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How to change your mind : what the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence
2018
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Health, Mind and Body
Topics
Scientists
Mental health
New Age movement
Psychotropic drugs
Consciousness
Brain
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  Library Journal Review

In his latest work, Pollan (Cooked) shifts his focus from food to psychedelic drugs. The shift makes sense because one of the drugs is psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. Pollan recounts the history of psychedelic drugs from their origins, their rise in popularity and use in the 1960s, and the backlash that led to their classification as illegal substances to the recent resurgence in research as treatment for people with terminal illnesses, depression, and addiction. The story of the 53-year-old television news director who was being treated for terminal cancer serves as a powerful narrative of how effective and helpful psychedelic drugs can be. Pollan goes beyond his third-person research and offers a firsthand account of his own "trips": first with LSD, then psilocybin, and, finally, the smoked venom of the Sonoran Desert Toad. Throughout, Pollan's steady narration is soothing, authoritative, and tempered. VERDICT Pollan's approach to psychedelic drugs-first through the academic lens, then through personal stories-makes the topic interesting. Yet it's his conversational narration that carries the listener from beginning to end. ["A work of participatory journalism that shines new light on psychedelics and the people who study them": LJ 4/15/18 review of the Penguin Pr. hc.]-Gladys Alcedo, Wallingford, CT © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

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." But, Pollan argues, that freewheeling attitude quickly turned into a "full-on moral panic about LSD" that "doomed the first wave of [psychedelic] research." By the 1990s, the body of knowledge about the successful use of LSD to treat alcoholics in the '50s and '60s was buried, and medical interest only revived in 2010 with studies on treating cancer anxiety with psilocybin. Pollan writes movingly of one man whose "psychedelic journey had shifted his perspective from a narrow lens trained on the prospect of dying to a renewed focus on how best to live the time left to him." Today, renewed interest has sent scientists racing ahead with trials of psychedelics to treat addiction and depression, and curious seekers like Pollan into experiments with these substances. This nuanced and sophisticated exploration, which asks big questions about meaning-making and spiritual experience, is thought-provoking and eminently readable. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
The #1 New York Times bestseller.<br> <br> 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 <br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.
Table of Contents
Prologue: A New Doorp. 1
Chapter 1A Renaissancep. 21
Chapter 2Natural History: Bemushroomedp. 82
Codap. 128
Chapter 3History: The First Wavep. 138
Part IThe Promisep. 144
Part IIThe Crack-Upp. 185
Codap. 218
Chapter 4Travelogue: Journeying Undergroundp. 221
Trip 1LSDp. 237
Trip 2Psilocybinp. 254
Trip 35-MeO-DMT (or, The Toad)p. 272
Chapter 5The Neuroscience: Your Brain on Psychedelicsp. 291
Chapter 6The Trip Treatment: Psychedelics in Psychotherapyp. 331
1Dyingp. 331
2Addictionp. 358
3Depressionp. 375
Coda: Going to Meet My Default Mode Networkp. 390
Epilogue: In Praise of Neural Diversityp. 397
Glossaryp. 415
Acknowledgmentsp. 423
Notesp. 427
Bibliographyp. 439
Indexp. 447
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