This Is Your Mind on Plants Book Summary - This Is Your Mind on Plants Book explained in key points
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This Is Your Mind on Plants summary

Examining the Human Attraction to Consciousness Altering Plants

4.3 (309 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan explores the relationship between humans and three psychoactive plants: opium poppy, caffeine, and mescaline. It delves into the cultural and historical roles of these plants while also examining their impact on our brains and bodies.

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    This Is Your Mind on Plants
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    Throughout history, people have known opium to be both a blessing and a curse.

    Throughout the 1990s, the war on drugs raged in all its violent fury. In 1996 alone, more than a million Americans were sent to jail for drug crimes. Many of these convicts were not at all violent – yet they were forced to serve mandatory minimum sentences. The government also gained the power to confiscate private property involved in a drug-related crime, even if its owner hadn’t been charged.

    The drug war was touted as a boon for public safety. But did it actually reduce addiction or overdose rates? Hardly. Instead, it filled American prisons with hundreds of thousands of nonviolent criminals, many of them Black. Not only that, it distracted from the actual drug-related issue that was only just beginning: the opioid crisis.

    Opium itself hasn't always been such a hated substance. In previous centuries, humans treated opium for what it actually is: both an ally and an enemy.

    The key message here is: Throughout history, people have known opium to be both a blessing and a curse.

    Our relationship with opium spans more than five millennia. The drug’s main use was generally pain control.

    But in the nineteenth century, it began to truly conquer the world. Victorians used it much as we use aspirin. Romantic poets like Samuel Taylor Coleridge waxed lyrical about the drug. And Great Britain even fought a series of wars –⁠ aptly called the Opium Wars –⁠ over the right to control its exports.

    Now, of course, most people view opium very differently: first and foremost, as a deadly narcotic. But this perception has been warped and distorted by the drug war and the tragedy that we know as the opioid crisis.

    That crisis began when, in 1996, a company called Purdue Pharma began marketing its now-infamous, slow-release opiate, Oxycontin. Pain, claimed Purdue, was being undertreated, and their wonder drug could help people who were suffering.

    But what really happened? The number of Americans addicted to opiates ballooned from about half a million to two million. About 4,700 people died of drug overdose in 1996. In the US today, 50,000 die from opiate overdose alone every year. Four out of five new heroin users previously used prescription painkillers.

    Opium’s dual nature is all too clear from its history. Perhaps the Greeks and Romans were on to something when they used the poppy – from which opium is made – as a symbol for both sleep and death.

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    What is This Is Your Mind on Plants about?

    This Is Your Mind on Plants (2021) is a vivid, intricate probe into the history, chemistry, and effects of three plant-derived drugs: opium, caffeine, and mescaline. These substances – a sedative, a stimulant, and a hallucinogen – represent a large part of the human experience with drugs. It’s time to shed new light on how they’ve shaped our histories, cultures, and minds.

    This Is Your Mind on Plants Review

    This Is Your Mind on Plants (2021) by Michael Pollan is a captivating exploration of the relationship between humans and three mind-altering plants: opium, caffeine, and mescaline. Here's why reading this book is an eye-opening experience:

    • Deeply researched and thought-provoking, it offers a fresh perspective on the history and cultural significance of these plants.
    • Through Pollan's engaging storytelling and personal experiences, readers gain a deeper understanding of the effects and implications of these substances.
    • By examining the complexities and contradictions surrounding these plants, the book challenges conventional assumptions and encourages critical thinking about our relationship with mind-altering substances.

    Who should read This Is Your Mind on Plants?

    • Psychonauts and introspective thinkers
    • Botanists, plant lovers, and science geeks
    • Anyone interested in the history of the US war on drugs and its effects

    About the Author

    Michael Pollan is a journalist, author, and writing instructor at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley. He’s written eight books, six of which were New York Times best sellers, including How to Change Your Mind, The Botany of Desire, and In Defense of Food. In 2010, he was listed in Time magazine’s list of the hundred most influential people in the world.

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    This Is Your Mind on Plants FAQs 

    What is the main message of This Is Your Mind on Plants?

    The main message of This Is Your Mind on Plants is to explore the relationship between humans and psychoactive substances.

    How long does it take to read This Is Your Mind on Plants?

    The reading time for This Is Your Mind on Plants varies depending on the reader. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is This Is Your Mind on Plants a good book? Is it worth reading?

    This Is Your Mind on Plants is a thought-provoking read. It offers insights into the history and impact of psychoactive substances.

    Who is the author of This Is Your Mind on Plants?

    The author of This Is Your Mind on Plants is Michael Pollan.

    What to read after This Is Your Mind on Plants?

    If you're wondering what to read next after This Is Your Mind on Plants, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
    • Peak Mind by Amishi Jha
    • The Influential Mind by Tali Sharot
    • Frames of Mind by Howard Gardner
    • The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
    • Know Thyself by Stephen M. Fleming
    • The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide by James Fadiman
    • The Harvard Psychedelic Club by Don Lattin
    • Mindsight by Daniel Siegel
    • Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker