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The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person's Path Through Depression Paperback – December 28, 2007


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The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person's Path Through Depression + Mastering Creative Anxiety: 24 Lessons for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Actors from America's Foremost Creativity Coach + Coaching the Artist Within: Advice for Writers, Actors, Visual Artists, and Musicians from America's Foremost Creativity Coach
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library (December 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577316045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577316046
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"The Van Gogh Blues is a mind-blowingly wonderful book.”
Midwest Book Review

"Maisel persuasively argues that creative individuals measure their happiness and success by how much meaning they create in their work.”
Library Journal

“Rather than shunning conventional treatments such as antidepressants and therapy, Maisel espouses confrontation with what seems like the existential pit of despair, the place creators often find themselves when looking for meaning in their work and the world. The Van Gogh Blues will help you remain true to your artistic calling and give you a medicine chest of tips and advice you can leverage if the Black Dog or another pernicious emotional booby trap snarls behind your canvas.”
Jeffrey M. Freedman, screenwriter, Vivaldi, and journalist-author

From the Back Cover

Finalist, Books for a Better Life Award

"The Van Gogh Blues is a mind-blowingly wonderful book."
--Midwest Book Review

"Maisel persuasively argues that creative individuals measure their happiness and success by how much meaning they create in their work."
--Library Journal

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 www.ericmaisel.com and www.naturalpsychology.net. He can be contacted at ericmaisel@hotmail.com.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This book was life changing for me to read.
Jody Palm
Maisel's books advocate "more action and less berating!" and suggest steps through meaninglessness to create a satisfying life for ones self.
Janet Mackie
This way, the books appeals to more than only the depressed artists.
Tanner Griffins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Larry Feign on February 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
It sounds almost demeaning to Dr. Maisel to remark that the most valuable aspect of this deeply thought-out book is to demonstrate to any artist who reads it that "You are not alone". I believe any creative person who reads The Van Gogh Blues will jump up and down and shout out: "This guy must have been reading my diary!" several times per page. It's cathartic just to recognize that the depressions that all creative people go through don't mean they're crazy, it means they're normal. This doesn't rationalize or romanticize the artist's moods. Instead, it makes one want to finally do something to tackle it.

But the book goes way beyond simply identifying a syndrome. His concept of "meaning crises" makes immediate sense, and the way he goes through all aspects of this in detail, with both passion and compassion, gives the reader tools and motivation to immediately start to make sense of it all.

This is no fluffy self-help manual. It is dense with information and practical advice geared specifically for creative people, and is immensely engrossing reading, beautifully written.

I strongly recommend this book to any creative person. And, just as important, to any creative person's spouse or partner!
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Tanner Griffins on April 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
With so many books being published about creativity, it may be repetitive to read about the same old reflections and the same suggestions to nurture your abilities. Eric Maisel has found a refreshing way to address creative people's issues. With the Van Gogh Blues, he presents his approach to deal with the anxiety and depression creative persons tend to feel at different points in their lives.

While he doesn't shun the medical take on depression, he brings an existential understanding of the situation. This view expresses that a creator that repeatedly makes meaning, hold on to that meaning in his life (life's work meaning and meaningful day-to-day life)will have a better chance of dealing with an inclination to depression.

Eric Maisel covers the field as to how meaning can be created using other's artists biographies, emails from contemporary creators and his experience as a creativity coach (which might be the coolest job in the world, I think). The book's question could be: As creatives, how can we create meaning in life? This way, the books appeals to more than only the depressed artists. To top it off, the author writes in a clear but not-dumbed-down way, ideal to the sophisticated, intellectual reader who appreciates good writing.

Even for a person who constantly reads on creativity and life purpose, I found this book brings new ideas and a fresh take on what assails the creative person.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Y on January 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Van Gogh Blues by Eric Maisel is profoundly insightful and written in a style that offers respectful gentle support along with practical, hands-on instructions for handling the blues along with a good mix of supporting data for those who want to learn more. It's a gentle, wise resource that should be at the top of the list of resources to share with anyone who gets depressed, at any level, whether they call themselves creative or not. Any thinking person can get depressed and the help in this book can be used by everyone.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Elaine VINE VOICE on June 28, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not fond of "self-help" books, which always become so quickly redundant, even when they make sense. This book, however, really hit home at a number of points regarding finding meaning in existence, supporting creativity, and understanding addiction from a different perspective (at least for me). I even went online and looked up creativity coaches in my area! For more of my rants, raves, and recommendations, please check out my book blog at allthepage.today.com
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Shinan N. Barclay on February 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
After reading and studying Deep Writing, Fearless Creating and Living the Writer's Life, I grabbed, The Van Gogh Blues. I was having a bout of winter depression. Who needs Prozak when you can create profound meaning in life?
I'd been concerned about global warming/global cooling and couldn't sit back doing nothing. I recalled living with the Inupik-Inuit in Arctic, Alaska and later staying in the Hopi Village in Arizona. If indigenous people live and thrive in harsh environments, I mused, could modern day corporate Caucasians learn global harmony?
I decided to create meaning in my life and world by creating an anthology: Rainmaker's Prayers, Align with Global Harmony. Three hundred writers responded to a call for manuscripts from an ad I placed in Poets and Writers magazine
Dr Maisel's book The Van Gogh Blues changed my life. I continue to create meaning in my life, I believe we can all recreate our lives and our world. All human beings are creative, not just writers and artists. And, in the process of life we all get the blues...the choice is, like Van Gogh, to cut off your ear or as Dr Maisel suggests create something new or different. I strongly recommend this inspiring book.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful By K. Jensen on December 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an artist, I love Van Gogh, and I occasionally suffer from depression. What a perfect title for me, I thought. Some words of wisdom perhaps, that might help me get over the rough spots and maintain my productivity. The author's basic premise in this book discusses the difficulty artists have 'making meaning' in their lives. I have not found this to be particularly true in my case, but I tried to get through this book to see what he meant. The problem I had was both the rambling presentation and the huge overuse of the word 'meaning'. Seriously, like an average of 7 times per paragraph! No, I didn't count out the whole book, but I did try to read it, and it was very trying indeed. It think some serious editing needed to be done, which would render this book down to about 25 pages of thesis outline. I really hate to write less than glowing reviews, but for other artists out there who already feel that their lives are meaningful, you would be better off reading Epictetus (who is quoted in the book, happily). I think that if there a greater variety of words used to describe what Dr. Maisel meant, his ideas would have been clearer, and I would have gotten more out of it.
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