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break free!

an
interview
with
nathaniel
branden

/'
/
/'
/

With pleasure REASON publishes the first U.S., Canada, and abroad. He co-founded between Miss Rand and Mr. Branden were
candid, comprehensive interview with THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER with and remain a mystery.
,/ Nathaniel Branden. One of the original Miss Rand in 1962 and was co-editor of
intellects of the Objectivist movement, he this publication (which subsequently But, following the announcement of their
is the founder of a new approach to became THE OBJECTIVIST) until 1968. break, the small world of students of
psychology-which he calls "Biocentric Through his various lectures, public Objectivism suffered a traumatic shock.
Psychology"-and which was first appearances, and numerous articles, he Business associates and friends of many
introduced in his book THE has been second only t o Miss Rand herself years parted ways when they found that
PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-ESTEEM. in the presentation, clarification, and they stood on opposite sides in this con-
advancement of the principles of the flict-some favoring Miss Rand, others
Nathaniel Branden was born in Brampton, Objectivist philosophy. favoring Mr. Branden. Those who took
Ontario, in 1930. He grew up in Toronto Miss Rand's "side" evidently accepted her
and studied psychology a t UCLA and His association with Ayn Rand terminated position without reservation or question,
NYU. He was initially attracted to the in the summer of 1968. I n the pages of committing themselves to the view that it
ideas of Ayn Rand through reading THE THE OBJECTIVIST Miss Rand was morally wrong t o grant any credibi-
FOUNTAINHEAD. His association with announced that Mr. Branden was no lity to Mr. Branden's answer t o Miss
Miss Rand, from their initial meeting in longer associated with her or with her Rand's charges. Those who acknowledged
1951, is well-known. He organized work. I n answer t o her various charges the possibility that there could be any
Nathaniel Branden Institute, a lecture against him, Mr. Branden responded with justice on Mr. Branden's side were held in
organization that offered courses on Miss a detailed paper, entitled "In Answer to contempt by Miss Rand's partisans and
Rand's philosophy of Objectivism as well Ayn Rand," one section of which was were repudiated as "betrayers of Objecti-
as on his own psychological theories in written by him, the other by Barbara vism."
more than eighty cities throughout the Branden. The actual details of the conflict

4 reason OCTOBER 1971


Subsequent t o the break, Mr. Branden California and is presently on the faculty found lunching with visitors who express
moved t o Los Angeles, opened a thera- of the California Graduate Institute. interest in his work, his manner relaxed,
peutic practice, and established the Insti- Through the Institute of Biocentric enthusiastic, and friendly.
tute of Biocentric Psychology. His first Psychology he offers training t o psycho-
major theoretical work in psychology, logists, marriage counselors, and psychi- The REASON staff (complete with tape
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF- atrists in his theories and methods and, in recorders, camera, and note pads)
ESTEEM, was published by Nash addition, conducts Personal Growth descended on the Brandens' Greek-
Publishing Company in the fall of 1969 Workshops open t o the general public. modern home on a hot Sunday afternoon
and issued in paper back by Bantam in August. The house rests on top of a
Books in the spring of 1971. His next His office, an attractive three-room suite mountain and offers a beautiful view of
book, BREAKING FREE-which deals on the fourth floor of a modern building the city. Seated around the spacious,
with the childhood origins of negative on Sunset Boulevard, a t the edge of glass-walled living room, the staff-led by
self-concepts-was published by Nash i n Beverly Hills, is appropriately decorated interviewer Michael Etchison-questioned
the fall of 1970. He has also had articles with a poster, entitled "Break Free," of a Mr. Branden for over five hours, delving
published in the SOUTHERN CALI- chick escaping from an egg shell. The into a wide variety of topics. Also present
FORNIA LAW REVIEW and in THE poster was given t o him by a client. were Nathaniel's wife, actress Patrecia
PERSONALIST; he presented a paper on Wynand, and their Schnauzer, a dog
the psychology of romantic love a t the Quite unlike his New York days, when named "Pussy Cat." After the tapes of the
1970 Annual Conference of The Ameri- one could hardly approach him without session were transcribed and the 30,000
can Psychological Association. He has extensive preparation-when he struck word text was edited, Mr. Branden re-
lectured on the philosophical foundations many observers as smug, remote, and viewed the manuscript and gave it his
of the biological and psychological almost always preoccupied-today approval.
sciences at the University of Southern Nathaniel Branden may frequently be

OCTOBER 1971 reason 5


We a t REASON found it fascinating. Here
REASON: Frederick Perls?
is what was said:
BRANDEN: I think Perls' development of
REASON: You were never sympathetic to Gestalt Therapy was a major achievement.
Freudianism? While I have my disagreements with his
REASON: What motivates a person to position, his approach to therapy is more
become a psychologist? BRANDEN: Never. Between the ages of compatible with my own theoretical views
24 and 27 I read Freud's complete works, concerning human nature than any other
BRANDEN: Well, I suppose you're asking everything that had been translated into approach of which I have knowledge. I
what motivated me t o become a psycho- English. It was very stimulating intellec- have incorporated a number of the tech-
logist? The answer won't be the same for tually. But I did not accept his view of niques of Gestalt Therapy into my own
every psychologist. neurosis or of human nature. way of doing therapy. Many of Perls'
techniques for developing self-awareness
Not a great deal is known about the REASON: What about behaviorism? are stunningly effective. And his method
factors in childhood that doubtless of dream interpretation-if you're going
underlie a person's choice of career-I'm BRANDEN: I have always regarded t o go in for dream interpretation a t all-
talking now about a career to which one is behaviorism as a farce. I give my reasons makes everything else written on the
passionately committed, in contra- for this view in Chapter I of THE subject obsolete. I f you're familiar with
distinction to a career chosen merely as a PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-ESTEEM. Gestalt Therapy, and if you have read
means of earning a living. THE PSYCHOLOGY 0F SELF-ESTEEM,
The attempt to study man and to under- I think you would know why I would find
I cannot remember a time when the stand his behavior-while treating as irrele- much of the Gestalt approach congenial
question of why people behave as they do vant the fact that he is conscious, that he t o my own way of thinking.
was not intensdy interesting to me. is able to be aware of reality-is so irra-
The desire to understand was very impor- tional, so preposterous, that I continue to REASON: What do you think of Albert
tant. When I was young I was aware of the be amazed a t the popularity of behavior- Ellis?
fact that much of the time the reasons a ism in this country. It is philosophically
person gave for his actions were not the naive. It reflects the metaphysics of crude, BRANDEN: I don't admire Ellis. I think
actual reasons. When I was a child I felt a t 19th century materialism, a position that his approach to psychology and therapy is
times that I had been born into an insane most philosophers properly have rejected superficial. His idea that emotions
asylum, that much of human life appeared and repudiated long ago. Behaviorists, of proceed from our thoughts is right, of
t o be an insane asylum. It was bewil- course, tend to be very disdainful of course, in a very general sense. But his
dering. philosophy. But when a person chooses t o theoretical understandingof emotions is
be ignorant of philosophy, t o turn his weak. He's very weak on theory in almost
I was fourteen years old when I decided back on philosophy, something no all respects. And, as a therapist, his
to go into psychology. A book dealing scientist can afford to do, the sole result is approach implicitly denies the client's
with psychology somehow fell into my that he ends UD espousing philosophical responsibility for his own existence; he
hands-I don't remember how-but, any- nonsense. Which is precisely what has denies the client's autonomy. All this
way, I remember looking through the happened with behaviorism. business about "pressuring" the client,
book and slowly grasping the kind of "cajoling" him, "propagandizing" him
questions with which psychology deals, REASON: Are there psychologists whose implies an utter lack of respect for the
the kind of problems to which psychology work you admire? client's mind. Ellis would deny this, but I
addresses itself. It immediately excited believe his approach is basically authorita-
me. I f e l t a strong emotional pull. These BRANDEN: Well, I read constantly in the rian. It's funny that he calls his system
were the kinds of problems, the kinds of field of psychology and I have learned "rational-emotive therapy," because he
challenges, the kinds of intellectual ques- from many writers. You don't have to doesn't seem t o be very interested in
tions that I wanted to work on. That's agree with a person's total position to reason or emotions; I think he really
how it felt. learn from him. practices a type of behavior-modification
therapy.
REASON: Was it always your intention t o REASON: What are your views of, say,
practice therapy? Abraham Maslow? REASON: B. F. Skinner?

