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The Van Gogh Blues


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The assertion that creative people are especially vulnerable to depression certainly isn't surprising, and Maisel (The Creativity Book) knows it. But it's not that they're genetically prone to psychological disorders, he says-it's that they feel depressed because they're "caught up in a struggle to make life seem more meaningful." The author of several small press novels during his younger years, Maisel now identifies himself as a creativity coach, and here seeks to offer artistic types a "plan for managing creator's depression." This isn't a simple how-to: his somewhat scholarly, philosophical style can make it difficult to translate analysis into necessary action. But given that creative types are inclined to enjoy the abstract, they just might benefit from this work, as well as enjoy learning about aspects of their personalities that they may not have previously identified or understood. Maisel explores the creative's sometimes disheartening quest for meaning, and he suggests possible solutions to the personality weaknesses creative people are also prone to, such as narcissism, addictions and critical thinking about themselves. Although at times insufficiently specific-how exactly can we learn to "brave" anxiety?-Maisel's book has helpful suggestions for artists and writers searching for encouragement and emotional respite. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Psychotherapist Maisel (Living the Writer's Life) is deeply concerned with meaning. Effectively mixing academic research, his own thoughts, and the stories of artists, he persuasively argues that creative individuals measure their happiness and success by how much meaning they create in their work. When they can't channel pathos, they often become depressed. Rather than resort to pharmaceuticals, however, Maisel, a self-described "meaning expert" who coaches and counsels artistic clients, prescribes a four-step plan to help readers harness depression and use it to explore what's lacking in their lives. That's not to say that Maisel is irresponsible: he does suggest considering drugs in certain cases, but on the whole, he does not think that artists respond well to them. Useful for mental health professionals, artists, and art libraries, this book purports to be a lifelong approach. Those looking for a quick fix should check out Jordan Ayan's Aha!: 10 Ways To Free Your Creative Spirit and Find Your Great Ideas. Also consider Frederic F. Flach's optimistic and refreshing The Secret Strength of Despair. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

""The Van Gogh Blues" is a courageous and insightful gift to all writers, artists, and others whose efforts and hopes have been hobbled by depression. Eric Maisel shows us how to stay out of depression's clutches so that we can consistently move forward with dignity, resolve, and unassailable passion."--Sharon Lebell, author of "The Art of Living"
"Maisel's concepts in "The Van Gogh Blues" are right on the mark and address an area that is critically important and largely neglected. In addition, his writing style is superb."--John Preston, Psy.D., author of "Consumer's Guide to Psychiatric Drugs"

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