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Why Smart People Hurt: A Guide for the Bright, the Sensitive, and the Creative [Paperback]

Eric Maisel
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Sep 2013
The challenges smart and creative people encounter - from scientific researchers, genius award winners, to bestselling novelists, Broadway actors, high-powered lawyers and academics - often include anxiety, over-thinking, mania, sadness and despair.

Specifically, the challenges that smart people face, including:

racing brain syndrome

living in an anti-intellectual culture

finding ideas worth loving

dealing with boredom and hypersensitivity

finding meaning in their lives and their work

struggling to achieve success

In WHY SMART PEOPLE HURT, psychologist Dr. Eric Maisel draws on his many years of work with the best and the brightest to pinpoint these often devastating challenges and offer solutions based on the groundbreaking principles and practices of natural psychology.

His thoughtful strategies include using logic and creativity to cope with the problems of having a brain that goes into overdrive at the drop of a hat. With a series of questions at theend of each chapter, he guides the reader to create his or her own roadmap to a calm and meaningful life. WHY SMART PEOPLE HURT is a must-read for parents of gifted children as well as the millions of smart and creative people that are searching fora more meaningful life.



Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Conari Press (30 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573246263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573246262
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 96,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Eric Maisel has devoted his life to sharing his deep understanding of creativity, meaning and life purpose. In this new book, Maisel explores the suffering of smart people and once again offers innovative paradigms and practical solutions to end their pain." --Gail McMeekin, The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women and The 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women

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

"This is a wise, insightful and compassionate guide for bright, sensitive and creative people. If you're smart, you'll get it. --Michael J. Gelb Author of How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

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

"This is a wise, insightful and compassionate guide for bright, sensitive and creative people. If you're smart, you'll get it. --Michael J. Gelb Author of How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

About the Author

Eric Eaisel 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.


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meaning is a psychological subjectivity 11 Jun 2014
By Helen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book in one sitting. It was like listening to mentor, an old teacher or wise relative who sees the world in the same way. It explained many of my thoughts, feelings and struggles with the world. Yes it talks about mindfulness, along with so many other books these days. However its wording is concise, its structure uncluttered and the message crystal clear. It provokes consideration of issues and explains options.
Essentially the author explains how the meaning we search for in life is really just a psychological subjectivity and that when we let it, or the pursuit of it, dominate our lives, we makes ourselves and other miserable. To some extent I am already able to suspend my quest for meaningful living in the face of the realities and necessities of life and was able to answer some of the questions he poses in the book. I already have ways of managing existential stress and channeling my need for meaning-making.
However it was reassuring to learn that others think the same way and encounter like dilemmas.
Next on my list to read is Dr Maisel's book on managing performance anxiety. Feeling excitement on approaching the next read is one of the best feelings.
Thank you Dr Maisel. I am so glad to have discovered your writing!
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Definitely A Swing, but Ultimately A Miss 21 Nov 2013
By J. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was hopeful about this book, but it falls into the same pitfall as pretty much all the other books of its type: it's excellent at describing the problem and its symptoms, but fails when attempting solutions. It's obvious that Maisel has spent a lot of time considering the link between intelligence and depression, because he fills a good 75% of this book with description of the various ways that this sort of existential depression can manifest. Though he does a good job of covering all the ways that a developed intellect can sabotage its own happiness, be aware that it's all written in the soothing layperson's language familiar to the self-help genre.

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.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Towers over all self-help books 31 Aug 2013
By flecktarn buyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Like no other book, this made me realize how truly and absolutely brilliant I am at AVOIDING the most important things in my life - fortunately Maisel's wisdom is there to guide me back to meaning. Maisel does NOT deliver a miraculous solution to my problems. That's a relief - because I've wasted too much money on those kinds of books. This is the truth, delivered with compassion and, more importantly, a strategy for me to rebuild my life.