BRANDEN: No. I did not make that BRANDEN: I like his opposition to BRANDEN: Well, Skinner is, of course,
decision until my twenties. Earlier I psychoanalysis and behaviorism. But I America's leading neo-behaviorist. And
thought I would earn my living teaching don't think he was very profound as a I've already said what I think of beha-
psychology a t some university. I thought theoretician. I think his most valuable and viorism. Skinner has made it clear that he
of myself primarily as a theorist; I still do. important idea is that human needs exist believes in a political Blite of psycho-
But then, in my twenties, I began t o work in a hierarchy; that is, that needs of a logists-in effect, a dictatorship of psycho-
with a few people, doing therapy, and certain level must be satisfied before the logical "experts"-running the country
discovered that this was the way to learn next levels of higher needs assert them- and controlling people's lives for the
the things I wanted t o learn; this was my selves, and they must be satisfied before purpose of "preserving and perpetuating
best means of doing research. the next levels of higher needs assert the culture." I do not believe in "bene-
themselves, and so on. I don't necessarily volent" dictatorships. But, make no
REASON: What was your reaction t o agree with his view of what are man's mistake about it, many psychologists do,
academic psychology when you entered needs, in all cases, but that's another and Skinner represents a wish-fulfillment
college? question. Also, I admire Maslow for the for many of them.
fact that he chose to study healthy
BRANDEN: It was very disappointing, people, superior people, what he called REASON: Thomas Szasz?
very boring, very frustrating. I had a sense the "self-actualizing personality," in
that almost everything I was taught was contrast to the majority of psychologists BRANDEN: Szasz's chief contribution, in
irrelevant. I decided that the science of who seem to be interested only in my opinion, is t o have drawn attention t o
psychology did not yet exist, that it was a neurosis and deficiency. the appalling victimization of mental
science waiting to be born. patients in our psychiatric hospitals, t o

6 reason OCTOBER 1971


have emphasized the evil of confining
people t o mental hospitals involuntarily,
and t o have warned of the dangerous
political implications of "community REASON: What do you regard as your
psychiatry." On this subject, I agree with most important contributions in psycho-
him completely. I do not, however, agree logy to date?
with his view that mental illness is a emphasis. The transition from the
"myth,"and I discuss my reasons in THE BRANDEN: The theory of self-esteem PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-ESTEEM to
DISOWNED SELF. arid its role in human motivation-I would THE DISOWNED SELF is a case in point.
mention that first. Also, the theory of
"Social Metaphysics," the explanation of
REASON: What about Arthur Janov, dependency and conformity and so forth. You know, some time ago, I held two
author of THE PRIMAL SCREAM? I would include my identification of the all-day workshops devoted to the problem
principle of "psychological visibility" and of psychological dependency-the
BRANDEN: The major virtue of Janov's its application t o human relationships in problem that I have described as "social
THE PRIMAL SCREAM is his emphasis metaphysics." While I did not tell this to
general and romantic love in particular.
on the distortions of personality develop- the participants, one of my private
Certain things I have defined about the
ment that can result from the repression purposes, aside from helping the people
psychology of sex. My analysis of the
of childhood pain. He i s not the first involved, was to see i f I could test, or even
nature and meaning of mental health. My
psychologist t o draw attention to this refute, my own theories on the subject, as
work in placing volition and psychological
issue, but he describes the process very presented in THE PSYCHOLOGY OF
freedom of choice on a biological found-
effectively. However, contrary to what he SELF-ESTEEM, or perhaps find some
ation. It was Ayn Rand, of course, who
claims, there is much more to therapy significant errors. It was the kind of
identified free will as the choice to think
than derepressing and reexperiencing intellectual exercise I like to do whenever
childhood pain and much more to mental or not t o think, to focus the mind or to I can. In that case, I failed. The basic
health than being able to experience one's avoid the responsibility of doing so. But theory stands. I think I know a good deal
feelings. Janov has taken one small part of she nev er sought to defend her position; more on this subject than I did when I
therapy and blown it up into a whole she mere!y announced it. What I provided wrote that chapter but nothing that con-
system. I think his work owes an was the theoretical elaboration and the tradicts it.
enormous debt to Wilhelm Reich, inciden- biological foundation. Finally, I attach
tally, which Janov does not acknowledge. considerable importance to my treatment
And Janov is appallingly anti-intellectual of the relationship of reason and emotion, It is so easy to look a t reality through the
and anti-rational, and I have heard the as presented in THE DISOWNED SELF. spectacles of yesterday's theories and
products of his therapy described as often insights and thereby t o miss important
inclined t o be rather self indulgent vege- REASON: When will THE DlSOWNED facts. Obviously, one cannot jump outside
tables, which I surmised as a very real SELF be published? one's own head, nor would one really
danger when I read the book. I don't say want to. But I try to be as open to the
that no one has benefited from his type of BRANDEN: It is scheduled for publica- novel and the unexpected as I can. That's
therapy because people apparently have tion in November, 1971. what makes life interesting.
benefited from every kind of therapy
known-including having a brick fall on REASON: Can you say anything about
your practice as a therapist? REASON: What are your views on homo-
their head or taking an ocean voyage. sexual ity ?
Almost any kind of experience can some
times be therapeutic for a given BRANDEN: A good deal of what I do as a
BRANDEN: I am inclined t o regard
individual. From reading his publicity, therapist is presented in THE DISOWNED
homosexuality as a problem of develop-
one gathers that Janov is group of the fact SELF, although it is not a book on
therapy and it does not cover everything I mental adaptation-by which I mean that
that professors who have been through his a t a certain point of growing up the sexual
therapy happily give up their careers and do. My approach to therapy is in a conti-
nual process of evolution. I work with component of an individual's maturation
become milkmen; I would think it a more
became diverted.
laudable achievement to help milkmen to many different techniques. I am an ex-
become professors, but that may be a perimentalist. Some of my techniques
were originated by myself, others were
1 do not think the available evidence
difference in our standard of value.
supports the claim, made by some, that
borrowed or adapted from the work of
I think that whatever is valuable in his others. I am interested in some of the homosexuality is a genetically determined
message is obscured by his grandiosity. He things being done not only in Gestatt condition.
makes the most extravagant and grandiose Therapy but also in Bioenergetic Therapy,
claims for his therapy method that have such as the work being done by Alexander I wantto say that I regard the legal and
ever been made by anyone to my know- Lowen. One doesn't have to agree with all social persecution of homosexuals as
ledge in the history of the science. This is of the theoretical presuppositionsbehind barbaric. I have known a good many male
the therapeutic approachs of these schools and female homosexuals and do not
going to lead to a very negative after
to recognize and admire the effectiveness regard them, apart from their sexual
effect for him because people are going t o
of some of their techniques. So, as I say, problem, as being any more disturbed
go to him with very high hopes and in the
sometimes I incorporate some of their than anyone else who comes into therapy,
end they will be disappointed and he will, or, for that matter, any average person
I suspect, have an awful lot of people very methods into my own approach t o
therapy. walking down the street. I think that
mad a t him. It will take a few years some of the above obvious neurotic symp-
because as a colleague of mine pointed toms that some homosexuals display are a
out, when you spend that much money as REASON: Do you find that your present
work continues t o support and confirm result of the pressure under which they
his method of therapy requires, you're exist in our culture.
not going to be in a hurry to decide that your earlier theories?
perhaps YOU didn't get what you were I am aware, of course, that there are many
promised but after a while that thought BRANDEN: In most cases, yes. What I am
chiefly aware of, so far, is omissions inmy who regard homosexuality as an entirely
begins to sink in.
earlier work that need to be filled in. valid optional alternative t o hetero-
Then there is the matter of shifts of sexuality. Within the context of my

