How to Change your Mind

How to Change your Mind

What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

Book - 2018
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"A brilliant and brave investigation by Michael Pollan, author of five New York Times best sellers, 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 decidedto explore the landscape of the mind in the first person as well as the third. Thus began a singular adventure into the experience of 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 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 thegripping 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 ofhuman consciousness and how, in a world that offers us both struggle and beauty, we can do our best to be fully present and find meaning in our lives"--
Publisher: New York :, Penguin Press,, 2018
ISBN: 9781594204227
Branch Call Number: 615.7883 P771h 2018
Characteristics: xii, 465 pages ; 25 cm


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Dec 20, 2018

This was a very thought-provoking book and nicely intertwined some fascinating history (I did not know that Cary Grant had taken LSD dozens of times, nor that Bill W -- the founder of AA had also been enamored of LSD for the purported benefits in healing additions) with cutting edge neuroscience, and then topped it off with vivid descriptions of his own recent psychedelic trips.
I found the idea that psychedelics might have benefits for essentially mentally healthy people -- who would like to get, "unstuck" in life and experience more awe, love and connected-ness with others intriguing.
Perhaps the biggest take-away for me though, was the science suggesting similarities between the brains of meditators and those tripping. I found myself newly motivated to get back to a daily meditation practice.

OPL_BreanneS Dec 15, 2018

Yes, that’s right: heavyweight journalist Pollan, best-known for his incisive and influential food writing, has ventured into the historically hippie-dippy territory of LSD trips, magic mushrooms, and other (currently) illegal mind-altering substances. The result? A book that not only gives readers a sweeping history of scientific research into psychedelics, but also reveals the author’s own experiences with LSD, psilocybin, and 5-MeO-DMT; digs into the neuroscience of the tripping brain; and examines how psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy has been used in clinical trials at institutions such as NYU and Johns Hopkins to treat depression, addiction, and end-of-life anxiety in cancer patients. This book left me feeling incredibly hopeful about the future of mental health treatment--and excited for the new paradigm that's coming.

Dec 14, 2018

Another fantastic book by Michael Pollan. This time instead of writing about how people interact with plants and animals for food, Pollan explores people's use of psychedelics medicinally, culturally, spiritually and recreationally. It is a well-researched, funny, informative and emotional look at humanity's longstanding, and oftentimes controversial relationship to entheogens. Part travelogue, part scientific history, Pollan charts the rise of psychedelics among the counter-culture of the 1960s and how this same love-affair was the chief reason the cutting-edge research around psychedelics in the treatment of depression, PTSD and alcoholism came to a grinding halt. Pollan knows how to mix a professorially air with a warm, friendly tone that draws readers in. The audiobook is also highly recommended, as Pollan narrates his own work.

Dec 04, 2018

Best book I've read in years. Very well researched and written, the book covers the history and use of psychedlics up to 2017. Pollan's analysis of current research results is insightful. I learned more about the human mind, psychology, and cognition than I did in college. Highly recommended, in more ways than one.

Nov 20, 2018

This is another wonderfully written book by Michael Pollan that I can't praise enough. It's a combination of all the topics I find most interesting -- the neuroscience of consciousness, psychedelics, mental health, history of drugs, and dealing with death. He also includes his trip reports, which he describes as accurately as possible in rich, elegant prose.

In particular, I really appreciate the fact that he approaches the subject of spiritual/mystical/transcendent experiences from a more scientific perspective, capturing the universal qualities of these experiences that don't necessarily depend on belief in the supernatural. Personally, I strive to understand the science of how these molecules affect the brain, and that understanding does not detract from the healing and the sense of awe that I've gotten from psychedelic therapy.

liljables Sep 10, 2018

Michael Pollan hasn't disappointed me yet! His non-fiction is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, balancing in-depth research with insightful, often humorous personal insights. Now, I will admit that "How to Change Your Mind" didn't immediately compel me to make any changes in my personal life, as some of his previous books have, but it did inspire me to strike up some truly fascinating conversations with loved ones re: their experiences with psychedelics.

If the holds list is getting you down and you're just dying for the highlights of this books, I'd recommend watching/listening to Michael Pollan being interviewed on The Joe Rogan Experience:

Aug 17, 2018

I always catch up on Michael Pollan's books as they are published and this one is my favourite.
The great natural drugs that have been outlawed for decades are having a resurgence, and this is good to see. An important book for the times. Read it if you are interested in health and mental health. I only hope that these drugs are legalized soon and health professionals can administer them for the real benefits they have.

TechLibrarian Aug 17, 2018

The famous food writer Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Botany of Desire, Cooked, etc.) tackles a new subject, psychedelics. This book consists of three main parts: the science and the history of psychedelics (even how that name came to be), and a personal account of Pollan's own experiences as he--a self-avowed materialist--experiments with psychedelics. The research presented in this book has interesting implications for those who struggle with depression, alcoholism and addiction, and for those nearing the ends of their lives.

ArapahoeTina Jul 27, 2018

A fascinating and comprehensive book on psychedelics that gives a balanced look at their history, applications for treating mental illness and for those looking for more meaning in life, and the neuroscience of how they act on your brain. Pollan also includes very personal accounts of his own experiences with these powerful and transformative substances.

Jun 11, 2018

Pollan has written a thorough, balanced and utterly fascinating account of psychedelics (psilocybin, LSD, and a little-known toad venom! ) in North America. He covers the recent history which includes many other people than the best known "faces" of earlier days, e.g., Timothy Leary at Harvard, Ken Kesey in California and Abram Hoffer in Saskatchewan. Pollan talks to present-day scientists, medical practitioners, psychotherapists and "trip guides", some of whom are exploring and scientically documenting the use of these drugs to help people with terrible illnesses like PTSD, depression and severe anxiety, and also in palliative care. He experiments himself with psychedelics, and writes in a thoughtful and beautiful way (as always) about these experiences. He explains the neuroscience of the brain and the effects of these drugs in a way that a non-scientist can understand.

I have admired all of Pollan's work since I read "Botany of Desire", and his food books have been celebrated for changing how many people think about what we grow and what we eat, but this book is his best and most important book yet.

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