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Animals and Psychedelics: The Natural World and the Instinct to Alter Consciousness Paperback – August 1, 2002
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"This must be one of the most important books about animals - or drugs - that you are likely to read." (Mark Pilkington, Fortean Times, December 2002)
“Giorgio Samorini’s text is a beautiful little object. Not only is the information that it contains fascinating, but also pitched at a level that is very engaging and thought-provoking. The question of intentionality and the natural inclination toward intoxication is neatly crafted together and explored, and gives the impression that this field of study is well worth further investigation by researchers.” (Psychedelic Press UK, January 2013)
"Samorini's observations support his controversial hypothesis that human drug-taking derives from a universal biologically-based drive to alter consciousness. This perspective on drug-taking behavior can only enlarge our own views about the phenomenon which, in many humans, has become so contentious." (Rick Strassman, author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, U)
"Samorini offers support for not only the theory of a biological basis of the pursuit of altered states, but also the possibility that this activity may expand the behavioral repertoire, thus altering evolution. Provocative reading." (Julie Holland, MD, Editor, Ecstasy: The Complete Guide Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, B)
From the Back Cover
ETHNOBOTANY / ANIMALS
“Samorini’s observations support his controversial hypothesis that human drugtaking derives from a universal, biologically-based drive to alter consciousness. This perspective on drug-taking behavior can only enlarge our own views about the phenomenon which, in many humans, has become so contentious.”
--Rick Strassman, M.D., author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of New Mexico School of Medicine
“Samorini offers evidence for not only the theory of a biological basis of the pursuit of altered states, but also the possibility that this activity may expand the behavioral repertoire, thus altering evolution. Provocative reading.”
--Julie Holland, M.D., Editor of Ecstasy: The Complete Guide and Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Bellevue Psychiatric Emergency Department
From caffeine-dependant goats to nectar addicted ants, wildlife offers amazing examples of animals and insects seeking out and consuming the psychoactive substances in their environments. Ethnobotonist Giorgio Samorini explores this little-known phenomenon and suggests that, far from being confined to humans, the desire to experience altered states of consciousness is a natural drive shared by all living beings and that animals engage in these behaviors deliberately. Rejecting the Western cultural assumption that drug use is unnatural, Samorini opens our eyes to the possibility that beings who consume psychedelics--whether humans or animals--contribute to the evolution of their species by creating entirely new patterns of behavior that eventually will be adopted by other members of that species. The author’s fascinating accounts of mushroom-loving reindeer, intoxicated birds, and drunken elephants ensure that readers will never view the animal world in quite the same way again.
Ethnobotonist and ethnomycologist GIORGIO SAMORINI has studied the use of psychoactive substances for more than twenty years, conducting research in Africa, Latin America, India, and Europe. He is editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Eleusis, Plants and Psychoactive Compounds. He lives in Italy.
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Intoxication: The Universal Drive for Mind-Altering Substances
This work, without over doing it on the anthropomorphic side, renders our fellow animals in a positive light that suggests they, too, have their very own forms of consciousness.
Very enlightening, heady stuff!
Samorini suggests that the desire to experience altered states of consciousness is a natural drive shared by all living beings. This urge is not confined to humans because animals/insects deliberately engage in these behaviors. His theory is that beings that consume these substances contribute to the evolution of their species by creating new patterns of behavior that are eventually adopted by the other members of the species, in what he humorously terms "evolution by inebriation."
He deals with crazed cows who love locoweed (Astralagus), elephants, slugs and snails, felines and catnip, reindeer and caribou tripping on the Amanita mushroom, goats that have a liking for coffee and khat (Catha Edulis), birds that binge (robins and the pink pigeon of the Mauritian islands), koalas, baboons and rats, plus insects like the house fly (Amanita again), moths, bees and butterflies.
Samorini concludes with the observation that a distinction must be made between a drug phenomenon that is natural and a drug problem that is a cultural problem. This insightful book concludes with a bibliography and index.
Other interesting titles on this topic includes DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman, Moksha by Aldous Huxley, Magic Mushrooms In Religion And Alchemy by Clark Heinrich and Persephone's Quest by R. Gordon Wasson.
On the other hand, if you are novice in this area, then you will appreciate the broad spectrum of animals that Samorini discusses and the quick, easy read it is to get through the information. This is a great starting place from which to launch a high school through college paper or a light evening's reading.
One point that irks me about this book is that Samorini based much of it off information in Ronald Siegel's "Intoxication". Although I enjoyed "Animals and Psychedelics" and plan to keep it in my library, part of me think that I should have read Siegel's book instead.