OCTOBER 1971 reason 7


present understanding of the psychology people-I see more than a hundred people THE DISOWNED SELF relative to your
of sex, I cannot agree with them. I have a week-and, from a research point of earlier book, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF
certain hypotheses on this subject, that I view, this is very valuable. SELF-ESTEEM?
hope I will have the chance to test at
some future date. But I don't wish to say REASON: What do you enjoy most about BRANDEN: There is certainly a shift in
more a t this time. doing therapy? emphasis, and there is a growth of under-
standing on my part. I really regard THE
REASON: Is much of your time taken up BRANDEN: I enjoy the challenge of DISOWNED SELF as, in effect, a sequel
with therapy? having to devise means to help solve per- to THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-
sonal problems-sometimes, to have to ESTEEM. What is not made sufficiently
BRANDEN: A t present I conduct seven improvise new techniques and methods. I clear in THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-
therapy groups a week and 1'11 soon be enjoy the process of learning more and ESTEEM, because a t the time of writing it
starting an eighth; each is two hours in more about human psychology. And I this issue was not sufficiently clear to me,
length. Except for interviewing new enjoy the drama of watching human but what is stressed again and again in
clients, the rest of my time is free for beings struggle t o grow, t o break free, to THE DISOWNED SELF is that if we are
studying, research, and writing. Oh yes, in fulfill their potentialities; sometimes that not in good touch with what we feel, we
addition I offer all-day workshops can be very inspiring. cannot think clearly in the areas where we
approximately once a month-workshops are emotionally blocked. I f we attempt t o
devoted t o cultivating self-awarenessand REASON: What do you see as the chief cut off our intellect from the rest of our
personal growth-which are open not only goal of therapy? person, we produce intellectual distor-
t o my regular clients but to other tions. Reason and emotion must function
interested persons as well. BRANDEN: Stated very abstractly, I in integrated harmony, or distortions
would say: t o remove obstructions t o result in both spheres. I work with a great
REASON: Why did you choose to awareness. To assist the client in being in many intellectuals who mistakenly
specialize in group therapy? better contact with himself and with the imagine that in order t o think clearly the .
world. Above all, to assist him in first thing they,must do is sacrifice any
BRANDEN: For several reasons. First, for achieving better self-awareness. When he is awareness of their emotions; the result is
most of the cases that come to me I con- self-aware, then he is free to choose how disaster for their thinking. When it comes
sider it the most effective way to work, he wants t o function, t o choose what he to dealing with problems in their personal
the most efficient and productive, far wants to do with his life. lives, they become like helpless children-
more so than individual therapy. If some- they make themselves into helpless
one comes in who I do not think is The three cardinal values of mental children.
suitable for group therapy, I refer him t o health, as I continually tell my clients, are
another therapist. Second, I enjoy group selfswareness, self-responsibilityand In any issue where values are involved, if
therapy enormously; I find it very self-assertiveness. To be aware, t o take we do not know what we feel, if we do
demanding, challenging, and exciting. The responsibility for what one does, and t o not know what we need, want, are frus-
kind of group therapy I practice is much assert one's own thoughts, needs, feelings, trated by or long for, we cannot perceive
harder than individual therapy, in my values, and goals. reality clearly, we cannot function
experience. But also much more effectively in the intellectual sphere. The
rewarding:Third, it has the value of being REASON: Going back to your reference operations of our consciousness are sabo-
less costly to the client. And fourth, it about the relationship of reason and taged.
allows me t o work with a great many emotions, is there a shift of viewpoint in
REASON: What is the relationship
between self-esteem, on the one hand,
and, on the other, self-awareness, self-
responsibility, and self-assertiveness?

BRANDEN: Self-esteem is the conse-


quence, the consequence of practicing and
accepting self-awareness, self-
responsibility, and self-assertiveness.

Of course, the relationship tends t o be


reciprocal. The more one is self-aware,
self-responsible, and self-assertive, the
more one has self-esteem. And the more
one has self-esteem, the easier it is to be
self-aware, self-responsible and
self-assertive.
REASON: From what source do you
chiefly draw your clients?

BRANDEN: When I first moved t o Los


Angeles, my first clients were former
students of Nathaniel Branden Institute
(N.B.1.). Today, the chief source of clients
is either readers of my books and/or
referals from other clients who worked
with me or are still working with me.

REASON: Do you feel that it is possible


to derive much therapeutic value from
reading your books?

