Articles Published in Media Outlets

Brimming with X

In his new book How To Change Your Mind: The new science of psychedelics, Michael Pollan sets out the twentieth-century history of the use of “psychedelic” substances with clarity, insight and humour. He does his fieldwork – with appropriate trepidation. He goes mushroom hunting. He consumes four different psychedelic tryptamines under suitably controlled conditions – LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca (active ingredient N, N-dimethyltryptamine, sc DMT), and, with shattering results, 5-MeO-DMT, the smoked venom of the Sonoran Desert toad Incilius alvarius – and tells us, as well as he can, what happens. He ends with two chapters laying out the latest neuro­scientific speculations and describing the extraordinarily fruitful renaissance of the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy in the 1990s.

’Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky

In 1938 Albert Hofmann, a chemist at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, created a series of new compounds from lysergic acid. One of them, later marketed as Hydergine, showed great potential for the treatment of cerebral arteriosclerosis. Another salt, the diethylamide (LSD), he put to one side, but he had “a peculiar presentiment,” as he put it in his memoir LSD: My Problem Child (1980), “that this substance could possess properties other than those established in the first investigations.”

A Guide for Psychedelic Virgins and Skeptics?

When Pollan agrees to take psychedelic drugs, he presents himself as a stand-in for the skeptical reader; he is an LSD-virgin turned “psychonaut” for the purposes of journalistic and scientific inquiry.

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.

Michael Pollan: Why I started taking LSD and what it helped me to do

Are psychedelic drugs, like youth, wasted on the young? Could middle age be the ideal time to try some consciousness expanding – to “shake the snow globe” as one neuroscientist puts it.

London Real: Psychedelics — How to Change Your Mind

Pollan’s new book How to Change Your Mind, dives deep into the world of psychedelics, through meetings with shamans, magic mushroom hunts, and using yourself as a guinea-pig, he takes the readers on a journey to the frontiers of the human mind.

The Guardian Books podcast: Michael Pollan on the history, science and experience of taking psychedelic drugs

On this week’s show, we’re talking to Michael Pollan. You may know him from his food writing – books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Botany of Desire, or Cooked, which is also now a Netflix show. His latest focus, however, is something quite different – still something consumable – it’s psychedelic drugs.

Real Time with Bill Maher—Michael Pollan: Psychedelic Science

Professor and author Michael Pollan joins Bill to discuss his latest book: “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.

The Spectator Books Podcast: a psychedelic trip with Michael Pollan

This week’s Spectator Books Podcast asks: is LSD good for you? I’m joined by the author Michael Pollan, who talks about the fascinating lost history of psychedelic drugs, speculates on what they may tell us about the human mind and the universe, recalls his own mind-blowing encounter with toad venom, and reveals that serious scientific research is even now being done into whether the “machine elves” that DMT users meet are hallucinations or visitors from another dimension. Plus, we learn why “enough LSD to kill an elephant” isn’t just a figure of speech…

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.’”