How To Change Your Mind

Michael Pollen

New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2018

A New York Times Notable Book

The #1 New York Times bestseller.

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

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.

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 live

Press

  • “Pollan’s deeply researched chronicle will enlighten those who think of psychedelics chiefly as a kind of punchline to a joke about the Woodstock generation and hearten the growing number who view them as a potential antidote to our often stubbornly narrow minds....engaging and informative.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Pollan keeps you turning the pages …. cleareyed and assured.”

    New York Times

  • “Amid new scientific interest in the potential healing properties of psychedelic drugs, Pollan…sets about researching their history—and giving them a (supervised!) try himself. He came away impressed by their promise in treating addiction and depression—and with his mind expanded. Yours will be too.”

    People

  • “Sweeping and often thrilling….It is to Pollan’s credit that, while he ranks among the best of science writers, he’s willing, when necessary, to abandon that genre’s fixation on materialist explanation as the only path to understanding. One of the book’s important messages is that the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, for the dying or seriously ill, can’t be separated from the mystical experiences to which they give rise.”

    The Guardian

  • “Journalist Michael Pollan explored psychoactive plants in The Botany of Desire(2001). In this bold, intriguing study, he delves further…Pollan even ‘shakes the snow globe’ himself, chemically self-experimenting in the spirit of psychologist William James, who speculated about the wilder shores of consciousness more than a century ago.”

    Nature, International Journal of Science

  • "Pollan, Cooked, 2013, has long enlightened and entertained readers with his superbly inquisitive and influential books about food. He now investigates a very different sort of comestible, psychedelics (from the Greek: “mind manifesting”), and what they reveal about consciousness and the brain. Pollan’s complexly elucidating and enthralling inquiry combines fascinating and significant history with daring and resonant reportage and memoir, and looks forward to a new open-mindedness toward psychedelics and the benefits of diverse forms of consciousness.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “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…. This nuanced and sophisticated exploration, which asks big questions about meaning-making and spiritual experience, is thought-provoking and eminently readable.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)