Book notes – How to change your mind – Pollan

(audio book) [This was not what I was expecting based on the title, it is mostly about psychedelics, somewhat interesting stories but it lacks a lot of robust scientific study. The book seems to try and convince the reader that scientific study is warranted and new approaches may be needed, as it sounds like they should but it felt long and I was looking for something more objective/substantial rather than subjective accounts of experiences (after I learned what the book was actually about). Ch5 and after seems to be more what I was looking for but this was a 14hr listen which I felt was way too long and I had it at 2x speed for a good part.]

Magic mushrooms and LSD focus in start of book…

History of use of psychoactive drugs, discovery of lsd.

Psychedelics impacted by environment and expectations.

More history of drugs and prohibitions, link to religion.

Clinical study around 2000 after 40 years of ban – find could be useful in clinical use

Spirituality/religious angle to drug use

Notes about those who have been experimented with them, positive experiences and eye opening/spiritual experiences

Seems like life changing events for many, sometimes dropping their work for more spiritual journeys

Recount of journeys and experiences after use, seeking where they are and where they come from.

Trials in Weyburn Saskatchewan, about 50% success in alcoholics

LSD was std treatment option in Sask due to success. Study redid in Toronto with less attention to setting, not as successful (more bad trips)

Big amount of suggestibility and some questions about scientific approach (1960s). Used recreationally and in therapy for various reasons.

Model that psychedelic removes filter, can see world without them. Some belief that consciousness is outside body.

Therapy, one session with 1-2 therapists with some background music in a home-like setting with high dose

Many relive their own birth. Therapist have big impact in guiding the journey

Some engineers used them to visualize their work. Facilitates the identification of patterns

Harvard study, survey most positive, some life changing experiences.

Prison trial, some prisoners took, others no, followed to see recidivism rates (it was said to be positive but when reviewed showed no actual differences)

Bad press, bad experiences. Books seems a bit biased to try and make some of them seem normal?

[I’m not sure why i am still listening in, I’m hoping there will be a good turn at some point but so far there doesn’t seem to be much hard content, studies or conclusions. It is a story/history but how does it help us moving forward? ]
[note i am listening at 1.5x speed and have been for a long time]
[now 2x]

Context and container seems important, “shaman” guiding the journey important as well

Breathing exercises to get him into different state of consciousness

(blood chemistry change due to breathing pattern?)

Recounting his own use and how it unfolded. First was not eye opening as he wanted but felt like years of therapy. 2nd use

Some optical illusions can’t be seen by children or schizophrenics where mind fills in gaps for us, idea that under the influence the same might happen.

His tries were not successful, either it was the same or he tripped out and couldn’t concentrate on it.

Feels experience gives glimpse of world without ego and with meditation or reflection might help embrace some aspects.

(4 hours with 4 doses in his 2nd experience) 3rd use, toad venom.

Description compared to nuclear explosion. Takes time to make sense of every experience.

Ch5 – psychedelic resemble seratonin, sticks to certain receptor better than seratonin. Some believe consciousness in brain, others in the world. Now new tools to monitor brain could be helpful to see how brain is impacted/activated under influence.

Some tolerance build with constant use.

Fmri shows Less blood flow in use, less brain activity specifically in default mode network. Seems to be activated when we are not concentrated on anything. Dmn keeps things organized in brain – liked with concept of “me”. Expert meditators achieve the same thing. Able to remove split between self/subject and object.

Dmn inhibits other parts, filters info which would be difficult to process. Increase in blood flow in other parts may explain possibilities to explore subconscious and repressed memories

Ordinary consciousness is a sort of model, made to help us survive, taking the filters out could create this crazy effect

Colourblind sometimes see colours when under influence. Removing filters and brain tries to compensate and make sense of things it’s not used to

Theory that reducing the control can help certain people with ocd, addictions etc by showing other ways with psychedelics inhibiting the dmn

When dmn is inhibited, brain becomes more flexible, new pathways of connection emerge and increase, connecting different areas of brain. Could explain why some can “see” music or other phenomena reported by experiences

Unsure if these links persist or can be reinforced by recalling experiences or meditation

But might be helpful for those more rigid thought.

Children are more open mind, less dmn, will try various things adults might not and solve some problems more quickly. Adults tend to rely on experience (low temperature search) and get answers based on past experiences but when needing to come up with less obvious solutions (high temperature search) have more problems. Adult brain on psychedelics resembles more a child brain with many connections active

Use on cancer patients seems to allow them to accept what is happening and be happy, a sense of something after

80% effectiveness 6months after, small sample size but significant

Best outcome was with those with biggest experiences

Many experience death and rebirth, embrace love. When faced with death some dmn might be overactive and psychedelics reducing this help them and create meaning

Smoking cessation study 80%, long term 67% success (open study) new one comparing to patch underway.

Can give an experience significant enough to make people stop addictive behaviors

Difficulty in studying as clear difference in effects between placebo and drug. Impact of experience may be more important than the drug if the setting and therapy is not also controlled then not as good impact, many variables

LSD on alcoholism seemed promising, new studies, show decrease after LSD use that persisted. Little impact prior (therapy before/during/after) the drug seemed to have a strong impact

Aa therapy tries to do similar thing, shift to interconnectedness and bigger meaning.

Awe might be a reason, studies show awe can have this impact and is part of what psychedelic treatments offer. Similar to astronauts seeing the earth, changes perspective and decreases focus on self and more on others

Treated for depression (those who had 2+ unsuccessful treatment types) many were successful but half relapsed within a period of time (6 months), may need multiple treatments? Need more study

Many mental disorders could possibly be treated (might be because not much is known yet or, that those disorders are linked somehow)

Experiment where you can visualise where your brain is active. He was able to reduce activity in dmn through meditation but not by much. Recounting memories from his trip and trying to recount detach from ego, made it drop a lot more. So recollection (or memories of detaching from ego) was successful

The effects for him mostly wear off after a month before settling back to “normal” but keep some remnants of it

Sort of a target to strive for that can be reached a bit through meditation or thinking back





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