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Michael Pollan goes tripping on psychedelics for his new book

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That’s the short and sweet dietary advice offered by journalist Michael Pollan. But after writing Cooked, now he’s back with a new challenge: psychedelics.

Pollan’s autobiography on his first-hand experience with LSD and mushrooms are sure to interest people once more. He tells the Financial Times:

“There is a reason this book came into my life at this time,” he says. The author was turning 60, and felt the need to break mental habits, to “shake up the snow globe”: “taking the drugs and writing the book came from the same impulse: to try something new”.

Despite one bad experience smoking venom of the Sonoran Desert Frog, most of his trips were like enhanced meditations.

The highlight was going through “ego-dissolution”. Ego is, in many ways, the villain of Pollan’s book — a vigilant, tyrannical force that gets things done and looks after one’s interests, but is fearful and prevents “a fusion of the personal self into a larger whole”. As he writes in How to Change Your Mind, on mushrooms Pollan felt “a merging with other people, with nature . . . I realised that the ground of your ego is not the only ground on which you can stand. And that was a mind-blowing idea.” Channelling Aldous Huxley, he felt that “a door . . . opened for me on to a realm of human experience that for 60 years had been closed”.

In addition to seeking his own personal ‘reboot,’ Pollan’s other ambition was to shake up the stigma around psychedelic therapy and microdosing popularized in Silicon Valley. Keep in mind that Steve Jobs said that taking LSD was one of the “two or three most important things” he did in life.

While Pollan is not advocating for the legalization of LDS and other potent drugs, his experience suggests that their mental benefits are worthy of more research.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of Discvr.blog and four books.