Nathaniel Branden (born Nathan Blumenthal; 9 April 1930 – 3 December 2014) was a Canadian–American psychotherapist and writer known for his work in the psychology of self-esteem. A former associate and romantic partner of Ayn Rand, Branden also played a prominent role in the 1960s in promoting Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. Rand and Branden split acrimoniously in 1968, after which Branden focused on developing his own psychological theories and modes of therapy.
Nathaniel Branden (born Nathan Blumenthal) is known to many as "the father of the self-esteem movement." Branden is the author of 20 books that explore the philosophical, psychological, and cultural foundations of individualism and the free society. Having developed a close personal relationship with novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand (whom he met as a college student in 1950), in 1958 Branden started Nathaniel Branden Lectures, in which he addressed and expanded on the psychological issues raised by Rand. These lectures were later formalized into the Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI).
Over seven decades, Branden focused on the critical need to understand the psychology of self-esteem and its relationship to our daily lives. Through this work he contributed to the evolution of the concept from obscurity to greater levels of clarity and acceptance. During his career, Nathaniel Branden wrote nearly 20 books on self-esteem, including such luminary works as The Psychology of Self-Esteem, How to Raise Your Self-Esteem, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem and The Art of Living Consciously. ... He also founded The Branden Institute for Self-Esteem, a counseling center in Los Angeles, California.
Nathaniel Branden has played a major role promoting the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand and helping people raise their self-esteem. He met Rand in 1950, joined her inner circle, began an affair with her and effectively promoted her ideas nation-wide via the Nathaniel Branden Institute. He proved to be an energetic and imaginative intellectual entrepreneur. His lecture courses on Objectivism are still available. His memoir Judgment Day (1986) provided an inside view of Rand and his tumultuous relationship with her.
His book The Psychology of Self-Esteem (1969) was published after his split with Rand. This was followed by Breaking Free (1970), The Disowned Self (1971), The Psychology of Romantic Love (1980), The Romantic Love Question & Answer Book (1982), Honoring the Self (1983), How To Raise Your Self Esteem (1987), The Art of Self Discovery (1993), The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem (1994), Taking Responsibility (1996), The Art of Living Consciously (1997) ... Altogether, Dr. Branden's books have been translated into 18 languages and sold over 3.5 million copies.
Later in the evening, Nathaniel Branden spoke to a massive number of libertarians gathered to hear him discuss his personal odyssey "From Objectivism to the Forty-Hour Intensive." Branden discussed his relationship with Objectivism and Ayn Rand, and told how he had come to his present views and concerns. His Forty-Hour Intensive has ignited the interest of people all over the country, libertarians and non-libertarians alike. Dr. Branden received a warm and enthusiastic reception, and fielded questions long into the night.
Branden, of course, became known to the world as the man who helped systematize and present the philosophy dramatized in Ayn Rand's novels, especially Atlas Shrugged ... After his break with Rand, Branden moved from New York City to Los Angeles, where he made a name for himself through a series of books about the role of self-esteem in the pursuit of happiness, work he had begun while he was Rand's associate ... Then in 1969, Branden's publisher released his long-awaited The Psychology of Self-Esteem, chapters of which had appeared in Objectivist publications. I devoured it.
Murray, the LP, and Me, by David Bergland, 25 Dec 2002
Lengthy autobiographical essay, focusing on Rothbard, libertarianism and the LP; reprinted in Walter Block's I Chose Liberty (2010)
Branden came to Southern California and was a guest lecturer in philosophy at USC, having been invited by John Hospers ... I just happened to be in my last year at the USC Law School and was Editor in Chief of the Southern California Law Review. I contacted Professor Hospers and reintroduced myself to Nathaniel. Then I arranged for Nathaniel to publish an article in the Law Review ... I considered publishing the article quite a coup, but some of the professors at the Law School were upset, as were some of the other Law Review editors ... For me, it also meant a continuing friendship with Nathaniel Branden, which I cherish.
On Autobiography, by Walter Block, 4 Dec 2002
Autobiographical, recounts how Block met Ayn Rand and later Murray Rothbard and how he progressed from libertarian minarchism to anarcho-capitalism; and pleads other libertarians to write "how they first were introduced to this philosophy"
I ... stuck my head between Ayn's and Nathan's, and announced that there was a socialist here who wanted to debate someone on economic issues pertaining to capitalism. ... Nathan very graciously offered to come ... for this purpose, but he imposed two preconditions: first, I would be honor bound not to allow this conversation to lapse with this one meeting, but would continue with it until we had achieved a resolution: either he would convince me of the error of my ways, or I would convince him of his. Second, I would read two books he would later recommend to me (Atlas Shrugged ... and Economics in One Lesson ...).
In the years after Atlas Shrugged, Rand worked with her closest associate, Nathaniel Branden, who organized the Nathaniel Branden Institute to disseminate the principles of Objectivism. After a bitter personal break with Rand in 1968, Branden established himself as an independent psychologist and a pioneer of the "self-esteem movement." However, in its heyday, Branden's institute was to influence a large number of students, offering live and taped lecture courses dealing with every aspect of Rand's thought—from her epistemology to her esthetics.
