When Michael Pollan set out to research how LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) are being used to provide relief to people suffering from difficult-to-treat conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety, he did not intend to write what is undoubtedly his most personal book. But upon discovering how these remarkable substances are improving the lives not only of the mentally ill but also of healthy people coming to grips with the challenges of everyday life, he decided to explore the landscape of the mind in the first person as well as the third. Thus began a singular adventure into the experience of various altered states of consciousness, along with a dive deep into both the latest brain science and the thriving underground community of psychedelic therapists. In How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, Pollan sifts the historical record to separate the truth about these mysterious drugs from the myths that have surrounded them since the Sixties, when a handful of psychedelic evangelists catalyzed a powerful backlash against what was then a promising field of research. Pollan’s other books include Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Botany of Desire, Food Rules, and Cooked.
Dacher Keltner is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder of the Greater Good Science Center. He is the author of The Power Paradox, Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, and The Compassionate Instinct.