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Publisher's Summary

The number one New York Times best seller

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 decided to 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 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 struggle and beauty, we can do our best to be fully present and find meaning in our lives.

©2018 Michael Pollan (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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A delightful trip

I think the only thing that could make this book better would be a complementary drop of acid on the corner of the last page.

146 of 158 people found this review helpful

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Enthralling and Informative

Michael Pollan is at is finest in How to Change Your Mind. The first third of the book covering the modern history of psychedelics I could take or leave, but the latter two thirds had me rapt and thinking, “what a time to be alive.” To call his closing thoughts moving would be a sorry understatement. 9/10 would read again

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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A thorough and insightful exploration.

Michael does a great job deep diving into an area that’s below the radar for many. There were points when it felt like he was a little too long-winded but then he’d turn the corner to a totally different fascinating aspect of the study or use of psychedelics. After finishing it, I look back and felt like he was incredibly thorough, insightful, and open- minded approaching the subject. The topic is not new to me but he still opened my eyes and mind to many new perspectives. Time well spent.

39 of 43 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 06-07-18

To fall in hell or soar Angelic...

"To fall in hell or soar Angelic
You'll need a pinch of psychedelic"
- Humphry Osmond

"There is so much authority that comes out of the primary mystical experience that it can be threatening to existing hierarchical structures."
- Roland Griffiths, quoted in Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind

I have family that struggle with addiction, depression, PTSD, and anxiety. The idead that one type of compound (psychedelics) could transform how we view and treat these various challenges to the human condition is VERY excititng. Pollan's book does a great job of juggling the memoirist experience with psychedelics (think of this partially as a 21st century version of Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater) with a narrative nonfiction exploration of the history and current science surrounding primarily LSD, Psilocybin, and 5-MeO-DMT (the Toad). Michael Pollan write well (he's not quite, for me, upto the level of John McPhee -- but he's close. He both annoys and seduces at the same time. He reminds me of a well-produced TED Talk. He is both interesting and compelling, but also a bit like a worn and comfortable shoe (say a Birkenstock) that represents a group I already feel comfortable both simultaneously walking with and yes kicking.

Most of Pollan's book focuses on LSD and Psilocybin (which makes sense because that is where most of the history and science are). I was familiar with Leary, Ginsburg, Huxley, and even James' takes on mind-altering drugs and states, but it was nice to see it framed by Pollan. I was also thrilled to be introduced to a bunch of characters I had never heard before. I feel a movie could/should be made about JUST Al Hubbard.

There is a huge part of me that finds the idea of psychedelic experience very compelling (I've got friends who are well-respected doctors, writers, and attorneys who feel the same way). However, my issue with most drugs (especially pot), is most people take them to GET close to where I feel I am already. I have a lot of awe, wonder, don’t get depressed, feel no guilt, exist with very low anxiety, etc (although I’m absolute sh!t at meditation). I think I do a pretty good job of hanging in the present (while being able to look both forward and back when needed). So, I'm not sure I would be seeking LSD or Psilocybin (or smoking the Toad) for any reason except curiosity and [gasp] recreation. That's the draw. The reason I am skeptical still, is I'm not sure I trust most of the product (clarification, after reading this I trust the product more than say the manufacturer, deliverer, source). I'm a bit suspect of taking candy OR street tacos from complete strangers, so smoking a Toad that I didn't catch and milk myself doesn't exactly seem like something I'm going to run off and do anytime soon. But, if the practice comes above ground, standardizes, or I'm dying -- all bets are off. Bring me the TOAD.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • JB
  • 05-27-18

Excellent non-hippie journey through Psychedelics

So often books and videos about psychedelics are taken from a post use hippie new age perspective so it was really refreshing and more interesting to hear this man's journey from newbie to trying the major 4 psychoactive drugs available today. And especially given that he wasn't too quick to conclude or associate his experience with the supernatural or God but rather decided to look into what science says is going on related to the physicality, the default network, the Ego etc.

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Interesting

Well researched, thought provoking and humorous As well as a great listen not boring in the least. thank you M Pollan.

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

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love, love, loved it

the best sane approach to a subject that has too often been all too wrapped up in non scientific language and thinking, all too ready to accept the most illogical and emotional thoughts and rationale. This book in contrast breaks through the genre with a down to earth approach and yet ready to accept the vision and experience that psychedelic therapy has to offer.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

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Open Up!

Michael Pollan again pushing the way we think. Open up to the idea that alternatives to common issues will reap results!

23 of 27 people found this review helpful

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A trip

I greatly enjoyed Pollan’s previous work but I admit the topic surprised me a bit. It is a change from his previous food centric writing.

Having said this, it is an entertaining read and his narration is excellent too.

If you ever wondered about psychedelics this book is def for you.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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For anyone curious about Psychedelics 101

written from the vantage point of a outsider (until he wrote this book), this book gives a unique perspective into the world of Psychedelics and their huge potential. his humility and healthy skepticism as a journalist make a great combo to give a thorough critique of these powerful molecules.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful