The Van Gogh Blues

Finalist, Books for a Better Life Award

“The Van Gogh Blues is a mind-blowingly wonderful book.” — The 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

“Maisel’s book has helpful suggestions for artists and writers searching for encouragement and emotional respite.” — Publishers Weekly

“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 Freedman, screenwriter, Vivaldi, and journalist-author

“Caution: If you are a creative person – which in the context of this book means an artist, writer, scientist, mathematician, computer programmer or anyone else involved in the tricky mental process of making something new – then reading this book may be a difficult and painful experience for you. However, try to tough your way through it, because the benefits of successfully completing Maisel’s program could mean a personal and professional renaissance for you.” – April Chase,

“The identification of the central concerns and processes involved in depression rang true for me, while also providing new insight that helped me begin to recast my own experiences in a different, more hopeful, light. The understanding and encouragement conveyed by the book are stronger for being realistic and for placing responsibility on the reader.

“A section at the end of the book provides a “vocabulary of meaning,” a list of phrases designed to help readers contemplate, understand, and manage the ebb and flow of meaning in their lives. Maisel gives examples of how each term might be used, and invites readers to consider for themselves how they might cope with a meaning disruption, seek out meaning adventures, or deal with meaning risks. For the creative person, working with this list and digesting the lessons of the book may well provide, as the title promises, a path through depression.” – Mary Hrovat, Metapsychology Online Reviews


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