Entering a narrowly open door, Michael Pollan explores the history–and current state–of psychedelics in mental health and brain science. Pollan brings his signature style of deep research, developing interpersonal connections with specialists, pressing his subjective experience for deeper understanding, and carefully constructed speculation.
Personally, while the history sections and the memoir portions were interesting and necessary to get a grasp on the topic, I found the brain science sections most interesting.
Pollan wisely stays within the parameters of how psychedelics work, or at least appear to work, on portions of the brain. He mostly stays there, anyway. The material is very exciting, the changes in social and medical perceptions of psychedelics, combined with contemporary discoveries in neuroscience, make it difficult to resist the urge to make hopeful extrapolations about how these chemicals can help the wounded, the fearful, the addicted, and even those whose only problem is a mundane existence in a solitary life.