An intriguing invitation to tune into the therapeutic experience of psychedelic connectivity.

GOOD CHEMISTRY

THE SCIENCE OF CONNECTION, FROM SOUL TO PSYCHEDELICS

It’s hard to argue the fact that we are losing our human-to-human connection. One way back, suggests Holland, a psychiatrist who specializes in psychopharmacology, is via psychedelic medicines.

To reproduce, nurture, and survive, humans are hard-wired for connection, but our current state is one of disconnection and isolation. However, as the author writes in this enthusiastic foray into the possibilities of igniting the “pharmacological fireworks in our brains,” we have the potential “to bring us back into alignment with our true purpose, which is connection.” Social isolation “has a lethality on par with being obese, or with smoking about fifteen cigarettes a day.” One expression of it is our obsession with screens; another is the opioid epidemic. Via her personal experience, interviews with experts, and a sturdy grasp of the medical literature, Holland explains the monitored use of MDMA, LSD, THC, and psilocybin mushrooms to “light a path out of chronic loneliness and toward connectedness.” The author, who edited The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis (2010) and Ecstasy: The Complete Guide (2001), ranges among connections with the self, a partner, family, community, Earth, and the cosmos. One of Holland’s most important aims—and one that will ring true for many readers—is to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, the flip side of the fight-or-flight state, the mode when we feel relaxed, safe, loving, and loved. There are many states of chronic stress, loneliness, addiction, and alienation that can be addressed by using the best drugs available for orchestrating the process of attachment, and they are already in your brain—e.g., oxytocin, vasopressin, serotonin, endorphins, endocannabinoids, and dopamine. Holland explores a number of avenues to access this feel-good chemistry—conscious breathing, sex, meditation, group activities—and she conveys great excitement and marvelous anecdotes about the prospects of the psychedelic pharmacopeia.

An intriguing invitation to tune into the therapeutic experience of psychedelic connectivity.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286288-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper Wave

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS

Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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