Cover image for The Van Gogh blues : the creative person's path through depression
The Van Gogh blues : the creative person's path through depression
Maisel, Eric, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
[Emmaus, Pa.] : Rodale, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiii, 257 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Two meaning casualties -- Reflecting on meaning -- Meaningful life, meaningful work, meaningful days -- Sounding silence -- Opting to matter -- Reckoning with the facts of existence -- Braving anxiety -- Nurturing self-support -- Disputing your happy bondages -- Confronting Narcissism -- Repairing the self -- Forging relationships -- Meaningfully creating -- Taking action -- Making meaning.
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RC537 .M335 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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From The Van Gogh Blues ...

"...virtually 100 percent of creative people will suffer from episodes of depression. Why virtually 100 percent? Because every creative person came out of the womb ready to interrogate life and determine for herself what life would mean, could mean, and should mean. Her gift or curse was that she was born ready to stubbornly doubt received wisdom and disbelieve that anyone but she was entitled to provide answers to her own meaning questions."

Creative people of all kinds look for understanding, empathy, and meaning in life. That is what they do, what they work with. This will often lead to depression-- but not because understanding, empathy, and meaning are not possible. They are simply not always on terms that are easy to accept. This depression of creative people does not have to be physiological, nor does it necessarily respond to pharmaceutical treatments.

Dr. Eric Maisel, an internationally known expert on the creative process and best-selling author, has developed a four-step plan for engaging this type of depression and moving past it. Using examples of famous creators like Vincent van Gogh and Fyodor Dostoyevsky and not-so-famous creators who have struggled with this kind of depression, he shows that despite the difficulty, creative people hold the ability to forge relationships, repair themselves, and create meaning in an utterly unique and powerful way. Dr. Maisel's approach legitimizes creative people's own instinctual beliefs that standard treatments are not the answer.

Author Notes

Licensed Psychotherapist Eric Maisel earned a B. A., M. A., and Ph.D. in psychology, as well as a M. A. in creative writing.

Maisel is the author of "Treating the Muse," "Affirmations for the Artist," "A Life in the Arts" and "Why Smart People Hurt".

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.