Stephan Schleim’s Books

Stephan Schleims has now published ten books – both as an author and editor. His latest works have received positive reviews, for example in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Psychologie Heute. Find out more here.

The German Cannabis-Protocols (2024)

Not an April Fool’s joke! Cannabis was decriminalized in Germany on April 1, 2024. It remained exciting until the end: Would the German Federal Council call the Mediation Committee and delay the law for an indefinite period of time? Would the Federal President raise constitutional concerns? Stephan Schleim followed the processes that led to the cannabis law in detail. An expert letter co-signed by him was quoted in the crucial Bundestag debate. Schleim tirelessly fact-checked the public discussion and refuted the statements of doctors who, after almost 100 years of demonizing the recreational and medicinal plant cannabis, still spread pseudoscientific anti-drug propaganda. Buy the eBook at a low price from Amazon, Apple or Google. (Also available in German: Amazon, Apple or Google.)

Mental Health & Enhancement (2023)

Already more than 15,000 online accesses (as of May 2024)

Mental health, self-improvement and substance use (drug use) remain highly relevant social issues. In this book, available free of charge, Stephan Schleim discusses them together for the first time. What “health” is, what “mental disorders” and in particular “addiction” are, forms the theoretical framework (Chapters 1 & 2). Current trends in substance use – for optimization, as self-medication and medical treatment – are then discussed (Chapters 3 & 4). The past and present of drug policy offers many surprises (Chapters 4 & 5).

You can find a more detailed introduction in Stephan Schleim’s blog “MENSCHEN-BILDER” (German). Or download the book for free from the publisher’s website. It was written as part of the research project “The History of Neuroethics” and was funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO).

Wissenschaft und Willensfreiheit (Science and Free Will, 2023)

Already around 6,000 online accesses (as of November 2023)

“Stephan Schleim presents this tense discussion in an understandable way. […] It is worth taking a closer look.” (Psychologie Heute, 9/2023)

How free are we humans? This question has been discussed not only since the advent of brain research. Stephan Schleim takes the reader back to ancient Greece to illustrate what is at stake for what it means to be human. The main neuroscientific experiments are explained in an understandable way. Many a surprise comes to light in the process. The second, practical part is not only about the significance of free will for criminal law and morality, but the author also develops his own approach: How can we be freer in practice?

You can find a more detailed introduction in Stephan Schleim’s blog “MENSCHEN-BILDER” (German). Or order the book directly from the publisher’s website or from bookshops.

Gehirn, Psyche und Gesellschaft (Brain, Mind, and Society, 2021)

Already over 200,000 online accesses (as of November 2023)

“Anyone who wants to get an overview of the most important debates that have taken place between neuroscience and philosophy in recent years can quickly find their bearings with Schleim’s collection.” (F.A.Z., 6/25/2021)

This book contains a compilation of articles on current issues in the human sciences. It ranges from philosophy and psychology to biology, brain research and medicine. The author not only researches and teaches in these fields, but has also been writing about them for a wide audience for over 15 years. A selection of the 33 most important articles from his successful (German) blog MENSCHEN-BILDER (SciLogs, Spektrum Verlag) have been newly compiled here in revised form and provided with introductions and outlooks. In six parts, he deals with fundamental questions of neurophilosophy and theology, neuroethics, mental disorders, philosophy of life and sexual orientation. The significance of scientific findings for people and society is central to this.

Order the book directly on the publisher’s website or in bookstores.

Psyche & psychische Gesundheit (Mind and Mental Health, 2020)

In Was sind psychische Störungen? (2018), I presented my own theoretical and historical views on mental disorders. In the new eBook, colleagues from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands now have their say. They put forward novel and sometimes critical ideas that you don’t hear much about in the mainstream media. In interviews with experts from psychology, psychiatry and philosophy, you can share in their insights. At the end of the book, the dimension of a meaningful life is also addressed: What if there is no solution to the problems and you have to live with it? Read the interviews with, among others, Professors Jim van Os, Laura Batstra, Ludger Tebartz van Elst, Paul Verhaeghe and Peter de Jonge.

Was sind psychische Störungen? (What are Mental Disorders?, 2018)

In the foreword to Die Neurogesellschaft from 2011, it was already envisaged that a book on clinical psychology or psychiatry would have to follow. At the time, I could not have imagined that it would take until 2018 for this collection of essays to appear.

It is very important to educate not only scientists from different disciplines, but also (potential) patients and their relatives about the framework conditions and theoretical assumptions of the disciplines of mental health and illness. This is because their basic assumptions influence not only the type of research and its results, but also the therapies that are offered to those affected.

Was sind psychische Störungen? shows from various perspectives that mental disorders must be examined in their social and historical context. The molecular biological thinking that is still widespread in clinical psychology and psychiatry today does not do justice to people and their mental problems.

Die Neurogesellschaft (The Neurosociety, 2011)

In this sequel to Gedankenlesen (2008) and Von der Neuroethik zum Neurorecht (2009), I take a closer look at the debate on free will, lie detection and so-called dangerous brains. In each of the topics, philosophical as well as legal, psychological and social aspects are considered.

An overarching theme of the book (here at is the “individual brain”, namely the idea that we humans differ not only externally, based on our fingerprints or our genes, but also essentially based on our brains. Every brain is unique.

After all, the most commonly used statistical methods lump all test subjects, all brains in an experiment, together. How does this fit in with the individuality of human beings? And to the enormous claims made by leading brain researchers to be able to explain all aspects of the human being? Die Neurogesellschaft took up this challenge – and showed that, on closer inspection, some of these scientists with their grandiose claims have done a rather shoddy job.

Lebensentstehung und künstliches Leben (Origin of Life and Artificial Life, 2010)

The most welcome change during my doctoral studies were the meetings of the “Evolution Working Group” organized by professor, pastor, and pastoral care worker Ulrich Eibach. Ulrich Eibach. Together with professors Wolfgang Alt (Theoretical Biology), Volker Herzog (Molecular Biology), and Gunter M. Schütz (Theoretical Physics), among others, we discussed fundamental questions of the origin of life, evolution and artificial life.

In this joint book project (here at, we have discussed questions at the boundaries of science from the perspective of our respective disciplines. The questions posed to each other in the book reflect the open and constructive interdisciplinary dialog that we conducted many times on the grounds of the University Hospital Bonn.

Von der Neuroethik zum Neurorecht? (From Neuroethics to Neurolaw?, 2009)

The great expectations placed on brain research have also been accompanied by ethical challenges. Since the turn of the millennium, these have been addressed by so-called neuroethics. In this anthology (edited with Tade M. Spranger and Henrik Walter), we deal specifically with the legal problems raised by neuroscience. Do we need an own “neurolaw”?

Gedankenlesen (Mind Reading, 2008)

During my doctoral thesis on the neurophysiology of moral decisions at the University Hospitals in Frankfurt and Bonn, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the way in which brain research was communicated to the public. There was a gold-rush atmosphere in which people thought they could look deep inside people with an MRI scanner, read their thoughts and answer the “big questions”.

There was also a great deal of superficiality in the nature of the reports: As later communication research confirmed (Racine et al., 2010), methodological limitations, experimental frameworks or theoretical assumptions of the research were barely addressed. Gedankenlesen filled this gap by explaining to the reader how brain imaging research works and what to make of the claim that brain scanners can read thoughts.