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How to Change Your Mind (UK Edition)

What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, And Transcedence

A trip well worth taking, eye-opening and even mind-blowing. —Kirkus Reviews

Dear Friends and Readers,

I am thrilled to tell you about my upcoming book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.

The book grew out of the reporting I did for a 2015 article about psychedelic psychotherapy in the New Yorker, called “The Trip Treatment.” I interviewed a number of cancer patients who, in the course of a single guided session on psilocybin, had such a powerful mystical experience that their fear of death either faded or vanished altogether.

So began what grew into a two-year journey into the world of psychedelics—LSD, psilocybin, Ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT. The book explores the renaissance of scientific research into these compounds and their potential to relieve several kinds of mental suffering, including depression, anxiety, and addiction. It also delves into the rich history of psychedelics in America, tracing the promise of the early research in the fifties and how a moral panic about LSD in the mid-sixties led to decades of suppression, just now ending. I spend time with neuroscientists who are using psychedelics in conjunction with modern brain imaging technologies to probe the mysteries of consciousness and the self. Several of the scientists I profile are convinced psychedelics could revolutionize mental healthcare and our understanding of the mind.

But what I didn’t expect when I embarked on this journey was for it to result in what is surely the most personal book I’ve ever written. I like to immerse myself in whatever subject I’m reporting—whether that means buying a steer to understand the meat industry or apprenticing myself to a baker to understand bread. What began as a third-person journalistic inquiry ended up a first-person quest to learn what these medicines had to teach me about not only the mind but also my mind, and specifically about the nature of spiritual experience. This book has taken me places I’ve never been—indeed, places I didn’t know existed.

I’m both excited and nervous to publish How to Change Your Mind this spring. I do hope you’ll check it out and share your thoughts about it—you can find me on Instagram (Michael.Pollan), Twitter (@MichaelPollan) and Facebook, as well as through @penguinpress.

Thanks,

Michael

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“I’ve never regretted my adolescent use of LSD, but reading this fascinating, lucid, wise and hopeful book did make me wonder if those drug experiences weren’t another example of youth wasted on the young. Michael Pollan, who waited until he was a grownup to experiment, is the perfect guide to today’s dawning psychedelic renaissance.”
-Kurt Andersen, author of Fantasyland

“Michael Pollan masterfully guides us through the highs, lows, and highs again of psychedelic drugs. How to Change Your mind chronicles how it’s been a longer and stranger trip than most any of us knew.”
-Daniel Goleman, co-author Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body

“Very few writers, if any, have the gravitas and journalistic cred to tackle this explosive subject-from both the outside and the inside-extract it from its nationally traumatic and irrationally over reactive past, and bring both reason and revelatory insight to it. Michael Pollan has done just that. This is investigative journalism at its rigorous and compelling best- and radically mind opening in so many ways just to read it.”
-Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction, and author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses

“Michael Pollan assembles a great deal of information here on the history, science, and effects of psychedelics. I found his frank recounting of his recent experiences with LSD, psilocybin, and toad venom most revealing. They appear to have softened his materialistic views and opened him to the possibilities of higher consciousness. He did, indeed, change his mind.”
-Andrew Weil, author of The Natural Mind and 8 Weeks to Optimum Health

“Do psychedelics open a door to a different reality, or is it just the same-old, same-old reality seen through a different set of lenses? I quickly became engrossed in Pollan’s narrative– the intersection of science, consciousness-enhancing, and government prohibition. But at the center of Pollan’s story is the greatest conundrum of all– why should substances that have been so beneficial to so many people, be the focus of crazy criminal penalties? Why, indeed.”
-Errol Morris

“Michael Pollan has applied his brilliant mind and fastidious prose to the Mind itself, specifically the modes by which psychedelic substances temporarily obliterate the ego and engender deep spiritual connectedness to the universe. Michael walks the tight-rope between an objective ‘reporter’ and a spiritual pilgrim seeking insight and sustenance from psychedelics, and his innocence and integrity serve as a balance bar between cynicism and partisan affirmation. His success here places these drugs and what they do at the center of a potential revolution in medicine. It’s an extraordinary achievement, and no matter what you may think you know about psychedelics, if you even know the word, you should read this book.”
-Peter Coyote, author and Zen Buddhist Priest

“After 50 years underground, psychedelics are back. We are incredibly fortunate to have Michael Pollan be our travel guide for their renaissance. With humility, humor, and deep humanity, he takes us through the history, the characters, and the science of these “mind manifesting” compounds. Along the way, he navigates the mysteries of consciousness, spirituality, and the mind. What he has done previously for gardeners and omnivores, Pollan does brilliantly here for all of us who wonder what it means to be fully human, or even what it means to be.”
-Thomas R. Insel, MD, former director of National Institute of Mental Health and co-founder and president of Mindstrong Health

“A rare and utterly engrossing exposition that will most certainly delineate a fundamental change in the understanding of the human mind and the mystery of consciousness. Pollan previously reshaped our knowledge of earthly landscapes in his writings. With this book, he transforms our understanding of the innerscape, the unbounded world we occupy every conscious second of our life experienced by thoughts, suffering, awareness, joy, and reasoning. This is more than a book-it is a treasure.”
-Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest

Press

Reviews

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

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.”

 

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

Noted culinary writer Pollan (Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, 2013, etc.) makes the transition from feeding your body to feeding your head.

The lengthy disclaimer on the copyright page speaks volumes. The author, well-known for books on food and life such as The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, has been opening some of the doors of perception with the aid of lysergic acid, its molecular cousin psilocybin, ayahuasca, and assorted other chemical tools.

 

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Interviews

Michael Pollan speaks with Michael Lerner

Michael Pollan speaks with Michael Lerner about new research into the healing properties of psychedelics.

 

More Interviews »

 
Michael Pollan