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Why Smart People Hurt: A Guide for the Bright, the Sensitive, and the Creative Paperback – September 1, 2013
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"If you're so smart, why are you in so much pain? Dr. Maisel gets to the root of the special mental challenges of bright people, provides a new system for deriving meaning and joy from life, and helps you conquer the special challenges of being smart with compassionate and invaluable advice! This book will make a smart person even smarter." --Dr. Katharine Brooks, You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career
"In this insightful examination of the challenges bright individuals face, Eric Maisel explores how to reclaim your passion and to live a richer and more productive life. It's a smart move to read this wise book." --John Moir, Return of the Condor: The Race to Save Our Largest Bird from Extinction
"Eric Maisel's Why Smart People Hurt is original, provocative and also reassuring. His conceptualization of mania as a thinking disorder and his treatment for this are original ideas that to my knowledge have never before been expressed. I have taken several courses from Eric and I know personally how powerful his methods are. His principles of natural psychology are, as he describes, simple and yet immensely practical and effective." --Dr. Laurie Jo Moore, MD, ABPN, FRANZCP
"A must-read for parents of gifted children and the 1.5 billion people who find themselves in the top 20% of the world's population, Why Smart People Suffer powerfully explains the struggles of our best and our brightest and provides answers with the potential to change the lives of millions of readers." -Gail McMeekin, author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
About the Author
Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of more than 40 books in the areas of creativity, psychology, coaching, mental health, and cultural trends. He is a psychotherapist and creativity coach, and writes for Psychology Today and Professional Artist Magazine and presents workshops internationally. Visit him at www.ericmaisel.com.
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The real issue comes around the last quarter of the book where we finally come to the suggested solutions. I was still maintaining hope up to this point, because Maisel insists that the depressive tendencies that plague the intelligent are caused by a dearth of meaning, a sentiment that cleaves closely to the insistence of existentialism that the world is inherently meaningless, and that we must be the generators of purpose for ourselves. However, Maisel illustrates his solution by having the reader imagine they work in a financially satisfying, but ultimately meaningless job writing ad copy for pointless gadgetry. He suggests that there are three ways to approach the situation:
1. Be miserable about it. (Obviously not an acceptable solution, he says.)
2. Decide what would constitute a meaningful job and find actionable steps to achieve it. (Which can be drastic, he admits.)
3. Decide to "let go" of the worry for the day.
It is here that I should point out that there is an entire chapter describing an effect he calls 'racing brain syndrome' and how the intelligent mind has no 'off' switch and one can't simply decide to stop their brain from thinking about things. If one could just decide to 'let go' of something like that, they wouldn't really have looked into this book, would they?
Things really start to disappoint later when he insists that what will help an intelligent person find happiness in meaning is "to evaluate life in a positive way even though you've been badly disappointed in the past and even though you find life taxing and unrewarding." You have to decide "that life matters despite everything." Isn't that the very thing that depression prevents a person from doing? I'm not sure that telling the miserable to simply decide to be happy constitutes a valid psychological standpoint. The rest of the book consists of tips to help "make meaning" that are mostly vague platitudes like "Invest in Being" and "Make Daily Use of your Available Personality." I hate to disappoint anyone who had high hopes of this book containing robust methods to deal with the drawbacks of intelligence, but there doesn't seem to be any real answers here either. Check this book out from the library if you're in the mood for a little commiseration, but seek elsewhere for solutions.