8 reason OCTOBER 1971


BRANDEN: I can't speak with certainty.
I have received many letters from readers
of THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-
ESTEEM and BREAKING FREE who
declare that they have received immense
value from reading the books and they say
that the books changed their lives. Some-
times they describe a t great length how
and in what way the books helped them, achieved relative competence a t self- BRANDEN: No, that's not the kind of
and some of the letters sound very con- awareness, is able to acknowledge respon- work I specialize in. Occasionally such a
vincing. I don't think there is any sibility for his own life, and is not afraid person has come to me, but it's rare.
question but that books can be immensely of self-assertivenessandwhen he is able to
helpful to a person's psychological deve- function effectively in the key areas of REASON: Are there any distinguishing
lopment, depending on the quality of the life: productive work, human relation- characteristics among your clients that
books, of course. I'm not suggesting that ships, and romantic love. you've noticed?
books can be a substitute for psycho-
therapy in all cases, because they can't; REASON: What are your thoughts con- BRANDEN: No. They come from every
but I do believe they can be very helpful cerning the use of hypnosis in therapy? socio-economic background and every
and, perhaps, when there are enough of occupational background. They probably
the right kind of books available to the BRANDEN: Sometimes it can be very tend to be a bit more intelligent than the
general public, fewer people will need effective. Especially, perhaps, in the treat- average person on the street, although not
psychotherapy. I hope so. ment of psychosomatic ailments. I think necessarily.
that every therapist should be trained in
REASON: How many therapists are there the uses of hypnosis. Most therapists are REASON: How do you deal with guilt in
a t present practicing your kind of appallingly ignorant of its uses and poten- therapy?
therapy? tialities. A t present, I don't work with it,
because it is better suited to.individual BRANDEN: To begin with, a lot of guilt
BRANDEN: No one works exactly as I therapy than group therapy. But even in is phony. It is resentment against others
do. I have not yet written a book on group it can occasionally be very which one does not wish t o acknowledge,
therapy, as you know, but I suspect that effective. so one turns it against oneself as a
one day I will. There are psychologists defense. Dealing with it consists of
and psychiatrists who profess agreement REASON: What are your thoughts about helping the client to be aware of this fact.
with my books and who use the ideas in the use of marijuana?
their own practice; but each works in his Sometimes guilt is a way of getting one-
own individual style. I am training a few BRANDEN: Anti-marijuana legislation self off the hook. "I'm worthless-so
psychotherapists a t present, but they are should be repealed; there is no question don't expect anything of me." There
not yet in independent practice. about that. It is not the government's again, the job is to help the client become
business, one way or the other, i f people aware of what he is doing.
My publisher tells me that an increasing choose to use marijuana. From what I
number of book orders are coming in have read on the subject, it does not Sometimes the way to deal with guilt is
from colleges and universities, suggesting appear t o be particularly harmful to for the client to stop engaging in the
that the books are finding their way into people-no more so, a t any rate, than activity that's making him feel guilty.
psychology classes. So what will happen alcohol. And perhaps, as is sometimes That's obvious, of course, but often it
in the future, I do not know, claimed, it is less harmful than alcohol can doesn't occur t o people.
be. Obviously, if a person needs marijuana
REASON: It is known that you as a psychological crutch, he has a Sometimes one has t o challenge the values
sometimes permit other professionals to problem, just as he would have a problem by which the person iscondemning him-
sit in on your groups as observers, to if he needed alcohol as a psychological self-and expose their irrationality.
study your methods. What has been the crutch.
general reaction? What is very important, however, is that
REASON: LSD? the therapist do nothing to deepen the
BRANDEN: On the whole, the response client's guilt, which many therapists do all
has been positive-quite enthusiastic, in BRANDEN: LSD is a different matter too readily. I have known psychothera-
some cases. entirely. Here, again, I do not think the pists who managed t o teach guilt every
government should intervene and make it time they opened their mouth. I think
REASON: A t what point do you regard a illegal. But it is a very dangerous drug and that some of the things I have t o say
person as ready t o terminate therapy? for people to take it "for kicks" is the about self-acceptance in THE DISOWNED
height of irrationality. Under its SELF will be helpful t o people who are
BRANDEN: That depends on the purpose influence, persons have killed themselves troubled with questions concerning guilt.
for which a person sought therapy in the or others. Sometimes, psychotic break-
first place. For example, suppose a person downs have been precipitated. I think one REASON: What is your position in
comes in because of migraine headaches. has t o be a fool to play with dynamite of therapy if your clients go on doing things
When he no longer has the headaches, he that kind. Some people, of course, claim you consider morally wrong?
may wish to leave therapy. Or, i f a person that taking LSD helps them psychologi-
comes in because of a potency problem, cally. I have met more than one such BRANDEN: It's their lives, not mine, and
and he solves it, again he may wish t o person. And in my opinion they are crazy they will have to live with the conse-
leave therapy. Often, however, a person as hell. I f LSD helped them, I shudder to quences. All I can hope t o accomplish is
comes into therapy, solves some or a l l of think what they were like before they t o make them aware of what they are
the problems for which he initially sought took it. doing and how it is affecting them. But
help, but then decides t o remain t o work beyond that, they are responsible for
on other aspects of personality develop- REASON: Do many of your clients come themselves, as every human being is. I am
ment. From my standpoint, a person is to you because of drug addiction? not their father nor their priest nor their
ready t o leave therapy when he has

