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

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

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“Pollan keeps you turning the pages . . . cleareyed and assured.” —New York Times

A #1 New York Times Bestseller, New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2018, and
 New York Times Notable Book 

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.

Review

“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

“Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics changed my mind, or at least some of the ideas held in my mind. . . . Whatever one may think of psychedelics, the book reminds us that the mind is the greatest mystery in the universe, that this mystery is always right here, and that we usually dedicate far too little time and energy to exploring it.” — Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

“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

“Revelatory . . . Immensely fascinating . . . Pollan approaches his subject as a science writer and a skeptic endowed with equal parts rigorous critical thinking and openminded curiosity.” — Maria Popova, Brainpickings

"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 this explosive subject—from both the outside and the inside—extract it from its nationally traumatic and irrationally over reactive past, and bring both reason and revelatory insight to it. Michael Pollan has done just that. This is investigative journalism at its rigorous and compelling best—and radically mind opening in so many ways just to read it.”  —Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction, and author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses
 
“Michael Pollan assembles a great deal of information here on the history, science, and effects of psychedelics. I found his frank recounting of his recent experiences with LSD, psilocybin, and toad venom most revealing. They appear to have softened his materialistic views and opened him to the possibilities of higher consciousness. He did, indeed, change his mind.”  —Andrew Weil, author of The Natural Mind and 8 Weeks to Optimum Health

"Do psychedelics open a door to a different reality, or is it just the same-old, same-old reality seen through a different set of lenses? I quickly became engrossed in Pollan’s narrative—the intersection of science, consciousness-enhancing, and government prohibition. But at the center of Pollan’s story is the greatest conundrum of all—why should substances that have been so beneficial to so many people, be the focus of crazy criminal penalties? Why, indeed.” — Errol Morris
 
“Michael Pollan has applied his brilliant mind and fastidious prose to the Mind itself, specifically the modes by which psychedelic substances temporarily obliterate the ego and engender deep spiritual connectedness to the universe. Michael walks the tight-rope between an objective ‘reporter’ and a spiritual pilgrim seeking insight and sustenance from psychedelics, and his innocence and integrity serve as a balance bar between cynicism and partisan affirmation. His success here places these drugs and what they do at the center of a potential revolution in medicine. It’s an extraordinary achievement, and no matter what you may think you know about psychedelics, if you even know the word, you should read this book.”  —Peter Coyote, author and Zen Buddhist Priest
 
“After 50 years underground, psychedelics are back. We are incredibly fortunate to have Michael Pollan be our travel guide for their renaissance. With humility, humor, and deep humanity, he takes us through the history, the characters, and the science of these “mind manifesting” compounds. Along the way, he navigates the mysteries of consciousness, spirituality, and the mind. What he has done previously for gardeners and omnivores, Pollan does brilliantly here for all of us who wonder what it means to be fully human, or even what it means to be." — Thomas R. Insel, MD, former director of National Institute of Mental Health and co-founder and president of Mindstrong Health

“A rare and utterly engrossing exposition that will most certainly delineate a fundamental change in the understanding of the human mind and the mystery of consciousness. Pollan previously reshaped our knowledge of earthly landscapes in his writings. With this book, he transforms our understanding of the innerscape, the unbounded world we occupy every conscious second of our life experienced by thoughts, suffering, awareness, joy, and reasoning. This is more than a book—it is a treasure." — Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest

About the Author

MICHAEL POLLAN is the author of seven books, including Cooked: The Natural History of Transformation, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, and The Omnivore''s Dilemma. A longtime contributor to The New York Times, he is also the Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, TIME magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Prologue

Midway through the twentieth century, two unusual new molecules, organic compounds with a striking family resemblance, exploded upon the West. In time, they would change the course of social, political, and cultural history, as well as the personal histories of the millions of people who would eventually introduce them to their brains. As it happened, the arrival of these disruptive chemistries coincided with another world historical explosion—that of the atomic bomb. There were people who compared the two events and made much of the cosmic synchronicity. Extraordinary new energies had been loosed upon the world; things would never be quite the same.

