My Review of “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence”
The counterculture’s fantasy of introducing psychedelics into the nation’s water supply was never a good idea. But if I could, I’d buy a million copies of Michael Pollan’s new book “How to Change Your Mind” to distribute widely across the country, starting with making it mandatory reading for the politicians in DC. Instead, my family’s company, Dr. Bronner’s, has purchased 1,000 copies, that we are offering for free to people who sign up to Dr. Bronner’s and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) newsletters. See below for more info on how to get your copy.
We are living through a great cultural inflection point related to psychedelics and their reintegration into American and global culture. These powerful medicines have historically been used in diverse cultures to treat maladies of body, mind and soul, and hold great promise to elucidate and cure depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD and other modern psychiatric disorders. But their history in America is convoluted and bound up in the hysteria of the culture wars of the 1960’s, when the “moral panic” that ensued shut down the incredibly promising and widespread research of the preceding decade.
Now, as hysteria fades and recent well-controlled FDA studies demonstrate their remarkable healing potential, psychedelics will revolutionize psychiatric medicine for the ill as well as for “the betterment of well people.” Pollan chronicles their story and the diverse cast of characters devoted to their cultural integration, and explains how “ego transcendent” awareness and experience have therapeutic as well as spiritual value. In a truly ripping and gripping read, he shows how medicines like psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) can help us live in a more connected way to each other and the miraculous world we are part of, and die with greater peace and ease.
I couldn’t be more excited by the bright light of truth Michael’s book shines on such a crucial but poorly understood and wrongly demonized subject. “How to Change Your Mind” holds tremendous potential to change millions of minds and make a significant cultural impact in how we as a society understand psychedelics. As Bob Jesse (convener of the Council on Spiritual Practices), Rick Doblin (founder of MAPS), and the many other heroes profiled in the book know, just like we do at Dr. Bronner’s, direct mystical or spiritual experience, mediated by psychedelics or otherwise, is an antidote to xenophobic nationalism and fundamentalism—and a primary gateway to healing generational trauma and world peace. All-One!