OCTOBER 1971 reason 9


moral guardian, and when and i f any to precipitate the very disaster they dread. REASON: What about sex without love?
client tries t o manipulate me into Sometimes they reject the other person
assuming that role, I refuse to do so. before the other person can reject them. BRANDEN: What about it?
Sometimes they behave disagreeably in
REASON: I s it common for clients t o order to "test" the other person's REASON: Do you approve of that?
attempt to manipulate you in that devotion.
manner? BRANDEN: What am I, your mother?
Deeper than that, however, I would name Are you asking my permission? Of course
BRANDEN: It happens all the time. I another issue. The inability of most there can be sex without love. And some-
don't mean only with me, but with every people t o be fully real, fully authentic, times it can be an immensely valuable
therapist. Many clients seek to manipulate fully genuine in their responses. Most experience for the persons involved. I'm
their therapist into being a moral autho- people are self-alienated. They are cut off not sure I like your use of the word
rity, and some therapists are all too eager from themselves, cut off from their own "approval" in this context.
t o accept the role. I am not. I have moral feelings, needs, wants, desires,
convictions and I don't make a secret of frustrations, longings, and so forth. They From a psychologicalpoint of view, from
them. I can respect and respond to a are dissociated. In that state, one cannot the standpoint of a person's psychological
client's honest effort to resolve some sustain an effective love relationship. All well-being, the question is not: sex with
moral confusion. But often the client who of this will be in my next book, the book or without love?-but rather: sex with or
wants you to tell him what's right and that is to follow THE DISOWNED SELF. without personal involvement? Sex with-
wrong is seeking to maneuver you into It will deal with the psychology of man/ out personal involvement, sex between
taking responsibility for his life, and that I woman relationships. two people who do not relate t o each
refuse to do. other as persons and do not care for each
REASON: Does the book have a t i t l e vet? other as persons and are not interested in
REASON: Do you never introduce each other as persons, is degrading to both
questions of morality into therapy? BRANDEN: No. participants. However, it happens between
people who are married all the time.
BRANDEN: I don't give moral lectures, i f REASON: When will it be published?
that's what you mean, and I don't REASON: What are your thoughts about
sermonize t o clients on their misbehavior. BRANDEN: Hopefully, in the fall of group sex?
They are all too expert a t reproaching 1972, although I'm not yet certain of -
themselves; they don't need me to help that. BRANDEN: Americans have always loved
them. t o join groups-to do things together. We
REASON: Do you think that it's possible seem t o be a nation of joiners. So now the
The chief moral issue that I am concerned for there to be deep love between a man doctrine of "togetherness" has found
with in therapy isawareness-the impor- and a woman without a sexual another form of expression: group sex.
tance of awareness, of knowing what you component?
are experiencing, of acknowledgingwhat I don't doubt that some people who are
you are doing-and taking responsibility BRANDEN: I f you're talking about troubled by deep-seated inhibitions might
for it. The essence of morality is t o be romantic love-certainly not. Not under find the experience liberating. Maybe.
aware and to act in accordance with one's normal circumstances, anyway. I mean, i f Until boredom or revulsion sets in.
awareness. That's what I try to communi- one or another of the parties involved is
cate in therapy, not so much by lengthy physically incapacitated, so that sexual Often, of course, a good deal of
lectures on the subject but more by the intercourse is impossible, there would still unacknowledged-or, for that matter,
way I work, by the way I approach be love. And there will be sexual feelings, acknowledged-homosexuality gets gratified
problems. Of course, I should add that my even i f they cannot be fully imple- in group sex.
clients usually read my books, so they mented. So the sexual component IS still
know a good deal about my philosophical there, and it would still be central and I'm not scandalized by the idea of group
and moral convictions without my having important, even if frustrated. And if it sex. I think it's pathetic. And stupid. Sex
to discuss those matters in therapy. My were frustrated over a long period of time, without individuality. Sex without spon-
philosophical frame of reference is known I suspect that the love, too, would suffer. taneity. My impression is that group sex is
to them, which doesn't mean they have to for people who don't know how t o be real
agree in all respects. Perhaps if there were a great difference of in bed.
age between the man and the woman,
REASON: Let's talk about love. What's there could be a love that was not sexual. REASON: If there is a stable relationship
the biggest obstacle t o two people who But then it would be a different sense of between two people in love, can there be
are in love being happy together? love entirely. Not what I think you are such a thing as healthy adultery?
talking about.
BRANDEN: That's a big subject. Well, BRANDEN: Let's begin by clarifying
let's see. what you mean by "adultery." Adultery
One final point. A man and a woman
usually involves deceit, that is, having a
might be happily in love with his or her
Two issues immediately come t o mind. sexual relationship outside of marriage
own partner, and then meet, become
The first is that most people harbor a and without the knowledge of one's
friends, actually love each other, yet there
deep-seated feeling or belief that no one partner. Deceit is a very dangerous
might be no burning desire t o consumate
can really love them, no one can really element t o introduce into marriage. The
the relationship sexually. That might
attach personal importance to them, no catastrophe is often not the sexual
happen i f each was fully happy, sexually
one can really regard them as a value. So and romantically, in his or her other adventure as such, but the deceit, the lies,
they wait for this feeling to be confirmed; relationship. And yet between them there the leading of a hidden life. That's
they wait for the evidence that the other would still be a sexual component, even i f poisonous.
party is losing interest, or doesn't really not expressed or felt passionately or acted
care, or whatever. They approach a love on. REASON: But suppose the other partner
relationship with this basic fear and this in the marriage knows about it and
basic expectation of rejection. And the consents?
fear drives them to act self-destructively,

10 reason OCTOBER 1971


certain issues.

REASON: I s it possible for a lover to be a


teacher?

BRANDEN: Of his loved one? It is


possible, especially if you're in a hurry to
have a divorce. I think that teaching is a
very dangerous element t o introduce in a
marriage except insofar as two people
teach each other. Teaching that is mutual
and that is not experienced as teaching
but as learning together or growing or
exchanging ideas is very fruitful. But
when one party in a relationship sets
himself up as some kind of intellectual
leader over the other disaster lies ahead.

One of the things which is most important


to a good relationship is knowing how t o
l e t your partner be himself. Your partner
does not have to be like you in every
conceivable respect. Very often a person
falls in love with somebody else because
that person is different and then spends
the rest of the relationship trying t o make
BRANDEN: I hesitate to make any gene- to say it at this time. I prefer to wait until that other person the same.
ralizations that will apply t o the whole I can express my views in more detail in
human race-I mean, on this subject. I my book on man-woman relationships. And very often, fear of differences is a
know of cases where one partner in a sign of insecurity. I f you're constantly
marriage had an outside relationship with REASON: Further on the subject of love, afraid of what can take your partner away
the knowledge and consent of his or her many people who are caught up in from you-so if you have the smallest
partner, and it was claimed that the Objectivist theorizing often get dis- difference in your responses t o movies or
marriage benefited from this. I am not couraged because they realize that, how- books or whatever, that could be the first
prepared to say that this is impossible. On ever splendid they may be, their chances crack in the split between you, you are
the other hand, in the great majority of of finding an equally splendid person of overly cautious. I've seen that pattern
cases I am convinced that such outside the opposite sex in appropriate circum- many times when there's an awful lot of
adventures undermine the primary rela- stances is remote and, therefore, they anxiety behind the desire t o make a girl-
tionship. This is what I have observed in conclude that there's no chance that they friend exactly like oneself ideologically;
my professional experience. can have a serious affectionate relation- and it's got so little to do with an
ship with anybody else. I s that a realistic authentic interest in philosophy that it's
A great deal depends on the psychology response? Is it inherent in the Objectivist not even funny.
and context of the individual couple, of doctrines?
course. What we have t o appreciate is the fact
BRANDEN: No. Of course it's not. We that another person does not belong to us.
We have to acknowledge the fact that fall in love with a person on the basis of We don't, can't, own anybody. No one
sexual monogamy can and often does very deep-seated psychological affinities. owes it to us to be just exactly the way
pose immense problems for an individual. The fact that the person agrees with you we are or exactly the way we would like
To the best of my knowledge, men and on certain broad abstract philosophical them t o be. Remember that we would not
women have never been monogamous in questions, such as Objectivism is con- appreciate it if we had a partner who was
any culture or society-not fully. There cerned with, doesn't begin to guarantee always a t us, wanting us t o be different,
always has been sex outside of marriage. that that person will be a suitable who made us feel that we never were O.K.
Not for everyone, of course, but for a romantic partner for you or even an inter. as we were, that we always had to be
great many people, at all times and in all esting friend. I don't think that a happy something else to be "acceptable." We
places. That fact bears thinking about. romantic relationship can be sustained wouldn't enjoy that role. Don't put some-
between two people who have really body you love in it . . . that's my advice.
The issue is being faced today and dealt important and deep-seated philosophical
with more honestly than in the past, differences. But that doesn't mean that
perhaps. People are less inclined t o lie philosophical agreement is enough to REASON: Turning to a different subject,
about it. And that is t o the good. If guarantee the validity of a relationship. have you read Ayn Rand's article in THE
people are going to seek sexual relation- OBJECTIVIST on "psychologizing"?
ships outside of marriage, it's better to do If you met somebody that you really do
so honestly, t o recognize that risks are have a good personality affinity with-a BRANDEN: Yes.
involved, serious risks, and to be willing to good psychological affinity-I would be
bear the consequences. It's better t o act surprised if you would remain per- REASON: What was your reaction to it?
without self-deception or deception of manently a t odds over philosophical
one's partner. But anyone who avoids or questions. Many people begin by asking BRANDEN: I laughed when I read it
minimizes the risks is kidding himself. what a person's ideas are, when they because I don't know anyone who is more
should begin by asking, do I like the prone to practice the very
I realize that I am not giving you a clear- person? I f you like the person, then you "psychologizing" she denounces than Ayn
cut answer to your question. The subject might get interested in learning more
is immensely complex, and there is more about his ideas or seeking to change his Rand herself. I mean the policy of
that I could say, but I don't feel prepared mind if you think he's mistaken on informing people what their motives are,

