How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

Michael Pollan. Penguin Press, $28 (480p) ISBN 978-1-59420-422-7
Food writer 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. For an entire generation, psychedelics were synonymous with Harvard professor-turned-hippie Timothy Leary and his siren call to “turn on, tune in, drop out.” But, Pollan argues, that freewheeling attitude quickly turned into a “full-on moral panic about LSD” that “doomed the first wave of [psychedelic] research.” By the 1990s, the body of knowledge about the successful use of LSD to treat alcoholics in the ’50s and ’60s was buried, and medical interest only revived in 2010 with studies on treating cancer anxiety with psilocybin. Pollan writes movingly of one man whose “psychedelic journey had shifted his perspective from a narrow lens trained on the prospect of dying to a renewed focus on how best to live the time left to him.” Today, renewed interest has sent scientists racing ahead with trials of psychedelics to treat addiction and depression, and curious seekers like Pollan into experiments with these substances. This nuanced and sophisticated exploration, which asks big questions about meaning-making and spiritual experience, is thought-provoking and eminently readable. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/12/2018
Release date: 05/15/2018
Ebook - 978-0-525-55894-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-525-62716-6
Paperback - 688 pages - 978-0-525-63194-1
Compact Disc - 978-0-525-62715-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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