sonoran Desert toad himself. Of note, Pollan is most interested in the medical studies of this class of drugs and their potential use in humans—and not their recreational use.

Psychedelic-aided therapy, properly conducted by trained professionals can he
Jason Pettus
A few weeks ago, I was raving here about the first book I ever read by participatory journalist Michael Pollan, 2006's The Omnivore's Dilemma which permanently changed the way I now shop at grocery stores; and now I can say that I've had an equally great experience with my second Pollan book, his newest, the 600-page behemoth How to Change Your Mind, which looks at all the latest post-hippie, 21st-century, Western-medicine research into the links between psychedelic drugs, mental health, mindful ...more
Ross Blocher
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How to Change Your Mind is a great book, addressing psychedelics from a variety of angles and demystifying a topic with a whole bunch of mystery surrounding it. Michael Pollan, best known for his books about food and farming, delves first-hand into the world of LSD, psilocybin, DMT, ayahuasca, and a number of other well-known and more obscure drugs (5-MeO-DMT, anyone?). He describes the historical context, when these compounds were discovered, their stigmatization and eventual outlawing, the pra ...more
Jun 22, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tedious. Self-aggrandizing. I was drawn to the book by it's promise of "the new science..." If that is your interest, skip the first four chapters. Even then there is precious little content about this. "How to Change Your Mind"?? I can not understand how this title relates to the content of this book which time and time again emphasizes the illegality of the drugs and the incredibly limited number of experimental clinical trials with all their [necessary] constraints. If you are interested in a ...more
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Michael Pollan is an American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism.

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

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