Reviews of How to Change Your Mind

How to Change Your Mind: Michael Pollan on How the Science of Psychedelics Illuminates Consciousness, Mortality, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

Psychedelics, Pollan argues, eject us from our habitual consciousness to invite a pure experience of reality that calls to mind Jeanette Winterson’s notion of “active surrender” and Emerson’s exultation in “the power to swell the moment from the resources of our own heart until it supersedes sun & moon & solar system in its expanding immensity.” Pollan arrives at this conclusion not only by surveying the history of and research on psychedelics, but by conducting a series of carefully monitored experiments on himself — he travels the world to meet with mycologists, shamans, and trained facilitators, and to experience first-hand the most potent psychedelics nature and the chemistry lab have produced, from the psilocybin mushroom to LSD to the smoked venom of a desert toad.

Equipment for Living: Losing and recovering oneself in drugs and sobriety

In December of 1934, an unemployed stockbroker named Bill Wilson checked himself into Towns Hospital in Manhattan. He had a habit of consuming more than two quarts of whiskey per day, and his wife had implored him to get help. The doctor gave Wilson an extract of belladonna, a plant with hallucinogenic properties, which at the time was an experimental treatment for alcoholism. That afternoon, the “room blazed with an indescribably white light,” Wilson later wrote. A vision of a mountain came to him. “I stood upon its summit where a great wind blew…. Then came the blazing thought, ‘you are a free man.’”

Michael Pollan Drops Acid — and Comes Back From His Trip Convinced

With “How to Change Your Mind,” Pollan remains concerned with what we put into our bodies, but we’re not talking about arugula. At various points, our author ingests LSD, psilocybin and the crystallized venom of a Sonoran Desert toad. He writes, often remarkably, about what he experienced under the influence of these drugs. (The book comes fronted with a publisher’s disclaimer that nothing contained within is “intended to encourage you to break the law.” Whatever, Dad.) Before starting the book, Pollan, now in his early 60s, had never tried psychedelics, referring to himself as “less a child of the psychedelic 1960s than of the moral panic that psychedelics provoked.” But when he discovered that clinical interest had been revived in what some boosters are now calling entheogens (from the Greek for “the divine within”), he had to know: How did this happen, and what do these remarkable substances actually do to us?

Two books to help get your head around the psychedelic

What was countercultural is being embraced by a maturing scientific mainstream. In what may prove to be a book of great importance, Michael Pollan, one of Time magazine’s hundred most influential people in the world, and the author of foodie bestsellers including The Omnivore’s Dilemma, investigates this reawakening to the marvels of psychedelics.

Andrew Sullivan: Why we should say yes to drugs

Pollan, who writes seamlessly about his own experiments in psychedelics as well as the exciting discoveries in mental health now opening up before us, puts this perfectly: “Love is everything … A platitude is precisely what is left of a truth after it has been drained of all emotion. To desaturate that dried husk with feeling is to see it again for what it is: the loveliest and most deeply rooted of truths, hidden in plain sight.”

A Neuroscientist Reviews Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind

The book shines new light on the revitalized field of psychedelic medicine.

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan: A man who believes you’re never too old to take a trip

Food writer Michael Pollan has turned his attention to mind-altering mushrooms

A Strait-Laced Writer Explores Psychedelics, and Leaves the Door of Perception Ajar

“How to Change Your Mind” is a calm survey of the past, present and future. A book about a blurry subject, it is cleareyed and assured. Pollan is not the most obvious guide for such a journey. He is, to judge from his self-reporting, a giant square. In the prologue, he describes himself as someone “not at all sure he has ever had a single ‘spiritually significant’ experience,” a pretty straitened admission even for an avowed atheist. “I have never been one for deep or sustained introspection,” he writes later. You often find yourself thinking: This guy could really use a trip.

The Trip of a Lifetime: Michael Pollan explores what LSD and other psychedelics can do for the no longer young.

If How to Change Your Mind furthers the popular acceptance of psychedelics as much as I suspect it will, it will be by capsizing the long association, dating from Leary’s time, between the drugs and young people. Pollan observes that the young have had less time to establish the cognitive patterns that psychedelics temporarily overturn. But “by middle age,” he writes, “the sway of habitual thinking over the operations of the mind is nearly absolute.” What he sought in his own trips was not communion with a higher consciousness so much as the opportunity to “renovate my everyday mental life.”

Might LSD be good for you?

Many psychedelic drugs are non-addictive, and can be helpful in treating all sorts of psychological conditions, argues Michael Pollan.