How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

11 CDs. 13:30 hrs. Books on Tape. May 2018. ISBN 9780525627173. $45. digital download. SCI
In his latest work, Pollan (Cooked) shifts his focus from food to psychedelic drugs. The shift makes sense because one of the drugs is psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. Pollan recounts the history of psychedelic drugs from their origins, their rise in popularity and use in the 1960s, and the backlash that led to their classification as illegal substances to the recent resurgence in research as treatment for people with terminal illnesses, depression, and addiction. The story of the 53-year-old television news director who was being treated for terminal cancer serves as a powerful narrative of how effective and helpful psychedelic drugs can be. Pollan goes beyond his third-person research and offers a firsthand account of his own "trips": first with LSD, then psilocybin, and, finally, the smoked venom of the Sonoran Desert Toad. Throughout, Pollan's steady narration is soothing, authoritative, and tempered.
VERDICT Pollan's approach to psychedelic drugs—first through the academic lens, then through personal stories—makes the topic interesting. Yet it's his conversational narration that carries the listener from beginning to end. ["A work of participatory journalism that shines new light on psychedelics and the people who study them": LJ 4/15/18 review of the Penguin Pr. hc.]
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