10 Best Books About Psychedelics Update 05/2022

A lot of people have been interested in the mood and perception-changing effects of psychedelics for a long time now because they can do that. They include both synthetically made and plant-based drugs like LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and peyote. There has been a lot of political debate about these same substances since the US started a war on drugs in the early ’70s. They are also illegal for most people in this country. However, some recent scientific findings have brought psychedelic therapy back into the public eye. There have been promising results showing that psilocybin and MDMA may help patients with PTSD and other mental health disorders get better when they use them. In light of recent city and state-level legalizations, psychedelic therapy may one day become as common as cannabis (and CBD, the most common chemical compound) has become, too. You can look into a lot of different things about this subject, from how it relates to race and cultural appropriation to how psychedelics have helped people connect with their spirituality or achieve a more balanced state of mind.

These books on psychedelics are a great way to get started learning about this new type of therapy. Whether you’re excited, cautiously optimistic, or skeptical about what more scientific studies will show, these books are a great way to get started. Even if you don’t want to live the “turn on, tune in, drop out” lifestyle, reading about the psychedelic journeys that other people have taken through these first-hand accounts could help you learn more about this subject. Get ready for some fun with these 10 books about psychedelics.

‘The Art of Solitude’ by Stephen Batchelor

Stephen Batchelor, a well-known author, has written a lot about how he thinks about Buddhism and contemplative practice in a different way. After he turned 60, he took a break from teaching and went around the world to look at the concept of solitude in different situations. In the process, he tried peyote and ayahuasca with the help of a shaman.

Batchelor says that these ceremonies helped him finally let go of the fight with his secular spirituality. However, this is not just a book about psychedelics. It also talks about philosophy, art, and how to think about life. Come to read about his hallucinogenic experiences, but stay for the book’s collage-like format.

‘A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life’ by Ayelet Waldman

Ayelet Waldman wrote a memoir/manifesto in 2017. A Really Good Day is a strong argument for using psychedelics instead of giving people antidepressants and other medicines all the time.

This book about psychedelics tells the story of the author’s month-long experiment with microdosing LSD as a last-ditch effort to get over her depression. Not in a “Fear and Loathing” way, but to brighter, more productive days and a better home life. Waldman’s first-hand account is backed up by a lot of research about the drug’s therapeutic properties, as well as evidence that shows how America’s outdated drug policies have failed those who need the most help.

‘Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear’ by Dr. Carl L. Hart

Racism is at the heart of the American war on drugs, says Dr. Carl L. Hart in Drug Use for Grown-Ups. The hypocrisy of our current drug laws has led us to the unfair reality we face now.

Makes the case that the stigma and criminalization of recreational drug use, especially for people of color, has had far more negative effects than the effects of the drugs themselves. This book is both incisive and deeply personal.

‘How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence’ by Michael Pollan

A book on psychedelics isn’t enough for you. You want a whole book to chew on. Check out Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, How to Change Your Mind, to find out how to make changes in your mind. This piece of journalism looks at a lot of the pharmacological research on psychedelics (especially LSD) that was done in the 1950s, just before these substances became very controversial.

As the story goes on, Pollan gives his own “mental travelogue,” in which he talks about his firsthand experience with consciousness-expanding psychedelics as a person who used to have very few or no spiritual interests. People who aren’t believers will find his tone a little cold. It’s a tone that speaks to skeptics more than those who have been around for awhile, though.

‘The Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Odyssey’ by Bett Williams

Some of the things this book talks about are like going on a “trip.” But it’s all for the best. Bett Williams wrote The Wild Kindness, which is a story about her near-lifelong love for psilocybin mushrooms. It’s a beautiful story that’s also very weird.

As a child growing up in the New Mexico desert, Williams had many solitary nights under the stars. As an adult, she met with other psychonauts, community leaders, and medicine women to learn more about this mystical plant portal. Williams’ memoir evokes the playful and freewheeling tone of the bygone counterculture.

‘Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism’ by Daniel Pinchbeck

Daniel Pinchbeck, the author of Breaking Open the Head, talks about how society has become less curious about the world around them. His favorite types of psychedelics are mostly made from plants and are part of cultural ceremonies that have been going on for a long time. For the most part, we don’t like Burning Man.

Dr. Pinchbeck talks about shamanistic rituals and plant medicines from around the world. They are used to help people understand their minds better, not to get away from them. He does his best to learn about the significance of these rituals in their cultures and not just do them for the fun of it. However, this book is based on a Western view of shamanism, so that has to be said.

‘Hallucinations’ by Oliver Sacks

It’s called Hallucinations by Dr. Oliver Sacks, and it was written in 2013. It talks about why we might see and hear things that other people can’t. It’s only one chapter in the book that talks about drug-induced hallucinations, but the rest talks about a lot of different things that happen to the body and the mind. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are two examples.

Hallucinations can be very scary for people who can’t control their experiences. Dr. Sacks makes the subject more relatable. He shows this by telling stories about how he worked with different patients and how it can be seen, heard, felt, and smelled.

‘The Doors of Perception’ by Aldous Huxley

Books about psychedelics written in the last few years have a lot to say about how the war on drugs has hurt our society. Aldous Huxley wrote a book called “The Doors of Perception” in 1954, and it looks back at a time when the research into these substances was very new and had a lot of potential.

A lot of the book is a record of Huxley taking mescaline and describing the effects as they happen. He waxes poetic about art and philosophy and religion, and he says that what he feels is not intoxication, but an intensification of experience. Take this with a grain of salt: People say this book was ahead of its time, but it was still made by people in its time.

‘Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change’ by Tao Lin

In fact, Trip is one of the most important books on psychedelics that does not gloss over the alienating and sometimes very dark parts of psychedelic culture. Tao Lin’s Trip isn’t just a fun ride.

In addition, the book has a lot of different personalities. One of them is obsessed with the ethnobotanist and psychedelics enthusiast Terence McKenna, which leads to meeting McKenna’s ex-wife. Michael Pollan might not like this book, so be sure to read this before you buy it.

‘Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain’s Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal’ by Erik Vance

If you want to learn about how your brain works, this isn’t the right book for you. It’s all about the drugs in your brain, or “neurotransmitters.” Suggestible You look into how placebo research, alternative therapies, and neurology all work together. People who think they will be happy or hurt when they have an experience are more likely to feel it even if nothing is happening in the real world.

Journalist Erik Vance talks about what the limits of this high suggestibility are. For example, one can’t “just think positive” out of a cancer diagnosis. If you think the placebo effect doesn’t have any value, he says that’s not true at all. It could be your personal key to understanding how certain psychosomatic illnesses can be relieved without drugs.

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