The first of these molecules was an accidental invention of science. Lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD, was first synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938, shortly before physi- cists split an atom of uranium for the first time. Hofmann, who worked for the Swiss pharmaceutical firm Sandoz, had been looking for a drug to stimulate circulation, not a psychoactive compound. It wasn’t until five years later when he accidentally ingested a minus- cule quantity of the new chemical that he realized he had created something powerful, at once terrifying and wondrous.


The second molecule had been around for thousands of years, though no one in the developed world was aware of it. Produced not by a chemist but by an inconspicuous little brown mushroom, this molecule, which would come to be known as psilocybin, had been used by the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America for hundreds of years as a sacrament. Called teonanácatl by the Aztecs, or “flesh of the gods,” the mushroom was brutally suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church after the Spanish conquest and driven un- derground. In 1955, twelve years after Albert Hofmann’s discovery of LSD, a Manhattan banker and amateur mycologist named R. Gordon Wasson sampled the magic mushroom in the town of Huautla de Jiménez in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Two years later, he published a fifteen-page account of the “mushrooms that cause strange visions” in Life magazine, marking the moment when news of a new form of consciousness first reached the general public. (In 1957, knowledge of LSD was mostly confined to the com- munity of researchers and mental health professionals.) People would not realize the magnitude of what had happened for several more years, but history in the West had shifted.

The impact of these two molecules is hard to overestimate. The advent of LSD can be linked to the revolution in brain science that begins in the 1950s, when scientists discovered the role of neu- rotransmitters in the brain. That quantities of LSD measured in mi- crograms could produce symptoms resembling psychosis inspired brain scientists to search for the neurochemical basis of mental dis- orders previously believed to be psychological in origin. At the same time, psychedelics found their way into psychotherapy, where they were used to treat a variety of disorders, including alcoholism, anxi- ety, and depression. For most of the 1950s and early 1960s, many in the psychiatric establishment regarded LSD and psilocybin as miracle drugs.


The arrival of these two compounds is also linked to the rise of the counterculture during the 1960s and, perhaps especially, to its particular tone and style. For the first time in history, the young had a rite of passage all their own: the “acid trip.” Instead of folding the young into the adult world, as rites of passage have always done, this one landed them in a country of the mind few adults had any idea even existed. The effect on society was, to put it mildly, disruptive.
Yet by the end of the 1960s, the social and political shock waves unleashed by these molecules seemed to dissipate. The dark side of psychedelics began to receive tremendous amounts of publicity— bad trips, psychotic breaks, flashbacks, suicides—and beginning in 1965 the exuberance surrounding these new drugs gave way to moral panic. As quickly as the culture and the scientific establishment had embraced psychedelics, they now turned sharply against them. By the end of the decade, psychedelic drugs—which had been legal in most places—were outlawed and forced underground. At least one of the twentieth century’s two bombs appeared to have been defused.
Then something unexpected and telling happened. Beginning in the 1990s, well out of view of most of us, a small group of scientists, psychotherapists, and so-called psychonauts, believing that some- thing precious had been lost from both science and culture, resolved to recover it.
Today, after several decades of suppression and neglect, psyche- delics are having a renaissance. A new generation of scientists, many of them inspired by their own personal experience of the compounds, are testing their potential to heal mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction. Other scientists are using psychedelics in conjunction with new brain-imaging tools to explore the links between brain and mind, hoping to unravel some of the mysteries of consciousness.

One good way to understand a complex system is to disturb it and then see what happens. By smashing atoms, a particle accelerator forces them to yield their secrets. By administering psychedelics in carefully calibrated doses, neuroscientists can profoundly disturb the normal waking consciousness of volunteers, dissolving the structures of the self and occasioning what can be described as a mystical expe- rience. While this is happening, imaging tools can observe the changes in the brain’s activity and patterns of connection. Already this work is yielding surprising insights into the “neural correlates” of the sense of self and spiritual experience. The hoary 1960s platitude that psychedelics offered a key to understanding—and “expanding”— consciousness no longer looks quite so preposterous.

