While the psychedelic experience is often described as ineffable, there has been much written on the topic. The list below contains a few of the better books written on the experience itself, psychedelic integration, microdosing and the history of psychedelics.
This list is by no means an exhaustive collection of psychedelic books. However, if you plan on embarking on a psychedelic experience, these books are a good place to start.
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
When LSD was first discovered in the 1940s, it seemed to researchers, scientists and doctors as if the world might be on the cusp of psychological revolution. It promised to shed light on the deep mysteries of consciousness, as well as offer relief to addicts and the mentally ill. But in the 1960s, with the vicious backlash against the counter-culture, all further research was banned. In recent years, however, work has quietly begun again on the amazing potential of LSD, psilocybin and DMT. Could these drugs in fact improve the lives of many people? Diving deep into this extraordinary world and putting himself forward as a guinea-pig, Michael Pollan has written a remarkable history of psychedelics and a compelling portrait of the new generation of scientists fascinated by the implications of these drugs. How to Change Your Mind is a report from what could very well be the future of human consciousness.
Consciousness Medicine: Indigenous Wisdom, Entheogens, and Expanded States of Consciousness for Healing and Growth
A comprehensive guide to the safe and ethical application of expanded states of consciousness for therapists, healing practitioners, and sincere explorers
Psychedelic medicines also known as entheogens are entering the mainstream. And it’s no wonder: despite having access to the latest wellness trends and advances in technology, we’re no healthier, happier, or more meaningfully connected. Psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and LSD—as well as other time-tested techniques with the power to shift consciousness such as drumming, meditation, and vision quests—are now being recognized as potent catalysts for change and healing. But how do we ensure that we’re approaching them effectively?
Françoise Bourzat—a counselor and experienced guide with sanctioned training in the Mazatec and other indigenous traditions—and healer Kristina Hunter introduce a holistic model focusing on the threefold process of preparation, journey, and integration. Drawing from more than thirty years of experience, Bourzat’s skillful and heartfelt approach presents the therapeutic application of expanded states, without divorcing them from their traditional contexts. Consciousness Medicine delivers a coherent map for navigating nonordinary states of consciousness, offering an invaluable contribution to the field of healing and transformation.
This year 600,000 people in the U.S. alone will try LSD for the the first time, joining the 23 million who have already experimented with this substance.
Called “America’s wisest and most respected authority on psychedelics and their use,” James Fadiman has been involved with psychedelic research since the 1960s. In this guide to the immediate and long-term effects of psychedelic use for spiritual (high dose), therapeutic (moderate dose), and problem-solving (low dose) purposes, Fadiman outlines best practices for safe, sacred entheogenic voyages learned through his more than 40 years of experience–from the benefits of having a sensitive guide during a session (and how to be one) to the importance of the setting and pre-session intention.
Fadiman reviews the newest as well as the neglected research into the psychotherapeutic value of visionary drug use for increased personal awareness and a host of serious medical conditions, including his recent study of the reasons for and results of psychedelic use among hundreds of students and professionals. He reveals new uses for LSD and other psychedelics, including extremely low doses for improved cognitive functioning and emotional balance. Cautioning that psychedelics are not for everyone, he dispels the myths and misperceptions about psychedelics circulating in textbooks and clinics as well as on the internet. Exploring the life-changing experiences of Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, and Huston Smith as well as Francis Crick and Steve Jobs, Fadiman shows how psychedelics, used wisely, can lead not only to healing but also to scientific breakthroughs and spiritual epiphanies.
Embracing the revival of psychedelic research and the discovery of new therapeutic uses, clinical psychologist Dr. Richard Louis Miller discusses what is happening today in psychedelic medicine–and what will happen in the future.
Dr. Miller covers the tumultuous history of early psychedelic research brought to a halt 50 years ago by the U.S. government as well as offering non-technical summaries of the most recent studies with MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, and ayahuasca. They explore the biochemistry of consciousness and the use of psychedelics for self-discovery and healing. They discuss the use of psilocybin for releasing fear in the terminally ill and the potential for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of PTSD. They examine Dr. Charles Grob’s research on the indigenous use and therapeutic properties of ayahuasca and Dr. Gabor Maté’s attempt to transport this plant medicine to a clinical setting with the help of Canada’s Department of National Health.
Dr. Miller explores the ongoing efforts to restore psychedelic therapies to the health field, the growing threat of overmedication by the pharmaceutical industry, and the links between psychiatric drugs and mental illness. They also discuss the newly shifting political climate and the push for new research, offering hope for an end to the War on Drugs and a potential renaissance of research into psychedelic medicines around the world.
Psychedelic Psychotherapy is a comprehensive, easy-to-read resource for therapists and laypeople who need practical guidelines for psychedelic drug-assisted psychotherapy.This book contains valuable insiders’ information for those using psychedelics for their own healing, and for practitioners who facilitate their sessions. Its focus is the nitty-gritty of healing trauma using MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin. It includes step-by-step guidance on how to safely and effectively navigate through the psychedelically-enhanced healing process.
