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The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness Hardcover – December 4, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Warren, a Canadian science journalist, combines the rigorous self-experimentation of Steven Johnson's Mind Wide Open with the wacky self-experimentation of A.J. Jacobs's The Know-It-All in this entertaining field guide to the varying levels of mental awareness. Beginning with the mild hallucinogenic state that comes just before true sleep, he tries to hone his skills at lucid dreaming, subjects himself to hypnosis and joins a Buddhist meditation retreat, among other adventures. Along the way, he begins to realize that dreaming and waking are equivalent states, and that we can learn how to induce the subtle gradations of consciousness within ourselves. This could come off as New Age psychobabble, but Warren is well versed in the scientific literature, and he provides detailed accounts of his own research. (During one three-week period, for example, he goes to bed at sundown to recreate a period of wakefulness before returning to sleep that used to be common before electric light reconfigured our sleep schedules.) His self-mocking attitude toward his inability to achieve instant nirvana, along with a steady stream of cartoon illustrations, ensures that his ideas remain accessible. More important than the theories, though, may be the basic tools—and the visionary spirit—that Warren hands off to those interested in hacking their own minds. B&w illus. (Nov. 27)
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Review

"Ultimately, it's Warren's engaging first-hand experience that brings all this to life". " You'll never look at waking, sleeping or dreaming the same way again." Independent on Sunday "Full of sentences that make you stop and consider daily experiences from a different angle. It struck a powerful chord with me." The Guardian "Head Trip almost reads like an Oliver Sacks essay turned inside out; instead of rare neurological cases, we get the standard-issue noggin, which turns out to be every bit as exotic." San Francisco Chronicle "It never occurred to me that you could write a travelogue about your own mind...Head Trip [is] an entirely original and completely fascinating tour through the myriad states of human consciousness...A rich blend of research, theory, and personal encounter." Toronto Star --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (December 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400064848
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064847
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There has over the past few decades been an increasing interest in something which we all take for granted: consciousness. Just how the inert molecules in the brain manage to make us conscious, or just what consciousness is, or what the different states of consciousness are, hits on huge questions within philosophy and neurology, questions that remain mysterious. To heck with all the mystery; let's just have some fun! That seems to be the attitude of Jeff Warren, a writer and broadcaster who specializes in science themes, in _The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness_ (Random House). Not to be too grandiose: in the illustrations in the book, that's the "Wheel O' Consciousness". Warren sets out to pursue consciousness, not just the waking, sleeping, and dreaming that we all go through (although his nocturnal adventures are among the most interesting), but also hypnosis and meditation and more. He does have fun throughout, and doesn't mind telling us about it in jocular, enthusiastic prose (and his own cartoon illustrations), although anyone who thinks about consciousness for a long time will wind up, well, thinking about it for a long time. There is thus a lot here to chuckle over and to contemplate.

Just dreaming is not enough. Warren has to pursue different types of dreaming, like hypnagogic dreams, the ones that last a few minutes just as you are falling into sleep. Warren writes about how to use hypnagogia for problem solving, and it produced the idea of this book, but some of the ideas he had were real lemons ("... this isn't magic, it's still your fallible human brain operating.") In a lucid dream, you know you are dreaming and you can play around in the dream world, pushing it to do what you want.
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Jeff Warren moves through the latest thinking on consciousness, mind, and sleep, with ease and zany wit and humour. Written from the perspective of a culture vulture trying to figure out what's going on inside his own head, he effortlessly synthesizes much of the latest thinking about the brain in fields as diverse as psychology, neuro-biology, immunology and others. Thomas Kuhn, Sigmund Freud, Steven Johnson, and many other great thinkers show up in this bold, adventurous journey through the mind.
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Format: Hardcover
This one was fun; and it really changed the way I think about consciousness. The author is very entertaining, and the style and delivery of the content is unique. The fact that he did all of these things himself (experimentally) added a whole new level to this book's importance. If it had just been a dry documentary, it wouldn't have been the same.

I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who's willing to take a wild journey into themselves, and who isn't afraid to change the way they see the world around them (or dream it!).
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The concepts here may not be new for those who've gone of the way to get experienced with their consciousness, but the level of detail (dig that bibliography!) and attention to recent developments in various fields -- sleep science, neurofeedback, even hypnosis -- is enough to inspire all sorts of new inquiry.

For the "layperson," however, or "non-freak," this condenses what it took your average freak ten years of living to explore and confirm on his own. Read it and save yourself the time!
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Jeff Warren is an interesting dude. The Head Trip is a book about states of consciousness. The difference between this and other books is the author's style and the amount of new objective research data now available. Warren himself is the traveler and this is an account of his trip through experiences of personal research in each of the states.

Consciousness, the focus of the hippy era in the 70's, has come full circle and is now a serious study. Warren recreates the atmosphere of the classic film `Easy Rider' with his metaphors and language. He even looks like Art Garfunkle from that era.

His wheel of consciousness is the easiest way for us to understand an incredible complex topic. It gives the reader a linear, tangible series of states that we can grasp. It is illusory; a metaphor that Warren admits towards the end; all states are capable of `bleeding' into the others and capable of being `re-mixed' like music.

This book is not easy to understand unless you have some existing knowledge. Thankfully each chapter ends with a summary in the form of a passport with the words `Thank you for visiting the SMR state'.
This book combines of psychology, neurobiology and spirituality with offbeat humour. If you are wondering if this book is for you, I advise checking out his You Tube video `The Head Trip - a tour through your mind'.
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Format: Hardcover
Books on dreams and dreaming seem to fall into one of two types. Either it's an academic study with white-coated researchers measuring brain waves and chemistry, or it's personal accounts with perhaps a bit of counselling thrown in to establish credibility. Jeff Warren has made a sincere effort to combine these two methods. He's interviewed a number of brain/consciousness researchers as well as undergoing their testing procedures. The result is a highly personalised account of dreaming research as it stands today.

Don't be put off by the "pop-psych" title. Warren makes a serious attempt to bring to the lay reader some of the issues in consciousness studies. Except that much of this work involves the periods when we're not "conscious". His mechanism is to provide readers with a breakdown of consciousness, which he depicts as a wheel. A neat dozen segments are portrayed representing the chapter subjects to follow. The topics are enhanced with images of "passports" to explain where you are going and something of what you will learn. The passport gives the name of the topic, how to go there, what you might find and a personal example. "Passport" may be misleading - it's not a trip to a physical segment of the brain you are undertaking, but a tour of a condition.

The conditions have been the subject of many studies in recent years. Although much of the narrative is a list of Warren's personal experiences, those events have been done with the assistance of brain scientists. Warren carefully recounts the various theses proposed about what the brain is doing during sleep, dreaming, in "trance" state and other periods when it's more-or-less operating on automatic pilot.
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