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  • How to Change Your Mind

  • What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
  • Written by: Michael Pollan
  • Narrated by: Michael Pollan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (1,431 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Book Review - 10 Best Books of 2018

A New York Times Notable Book

The number-one New York Times best seller.

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 the experience of 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 lives.

©2018 Michael Pollan (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Editorial Review

Michael Pollan embarks on a transformative journey when he tries psychedelic drugs. Follow him as he journeys to discover if they can be useful aids in the treatment of addiction and anxiety. This Audible audiobook will open your mind to a whole new understanding of psychedelics.

Legendary journalist and #1 New York Times best-selling author Michael Pollan is the writer and narrator of How to Change Your Mind. He makes a courageous inquiry into the medical and scientific revolution unfolding around psychedelic drugs. Before starting the book, Pollan had never tried psychedelics, but when he discovered that clinical interest had been revived for those drugs, he wanted to see firsthand what these remarkable substances actually do to us.

Pollan tells the story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences in a captivating way as he shares what he experienced under the influence of these drugs. He convincingly maintains that our fears are out of place regarding psychedelics, most of which are not addictive. He doesn’t encourage drug abuse but rather believes that psychedelic-assisted therapy overseen by trained professionals can be personally transformative. It can be helpful for many things like treating addiction and relieving the anxiety of the terminally ill. Pollan is also the writer and narrator of Caffeine, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food which focus on food and bring reflection about the way we eat.

What listeners say about How to Change Your Mind

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Educational, enlightening, and optimistic.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It really opened my mind to a new outlook and procedure of use toward a d regarding mushrooms and psychedelics.

I would reccomend this to anyone interested in medicine, science, experimental use of illicit drugs, anyone eith depression / anxiety / substance abuse, or just curious about the world and our relation to it.

I just wish Michael Pollan would pronounce Saskatchewan properly. Like he isn't doing it wrong just not the way local Canadians do.

Anyways I am eager to delve deeper into his works, the world of mushrooms (magic and culinary), and therapeutic sessions of said mushrooms potentially in the future barring changes in legislation... or not.

9 people found this helpful

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Judge not!

If you’ve already made your mind up about psychedelics or Maybe even more importantly, if you haven’t, and you need to read or listen to how to change your mind by Michael Pollan. This is important for you, for the world, for the future.

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I thank you Michael. What a great book

Loved it. Well read by himself very good and easy listen. I enjoyed it end to end as it was presented in a very easy manner

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A must read

My whole life I always saw psychedelics as hippie drugs and you just see a distorted reality. In reality it seems there is much more to them.

3 people found this helpful

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With an open mind, this could change your life!

I'd recently been embued with a term I'd never heard before. "#TranscendentalResonance"; is a means to connect to a vibratory field of existence that transcends the sensory inputs we live amongst. This book is enabling a means of attainment of such a thing, by helping to remove the stigmas associated with the psychedelic plants and medicines we are presently party to. Please treat these potentially life altering molecules with the reverance and respect they deserve, for it is my, shared, belief that some time, (hopefully in the near future), they will be the gateway to our new evolutionary standard.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ed
  • 2020-09-07

Apprehensive at first, but glad I kept listening.

I will be listening to this again, especially the last 2 chapters. Lots of info and insight to digest. Would be shame not to visit this piece again!

2 people found this helpful

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interesting, but elongated

The book was interesting but it could have been condensed, as it felt repetitive and longer than necessary.

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This book is fantastic, and the narration is clean

The only issue was that the audiobook was split into too many chapters (over 100, and 10-20 per written chapter). Otherwise it was sublime.

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An exploration into the ego filled with ego

Unfortunately, this book is repetitive if you begin at the first chapter your in the same place after all those hours of listening at the last chapter. It’s a small amount of science, mixed with a medium amount of navel gazing, combined with a large amount of cultural appropriation. The dismissive tone of this book toward Indigenous cultural use of psychedelics for over 10,000 years is followed by endless examples of appropriation by Western academics, “guides” and “centres” as they sit in drum circles, smudge, and seek that transcendent transformation from one dose of psychedelics. This book could have been so much more than an examination of Westerners endlessly talking about their trips, but that is where the author chose to go.

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tremendous top to bottom

superb writing, intelligently researched, very balanced commentary on an under appreciated and yet fascinating subject.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paul E. Williams
  • 2018-05-19

A delightful trip

I think the only thing that could make this book better would be a complementary drop of acid on the corner of the last page.

