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Hardcover | Out of Print | 349 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 40 illus. | July 2001 | ISBN: 9780262082938
Paperback | $27.95 Short | £22.95 | 349 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 40 illus. | August 2002 | ISBN: 9780262582209
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The Dream Drugstore

Chemically Altered States of Consciousness


In this book, J. Allan Hobson offers a new understanding of altered states of consciousness based on knowledge of how our brain chemistry is balanced when we are awake and how that balance shifts when we fall asleep and dream. He draws on recent research that enables us to explain how psychedelic drugs work to disturb that balance and how similar imbalances may cause depression and schizophrenia. He also draws on work that expands our understanding of how certain drugs can correct imbalances and restore the brain's natural equilibrium.

Hobson explains the chemical balance concept in terms of what we know about the regulation of normal states of consciousness over the course of the day by brain chemicals called neuromodulators. He presents striking confirmation of the principle that every drug that has transformative effects on consciousness interacts with the brain's own consciousness-altering chemicals. In the section called "The Medical Drugstore," Hobson describes drugs used to counteract anxiety and insomnia, to raise and lower mood, and to eliminate or diminish the hallucinations and delusions of schizophrenia. He discusses the risks involved in their administration, including the possibility of new disorders caused by indiscriminate long-term use. In "The Recreational Drugstore," Hobson discusses psychedelic drugs, narcotic analgesia, and natural drugs. He also considers the distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate drug use. In the concluding "Psychological Drugstore," he discusses the mind as an agent, not just the mediator, of change, and corrects many erroneous assumptions and practices that hinder the progress of psychoanalysis.

About the Author

J. Allan Hobson is Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of The Dreaming Brain: How the Brain Creates Both the Sense and The Nonsense of Dreams, Dreaming as Delirium: How the Brain Goes Out of Its Mind (MIT Press,1999), The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness (MIT Press, 1999, 2001), and other books.


“J. Allan Hobson, a world leader in sleep and dream research, elegantly links the mechanisms of sleep and dreams with the psychopharmocology of memory. Interspersing personal experience with the latest scientific information, The Dream Drugstore will delight and inform all readers regardless of their scientific or medical background.”
Carl Salzman, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
“This book is not only the best modern scientifically sound treatment of dreams, their origin and meaning, but also an entertaining guided tour of contemporary psychiatry.”
Lester Grinspoon, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, Harvard Medical School
“In this extraordinary volume, Hobson links the mental changes that are common to dreaming, psychosis, and the actions of psychedelic drugs. He accomplishes this creative integration in a lucid, lively style accessible and of interest to both the intelligent lay reader and professional researcher.”
Solomon H. Snyder, Director, Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
“This is your brain. This is your brain on its own drugs. Professor Hobson has written a lucid, novel, and authoritative guide to the neurobiology of altered states of consciousness.”
David Spiegel, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine
“This well-written, enjoyable, information-packed culmination of Dr. Hobson's lifetime of scientifically based work in this fascinating area will be of intense interest and value to anyone interested in altered states of consciousness—whether induced by or associated with dreaming, psychoses, hallucinations, alien abductions, prescription medications or recreational drug use. It expands and clarifies our concepts of altered states of consciousness and neurodynamic psychology.”
Mark W. Mahowald, Director, Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center, Hennepin County Medical Center, and Professor of Neurology, University of Minnesota Medical School