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

4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

""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"

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
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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: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the first time I've ever felt truly understood as a person, creative or not. There are many behaviors he describes that I thought were just me, and also some I've been doing my entire life that I've never understood. Just knowing that it's part of a pattern gives me such a sense of relief. Everybody should read this, whether they think of themselves as creative or not. Even if they're not creative and/or depressed it will give them such insight into those who are.

I hesitated to buy this at first because I have some other books of Maisel's and he does tend to repeat ideas. This book does have some of the same ideas but they are through a slightly different lens and focus and since I HAD already been introduced to them I understood them much better. So it was worth it.
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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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