OCTOBER 1971 reason 11


Her idea of encouraging a person to be
independent is to tell him, in effect, "Go
and think it over-until you see things my
way."

During one argument years ago, I forget


what it was about, she told me in no
uncertain terms that in any conflict
within me between her and Barbara-who
was then my wife-she expected me to
remain loyal to her; and that she held the
same expectation with regard to any of
her friends if and when she came into
conflict with some other value in their
lives.

If I would be talking with her-and I


observed this same phenomenon when she
was talking with other friends-and if I
did not understand her, or she did not
understand me, or we couldn't reach an
agreement, it would be quite typical for
her t o declare, 'What's the matter with
you? Are you mentally out of focus
tonight?"

To attack a person's mental processes, or


what their mental state is, and so forth, REASON: What are your feelings about their motives, in the case of disagree-
and doing so in an intimidating manner. I WHO IS A YN RAND? today? ments, was one of her favorite strategies.
can scarcely disagree with Miss Rand's She taught her whole circle to do it. And ~

criticism of this policy, but it sounds a bit BRANDEN: I wish that the book had sometimes it seems to me that today three
strange coming from her. never been written. I f it were possible to quarters of the students of Objectivism
prevent its further distribution, I would are doing it.
As to the other side of what she calls do so.
"psychologizing," that is, using alleged All of her friends, all of the circle of
"psychological" explanations to justify or I speak for Barbara Branden as well as for which I was a member, were in terror of
excuse some form of irrational behavior, myself in saying that we repudiate that her-and no one would admit it, because
Miss Rand does not do that-not about book. I am glad to have the opportunity to admit it would be to open the door to
herself-since it is not her policy to to do so publicly and in print. the wider implications of her behavior.
acknowledge that she ever acts irration-
ally. Our repudiation applies, primarily, to REASON: You paint a' rather dark
Barbara Branden's biographical essay on picture.
So far as the article in general goes, there Miss Rand. The portrait of Miss Rand's
is a good deal in it that's sound; but in character it presents is false, not through BRANDEN: What makes the story so
certain respects it is naive psychologically. any dishonest intention on Barbara tragic is that there is a whole other side of
Judging from her remarks, Miss Rand Branden's part-the essay was certainly Ayn Rand which is benevolent, generous,
evidently believes that conscious mental written in good faith a t the time-but innocent, magnanimous. That is the side
processes can be kept entirely separate because of what the essay omits, because which Barbara Branden stressed in her
from and independent of subconscious of what it neglects to tell about Miss essay. And that is the picture her friends
mental processes-which is not true. Rand's behavior and personality. Too present to the world. It's true enough; but
much was left out of that essay, although it's not the whole story.
I did not realize this, or did not realize it Barbara did not realize this a t the time
fully, during the years of our association, and neither did I. I am aware that many of her admirers will
but Miss Rand is very ignorant of human hate me for saying these things. Not
psychology. On certain occasions, she I do not enjoy making this statement. It because they necessarily believe them t o
admitted that to me. It was not unusual saddens me. But the truth is the truth. be false, but because it upsets them to be
for her to declare, "Nathan, I don't really told that the Ayn Rand mystique is just
understand anything about human REASON: What sort of things are left out that-a mystique, I f they need an idol and
psychology." But I never appreciated the of Barbara Branden's portrait of Miss have chosen Ayn Rand for that role, they
full implications of what she was acknow- Rand? won't appreciate what I am saying.
ledging.
BRANDEN: Miss Rand's penchant for I want to acknowledge that for many
In WHO I S A Y N RAND?, I compliment extravagant self-compliments. Her fits of years I would not permit myself to face
her psychological acumen. I was wrong to temper over trivia. Her obsession with these facts. I played a major role in per-
do so. That was my own naivete or blind- absolute personal loyalty on the part of petuating the Ayn Rand mystique.
ness. I think Miss Rand's lack of psycho- her friends.
logical understanding is a great liability to REASON: Would you say you evaded on
her, not only as a person but also as a Her deadly, eternal moralizing. this issue?
philosopher. The point a t which her
ignorance becomes most apparent is when Her anger and defensiveness, when BRANDEN: Yes. Many other factors were
she attempts to moralize about psycho- challenged about her ideas. Her bitterness also involved, however, including con-
logical processes, as she does constantly. and suspiciousness and resentment. fusion, emotional repression, and hero

