How to Change Your Mind - Chapter 4 Summary

Chapter four, “Travelogue: Journeying Underground,” takes the reader through Pollan’s personal experiences with three different psychedelic compounds. Once psychedelics were categorized as class one substances, the use of psychedelics went underground. Many people were, and still are, interested in using psychedelics and seek to undertake psychedelic experiences under the watchful eye of an underground guide. Despite not being formally regulated, many underground guides adhere to strict standards when assisting individuals under the influence of psychedelics.

How to Change Your Mind - Chapter 2 Summary

Chapter two, “Bemushroomed,” covers the history of psychoactive mushrooms. In a laboratory setting, a synthetic version of the psilocybin molecule is prepared for research purposes rather than using a psilocybin containing mushrooms. Although synthetic psilocybin is more practical for research studies, the synthetic psilocybin molecule has become separated from its fungal origin. To better understand the mushrooms, specifically of the genus Psilocybe, Pollan teamed up with famous mycologist Paul Stamets.

How to Change Your Mind - Prologue and Chapter 1 Summary

The prologue of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan serves to provide the reader with important context for both the content of the book as well as the more personal nature of the book for Pollan. The concept for the book came from research Pollan did while writing a New Yorker article about the use of psychedelics as medical treatment, specifically the use of a guided psilocybin session to help reduce anxiety around death for cancer patients.