Nathaniel Branden

Nathaniel Branden

Psychologist and philosopher Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D. is the author of twenty books on the psychology of self-esteem, romantic love, and the life and thought of Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand. His work has been translated into 18 languages and has sold over 4 million copies, and includes such titles as Taking Responsibility, The Art of Living Consciously, A Woman's Self-Esteem, and the 1969 classic, The Psychology of Self-Esteem.

The name Nathaniel Branden has become synonymous with the psychology of self-esteem, a field he began pioneering over thirty years ago. In that time, he has done more than any other theorist to advocate the importance of self-esteem to human well-being, a mission which began with his involvement in Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand's "Inner Circle."

In 1944, at the age of 14, Branden read his first copy of Rand's The Fountainhead, and soon he was dating a fellow Rand fan (Barbara Weidman, who would become his wife in 1953) and writing letters to the up-and-coming philosopher. Rand met with Branden in 1950, and thus started the stormy relationship that would become the stuff of 20th-century legend.

With the publication of Atlas Shrugged in 1957, Objectivism would reach its fullest fruition. As Rand explained in the appendix: 

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

In 1958, Branden himself, to whom Rand dedicated Atlas Shrugged (declaring him to be her legal and "intellectual heir" and "an ideal exponent" of her philosophy), would form Nathaniel Branden Lectures (incorporated as the Nathaniel Branden Institute in 1961) to deliver seminars on Rand's philosophy. In 1962, Rand and Branden began publishing The Objectivist Newsletter (simplified as The Objectivist in 1966), the same year the Brandens co-authored the book Who is Ayn Rand?

Two years later, Branden would contribute several articles to Rand's essay collection, The Virtue of Selfishness, and again to her collection, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, in 1966. Yet due to various romantic conflicts between Rand, Branden, their respective spouses and others, in 1968 Branden was asked to resign from the organization he had helped to build. His status as an Objectivist was repudiated in an editorial that same year by Rand, and he was effectively ostracized from the Objectivist community and his extensive contributions minimized. The entire brouhaha was later recounted in Branden's memoir Judgment Day, his memoir of the years of his association with Rand (revised in 1999 as My Years with Ayn Rand).

Branden currently works as both a practicing psychotherapist and a corporate consultant through the Branden Institute, conducting seminars, workshops, and conferences to demonstrate how the principles of self-esteem can be applied to the challenges of the modern business organization.

His extensive bibliography includes:

My Years with Ayn Rand
(Jossey-Bass, 1999)

A Woman's Self-Esteem: Struggles and Triumphs in the Search for Identity
(Jossey-Bass, 1998)

The Art of Living Consciously: The Power of Awareness to Transform Everyday Life
(Fireside, 1997)

Taking Responsibility: Self-Reliance and the Accountable Life
(Fireside, 1997)

The Art of Self-Discovery: A Powerful Technique For Building Self-Esteem
(Bantam, 1993)

The Power of Self-Esteem
(Barnes & Noble, 1992)

Judgment Day: My Years with Ayn Rand
(Avon, 1991)

What Love Asks of Us: Solutions to the Challenge of Making Love Work
(Bantam, 1983)

Honoring the Self: The Psychology of Confidence and Respect
(J. P. Tarcher, 1984)

The Psychology of Romantic Love: What Love Is, Why Love Is Born, Why It Sometimes Grows, Why It Sometimes
(Bantam Books, 1981)

The Psychology of Self-Esteem: A New Concept of Man's Psychological Nature
(original print, 1969)

Posts by Nathaniel Branden


Atlas Evolved: The Life and Loves of Nathaniel Branden


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Nathaniel Branden, Ayn Rand’s former lover and the inspiration for her famous John Galt character, was at ground zero during the rise of the Objectivist movement. Listen as Nathaniel offers an intimate insider’s view of the origins, major contributions, and inevitable limitations of Rand’s philosophy and the intellectual movement it sparked. Masterfully hosted by Ken Wilber, this talk offers invaluable insight into Ayn Rand’s legacy, the human potential movement, romantic love, self-esteem, self-transcendence, and the art of conscious living.