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How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  14,559 ratings  ·  1,905 reviews

The No.1 New York Times Bestseller

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 lig

Kindle Edition, 480 pages
Published May 17th 2018 by Penguin (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…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  ·  review of another edition
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).
"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
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
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
Matthew 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
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, arc, 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 prominentl
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Sarah Jane
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.
Remarkable book. I hope this will gain the same prominence that Omnivore's Dilemma did several years ago.
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
Science (Fiction) Comedy Horror and Fantasy Geek/Nerd
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
Michael Perkins
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 young to be part of Haight Ashbury, The Summer of Love and Woodstock.

But I had two older siblings who were on the front end of the Boomer generation and experienced it all. I paid close attention to what happened to their cohort. My older brother was destroyed by drugs, including psychedelics, and died at age 39.

There's a kind of evangelistic fervor in th
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 w
Morgan Blackledge
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
Cathrine ☯️
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
Elizabeth Theiss
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
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
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Additional comment 1/9/2019: I've shared this review with non-Goodreads friends and got a bit of side eye. So I'd like to share some context. I have never taken LSD or mushrooms, or for that matter any non-prescribed drug other than a minuscule amount of pot in college. So my point here is not to promote psilocybin because I use it, because I never have, but rather to provide a review of a very interesting book.

How to Change Your Mind is an investigation by journalist and writer Michael Pollan (
Daniel Chaikin
Now that I'm using 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
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cuốn sách hay nhất viết về psychedelics và có lẽ là một trong những cuốn hay nhất về Mind and Consciousness.

Michael Pollan quả thật rất giỏi, từ một người hoàn toàn amateur với psychedelics (trip đầu tiên mà ông thực hiên là ở tuổi 60 trong khi viết cuốn sách này), ông đã viết một cuốn sách bao quát lịch sử của psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin...) ở phương Tây, và tiếp cận vấn đề từ nhiều góc độ: điều trị tâm lý, tâm linh- kinh nghiệm huyền bí, chữa trị các chứng nghiện rượu và trầm cảm...Các thành
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
Benjamin Siegel
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel lucky to live in a world where Michael Pollan has now written, sometimes quite beautifully, about tripping.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is precisely where psychedelic therapy seems to be operating: on a frontier between spirituality and science that is as provocative as it is uncomfortable.
michael pollan is one of those authors who can, with ample research, elucidatory prowess, and a captivating writing style, make nearly any subject wholly fascinating and engaging. so it is with his new book, how to change your mind, wherein he explores the intriguing background of psychedelics (mostly lsd and psilocybin) and the great p
I have led a boring life, at least as measured by the topics covered by this book, Michael Pollan’s "How to Change Your Mind." Not only have I never taken any psychedelic drug of any type, I have never taken any illegal drug at all. Similarly, I have never had any type of mystical experience whatsoever, though I am certainly open to such a thing and have total confidence that many other people have. Just not me. But here, as in many matters, others go where I have not tread. Pollan, famous mostl ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Michael Pollan is a phenomenal writer, and he shines once again with his newest book. He takes a deep dive into the history and science of psychedelics, all while weaving in his own personal narrative. It is an engaging and fascinating read; one that propels the reader on a journey through the re-emergence of this scientific field. For anyone at all interested in the topic, this is probably a must-read. Highly recommended.
Laura Noggle
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
*So perhaps spiritual experience is simply what happens in the space that opens up in the mind when “all mean egotism vanishes.” Wonders (and terrors) we’re ordinarily defended against flow into our awareness; the far ends of the sensory spectrum, which are normally invisible to us, our senses can suddenly admit. While the ego sleeps, the mind plays, proposing unexpected patterns of thought and new rays of relation. The gulf between self and world, that no-man’s-land which in ordinary hours the ...more
Renee Amberg
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
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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.
“Normal waking consciousness feels perfectly transparent, and yet it is less a window on reality than the product of our imaginations-a kind of controlled hallucination.” 15 likes
“You go deep enough or far out enough in consciousness and you will bump into the sacred. It’s not something we generate; it’s something out there waiting to be discovered. And this reliably happens to nonbelievers as well as believers.” Second, that, whether occasioned by drugs or other means, these experiences of mystical consciousness are in all likelihood the primal basis of religion. (Partly for this reason Richards believes that psychedelics should be part of a divinity student’s education.) And third, that consciousness is a property of the universe, not brains. On this question, he holds with Henri Bergson, the French philosopher, who conceived of the human mind as a kind of radio receiver, able to tune in to frequencies of energy and information that exist outside it. “If you wanted to find the blonde who delivered the news last night,” Richards offered by way of an analogy, “you wouldn’t look for her in the TV set.” The television set is, like the human brain, necessary but not sufficient.” 12 likes
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