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Rethinking Depression [Kindle Edition]

Eric Maisel
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In this provocative and pathbreaking distillation of a career spent working with individuals seeking help with mood and motivation, Eric Maisel reveals the implications of one of the most dramatic cultural shifts of our time. In recent decades, much of the unhappiness inherent in the human condition has been monetized and labeled as the disease of depression and related “disorders.” Maisel persuasively critiques this sickness model and prescribes a potent new therapy. The existential cognitive-behavioral therapy (ECBT) he details here marries the proven methods of CBT with the powerful meaning-based orientation of existential therapy. The result is a revolutionary reimagining of life’s difficulties and a liberating model of self-care that optimizes the innate human ability to create meaning and seize opportunity — in any circumstance.

Editorial Reviews


“Raises fundamental questions about the differences between depressive mental disorder and normal sadness...A valuable resource.”
Allan V. Horwitz, author of Creating Mental Illness

“In this riveting deconstruction of the ‘mental health industry,’ Eric Maisel provides essential tools to address human despair. Although it will provoke controversy, Rethinking Depression is one of the most perceptive and accessible guides to life fulfillment that I have ever read.”
Kirk Schneider, PhD, coauthor of Existential-Humanistic Therapy and author of Awakening to Awe

Rethinking Depression is an important and timely book that busts numerous myths about why people have the so-called mental illness of depression. Eric Maisel gives readers a path and a language that will help them shine a light on the dark side of unhappiness and move toward a meaningful, self-directed life.”
Richard Bargdill, membership chair and executive board member, Society for Humanistic Psychology

“An uplifting and practical guide to life and how to live it better. Eric Maisel has made existential thinking accessible to all those who want to live in a more deliberate and engaged fashion.”
Emmy van Deurzen, principal, New School of Psychotherapy and Counseling, London, and author of Psychotherapy and the Quest for Happiness

Product Details

  • File Size: 661 KB
  • Print Length: 250 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1608680207
  • Publisher: New World Library; Original edition (January 15, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,651 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Approach to Depression and Unhappiness February 22, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author's new book on depression is for those readers who would like to have another approach to depression to supplement or replace traditional treatments. The first part of the book describes how much (but not all, of course) of what we call depression today is actually unhappiness. The second 80% of the book discusses the author's approach to alleviating unhappiness, which I would describe as not finding meaning but creating meaning--and he tells you how to do this via complete instructions. The instructions are from an existential approach and involve creating a personal morning meaning practice; so the approach is not spiritual per se, but focused on relating to your own inner wisdom and values. The author includes many related practicalities, such as how to deal with crises in meaning.

The book contains notes and an index.

I really liked this book and think that everyone--no matter what your beliefs about or your approach to depression or your approach to general unhappiness--can benefit from reading it. Even if you have a spiritual practice already (as I do), the existential approach of creating meaning doesn't necessarily conflict with that. You can still learn a lot from reading this book. I know I did.

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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Way to Look at Depression January 30, 2012
I was fortunate to get an advance copy of Eric Maisel's new book. I've been a psychotherapist for more than 40 years and treat depression every day. I've long come to see that our old way of looking at "mental illness" is totally inadequate. We put more and more people on drugs while ignoring the underlying problems that feed our feelings of despair and hopelessness. Maisel's book shows us why the old system does not work well and why depression continues to rise despite our efforts to help people. But more importantly he gives us practical guidance on how to create a life of meaning that can make depression a thing of the past.

If you are concerned about mental illness in your own life or you work with people who are suffering, you will find this book to be a breath of fresh air and hope.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing new take on depression! September 29, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a great reminder to stop labeling every down mood as "depression!" That all by itself is worth the price of the book. I've dog eared most pages of this book for its motivating and energizing tidbits. For someone who's suffered depression much of my life, this book is empowering and optimistic!
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3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok, but feels a little pushy. June 3, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Interesting food for thought. I had the sense while reading this that Maisel is asking folks to question the actual existence of depression. This may not be what is attempting to do, but that's how it feels some times.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Losing labels, finding meaning April 12, 2014
By Deb
Depression or "depression"?

According to the author, the widespread diagnosis of depression has resulted in the medicalization, pathologization, and amplification of the natural human condition of unhappiness. He agrees with Allan Horwitz and Jermone Wakefield who asserted in _The Loss of Sadness_ that:
"Sadness is an inherent part of the human condition, not a mental disorder. Thus to confront psychiatry's invalid definition of depressive disorder is also to consider a painful but important part of our humanity that we have tended to shunt aside in the modern medicalization of human problems."

The author's prescription for depression, (or "depression") does not involve taking a pill, but instead taking an existential approach to life's inherent sources of unhappiness:
"In order to deal with those real problems, I am suggesting, an existential program is the best answer. It is not that the problems do not exist. But only an individual human being can answer them--and only for yourself...The existential program I've described is my vision. It is my subjective response to what I see as the demands posted on individuals by the facts of existence. You may see life in a very different way and not share my vision. If, however, you experience the thing called "depression" and feel like exploring an existential approach to climbing out of that hole, give my program a try. The word *depression* is a corruption of language, and the more society uses it, the further it will push us all toward unhappiness. Pathologizing unhappiness creates unhappiness. Reject the very idea of depression and make meaning instead." (pp. 210-212)

The heart-and-soul of this book is the author's existential program to create that meaning.
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More About the Author

Eric Maisel, Ph.D., widely regarded as America's foremost creativity coach, is the author of more than 40 books. His titles include Secrets of a Creativity Coach, Why Smart People Hurt, Making Your Creative Mark, Coaching the Artist Within, The Van Gogh Blues, Fearless Creating, Mastering Creative Anxiety, Creativity for Life, A Writer's Paris, A Writer's San Francisco, and many others.

In addition to training creativity coaches, leading workshops nationally and internationally, and maintaining an individual creativity coaching practice, Dr. Maisel is in the forefront of the movement to rethink mental health. He writes the Rethinking Psychology blog for Psychology Today and among his books in this area are Rethinking Depression and Natural Psychology: the New Psychology of Meaning.

Dr. Maisel leads Deep Writing workshops at workshop centers like Esalen, Kripalu, Omega, Hollyhock and Rowe and in locales like San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, Prague and Rome. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, he has conducted hundreds of interviews, and his print column "Coaching the Artist Within" appears monthly in Professional Artist Magazine.

Dr. Maisel's websites are and He can be contacted at


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