GOOD CHEMISTRY

THE SCIENCE OF CONNECTION, FROM SOUL TO PSYCHEDELICS

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

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 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

MAGIC WORDS

WHAT TO SAY TO GET YOUR WAY

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary.

By Wharton School professor Berger’s account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they’re grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation (“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), and you’re likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not “Can you help me?” but “Can you be a helper?” As Berger notes, there’s a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It’s the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: “Well, you could…” induces all concerned “to recognize that there might be other possibilities.” Berger’s counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn’t help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to “try talking to yourself in the third person (‘You can do it!’)” in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It’s intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as “I pay all bills…on time”), and it’s helpful to keep in mind that “the right words used at the right time can have immense power.”

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063204935

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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