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


  • ISBN-13: 9781594204227
  • ISBN-10: 1594204225
  • Publisher: Penguin Press
  • Publish Date: May 2018
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.66 pounds
  • Page Count: 464

The science of psychedelic drugs

Psychedelic drugs often conjure images of the colorful, mind-bending world of 1960s counterculture. But therapists and scientists at the time also used these drugs to treat and research issues such as depression, alcoholism and anxiety. However, when publicity began to take a negative turn, focusing on bad trips, psychotic breaks, flashbacks and suicides, the drugs became illegal and largely unattainable—until now.

In his fascinating book How to Change Your Mind, bestselling author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Cooked) discusses the recent psychedelic drug resurgence. Starting in the 1990s, a new generation of scientists began to quietly reinvestigate the potential of these drugs, not only to treat mental illnesses and addiction but also to help cancer patients cope with the prospect of dying and “explore the links between the brain and mind, hoping to unravel some of the mysteries of consciousness.”

Pollan discusses the different types of psychedelic drugs and their history in detail, from plant-based forms such as psilocybin (mushrooms) and mescaline (cacti) to LSD (synthetically produced). The current psychedelic renaissance piqued his interest and prompted him to do his own exploration. He devotes a whole chapter, appropriately named “Travelogue,” to these encounters. He writes, “Psychedelic experiences are notoriously hard to render in words,” but he does his best, thoughtfully deeming a “trip” as the relinquishment of the ego power struggle most of us go through every day.

As Pollan describes, this altered state of consciousness can be spiritually enlightening, mind-opening and life-changing. It can also be terror-provoking. How to Change Your Mind chronicles the unusual power of these substances, instilling a better understanding of their capabilities in helping to discover, heal and change our minds. It’s a trip worth taking.


This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.