554 people found this helpful

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  • ajia
  • 2018-05-27

Enthralling and Informative

Michael Pollan is at is finest in How to Change Your Mind. The first third of the book covering the modern history of psychedelics I could take or leave, but the latter two thirds had me rapt and thinking, “what a time to be alive.” To call his closing thoughts moving would be a sorry understatement. 9/10 would read again

129 people found this helpful

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  • JB
  • 2018-05-27

Excellent non-hippie journey through Psychedelics

So often books and videos about psychedelics are taken from a post use hippie new age perspective so it was really refreshing and more interesting to hear this man's journey from newbie to trying the major 4 psychoactive drugs available today. And especially given that he wasn't too quick to conclude or associate his experience with the supernatural or God but rather decided to look into what science says is going on related to the physicality, the default network, the Ego etc.

104 people found this helpful

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  • SGordon
  • 2018-05-18

A thorough and insightful exploration.

Michael does a great job deep diving into an area that’s below the radar for many. There were points when it felt like he was a little too long-winded but then he’d turn the corner to a totally different fascinating aspect of the study or use of psychedelics. After finishing it, I look back and felt like he was incredibly thorough, insightful, and open- minded approaching the subject. The topic is not new to me but he still opened my eyes and mind to many new perspectives. Time well spent.

81 people found this helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 2018-06-07

To fall in hell or soar Angelic...

"To fall in hell or soar Angelic
You'll need a pinch of psychedelic"
- Humphry Osmond

"There is so much authority that comes out of the primary mystical experience that it can be threatening to existing hierarchical structures."
- Roland Griffiths, quoted in Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind

I have family that struggle with addiction, depression, PTSD, and anxiety. The idead that one type of compound (psychedelics) could transform how we view and treat these various challenges to the human condition is VERY excititng. Pollan's book does a great job of juggling the memoirist experience with psychedelics (think of this partially as a 21st century version of Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater) with a narrative nonfiction exploration of the history and current science surrounding primarily LSD, Psilocybin, and 5-MeO-DMT (the Toad). Michael Pollan write well (he's not quite, for me, upto the level of John McPhee -- but he's close. He both annoys and seduces at the same time. He reminds me of a well-produced TED Talk. He is both interesting and compelling, but also a bit like a worn and comfortable shoe (say a Birkenstock) that represents a group I already feel comfortable both simultaneously walking with and yes kicking.

Most of Pollan's book focuses on LSD and Psilocybin (which makes sense because that is where most of the history and science are). I was familiar with Leary, Ginsburg, Huxley, and even James' takes on mind-altering drugs and states, but it was nice to see it framed by Pollan. I was also thrilled to be introduced to a bunch of characters I had never heard before. I feel a movie could/should be made about JUST Al Hubbard.

There is a huge part of me that finds the idea of psychedelic experience very compelling (I've got friends who are well-respected doctors, writers, and attorneys who feel the same way). However, my issue with most drugs (especially pot), is most people take them to GET close to where I feel I am already. I have a lot of awe, wonder, don’t get depressed, feel no guilt, exist with very low anxiety, etc (although I’m absolute sh!t at meditation). I think I do a pretty good job of hanging in the present (while being able to look both forward and back when needed). So, I'm not sure I would be seeking LSD or Psilocybin (or smoking the Toad) for any reason except curiosity and [gasp] recreation. That's the draw. The reason I am skeptical still, is I'm not sure I trust most of the product (clarification, after reading this I trust the product more than say the manufacturer, deliverer, source). I'm a bit suspect of taking candy OR street tacos from complete strangers, so smoking a Toad that I didn't catch and milk myself doesn't exactly seem like something I'm going to run off and do anytime soon. But, if the practice comes above ground, standardizes, or I'm dying -- all bets are off. Bring me the TOAD.

67 people found this helpful

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  • Kathleen Adams Olsen
  • 2018-05-19

Interesting

Well researched, thought provoking and humorous As well as a great listen not boring in the least. thank you M Pollan.

59 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 2018-05-19

love, love, loved it

the best sane approach to a subject that has too often been all too wrapped up in non scientific language and thinking, all too ready to accept the most illogical and emotional thoughts and rationale. This book in contrast breaks through the genre with a down to earth approach and yet ready to accept the vision and experience that psychedelic therapy has to offer.

39 people found this helpful

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  • Stephanie
  • 2018-06-20

some excellent concepts, a bit too much repetition

this is not primarily a drug book, but more a psychological /physical discussion of the brain, the body and the various psychological states of which your mind is capable. it also has interesting historical summaries which explain why psychedelics, with Incredible potential and many positive lab results, were effectively deleted from the national consciousness during the late sixties for mostly political reasons. the only negative is that in its audiobook version, it gets repetitive. psychedelic seem to be affected for combating addiction, depression, anxiety and fear of death, so there is a section on each of these, but the reason that these all work is the same, hence, repetition. But the book is a worthwhile read for anyone who is interested in learning about altered Consciousness, whether through meditation, drumming, breathing or psychedelic use.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Yaneth
  • 2018-05-15

Open Up!