12 reason OCTOBER 1971


worship. But evasion was certainly in- I saw the manifestations of that bitterness But if you mean, as Miss Rand might very
vo Ived. on countless occasions. I tried to feel well wish you to mean, do I agree with
sympathetic. But I could not really every position that Miss Rand has taken
During the years of our association, when admire her attitude. and do I regard the sum total of Miss
I saw behavior that would have disturbed Rand's intellectual pronouncements as
or appalled me if exhibited by anyone As to how she evaluates the progress of being equal t o what is mean by "the
else, I twisted my mind to find excuses, the Objectivist movement a t present, I philosophy of Objectivism," then I am
explanations, justifications, telling myself cannot say. Her books have always sold not an Obiectivist. I s that distinction
that this behavior could not mean, in the very well and, to the best of my know- clear?
case of Ayn Rand, what it would mean in ledge, continue t o sell well. Objectivism
the case of anyone else. certainly has a large body of adherents. REASON: Yes. Miss Rand has declared,
The exact number, of course, is not has she not, that Objectivism is a tho-
And if others saw these things and dared known to me-nor, I suspect, to anyone roughly integrated, self-consistent system,
to criticize her, I was the first person t o else. and that one must accept all of i t s tenets
defend her and to reproach the person or none of them?
doing the criticizing. REASON: Was she ever concerned with
building a movement as such? BRANDEN: It's true that Miss Rand has
I feel I owe an apology to every reader of claimed that, many times. But think
WHO IS A YN RAND? and every student BRANDEN: Not really. about what it means.
of Objectivism who ever heard me lecture
a t N.B.1.-not only for perpetuating the REASON: Was that your job primarily? Anyone can claim that about his
Ayn Rand mystique but also for contri- intellectual system. To claim it means
buting to that dreadful atmosphere of BRANDEN: I think I was the one who nothing.
intellectual repressiveness that pervades first saw the possibility of generating a
the Objectivist movement. philosophical movement. She told me All that sentence translates to i n English is
many times that I was responsible for the that Miss Rand holds that she has been
It's such a tragedy. Here is a philosophy existence of what the press was to call infallible in working out her philosophical
that should be nothing but a source of "the Objectivist movement"-which I system, that she has never made an error
liberation and happiness to people. It has accomplished through Nathaniel Branden of inference or application, and that
so much to offer. And yet so many of its Institute. everything she says is absolutely true. I f
advocates and supporters are filled with she thinks so, fine.
fear and self-doubt, endlessly worrying So I guess I can say that I was the
about whether or not they are being "practical" man in the situation, so far as But the suggestion that if one disagrees
"good Objectivists," endlessly watching the cultural spread of Objectivism was with her about some tenet of her philo-
others for signs of "deviation." Ayn Rand concerned. sophy, one must repudiate the total of her
has done a great deal to encourage these philosophy, is nonsense. It's worse than
attitudes. But I did, too; I know it, I REASON: Do you think that anyone will nonsense. It's pretentious nonsense. It's
regret it, and, as I say, I feel that I owe all replace you in that capacity? grandiose nonsense.
my readers and students an apology.
BRANDEN: No. REASON: I n the Random House edition
REASON: Has your view of Ayn Rand's of WE THE LIVING, published in 1958,
philosophical and literary genius changed? REASON: Because of the lack of Miss Rand discusses the changes she made
anyone qualified to do it or because of in the text from the original edition,
BRANDEN: No. I consider her one of the the lack of anyone interested in doing it? published by MacMillan in 1936. She
greatest minds in history-and the greatest suggests that her changes consisted chiefly
novelist I have ever read. BRANDEN: I cannot answer that. of rewording a few awkward sentences.
She writes: "I have not added or elimi-
REASON: Greater than Hugo and REASON: You've seen no signs of it? nated anything t o or from the content of
Dostoevsky, for example? the novel. I have cut out some sentences
BRANDEN: No. and a few paragraphs that were repetitious
BRANDEN: Yes, although I admire Hugo or so confusing in their implications that
and Dostoevsky enormously and perhaps REASON: How was N.B.I. [Nathaniel to clarify them would have necessitated
without them Ayn Rand would not be the Branden Institute] doing a t the time of lengthy additions. I n brief, a l l the changes
novelist she is. your break with Miss Rand? are merely editorial line-changes." But if
one compares the 1958 edition of WE
REASON: Is it your impression that she BRANDEN: N.B.I. was enormously THE LIVING with the original 1936
has changed across the years since you successful. Student enrollments in our edition, it's obvious that some very impor-
first met her? lecture courses across the country kept tant changes were made. Changes with
rising. And we were moving into more and significant philosophical and moral impli-
BRANDEN: I suspect that her bitterness, more cities. cations. Are you aware of this fact?
suspiciousness, and hostility have grown
worse. REASON: Do you consider yourself an BRA NO EN: Certainly.
Objectivist?
REASON: Has the failure of Objectivism REASON: Yet Miss Rand does not
to achieve a greater following culturally BRANDEN: You have t o realize that Miss acknbw ledge this.
contributed to her bitterness? Or does she Rand would answer that question, if she
regard the Objectivist movement as a were asked it about me, with an emphatic
"N 0 " BRANDEN: No.
success?
REASON: Can you explain that?
BRANDEN: The failure of Ayn Rand and REASON: That's clear.
her books to receive the recognition they
BRANDEN: I can only say that it is not
deserve has certainly contributed t o her BRANDEN: I f you mean, do I agree with
Miss Rand's policy, as I have known her,
bitterness. Contributed to it enormously. the broad fundamentals of the philosophy
to make such acknowledgments.
There can be no question about that. of Objectivism, I would answer "Yes."

OCTOBER 1971 reason 13


REASON: Do you believe that she REASON: When were you first aware of
knowingly minimized the significance of being dissatisfied with your life in New
the changes? York in the Objectivist circle?

BRANDEN: She made the changes. She BRANDEN: That's hard to answer
knew what was in the orisinal edition and because it was a gradual thing. In one
she knew what was in the-new edition. sense I can say that I was never really
Judge for yourself. happy there. Nor was anyone else, in my
judgment, although I doubt that they
REASON: Did she really regard those would admit it.
changes as unimportant and insubstantial?
There is no way to communicate the
BRANDEN: Now you are asking me t o go tension in that circle surrounding Miss
inside her head. I prefer not to do that. Rand. There is a constant concern with
doing nothing t o upset her. A constant
REASON: It is rather well-known that concern to avoid her anger or disapproval.
Miss Rand can be unusually harsh on It tends to make all spontaneity im-
people who ask unfortunate questions a t possible.
her lectures, questions that antagonize
her. But she has such a great mind, she has so
much t o offer, and intellectual conversa-
BRANDEN: Yes, she gets very unpleasant tions with her can be so intellectually
sometimes. She yells; she abuses; she exciting and stimulating that it seemed to
attacks the questioners; she launches into make everything else worthwhile. A t least,
discussions of their motives; she "psycho- that's how it was for me, for many years.
logizes."
It was hard for me to face the fact that, as
REASON: What was your attitude toward a person, I did not really like her in im-
this when you were present? portant respects. It is not pleasant for me
t o say it, even now.
BRANDEN: In my early years, while I
never shouted or carried on as Miss Rand Another reason why I was not happy
did, I sometimes treated questioners too during my New York years was because-
harshly when I felt their questions were although I did not acknowledge it-I did
foolish. Gradually my attitude changed, as not really care much for the other
I came t o see how wrong this was. members of the circle. I wanted t o like
them, but I didn't, not really. I couldn't
Miss Rand and I had many discussions on admire them. Whatever her faults, Ayn
the subject. I tried to explain to her why Rand had and has genius. But the
it was wrong t o make people feel others.. .
frightened to ask questions, why it was
disastrous for their intellectual growth REASON: What about them?
and totally against the spirit of our philo-
sophy. BRANDEN: The ones who are still there
just aren't anything in particular-not by
Sometimes, walking home from a lecture, my standards. I don't mean that some of
she would joke about it. She would say, them don't have intelligence. But they are
"Aren't you proud of me? I didn't get not in any way unusual as people. With-
angry once tonight." out Ayn Rand, what would they be? Any
moral significance they imagine their lives
But it wasn't really funny. So in the last may have results from their association
few years I moved toward phasing her out with her. She is their one claim to fame, i f
of participating in the question-and- you know what I mean. It's not a healthv
answer period following my lectures. I situation.
knew she did not enjoy participating in
the question periods and was there only However, perhaps some of them will
t o oblige me, because it would be a value accomplish something worthwhile in the
t o my students to see her and question future. It's possible. Who can say? It's
her, but I told her this was no longer even possible that some of them may
necessary. Her absence thereafter was break free, may strike out on their own.
good for her and good for me. Toward the
end, she came only to the opening lecture REASON: Can you say anything about
of the basic course on Objectivism-and the purges or excommunications in the
gave one guest lecture on literature. New York circle that one hears about?