How to Change Your Mind is the story of this renaissance. Although it didn’t start out that way, it is a very personal as well as public his- tory. Perhaps this was inevitable. Everything I was learning about the third-person history of psychedelic research made me want to explore this novel landscape of the mind in the first person too—to see how the changes in consciousness these molecules wrought actu- ally feel and what, if anything, they had to teach me about my mind and might contribute to my life.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Andy Larson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An engaging and thought provoking call for investment in further research
Reviewed in the United States on May 26, 2018
My wife Ivy and I have been avid readers of Michael Pollan''s previous articles and book-length works especially those involving healthful eating and the food industry. By way of background I am a forty-something surgeon and my wife is an author and blogger with MS who has... See more
My wife Ivy and I have been avid readers of Michael Pollan''s previous articles and book-length works especially those involving healthful eating and the food industry. By way of background I am a forty-something surgeon and my wife is an author and blogger with MS who has on occasion had to cope with condition-related mood issues. Without having done much research into the psychedelics other than to ensure they are indeed medically safe (as this book discusses in more detail) a couple years back we participated in several overseas guided ayahuasca (a psychedelic plant mentioned in How to Change Your Mind) sessions. Our experiences as a couple participating both to obtain hoped-for medical benefits and for, in my case, the "betterment of well people" to quote Pollan''s book have been discussed online and mirror the experiences described by Mr. Pollan and by the numerous academic professionals, researchers, and patients interviewed throughout this journalistic masterpiece. To describe this further is beyond the scope of my review but we can vouch that this book is one hundred percent serious journalism and that research investment into the study of psychedelics as medications for treatment resistant psychiatric conditions and as spiritual aids for the betterment of humanity is very much needed and is well underway as described in detail in Pollan''s book.

As for the prosaic the book is over 400 pages and written at an advanced level and will engage the most curious of readers. The book is organized into six chapters. The first is a broad introduction to the topic of psychedelics and the second discusses psychedelic mushrooms which possess an active ingredient that is the topic of many current-era human research studies. The third chapter discusses the first wave of psychedelic research (I had no idea that in the 1950''s these substances were academically studied and thought to hold great promise only for that research to be practically shut down as a result of the political upheaval of the late 60''s) and is of great interest to anyone interested in the history of these substances even if one has no interest in their pharmacological effects. The fourth discusses the author''s own personal experiences as a middle-aged adult with the psychedelics and he is spot-on with his fascinating first person descriptions of the experience. Finally, chapters five and six discuss current research, expected medical benefits and benefits to the well-person, the neuroscience behind the actual function of psychedelics in the brain, and proposed solutions for safely distributing the psychedelics to persons who could benefit.

For many readers this book will "change your mind" about the loaded term "psychedelic" and will open you up to at least the possibility the world could be a better place if these substances could be studied with as much zeal as are other pharmaceuticals and could be offered safely for the benefit of the millions of persons worldwide suffering from conditions related to dysfunction of the mind.
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Kelly A
5.0 out of 5 stars
The defining book of the psychedelic renaissance
Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2018
This book is many things. It''s entertaining to say the least. Pollan takes the heavily loaded topic of psychedelics (LSD and psilocybin) and analyzes it from the compelling perspective of a 63-year-old journalist who''s "not at all sure he''s ever had a single... See more
This book is many things. It''s entertaining to say the least. Pollan takes the heavily loaded topic of psychedelics (LSD and psilocybin) and analyzes it from the compelling perspective of a 63-year-old journalist who''s "not at all sure he''s ever had a single ''spiritually significant'' experience." Every few pages, I stopped to wonder how this old guy (sorry, Mr. Pollan) is so much more fluent on the topic than me, a 25-year-old hippie vegan.

But that''s exactly what makes the book so important. Psychedelics don''t need to be locked in a role as mind-expanding recreational drugs for young hippies. Research suggests they can play an important role in combating mental illness, and if properly regulated, provide psychological benefits for "the betterment of well people." If there''s anyone best suited to help society move past the 1960s and take a fresh, honest look at psychedelics, it''s Michael Pollan.

