Review of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Trancendence
by Michael Pollan
LSD and psychedelics are making a comeback! This time, though, it seems as though the revolution is, well, familiar. In fact, a lot of well know psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists are leading the charge into getting these drugs approved for therapeutic use. Pollan takes us on a journey through the history, biology and neuroscience of some well known and not so well known pscyhedelic substances. Along the way, he takes some himself, taking us on a journey into the mind but also giving us a glimpse into the world of psychedelic therapy which seems to be blossoming now. And there is now more evidence than ever that these drugs can have an extremely positive effect on some very tough to treat conditions, such as treatment resistent depression and death anxiety in terminally ill patients. Probably the most important concept in this book is that of "set and setting". More than any other drug class (it seems), the effect of psychedelics is influenced by the state of mind one is in before as well as the environment that one is taking them in. Strangely, the positve, therapeutic effects don't seem to occur if one takes psychedelics either in a sterile, clinical environment or in a purely recreational context. In other words, much like many other therapies, one gets what one puts into the experience. I didn't know what to expect when I picked this book up - this is another one I've seen lots of you pick up and purchase so I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I have to say, really enjoyed this book - I thought it was well researched and organized. Also, for a book about psychedelics, the writing was surprisingly level-headed and clear. A great late summer read!