[Rand] leaned increasingly on her Canadian-born intellectual disciple Nathaniel Branden with whom she had become intimate. To serve the growing interest in Rand and help revive her spirits, he established the Nathaniel Branden Institute, which offered seminars, marketed taped lectures, and began issuing publications ... Branden, 25 years younger than Rand, was sometimes an abrasive taskmaster, but he displayed remarkable skills promoting the ideals of individualism and capitalism. Good times continued until August 23, 1968, when he told Rand about his affair with another woman. Rand denounced him publicly, and they split ...
What Are Libertarians Out to Accomplish?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 23 Jan 2015
Reviews the Nathaniel Branden speech "What Happens When the Libertarian Movement Begins to Succeed?", given at the 1979 Libertarian Party national convention, about the manner in which libertarians communicate with non-libertarians
As a psychologist, Branden was interested in how success might be received by libertarians. He had no doubt that as advocates of liberty, most libertarians would welcome the increasing public notice and growing number of adherents. But at the same time he realized that some number of libertarians had mixed motives and were attracted to the movement at least in part precisely because it was a minority, or fringe, movement ... (Branden regarded such persons as having a "negative self-concept.") ... Branden suggested that this might explain some of the infighting the movement (like other movements) was experiencing ...
Some years ago, I wrote that we had reached a moment in history when self-esteem, which had always been a supremely important psychological need, had become an urgent economic need--the attribute imperative for adaptiveness to an increasingly complex, challenging, and competitive world. ... The mind has always been our basic tool of survival. But for most of our history, this fact was not understood. Today, it is obvious to (almost) the whole world. And to Objectivists, this is a time of extraordinary opportunity—because if ever people might be open to understand the Objectivist ethics, it is now in the mind millenium.
Interview with Nathaniel Branden, by Nathaniel Branden, Karen Reedstrom, Full Context, Sep 1996
In two parts; topics range from David Kelley, objectivisim, Ayn Rand, his memoir Judgment Day, Barbara Branden, Leonard Peikoff, homosexuality, self-esteem and more
Q: You attended the Institute for Objectivist Studies (IOS) Summer Seminar ... this past July. What did you think of it? ... Branden: I had a marvelous time. I was very impressed by the high intellectual quality of the presenters. I was also impressed by the caliber of the students—very bright, very eager ... Q: Would it be better for the Objectivist movement if the full truth about Ayn Rand were known? Branden: Objectivism teaches that nothing good comes from faking reality ... If she acknowledged her problems and shortcomings ... she would have been seen and appreciated as an actual human being, not a phony abstraction.
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
by Nathaniel Branden ("Common Fallacies About Capitalism" and "Alienation"), Alan Greenspan, Robert Hessen, Ayn Rand, 1946
Essays by Rand, Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan and Robert Hessen; partial list: What is Capitalism? - Gold and Economic Freedom - The Anatomy of Compromise - Conservatism: An Obituary - The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus - The Nature of Government
Honoring the Self: Self-Esteem and Personal Tranformation, 1983
Partial contents: I. The Dynamics of Self-Esteem - The Problem of Guilt - Motivation by Fear - II. The Struggle for Individuation - Evolving Toward Autonomy - The Art of Being - III. Egoism - Rational Selfishness - Individualism and the Free Society
The Psychology of Romantic Love: Romantic Love in an Anti-Romantic Age, 1980
Contents: Introduction - The Evolution of Romantic Love - The Roots of Romantic Love - Choice in Romantic Love - The Challenges of Romantic Love - Epilogue: A Final Word on Love
The Psychology of Self-Esteem: A New Concept of Man's Psychological Nature, 1969
Partial contents: Foundations - Psychology as a Science - Man: A Living Being - Man: A Rational Being - Emotions - The Nature and Source of Self-Esteem - Pseudo-Self-Esteem - Pathological Anxiety: A Crisis of Self-Esteem - Self-Esteem and Romantic Love
Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, 1994
Partial contents: I. Self-Esteem: Basic Principles - Self-Esteem: The Immune System of Consciousness - II. Internal Sources of Self-Esteem - The Practice of Self-Acceptance - The Practice of Self-Responsibility - III. External Influences: Self and Others
Taking Responsibility: Self-Reliance and the Accountable Life, 1996
Partial contents: Introduction - Toward Autonomy - Freedom and Responsibility - Self-Reliance and Social Metaphysics - A Self-Responsible Life - The Challenge of Separation - Self-Responsibility and Romantic Love - Accountability in Organizations
The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism
by Nathaniel Branden ("Mental Health versus Mysticism and Self-Sacrifice" and five more chapters), Ayn Rand, 1964
Partial contents: The Objectivist Ethics - The Ethics of Emergencies - The "Conflicts" of Men's Interests - Isn't Everyone Selfish? - The Psychology of Pleasure - Doesn't Life Require Compromise? - The Nature of Government - The Argument from Intimidation
Nathaniel Branden on "My Years With Ayn Rand", Reason TV, 11 Nov 2009
Topics include a new generation discovering Ayn Rand, Objectivism, emotions, the "Collective", telling Rand about the possible benefits of marijuana, discovering the word "libertarian" and arguing with her about conservatism and her emphasis on capitalism