Michael Pollan again pushing the way we think. Open up to the idea that alternatives to common issues will reap results!

32 people found this helpful

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  • Angel
  • 2018-05-17

This book will turn more people on then Owsley.

In a word, Epic. YES! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Can i get a witness?

Verily I'll testify to my brother's and sisters, let them know the good word, with the good books. Let all gathered know, This is the book that was needed 50 years ago, but still it's timely, better yet ahead of it's time. I've read all Mr. Pollan's book and they just get better and more helpful, he's a visionary.

This is what the world need, facts about transformative experiences and guidance on how to change our minds. Society is stuck, living as primitive as cave people, destroying the planet like termites vampires, bumming each other out constantly. People in developed areas are sick, mental, lost. All they have is sour cream television and corn syrup addictions, caught up in tribalism, when they could be working together globally, universally. I don't know a better catalyze then magic molecules to change the physical structure of our lazy and obese brain and it's sad more of the world hasn't turned on, dropped out and tuned in, because we are too stuck in our small communities and narrow minds.

This books is it, the holy grail, the sweet sugar cane synthesist of heaven and earth. If Aldous Huxley, Albert hoffman and Timothy Leary had a love Child, it would be Pollan, thinking big, talking bigger and walking the talk. So many talk, talk about big ideas, they make elaborate theories, but mostly at a distance, in the end being pretty conventional and groundless. Not Pollan, he followed his curiosity boldly down the rabbit hole, he pushed pass fear and doubt and emerged at the other side transformed. Sure he should of done it when his mind had more plasticity, but better late then ever. He does the psychonauts greatest hits, with mushrooms, Toad, Aya, getting the best guidance from the most experienced luminaries. What a guy. He thought about it deeply and sought it, because he compelled by all data, the 6 decades of soul liberating facts from folks experimenting, getting to know and shape their own minds, the fluidness of their feelings, the glow in everything.

I can't recommend this book enough, if only the last page was a sheet of acid, then it'd be the perfect book, otherwise This is the best book on self help/discovery around. Nothing will heal you're misperceptions and self deceptions better then psychedelics. Many conservatives in power have been afraid of it and everything else, and demonized it devilishly, but it was also a lie. It was all a lie, what those in power told us and most of us did not care to question it, to find out for ourselves, too afraid of cosmic consciousness and a humbling experience.

It's a trippy life, but not a trippy book. It's pretty straight forward and packed with everything one would ever need before they packed to go on a trip of a lifetimes. There's so many great metaphors, facts, antidotes and quotes, most new to me, which is pretty rare after reading so many books about it.

This is the only book on tripping one will ever need. Get it. Got it. Good God have mercy.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Client Amazon
  • 2018-08-22

A game changer

Maybe the most important book I have read for twenty years. Pollan's experiences with psychedelics is extremely well narrated, with both enthusiasm and caution. It opens a new road for everyone looking for a better, larger understanding of one's self. Absolutely invaluable.

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  • mikus
  • 2022-06-13

Mind-opening

At first I wasn't really sure what to expect, and the introduction was a bit slow, personal, and not too exciting. Yet, the book only got more intense with time and became packed with facts, stories, and most importantly historical and scientific background. All that in rather light and often funny context, mixed with author's personal life, which somehow is not disturbung at all, rather makes it more believable and legit.

It's clear that the author has done extensive research and I like how he tries to show all sides of the story most of the time. But it's how he became part of the environment that makes you trust him and support the ideas he clearly believes in.

I felt like I know a lot about drug history and research, but now I know I was very wrong. "How to change your mind" doesn't really offer many answers, but it definitely asks some very right questions and makes you want to study the topic.

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  • dgrv
  • 2021-08-02

Generally good

A generally well-built and told personal story that gives insight into the history of the research on psychedelics.

My main criticism relates to the insufficient contextualization and lack of rigor in the presentation of the explanations of psychedelic trips.

The audiobook is generally enjoyable, although the intonations feel somewhat weird at times

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  • Lucky Maillard
  • 2020-05-27

An amazing book!

Amazing book about the power and hidden potentials of psychedelics, with an interesting historical background retracing the early developments of various substances. A must-read for anyone interested in the expansion of the consciousness!