A brilliant and brave investigation into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugs--and the spellbinding story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences
When Michael Pollan set out to research how LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) 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 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 inadvertently 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 suffering and joy, we can do our best to be fully present and find meaning in our lives.
"Pollan's deeply researched chronicle will enlighten those who think of psychedelics chiefly as a kind of punchline to a joke about the Woodstock generation and hearten the growing number who view them as a potential antidote to our often stubbornly narrow minds....engaging and informative."-Boston Globe
"Pollan keeps you turning the pages .... cleareyed and assured."-New York Times
"A deep dive into the history of psychedelics....Deliciously trippy."-NY Post
"Amid new scientific interest in the potential healing properties of psychedelic drugs, Pollan...sets about researching their history-and giving them a (supervised!) try himself. He came away impressed by their promise in treating addiction and depression-and with his mind expanded. Yours will be too."-People
"Astounding."-Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine
"Sweeping and often thrilling....It is to Pollan's credit that, while he ranks among the best of science writers, he's willing, when necessary, to abandon that genre's fixation on materialist explanation as the only path to understanding. One of the book's important messages is that the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, for the dying or seriously ill, can't be separated from the mystical experiences to which they give rise."-The Guardian
"Makes a compelling case for the potential value of psychedelic experiences."-Pittsburgh Post Gazette
"Journalist Michael Pollan explored psychoactive plants in The Botany of Desire(2001). In this bold, intriguing study, he delves further...Pollan even 'shakes the snow globe' himself, chemically self-experimenting in the spirit of psychologist William James, who speculated about the wilder shores of consciousness more than a century ago."-Nature, International Journal of Science
"Pollan, Cooked, 2013, has long enlightened and entertained readers with his superbly inquisitive and influential books about food. He now investigates a very different sort of comestible, psychedelics (from the Greek: "mind manifesting"), and what they reveal about consciousness and the brain. Pollan's complexly elucidating and enthralling inquiry combines fascinating and significant history with daring and resonant reportage and memoir, and looks forward to a new open-mindedness toward psychedelics and the benefits of diverse forms of consciousness." -Booklist (starred review)
"Pollan, Cooked, shifts his focus to other uses of plants in this brilliant history of psychedelics across cultures and generations, the neuroscience of its effects, the revival of research on its potential to heal mental illness-and his own mind-changing trips.... This nuanced and sophisticated exploration, which asks big questions about meaning-making and spiritual experience, is thought-provoking and eminently readable." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A trip well worth taking, eye-opening and even mind-blowing." -Kirkus (starred review)
"Known for his writing on plants and food, Michael Pollan... brings all the curiosity and skepticism for which he is well known to a decidedly different topic...How to Change Your Mind beautifully updates and synthesizes the science of psychedelics, with a highly personalized touch." - Science Magazine
"I've never regretted my adolescent use of LSD, but reading this fascinating, lucid, wise and hopeful book did make me wonder if those drug experiences weren't another example of youth wasted on the young. Michael Pollan, who waited until he was a grownup to experiment, is the perfect guide to today's dawning psychedelic renaissance."-Kurt Andersen, author of Fantasyland
"Michael Pollan masterfully guides us through the highs, lows, and highs again of psychedelic drugs. How to Change Your mind chronicles how it's been a longer and stranger trip than most any of us knew."-Daniel Goleman, co-author Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body
"Very few writers, if any, have the gravitas and journalistic cred to tackle
Michael Pollan is the author of seven previous books, including Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to the New York Times Magazine, he also teaches writing at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, TIME magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.