A mind opening read on the science, history, and mythology of psychedelics including an overview and source-based deep-dive into these often miss-understood molecules. The book is especially well suited to help bridge the gap between the scientific and mystical approaches to understanding and working with psychedelics.
Michael Polan covers everything from the historical spiritual use of psychedelics to the recent stage 3 trials of psilocybin and MDMA for treatment-resistant depression and end-of-life therapy. It's a long book, and though the information was great - I would have appreciated a more judicious approach to editing - this could have easily been two books.
I especially enjoyed the recent research advancements in neuroscience related to the "Default Node Network" AKA the "ego" or "wandering mind", and how psychedelics reroute the the normal flow of cognition to create a "reset" on our assumptions to return the brain (temporarily at least) to a mode where it can process data without activating our highly tuned stereo-typing capabilities.
I was less interested in Michael's first hand accounts of his "journey's" for the same reason I am less interested in the family photographs of people I don't know. A hollowed out tree representing parents is only profound to the person whose parents the tree represents. However, I can understand the value these first hand accounts provide for people curious about what a psychedelic experience is actually like. Popular portrayals have been getting it wrong for decades thanks to the backlash and demonization of psychedelics during the late 1960's. The historical context and implications of this episode in american culture is covered well in the book.
All things considered, I would certainly recommend the read to anyone curious about the role psychedelics play in medicine, psychology, and "the betterment of well people". I would also recommend the book to any rational mind who has unfortunately fallen victim to accepting the cultural narrative that psychedelics are somehow inherently evil, dangerous, and/or corrupting. You'll be surprised at what science has to say about the subject.