Also consider listening to his podcast with Tim Ferriss about this new book.
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Samuel W. Spangler
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Best review of this topic in decades
Reviewed in the United States on May 25, 2018
Last night I finished reading Michael Pollan''s latest book, How to Change Your Mind - What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence (Penguin Press, 2018). I''d ordered the book pre-publication, so they... See more
Last night I finished reading Michael Pollan''s latest book, How to Change Your Mind - What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence (Penguin Press, 2018). I''d ordered the book pre-publication, so they sent it to me on the day of its release. I''d been happily anticipating the book as I''ve admired Pollan''s previous works very much. His journalism has long dealt with ''Gaia-related'' topics and his even-handed, well written and researched presentations have always included the aspects of conciousness at their core. I can unhesitatingly recommend this volume. He presents both a history of modern (1950-70s) ''psychedelic'' research studies & explorations and a current report of the newly resumed studies in the many uses of entheogens. This includes both overviews of clinical studies, practices of ''shamanic traditions'', and his own personal experiences. I''m sure you''d recognize the names of many of the principle players & circumstances he describes; old friends of psychedelic literature & exploration.

I think it''s great that such a thoughtful book would be offered by this well-accomplished ''mainstream'' journalist. This can only lend more weight to the general public & our authorities to developing a less reactionary and more sane view of these sacramental benefactors. Pollan, like all of us, is very concerned about how we can continue to sustainably exist as individuals, a society, a species. He sees that there may be some allies, close to hand, that have long been available to help us adjust our perceptions and continue on an evolutionary journey, to grow & to expand rather than self-destructing. "How to change your mind" is a well chosen phrase, an observation that often our ''problems'' are ones of perception rather than actual unyielding obstacles. Good work, good book, good gracious.
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Arnold Ludwig
2.0 out of 5 stars
The Difference Between True Meaning and he Sense of Meaning
Reviewed in the United States on August 26, 2018
Michael Pollan’s book, How to Change Your Mind, is replete with all kinds of interesting anecdotes and observations about the history, folklore and seeming effects of psychedelic drugs. However, the author’s fluency covers up a number of serious flaws, omissions and... See more
Michael Pollan’s book, How to Change Your Mind, is replete with all kinds of interesting anecdotes and observations about the history, folklore and seeming effects of psychedelic drugs. However, the author’s fluency covers up a number of serious flaws, omissions and misstatements. As an example, he states that the edited book by C. Tart, Altered States of Consciousness, made “a tremendous impression on Paul,” but he failed to mention that my opening chapter by the same title in that book, defining the characteristics of these states, conflicted with many of his observations about psychedelics. Most important, for all his seemingly scholarly references, he completely omitted to mention the results of perhaps the largest, federally funded research project comparing the effects of hypnodelic therapy, psychedelic therapy and hypnotherapy to placebos on chronic alcoholics (A. M. Ludwig, J. Levine, L. Stark, LSD and Alcoholism, 1970, Chas. C. Thomas, Publ.). This study won the Hofheimer Award, given annually by the American Psychiatric Association for outstanding research. In brief, what this two-year follow-up study (plus several previous articles) showed was that although the patients receiving hallucinogens claimed greater subjective improvement than those receiving placebos, they were comparable on all objective measures (e.g., legal difficulties, social problems, employment, marital problems, relapse, etc.) to those receiving placebos. In other words, psychedelics contributed no significant improvement in their overall behavior. Also, Pollan’s book made no mention of prior actual studies dealing with the use of LSD in the treatment of drug addiction.