Carl Gustav Jung pioneered the transformative potential of the deep unconscious. Psychedelic substances provide direct and powerful access to this inner world. How, then, might Jungian psychology help us to better understand the nature of psychedelic experiences? And how might psychedelics assist the movement toward psychological transformation described by Jung? Jungian depth psychology and psychedelic psychotherapy are both concerned with coming to terms with unconscious drives, complexes, and symbolic images. Unaware of significant evidence for the safe clinical use of psychedelic drugs, Jung himself remained wary of psychedelics and staunchly opposed their therapeutic use. His bias has prevented Jungians from objectively considering the benefits as well as the risks of using psychedelics for psychological healing and growth. Confrontation with the Unconscious intertwines psychedelic research, personal accounts of psychedelic experiences, and C. G. Jung’s work on trauma, the shadow, psychosis, and psychospiritual transformation to show the relevance of Jung’s penetrating insights to the work of Stanislav Grof, Ann Shulgin, Ronald Sandison, Margot Cutner, among other psychedelic and transpersonal researchers, and to demonstrate the great value of Jung’s penetrating insights for understanding difficult psychedelic experiences and promoting safe and effective psychedelic exploration and psychotherapy.
In this timely and profoundly original book, writer and physician Gabor Maté looks at the epidemic of various addictions in our society, tells us why we are so prone to them and outlines what is needed to liberate ourselves from their hold. Starting with a dramatically close view of Maté’s drug addicted patients, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts weaves in stories of real people while providing a bold synthesis of clinical experience, insight and cutting-edge scientific findings. A haunting, compassionate and deeply personal examination of the nature of addiction.
The true story of how a renowned writer’s struggle with mood storms led her to try a remedy as drastic as it is forbidden: microdoses of LSD. Her fascinating journey provides a window into one family and the complex world of a once-infamous drug seen through new eyes.
When a small vial arrives in her mailbox from “Lewis Carroll,” Ayelet Waldman is ready to try anything. Her depression has become intolerable, severe and unmanageable; medication has failed to make a difference. Married with four children and a robust career, she “should” be happy, but instead her family and her work are suffering at the mercy of her mood disorder. So she opens the vial, places two drops on her tongue, and becomes part of a burgeoning underground group of scientists and civilians successfully using therapeutic microdoses of LSD. As Waldman charts her experience over the course of a month, during which she achieved a newfound feeling of serenity, she also explores the history and mythology of LSD, the cutting-edge research into the drug, and the byzantine policies that control it. Drawing on her experience as a federal public defender, and as the mother of teenagers, and her research into the therapeutic value of psychedelics, Waldman has produced a book that is candid, revealing and completely enthralling.
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution
An exploration of humans’ symbiotic relationships with plants and chemicals presents information on prehistoric partnership societies, the roles of spices and spirits in the rise of dominator societies; and the politics of tobacco, tea, coffee, opium, and alcohol.
Why, as a species, are humans so fascinated by altered states of consciousness? Can altered states reveal something to us about our origins and our place in nature? In Food of the Gods, ethnobotanist Terence McKenna’s research on man’s ancient relationship with chemicals opens a doorway to the divine, and perhaps a solution for saving our troubled world. McKenna provides a revisionist look at the historical role of drugs in the East and the West, from ancient spice, sugar, and rum trades to marijuana, cocaine, synthetics, and even television—illustrating the human desire for the “food of the gods” and the powerful potential to replace abuse of illegal drugs with a shamanic understanding, insistence on community, reverence for nature, and increased self-awareness.
This manual uses material from The Tibetan Book of the Dead for this preparation. The authors also make an important contribution to the interpretation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. They show that it is concerned not with the dead, but with the living. The last section of the manual provides instructions for an actual psychedelic session, under adequate safeguards.
The authors were engaged in a program of experiments with LSD and other psychedelic drugs at Harvard University until sensational national publicity unfairly concentrating on student interest in the drugs, led to the suspension of the experiments. Since then, the authors have continued their work without academic auspices.
The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay, released as a book, by Aldous Huxley. First published in 1954, it details his experiences when taking mescaline. The book takes the form of Huxley’s recollection of a mescaline trip that took place over the course of an afternoon in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake’s 1793 poem ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, which range from the “purely aesthetic” to “sacramental vision”. He also incorporates later reflections on the experience and its meaning for art and religion.
It has been claimed that microdosing psychedelic substances such as LSD has the ability to enhance creativity, elevate mood and even combat depression. Passie, delves into the first-wave scientific literature on microdosing. He reveals a rich and largely ignored history of research with microdose, minidose and low-dose LSD, and other psychedelics, and original translations from German to English. At a time when microdosing is being lauded across the media as a potential panacea, this carefully researched and scientifically presented work provides an objective and clear perspective, covering key areas such as tolerance, toxicity, and placebo. A book no discerning researcher, practitioner or psychedelic aficionado should be without, The Science of Microdosing Psychedelics is an invaluable enchiridion of information and insight.