THE DREAM DRUGSTORE: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness

J. Allan Hobson, Author . MIT $27.95 (349p) ISBN 978-0-262-08293-8

This engrossing scientific analysis of brain chemistry gives a broad survey of the complex chemical and psychic interactions that produce alterations in human consciousness. Arguing that there are clear, although not direct, correspondences between "normal dreaming, the visions induced by psychedelic drugs, and the psychosis of mental illness," Hobson explores—in layman's language and with personal anecdotes as well as historical examples—the significance, purpose and function of these states for the human mind. Drawing upon a wide range of theories and discoveries—such as William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), David Hartley's startling theories of dreaming (circa 1804) and Albert Hofmann's accidental discovery of LSD in 1938 —Hobson elucidates such cultural and scientific questions as how Freud's dream theory relates to neurobiology, how Prozac and other antidepressants work and whether human consciousness and memory can be changed. Hobson views the brain itself as endlessly protean and malleable—it is his eponymous "dream drugstore." His nonprejudicial, systemic approach to the various effects of brain chemistry is both enlightening and culturally challenging in its radical view of how psychedelics could be used in therapy and research into the causes of mental illness. Never avoiding the hard science behind his theories, Hobson delivers an important, needed addition to the literature on drugs, sleep, mental disturbances and brain science that is highly accessible to the common reader as well as to the scientist. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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