Aside from this omission of critical information, the author’s interpretation of the major effects of psychedelic drugs is questionable. After his experience with the drug, he appropriately stated, “Psychedelics can make the most cynical of us into fervent evangelists of the obvious.” One of his great insights after taking a hallucinogen was, “Love is everything.” Nice. But what he does not emphasize is that psychedelics also can make users fervent evangelists of the PREPOSTEROUS. Unfortunately, the author of the book does not adequately distinguish between “true” meaning and the artificial or false sense of meaning. Just because something seems very real or profound to someone does not make it true. A paranoiac’s delusion proves the point.
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Brian1965
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An Amazing Book
Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2018
I was thrilled to learn that Michael Pollan was going to tackle the subject of psychedelics and the promising research being done by MAPS and Johns Hopkins, among others. I love his previous books. He is a skilled writer and does such a great job explaining complex... See more
I was thrilled to learn that Michael Pollan was going to tackle the subject of psychedelics and the promising research being done by MAPS and Johns Hopkins, among others. I love his previous books. He is a skilled writer and does such a great job explaining complex topics. I got my copy one day early (thank you to Amazon''s efficient delivery service). I am only partially through it, and so far it is fascinating. His recent appearance on Tim Ferriss'' podcast was tremendous and is a great introduction to the book and his careful handling of the topic. The potential value for the use of psychedelics in mental health treatment must be fully explored. I hope this book helps further that exploration.
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Susan F. Hatfield
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Tried to finish, but never could
Reviewed in the United States on May 17, 2019
Using Mushrooms and LSD to treat serious disorders seemed like an interesting idea. I was curious, but became lost in the verbiage and reminiscing of the 60''s. Having been a young adult during this period, I really just wanted to know how these drugs could become useful... See more
Using Mushrooms and LSD to treat serious disorders seemed like an interesting idea. I was curious, but became lost in the verbiage and reminiscing of the 60''s. Having been a young adult during this period, I really just wanted to know how these drugs could become useful medications for serious disorders. Just couldn''t struggle through all those background stories to find the answer to my questions. This book is not on my favorites list.
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Gina
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
My mind is not changed about Pollan!
Reviewed in the United States on May 24, 2018
Storing books isn''t my thing so I try the library first... and if I buy a book its later donated. But I''ve kept all my Pollan books. This one sounded so interesting I was compelled to pre-order. On the subject of psychedelics I knew little: just what I recalled... See more
Storing books isn''t my thing so I try the library first... and if I buy a book its later donated. But I''ve kept all my Pollan books. This one sounded so interesting I was compelled to pre-order.

On the subject of psychedelics I knew little: just what I recalled as a tween in the late 60s and as a nursing student in the late 70s....it was all actually quite frightening. After reading this fascinating book it doesn''t seem that way anymore.

I am consistently gobsmacked by this author''s exhaustive research, openness to experiences and generosity in sharing them with the world. I would be hard pressed to choose between this and The Omnivores Dilemma. At any rate I certainly got my mind opened. Maybe someday I''ll get a chance to change it.
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A. Menon
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Narrative of the author''s introduction to and journey with psychedelics in middle age.
Reviewed in the United States on July 31, 2018
How to Change Your Mind is quite a different pace from the author''s other books; but the result is excellent nonetheless. I typically had read Michael Pollan for his food non-fiction works but How to Change Your Mind is a personal journey of psychedelics that the author... See more
How to Change Your Mind is quite a different pace from the author''s other books; but the result is excellent nonetheless. I typically had read Michael Pollan for his food non-fiction works but How to Change Your Mind is a personal journey of psychedelics that the author bolsters with history and science to help the reader learn about a subject that is seemingly wrongly a taboo. There''s a lot of ground covered in the book and the level of objectivity is to be admired. For a person looking to learn about psychadelics, the mind and perspective on a balanced life; this is worth the read.

