A new psychedelic documentary, "How To Change Your Mind," has attracted much attention since its release on Netflix.
This post will review this documentary and discuss our impressions of the series, what makes it so remarkable, and how it may influence the normalization of psychedelic therapy.
So if you didn't have the chance to watch it and you don't want to see any spoilers, this is your warning. Spoilers ahead!
What "How to Change Your Mind" Is About?
In this documentary, we see Pollan and other people's unique psychedelic experiences and learn about the power of psychedelic medicine. Additionally, the show teaches us about the history of psychedelics and their religious and therapeutic use.
The show is available on Netflix in many countries and has been dubbed into many languages. As of now, the series appears to be making a positive impact around the world, and it has received many positive reviews online.
Overview of the Show
The documentary has four episodes focusing on different substances, including LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA, and Mescaline.
A typical episode is about 50-55 minutes long. Pollan asks individuals intriguing questions about their personal experiences with psychedelic substances in each episode. Most of these stories came from individuals who volunteered for psychedelic therapy.
As well as interviewing people about their psychedelic healing journeys, Pollan also introduces us to these substances' science, history, and culture. Researchers, chemists, and psychologists such as Paul Daley, Felix Scholkmann, Manish Agrawal, Ben Sessa, Roland Griffiths, and Robin Carhart-Harris explain the science behind these substances.
Now let's dig into details and explore each episode! What are the substances Pollan was curious about, and how we may benefit from them as individuals and as a whole?
Episode 1: LSD
The episode shows Hoffman's old interviews discussing the discovery of LSD. He also describes the unforgettable day when he tried LSD for the first time. That day is known among psychonauts as Bicycle Day, which the show beautifully illustrates and presents.
Aside from that, we hear stories from people who tried LSD therapy for terminal diseases, anxiety, existential distress, and even chronic headaches. The show also touches on the counterculture and recreational use of LSD since it is such a big part of history. Pollan also introduces the iconic names of the counterculture movement in the 60s, such as the psychedelic advocate Timothy Leary and brilliant author Aldous Huxley.
There are also interesting interviews with familiar names currently working in psychedelic research. Swiss researcher Prof. Franz X. Vollenweider talks about the exciting science behind the effects of psychedelics. The well-known author Ayelet Waldman talks about microdosing and how it became a thing in the psychedelic world.
Toward the end of the episode, Micheal Pollan shares his first experience with LSD and leaves the audience wanting to learn more about other psychedelic substances and Pollan's personal experiences.
Episode 2: Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)
In the second episode, Pollan dives into the origin of magic mushrooms and how they have been used in the Indigenous Mazatec community in Mexico for sacred and healing purposes.
The episode also contains a variety of educational content. Paul Stamets, a fascinating mycologist, talks about the taxonomy and properties of psilocybin mushrooms. In addition, oncologist and researcher Manish Agrawal, neuropharmacologist Robin Carhart-Harris, and psychologist Bill Richard support the research and science behind the psilocybin mushrooms.
One of the most memorable moments in the episode was a story about a 78-year-old catholic woman diagnosed with a terminal disease and participating in psilocybin-assisted therapy. In the interview, Micheal Pollan said, "You don't seem like a person who would take psychedelics," to which she replied, "Why not?". Through this conversation, we are reminded of the uniqueness of psychedelics; they can benefit a variety of people who suffer from various diseases and mental illnesses. In the right settings and intentions, psychedelics can be extremely useful for many people.
Episode 3: MDMA
In this episode, Pollan explores MDMA and its healing potential for different conditions, such as Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and addiction. We listen to a compelling story from an individual who experienced life-changing major trauma. She talks about her healing journey with the help of MDMA-assisted therapy.
One of the impressive moments in the episode was Rick Doblin's personal experience, where he shared with us how he established the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and fought for the therapeutic use of psychedelics, specifically MDMA. Therefore, he indicates he has been working for roughly 50 years to get MDMA as an approved drug in therapy. He further says, "These last fifty years have prepared me for what I wanted to do, which is become a psychedelic therapist."
Episode 4: Mescaline (Peyote)
Mescaline is the psychoactive substance found in San Pedro and Peyote cacti and has been used as a sacred plant for religious purposes.
In this episode, Pollan introduces us to the cultural use of Mescaline by Native Americans. We learn about the religious use and ceremonies of Peyote.
Listening to stories about people's experiences with Peyote and seeing the respect surrounding these cacti was impressive.
Pollan also discusses some recent decriminalization attempts in America. For example, we see the "Decriminalize Nature" movement in Oakland and how they are trying to influence a change in policies for the use of entheogenic plants and mushrooms throughout the country.
This show is interesting, educational, and entertaining. The first-person experiences with psychedelics were fascinating. The show was intriguing because people were comfortable talking about the dark aspects of their lives.
Michel Pollan creates a nonjudgmental, realistic atmosphere where people feel comfortable speaking to the general public about their experiences.
Animators did a fantastic job of helping people visualize the various psychedelic experiences. It almost looked like the real thing!
We also enjoyed learning about the history and culture of indigenous communities. In the Mescaline episode, Pollan emphasizes the importance of indigenous cultures using these plants respectfully and purposefully. The point he makes is well taken, as history should serve as a guide and influence for how we use psychedelics today.
We liked how there is no need to have a thorough understanding of psychedelics to watch the documentary. The show is suitable for younger and older generations to watch with friends and family.
This series is a great way to make your parents or significant other understand your passion for psychedelics and their therapeutic potential.
Documentaries on Psychedelics and Their Influence on the General Public
Recent documentaries about psychedelics have influenced not only the public but also revealed their therapeutic potential.
The "Fantastic Fungi" documentary featured many scientists and mycologists in the field and provided information about psilocybin mushrooms. The "Have a Good Trip" documentary explored celebrities' experiences with psychedelics.
As these Netflix shows reach a wider audience, they hope to help normalize psychedelics over time. As these documentaries show, psychedelics can be used as powerful treatments for mental disorders, and we should not ignore this.
Drug policies and laws must be changed to make psychedelics available to those in need. Undoubtedly, the educational content offered to the general public will affect global health industries.
The hope is that with public awareness of these benefits, legalizing psychedelics, or at least psychedelic-assisted therapy, may be accelerated due to the public's attention and demand for these groundbreaking treatments.
The Bottom Line
In this eye-opening documentary, Pollan emphasizes the "war on drugs" era, starting with the prohibition of recreational use and LSD research. He points out how prohibition prevented the development of psychedelic research rather than their recreational use. We hope the show will eventually help impact the regulations regarding psychedelics with his reasonable points.
If we can educate the public about psychedelic therapy to break the stigma, not only will we reach more people in need, but our legislators will be able to support psychedelic therapy in the future.
With the rising research, attention, and interest in psychedelic substances, it is critical to have educational content that provides information to the general public about the therapeutic potential of psychedelic medicine.
"How to Change Your Mind" is a must-watch documentary, and we encourage everyone to watch it and learn more about these magical plants. We hope the show reaches even more people since we believe it has already changed a lot of people's perspectives on psychedelics. Whether you are an experienced psychedelic researcher or someone who has never tried them, each episode has something to teach you.
This documentary is for anyone searching for a brighter future and curious about what psychedelics can offer!