-Gregory A. Barker, PhD, Author & Lecturer
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Empowering Guide to Creating Your Own Values and Making Meaning In Your Life 9 Sep 2013
By Richard Szponder - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Smart and creative people are faced with a unique set of personality traits and challenges that often result in feelings of depression, anxiety, boredom, and meaninglessness. Those challenges include dealing with family structures and societies that disparage smartness, completing day jobs that do not fully utilize one's substantial intellect, dealing with physical symptoms of anxiety, feeling disconnected from family and culture, and coping with a constantly racing brain. In his latest work encouraging existential concepts of making meaning and establishing one's own virtues, Why Smart People Hurt: A Guide for the Bright, the Sensitive, and the Creative, Eric Maisel explains in detail these difficult challenges and offers the smart and creative person a set of strategies for creating meaning and lessening the impact of the pain associated with a less-examined life.

We live in a society where smartness is disparaged and standing out as an intellectual, creative, and unique person is often discouraged. Our parents, our religions, our educational systems, and our societies manipulate and mold our personalities to a point almost unrecognizable from the original personality we were first born with. Eric Maisel suggests that humanity is an experiment in evolution, not the conscious design of a greater force or deity. This concept may come across as cold to those steeped in religion or spirituality. But upon further consideration, the thought is clear and empowering, as it encourages individuals to develop their own virtues, determine their own definitions of right and wrong, and create the meaningfulness of their own lives rather than searching endlessly outside for the meaning of life.

Maisel explains that society is all-too-quick to diagnose and medicate the mania associated with the smart person's brain. Those who don't seek medical or psychotherapeutic remedies may find their own comfort in addictions, obsessions, and distractions. When difficult questions arise, Maisel suggests we accept the gap between our challenging issues and our brain's limited capability of handling such requests. He suggests that some of the world's greatest mysteries are simply unsolvable, and we're better off focusing our energies on what we can answer and control.

As human beings, we have any number of ways of avoiding the anxiety associated with thinking. We may fantasize, shrink our ideas and ambitions into smaller and less meaningful exercises, or completely flee our thoughts altogether. Logic and language are often snares that smart people find themselves in, talking themselves into and out of certain behaviors or falling prey to easy solutions such as mysticism or even addictions. The solution Maisel offers is a conscious decision to accept one's limitations as a human being, determine one's own values system, and decide where and when to invest meaning in activities. He calls this approach natural psychology, and it requires an acceptance that life is worth living. He also explains meaning as a psychological experience and coaches his readers as to how they can choose where and when to invest in making meaning. Just as important, he explains how to choose moments to avoid making meaning. Tactics such as positive self-talk, maintaining one meaningful morning practice, defining free time, allowing for easiness, and others are all used to help the depressed, anxious, or angst-ridden smart, creative person deal with the unique challenges of the mind.

A highly readable and well-organized book, Eric Maisel's Why Smart People Hurt explains the difficult issues associated with the smartest and most creative percentage of people on the planet. Each chapter ends with a series of challenging questions that encourage the reader to delve deeper into the topics discussed and make them more personal. Where traditional methods of medication and psychotherapy fail to provide adequate answers, Maisel's existentialist approach of accountability and ownership over one's own values system and life's meaning may be the perfect answer.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Was Written For Me 17 Dec 2013
By HarbinCreative - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a master psychologist and creativity maven Maisel is. Not only a fluid and marvelously concise yet witty writer, he brings such insights into the dark world of people burdened with "smartness" who cannot keep their minds from working. There are so many chapters that were so germane to my life and work that I felt he had been inside my overactive brain to listen to the "monkey mind" that inhabits it. Since I too am involved in the subject of creativity, as an artist and teacher, this book and all his others dealing with this broad field are like a refreshing shower of understanding and knowledge. It's good to know that one is not alone, and that there are ways to bring meaning into life, however dire it may look at times. Thank you Eric.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Help has arrived 13 April 2014
By Lin D - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This will help many people who feel different due to intelligence, sensitivity, introversion, or artistic inclinations. It is difficult to relate because the others do not really understand these kinds. This book deals with these issues and is a ray of sunshine to aid those who feel alone.
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