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Title: Breaking Open The Head
Author: Daniel Pinchbeck

Review By: Mark Pesce
Reviewer's URL:
Rating: Highly Recommended
Date: Nov 2002

Daniel Pinchbeck started out as a rationalist, materialist, Neo-Freudian New Yorker, a classic intellectual - disconnected from his body, and pessimistic about the possibilities of culture. Then (researching a magazine story) he went to Gabon to take Iboga and become one of the Bwiti, an "initiate of the mysteries". What follows is a rip-roaring good yarn as he heads into the jungles of the Amazon to take ayahuasca with the natives, to Burning Man in search of modern psychedelic culture, and into his New York apartment, which becomes infested with glamorously evil beings following a DPT experiment - which he explains in a hilarious chapter titled "Not For Human Consumption". By the end of his journey, Pinchbeck has broken open his own head, lost the predjudices of modernity, and opened himself to a more numinous experience of being.

Not since "The Doors of Perception" has one book so accurately and beautifully described the transformative nature of the psychedelic experience. Pinchbeck alternates between personal journey and cultural history, spinning a thread which connects all of us - psychonauts, policy makers and just plain folks - to something greater than ourselves, a universe of possibilities which, by the end of the text, Pinchbeck has been forced to admit must exist.

Highly recommended.

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