Are Psychedelics the Key to Saving Humans? 'Omnivore's Dilemma' Author Says It's Possible
Fifty years ago, psychedelics like LSD were hailed as a gateway to transforming humanity's consciousness. Within a decade, it was marked as a Schedule I drug by the US government, meaning it had "a high potential for abuse" and "no legitimate medical use."
Michael Pollan, the best-selling author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, disagrees—his new (verbosely titled) book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence says psychedelics, including LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, may be the key to changing the world for the better.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Pollan admits that he was initially skeptical of LSD's ability to give real, tangible insight into the operations of the human mind: "When I started I was very intrigued and somewhat outraged by that quote from [pioneering transpersonal psychologist] Stan Grof that LSD will be for the study of the mind what the microscope was for biology or what the telescope was for astronomy. I mean, really? You know that's a big claim. But I wanted to test that claim and in fact I think there's a lot to it."
Through his own experiences, Pollan found that psychedelics offer the ability to get some distance from one's ego and see it in a new light, which can lead to tremendous psychological benefits.
"I think do a better job of realizing when my ego is doing its thing. That I don't have to react the way he wants to react. People can attain that through 10 years of psychoanalysis, four days a week, probably, but I attained it in four hours and that was kind of amazing."
When asked if he, like many others, gained a deeper understanding of God or the divine, Pollan says it's more complicated than that: "I came close to a sense of the imminence of some something spiritual in nature. There are dimensions of consciousness and dimensions of nature and reality that we have not begun to penetrate."
Pollan says that psychedelics have more to offer than enriching our own understanding of ourselves. For him, they're the key to overcoming two of the major problems facing humanity today:
"One is the environmental crisis. People come out of these experiences feeling differently toward nature. To begin to see subjectivity in nature is to begin to realize it's not our object to trifle with...And the other big problem we face is tribalism....not recognizing what we have in common with the refugee, or the person trying to come across the border. Both are products of egotism, of 'I' before 'we,' of a narrow sense of self-interest."
How to Change Your Mind is currently available on Amazon and at other retailers.