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

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  402 ratings  ·  56 reviews
The challenges smart and creative people encounter--from scientific researchers, genius award winners, to bestselling novelists, Broadway actors, high-powered attorneys, 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 cu
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 1st 2013 by Conari Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.36  · 
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 ·  402 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Helen Noble
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 i
Apr 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book felt like bait-and-switch - it quickly becomes clear that the solutions the author proposes are all "natural psychology", a discipline that he doesn't properly introduce or explain. The analysis isn't particularly insightful, the writing is weak, and the emphasis on problems makes the first three-quarters of the book fairly depressing. Not worth the time.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
The central premise here is that if one enjoys intellectual stimulation, then they may find themselves bored with the various paths presented to them by life. Or , I guess more accurately, by the institutions that funnel them from social system to social system . In other words, many of the viable career options in the market - end up being a form of horrid drudgery for those who like to sore across planets in their mind. I think that this may be a widespread issue and for many that find themsel ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
I honestly didn't finish this so it's very possible my review won't give credit to the second half of the book. I picked up the book because the title was compelling. I was frustrated by the assumptions and implications the book makes about what it means to be smart and what all "the bright, the sensitive, and the creative" people look like. The broad overgeneralizations bothered me. Still I decided to give it a chance.
Eric Maisel has some interesting points and parts of the natural psychology t
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a difficult book to rate or review, not least because I generally have a hate-hate relationship with "self-help" books, and this one pushes too many of my wrong buttons (if it is indeed a book, and not purely a giant informercial for the author's "Natural Psychology").

But ...

It also provided a enough "aha" moments, and insight into some things that have been bugging me for a while, for me to give it a high rating, regardless of its many, many flaws.

The constant refrain of the book is t
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Life-changing. I'd recommend this book to anyone that may at times feel burdened by the way their brain works (applying logic to EVERYTHING, overanalysis of the world around you, intellectual burnout, overwhelm by racing thoughts, etc ). This is more of a workbook and includes several questions to ask yourself in order to gain insight to your own personal experiences. Please know that the author takes a natural psychology approach to this message so it may not be for everyone. I highly recommend ...more
Lynne Spreen
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You don't have to be smart to benefit from (and LOVE) this book! Each chapter explains in simple, often humorous words why people feel unhappy or uncomfortable with their lives or each other. Eric Maisel SEES us. He understands why humans are the way we are, and he has a gentle and compassionate way of explaining us to ourselves, and giving us easy tips for making life easier and happier. I've bought copies for my young adult friends. This is like a guidebook for navigating adulthood! What a joy ...more
Stephen Long
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of those books which is half a sense of irritation and "you're wrong and/or going about this the wrong way" and half "WOW" - in the end, ten times as wonderful as a mediocre to good book you don't really disagree with. a must-read for anyone who hasn't developed ironclad planning and execution skills or come to terms with their own anxiety, inner personality, etc.
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book is an underwhelming discussion of the life challenges unique to the smartest 15% of the population.

First of all, it should be mentioned that intelligence is still not very well understood, much less precisely defined. IQ is nice, and gives a sense of someone's intelligence, but it's horribly biased in favor of certain minds and certain cultures. It also completely overlooks emotional awareness, which is more important. Setting up these categories and putting a few people into the "smar
Madly Jane
There is not a lot of love for Eric Maisel's natural psychology, but if a person has the sense to look at it as metaphor, it's interesting. Maisel has always been my "go to" writer/person when I am in a creative crisis. He is highly recommended by my therapist, who by the way, does not even believe in the literal tenets of natural psychology, but who respects Maisel's attempts to show anxious creatives how to get out of pain. Smart people suffer, because they think all the time and they know, an ...more
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was pretty awful. I liked the idea but not when the author did things like equating having racing thoughts with being manic, or saying that depression comes from negatively evaluating life. In that case, I will just FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE!!!1 and be totally cured of depression forever. Awesome! Also, saying that racing thoughts = mania is like saying having a tickle in your throat = having pertussis. No. Just no.
Jess Michaels
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2014
This book is one long infomercial for "Natural Psychology", the school of psychology that Maisel subscribes to. The first couple of chapters were really good but then it just became a commercial with very little value as far as strategies to overcome the problems outlined in the book. It was incredibly frustrating to read and difficult to get through.
Daniil Marchenko
A fascinating new perspective on Obsessions, Compulsions, Mania, Depression, and other mental ailments that pester otherwise smart people.
Tomáš Richter
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If the title sounds like you should read the book, you most probably should. Drop everything you are doing and read it, it can be done over a weekend.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
As a bright, sensitive and creative person I can say that trying to read this book really hurt. I really do want my money back. Guy goes on and on and on about being around smart people then writes a book about it.
Sarah Hyatt
Apr 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: giving-up
What a promising and infuriatingly disappointing book.

