In How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan deep dives into the world of psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted therapies. He covers everything from their rise and fall in the pharmaceutical industry, the undercover CIA LSD experimentations within MK-Ultra, the hard science, their use in silicon valley, and his own personal experiences amongst other topics.
“there are three things human beings are afraid of: death, other people, and their own minds.” ― Michael Pollan
Without glamorizing or overselling the use of psychedelics, Pollan gives an in-depth and deeply researched breakdown of their potential benefits, implications, and unknowns.
It would seem that we are just beginning to understand their ability to change our minds, giving us a more objective way of looking at the way our own mind works, releasing us from habitual ways of thinking, and assisting in dissolving our ego.
Psychedelics are “literally a reboot of the system—a biological control-alt-delete.” ― Michael Pollan
Michael does his best to give the reader all the information available at current time. He interviews everyone from top researchers at Jon Hopkins, to Doctors, phycologists, Sharmans, and underground practitioners.
Much like my previous read, Lost Connections, Michael has a journalistic approach and does his best not to disillusion the reader while providing his own accounts under the influence of these medicines.
What I found most fascinating was the effect psychedelics have on the Default Mode Network (DMN). The area of the brain responsible for past/future thinking, “the ego”, imagine what it is like to be someone else, and cognition. Under the influence of psychedelics, this area quietens, much like it does during meditation, allowing the user to see things with fresh eyes, or without the influence of past traumas.
“psychedelic therapy creates an interval of maximum plasticity in which, with proper guidance, new patterns of thought and behavior can be learned.” ― Michael Pollan