The book is split really into 3 parts. The author gives a quick introduction to how he came to want to take the personal journey to understand psychedelics and the potential benefits as his personal background was largely absent of substance use/abuse so the first chapter really just contextualizes the why for this project as its a different pace than his previous books. The book then gets into a more structured approach and discusses the history of the use of psychedelics in the West. He discusses how mushrooms were discovered in Mexico and had been used for spiritual journeys and also how LSD was synthesized and shelved by Sandoz and how its use by an individual was largely a random act. Its pretty interesting to learn the history of what early benefits were perceived for LSD; in particular as a means to understand psychosis but soon after as a means to help with addiction and terminal illness. LSD and mushrooms were made illegal partially due to Timothy Leary and the counterculture that evolved and embraced their use and the author gives the stories of events. Its definitely interesting for those unfamiliar. After giving the reader a good sense of how people used and thought about psychedelics as they first explored their potential, the author gets into his experience in using them for the first time. Inevitably communicating the experience is tough as one has an altered state of consciousness that is difficult to communicate with accuracy, but to one gets a shadow of the author''s experience on some serious mushrooms, LSD and a hallucinogenic toad. Its definitely entertaining and the sense of connectedness is conveyed. Especially if one has personal experience with doing the drugs the author does a pretty good job of describing some of the sensations. In any case the author goes through experiences of mushroom hunting as well as the perceptions while on it and the lingering aspects of the experience. If one has read the omnivore''s dilemma, mushroom hunting falls within the author''s expertise but magic mushrooms are seemingly much harder to distinguish from many poisonous mushrooms so the hunting process is pretty interesting. The author then discusses some of the understood neuroscience of hallucinogens and some theories about how psychedelics operate. This remains a subject of study so there aren''t definitive conclusions but the author argues that mushrooms and LSD improve communication between parts of the brain which don''t communicate actively and suppress activity in the more self referential parts of the brain which the author names the default network. The author discusses recent studies in psychedelic clinical research and notes funding for such programs has increased in the last decade. The author finally discusses how these substances might be useful to people. The focuses of discussion are on those terminally ill, as psychedelics can help a person come to grips with their mortality; the author takes a case study approach with this chapter and discusses the effects on particular people who found them extremely useful. The author discusses addiction as well and how addiction can be broken with psychedelics when properly applied, it is caveated though that the effects are unlikely to be permanent but can help behavior on the order of months. One needs to remember that these are areas that need to be studied such that clinical data can lead to actual conclusions about these topics rather than the stories and hopes projected by believers or the fears projected by the puritanical. The author finally discusses depression which is a huge category. The anecdotal evidence from the authors interactions were all positive about the benefits of clinically administered psychedelics to combat depression.

How to Change Your Mind is an informative book to consider. The author partially argues that psychedelics become very useful as we get to middle age and get entrenched in our way of thinking. These drugs expand the way the mind processes and bring back a youthfulness to the way that the mind thinks about things that is very spiritual. The author is scientific in approach and given his non substance intensive background it seems to be an honest account of a subject which I am sure many people consider taboo so its quite convincing. The book definitely helps rationalize doing psychedelics for tangible benefit without real side effects; though it is careful to remind the reader the environment of consumption matters. Definitely worth the read and almost definitely worth the experience if one can!
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Top reviews from other countries

Helen P. Smith
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Everyone should read this
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 1, 2019
Superb, groundbreaking , based on scientific evidence
Superb, groundbreaking , based on scientific evidence
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent and informative book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 13, 2020
Extremely interesting dive into the science and non-science behind LSD and magic mushrooms.
Extremely interesting dive into the science and non-science behind LSD and magic mushrooms.
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paul g
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Mind blowing stuff.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 23, 2019
I absolutely love this book. Now I just need the trip A life changing proposal
I absolutely love this book. Now I just need the trip
A life changing proposal
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Heimwerker
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Buchtitel ist irreführend
Reviewed in Germany on October 29, 2018
Dies ist kein "How-to"-Buch. Laut Klappentext des Buches selbst handelt es sich um einen "blend of science, memoir, travel writing, history, and medicine". Das ist die wohlwollende Formulierung. Die etwas kritischere könnte lauten: jede Menge social gossip. Für Therapeuten,...See more
Dies ist kein "How-to"-Buch. Laut Klappentext des Buches selbst handelt es sich um einen "blend of science, memoir, travel writing, history, and medicine". Das ist die wohlwollende Formulierung. Die etwas kritischere könnte lauten: jede Menge social gossip. Für Therapeuten, Forscher oder Personen mit praxisorientiertem Interesse an How-to-change-your-mind findet sich da sehr wenig. Es gibt bessere Werke.
Dies ist kein "How-to"-Buch. Laut Klappentext des Buches selbst handelt es sich um einen "blend of science, memoir, travel writing, history, and medicine". Das ist die wohlwollende Formulierung. Die etwas kritischere könnte lauten: jede Menge social gossip.
Für Therapeuten, Forscher oder Personen mit praxisorientiertem Interesse an How-to-change-your-mind findet sich da sehr wenig. Es gibt bessere Werke.
20 people found this helpful
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j G Flufftrass
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Well written, fascinating.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 20, 2019
Honest and could be life changing
Honest and could be life changing
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