Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Mini Book Review: Michael Pollan's "How to Change Your Mind"



I want to read this, but I don't want to spend much money. Since I don't read ebooks, a trip to the Loussac Library may be in order...

"The value of psychedelics is not the experience of them -- the grooviness of the moment -- but the sediment the experience leaves behind.

It’s possible these effects can be chalked up, in part, to the drug’s effect on the brain’s so-called 'default mode network,' especially the part associated with 'self-referential thought.' Pollan grants, if briefly, that turning off the network --truly 'getting over yourself' -- might also be achieved through 'certain breathing exercises,' or through 'sensory deprivation, fasting, prayer, overwhelming experiences of awe, extreme sports, near-death experiences, and so on.'

Pollan doesn’t give a lot of prime real estate to psychedelics’ naysayers. But given that those on LSD can appear to be losing their minds, and that the drug leaves one feeling emotionally undefended (a potential benefit as well as a profound risk), he does strongly recommend having an experienced guide in a proper setting when you trip. With those safeguards in place, he believes usage could be on the verge of more widespread acceptance, pointing out that plenty of other once widely-derided practices redolent of the 1960s, like yoga and natural birth, are now common."

Among other things, Pollan discusses the ways that psychedelics 'dissolve our sense of self,' and the potential mental health benefits they bestow as a result. “Psilocybin gives you such a powerful psychological experience that it kind of reboots your brain, your mind,” he says. “A lot of depression is a sort of 'self-punishment,' as even Freud understood. We get trapped in these 'loops of rumination' that are very destructive, and the stories that we tell ourselves: you know, 'that we’re unworthy of love, that we can’t get through the next hour with a cigarette,' whatever it is. And these deep, deep 'grooves of thought' are very hard to get out of. They disconnect us from other people, from nature, from an earlier idea of who we are. The 'mystical experience,' as it’s sometimes called, or the 'experience of the dissolution of the ego,' gets us 'out of those grooves' and gives us a break from 'the tyranny of the ego,' which can be a very 'harsh ruler.'”

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