Maisel takes a concept worth exploring - the gifted person's intensity of feeling and near-constant existential crisis - and proceeds to gloss over it in a variety of ways while crafting his commercial for "natural psychology" (a term he never fully explains) and his fundamentalist, Jim Bob Duggar-esque brand of atheism. The writing is poor and undeveloped, and the author's views are rarely supported with anything other than his naive assumpt
Kayla Perry
Nov 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I read about three chapters of this book and aside from a few concerns (such as the implication of depression and adhd being cured by finding meaning in one's life) I thought it was alright. Then I got to the fourth and fifth chapter and what had been clearly written suddenly became a clusterfuck of natural psychology terms and the author's own "profound" thoughts. I really enjoyed the chapters which concerned finding meaning in work and why this is a struggle but I just couldn't buy into the re ...more
Audrey Lentz
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This insightful book was full of revelations and ways of seeing things I've never thought of before. It is incredibly relatable and the author's approaches make so much sense, he makes you wonder how you've never thought of things that way before. Some of his ideas were things I'd always thought and never put Into words and some of his ideas were completely new. I especially loved the way the author addresses anxiety and depression. I'm not against medication in every case, but I've always been ...more
Dec 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
The questions at the end of the chapters were okay. The content leading to them was perplexing at best, irrelevant at worst. The title really caught my eye but what was written thereafter was...disappointing and if I dare say, 'stupid'.
I liked the first part, but then it went rapidly downhill.
Jan 03, 2014 added it
I liked this book. Usually I find it hard to stick with books of this type as they tend to get tedious and repetitive. This one wasn't like that.
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-goal-30
Dense and pithy, but full of useful ideas on using your.smarts wisely.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to be honest; I nearly abandoned this book. Then, about halfway through, it was as though I suddenly grasped what the author had been getting at the entire time.

Author Eric Maisel, whose brilliant The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person's Path Through Depression was a life changer for me, posits a concept he calls natural psychology. Through this framework, he explains that intelligent, creative people often have crises of meaning. Because their available personality (the one that has dev
Nguyen Luan
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Definitely a good read it for everyone, This book is profoundly insightful. I feel happier in my purpose in life having read this book. I have extracted from the book some paragraphs that I like best in order to introduce this good book to the readers. You can read these interesting quotes prior to making a decision to read the whole book....!

"A smart person has a desire to think"

"Human beings are products of nature"

"Each smart person has his own story to tell."

Thanks and Wish you and your famil
Apr 10, 2020 rated it liked it
The book is roughly split in two, by theme. The first theme is "what a smart brain does." The second is "how to get along in life despite that."

Much of the first theme rings true to me. I also see it in my kids and some of the rest of my family. The second half, what is referred to as natural psychology, sounds an awful lot like Stoicism with some Humanism, and Buddhism thrown in for good measure.

I personally didn't get a ton out of this books, but I would highly recommend it for anyone who co
May 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Good in the sense that it accurately described some real problems, but it had some major flaws that I just couldn't get past. First, the entire books reads like an infomercial for the author's theory of natural psychology. Natural psychology is always the answer.

Also, Maisel sort of randomly throws religion completely under the bus. According to him, religion is a delusion that some smart people fall prey to - much to his dismay. Ironically, Maisel's unwavering faith in natural psychology is jus
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
In my opinion, anyone who struggles with life from time to time should read the work of Eric Maisel. This book is good, but more theory based, I would suggest starting with Van Gogh Blues.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
I didn’t enjoy this book. This was my second time trying to finish it. Finally got to the end.
wan vina
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book will open your way in maping your thought and set your goals neatly.. You'll learn to cultivates meaning while you are doing something not expecting it before you aren't even starting...
Melissa Hovey
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Lots of stuff for self awareness but not enough concrete info on how to deal with the things covered in the book.
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Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of more than 40 books in the areas of creativity, 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.

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