Friday, March 4, 2022

Review of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Psychology
Book Club Event = Book List
Intriguing Connections = 1) How Products Shape and Change the World

Watch Short Review 

Elaborate Review
Psychedelics have a lot of research potential, but the negative press during the 1960s prevented further investigation of the benefits.  Forced the research to go underground.  Psychedelics were linked with bad decision making.  But research in psychedelics are making a comeback.  This is a story about the people and experiences involved in the psychedelic resurgence.  The research involved, the psychedelic guides, and the experiences after taking the psychedelics.  Experiences with psychedelics are all different, because they depend on the expectations that one brings to the experience.  Magnifying what is going on inside and outside one’s head.  Experiences get more questions than answers, but the answers were durable.  A powerful and lasting experience.  Psychedelics change how the mind process information.  The experiences appear to temporarily remove the ego, while making a person more creative. 

The brain is a very complex system.  To understand the brain, scientists can disturb it with psychedelics and watch what happens to the brain’s activity and patterns of connection.  What research shows is that psychedelics slow activity in the main node networks of the brain.  Temporarily removing the barriers between the ego and the world.  While simultaneously the brain intergrades new connections.  Becoming more creative.  The brain becomes more flexible and interconnected under psychedelics.

Psychedelics appear mostly harmless.  More frightening than dangerous, and are not addictive.  Repeat use reduces the effect of the drugs.  The experiences can be terrifying, and mental illnesses can be exacerbated.  

As psychedelics changes the way the brain operates, there is theory that it was psychedelics that accelerated human evolution.  Turning humans into thinking beings capable of language.  

The writing is hampered by poor organizational structure.  Trying to tell about the people involved, while explaining psychology, and the history but neither gets enough attention which can prevent an understanding.

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•What are some psychedelics?
•Why was psychedelic researched banned?
•Why is psychedelic research making a resurgence?
•Who is responsible for the resurgence of psychedelics?
•Why study psychedelics? 
•How do psychedelics impact the brain?
•What are the outcomes of psychedelics?
•Are psychedelics dangerous?
•What do psychedelic guides do? 
•How did Timothy Leary do to psychedelic research? 
•How did the government use psychedelics? 
•How does big pharma and psychiatry deal with psychedelics? 
•Did psychedelics impact human evolution? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780525558941
Pages to read:   333
Publication:     2018
1st Edition:      2018
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          3
Overall           3