Michael Pollan and Stephen Colbert

It sure seems like psychedelics are finally going mainstream. Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, turns his attention to psychedelic science and medicine in his latest book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.

Pollan went on The Late Show to talk about tripping and the ego with Stephen Colbert. As an “immersion journalist,” Pollan decided to try LSD, psilocybin, and 5-MeO-DMT — a compound from the venom of the Sonoran desert toad — as research for his book. About his psilocybin trip, Pollan says:

I had this experience of ego dissolution. My sense of self fell apart. It was like a bunch of post-its being blown in the wind. And then I saw myself out on the landscape like paint. But I was still seeing it. I was experiencing it from a new vantage that wasn’t my usual self. … We assume we’re identical to our ego, this chattering voice in our heads…it defends us against fresh experience, against emotion, against other people… That dissolved in such a way that I felt like, oh, I’m not identical to my ego. There’s another ground on which to stand.

…It’s really the idea that these defenses you’ve built up over your whole life, you don’t need them… you can lower them and not face complete annihilation.

After hearing about Pollan’s positive”ego-dissolution” trip, Colbert gamely replies, “So ego should be a controlled substance.”

For two high-profile personalities to talk so candidly about psychedelics — indeed, for one to cop to trying them, and having grown from the experience — is refreshing. It seems we’re entering a new era of psychedelic dialog. Check it out in the video below.



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