How to Change Your Mind Book Summary - How to Change Your Mind Book explained in key points
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How to Change Your Mind summary

Michael Pollan

What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

4.4 (336 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan explores the history and resurgence of psychedelic drugs, how they work, and their potential therapeutic benefits for mental health and addiction. A must-read for anyone curious about the therapeutic power of psychedelics.

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    How to Change Your Mind
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    Our perception of psychedelic drugs has changed as people understand that not all drugs are dangerous.

    In 2006, the US Supreme Court made an important decision when it ruled in favor of a small religious sect known as UDV, short for União do Vegetal. The ruling allowed the group to import ayahuasca, a special tea-like brew that comes from South America and contains strong hallucinogenic properties. While some of the individual substances in ayahuasca are federally banned, the sect was given the legal right to import and use the brew as part of its sacred and traditional rituals.

    We can now see this decision as part of a larger cultural shift in the United States’ attitude toward drugs.

    The scientific perception of psychedelic drugs has also changed significantly, thanks in part to the neuroscientist Roland Griffiths, who is based out of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

    In the summer of 2006, Griffiths published an eye-opening article that said psychedelic drugs could provide meaningful, mystical experiences that contribute to both spiritual and personal development.

    Griffiths’ study was the first scientifically rigorous and placebo-controlled experiment to be conducted in the field since the 1960s. Griffiths focused primarily on psilocybin, the substance found in hallucinogenic mushrooms, and its beneficial effects on the human psyche.

    Remarkably, the study received a warm reception by the press and was even endorsed by researchers like Herbert D. Kleber, who’d helped form the anti-drug policies of the first Bush administration. Kleber praised the study as promising and admired how thorough it had been.

    This marked quite a dramatic shift in popular opinion. After all, psychedelic drugs had been considered dangerous and illegal since the late 1960s – even though this attitude was largely due to a relatively small amount of bad experiences people had after taking the drugs in uncontrolled environments.

    But thanks in part to Griffiths’ published study, the public was starting to understand that there may be some drugs that aren’t necessarily dangerous or toxic.

    Griffiths helped make a distinction between two types of drugs: the more widespread, hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, which are highly toxic and addictive; and the traditional psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin, LSD and mescaline. If taken correctly, these drugs are not only safe, but they can also be psychologically and spiritually beneficial.

    In the blinks ahead, we’ll take a closer look at these psychedelics and how the author suggests they should be handled.

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    What is How to Change Your Mind about?

    How to Change Your Mind (2018) is a fascinating account of one man’s exploration of the psychedelic drug world. Author Michael Pollan takes readers along for the ride as he learns first-hand about the positive aspects of psychedelic drugs, including the healing and restorative effects they can have on people suffering from depression and addiction. Readers will also hear from neuroscientists to learn exactly what is happening in the brain during a psychedelic trip.

    How to Change Your Mind Review

    How to Change Your Mind (2018) is a thought-provoking exploration of the potential benefits and risks of psychedelic substances for mental health and personal growth. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With meticulous research and scientific evidence, it challenges the negative stigma surrounding psychedelics and offers a new perspective on their therapeutic potential.
    • By blending personal experiences, historical context, and interviews with experts, the book provides a well-rounded understanding of the subject, making it both informative and engaging.
    • The author's balanced approach and insightful analysis ensure that the book is never dull, offering a captivating exploration of the mind and our potential for transformation.

    Best quote from How to Change Your Mind

    The psychedelic, LSD, was also first found in the mushroom known as Claviceps purpurea, a type of ergot fungus.

    —Michael Pollan
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    Who should read How to Change Your Mind?

    • Psychologists and therapists
    • Depressive people and addicts
    • Spiritual seekers

    About the Author

    Michael Pollan is an author and journalist who was considered one of the hundred most influential contemporary minds by Time magazine in 2010. His other books include In Defense of Food (2008), Food Rules (2009), and The Botany of Desire (2001). He is also a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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    How to Change Your Mind FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Change Your Mind?

    The main message of How to Change Your Mind is the potential of psychedelics to transform our understanding of consciousness and mental health.

    How long does it take to read How to Change Your Mind?

    Reading time for How to Change Your Mind varies. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Change Your Mind a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Change Your Mind is worth reading for its insightful exploration of psychedelics' impact on mental health and consciousness.

    Who is the author of How to Change Your Mind?

    Michael Pollan is the author of How to Change Your Mind.

    What to read after How to Change Your Mind?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Change Your Mind, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan
    • The Harvard Psychedelic Club by Don Lattin
    • Frames of Mind by Howard Gardner
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide by James Fadiman
    • A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman
    • Conscious by Annaka Harris
    • Languishing by Corey Keyes
    • Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Dr. Daniel G. Amen
    • Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge and Howard Rheingold