Two books to help get your head around the psychedelic

In the middle decades of the 20th century, psychedelic drugs were the growth area in psychiatric research. Not only did LSD and psilocybin (the active molecule in “magic mushrooms”) promise treatments for depression and addiction, they were a powerful new means of understanding consciousness. Midway through the 1960s, after rogue Harvard professor Timothy Leary launched a crusade to flood America with LSD, the authorities got spooked. All official research into psychedelics was shut down as part of a “war on drugs”, and the cultural optimism around psychedelics as “consciousness expanding” substances gave way to moral panic. Psychedelics were driven underground.

Now, however, a psychedelic renaissance is under way. 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. Read the whole review here.