14 reason OCTOBER 1971


BRANDEN: Well, let's see. I remember I think the single most crucial event that could have been, It should not have been
that Leonard Peikoff had two or three caused Barbara to break with Miss Rand turned into a public scandal.
"temporary" excommunications across was when Miss Rand screamed to her that
the years. I don't remember why and I she would do everything possible to I n defending myself, I was forced t o
don't recall the exact number. He was, in prevent the publication of THE reveal facts about her that I would have
effect, placed on probation. I'm sorry I PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-ESTEEM. That prefered to leave private. I had no wish to
can't recall the details. But his worship of was too much for Barbara. It made ines- attack her or embarrass her. But she gave
Ayn Rand was unfailing, and he was capably clear t h e nature of Ayn Rand's me no choice, under the circumstances.
always readmitted. own state a t that time. To have remained silent would have been
to imply that her attacks were justified.
Across the years, almost every member of Had Barbara remained on Miss Rand's
the circle was "placed on probation" a t side, Miss Rand was prepared t o make Yet even in the answer to her that Barbara
one point or another. Almost everyone Barbara her heir, to do a great deal for her and I wrote, we were still protecting her,
got into hot water a t some point in his financially, and t o help her in other ways. dit1telling less than the full truth about
relationship with Ayn Rand, and there Barbara threw a l l that away by defending her behavior.
were big scenes and denunciations and so me.
forth, but no permanent excommuni- REASON: Do you defend her today?
cations. So Miss Rand's charge against Barbara is
the exact opposite of the truth. And Miss BRANDEN: No. There are things I do not
The first permanent excommunication, I Rand had the means to know it. choose t o say about her today because
suppose, was Edith Efron. She did or was there is no good reason to do so. I do not
alleged to have done a number of things REASON: Do you feel that Miss Rand's care to carry on a vendetta. I leave that to
that made Ayn Rand, and the rest of the attack hurt you? the other side-to Miss Rand and her
circle, and me, mad a t her. So she was al I ies.
bounced out. BRANDEN: It hurt me personally, a t the
time. I had idolized her since the age of After the break, Barbara and I received
I participated in that. It was disgusting-I 14, when I first read THE many sympathetic letters, hundreds of
think a lot of the trouble was sheer mis- FOUNTAINHEAD. I admired her more them, and an amazing number of people
understanding, and some of it was lying than any human being on earth. To see had evidently guessed a good deal of the
on the part of her accusers. myself smeared so cheaply, so viciously, truth about Miss Rand's motivation. They
and so untruthfully, was a shattering guessed it merely on the basis of Miss
What I am certain of is that she was dealt experience. Rand's statements.
with very unjustly by everyone, including
me. It was the final evidence, and it took me a REASON: You are not prepared to
long time to grasp it fully, that the Ayn discuss her motivation or the actual
Fortunately, I have renewed my friend- Rand I had admired since the age of 14 nature of the conflict between you?
ship with her-as has Barbara Branden and did not exist and perhaps had never
my wife Patrecia. existed. BRANDEN: I am not. It is no one's
business. It is not information that any-
Edith is a brilliantly intelligent woman It did not hurt me professionally. Miss one has a right to.
and, incidentally, has written an Rand's allies were saying that this was to
immensely important book dealing with be the end of me, that no admirer of Miss REASON: After the break, many of Miss
television network political bias entitled Rand would deal with me thereafter. Rand's supporters began disparaging your
THE NEWS TWISTERS. They imagined that everyone would take intellectual achievements, denying that
Miss Rand's statements on faith and t h a t you had accomplished anything
A t the time when she was bounced out, I no one would exercise independent, important, after all the years when Miss
had many emotional reservations about critical judgment. Rand had praised you and your work.
the rightness of what we were doing. I felt Why was that?
a good deal of sympathy for her. I Ayn Rand and her immediate friends have
suppressed it. I told myself I was being always hetd the Ayn Rand following in BRANDEN: That was to be expected.
"soft." The truth is that my emotions some degree of contempt-at least, a t That is completely consistent with Miss
were right. 1 later learned that Barbara times-and one evidence of that contempt Rand's personal policies.
and Patrecia had similar feelings. For all I is their belief that whatever Miss Rand
know, others in the circle did, too. said on this subject, however vague, how- REASON: In what way?
ever unsubstantiated, however hysterical,
REASON: No other excommunications? would automatically be believed and BRANDEN: To explain this, I have to go
accepted. That's where they miscalcu- back a bit.
BRANDEN: Not until the break between lated. It didn't turn out that way. In the
Miss Rand and me. Barbara took my side end, the person Miss Rand disgraced was Before the break with Edith Efron, Miss
so she was out. So was Wilfred Schwartz, herself. Rand had read part of a novel that Edith
for the same reason. was then writing and she had praised
You have to realize that her attack on me Edith as being a brilliant literary talent,
One of the most disgraceful aspects of did not remotely acknowledge the real which she is. Unfortunately, Edith sub-
Miss Rand's attack on us-the most dis- cause of her anger. I do not believe she sequently abandoned the novel for
graceful, perhaps-was her remarks about would dare to acknowledge it, because of reasons that are irrelevant in this context.
Barbara. I refer to her suggestion that the light it would throw on her. Anyway, shortly after the break with
Barbara took my side for financial Edith, I heard Miss Rand speaking of
reasons. Barbara took my side because of Did I hurt her? I did. But I did not give Edith's writing ability disparagingly, and
her personal integrity, because she knew her cause for the kind of attacks she when I reminded her of the com-
that the things Ayn Rand was alleging launched. Did I make some bad mistakes plimentary things she had said in the past,
about me were false. during those years? I did. But the matter she denied having said them and insisted
should have been settled privately that she regarded Edith only as a potential
betweeen us, with sanity and dignity, as it talent. I knew this was not true. I told

OCTOBER 1971 reason 15


Miss Rand that regardless of what one
thought of Edith, she was an unusually
intelligent and gifted woman and a bril-
liant writer. Miss Rand avoided answering
me directly, but she persisted in denying
her past compliments to Edith's work.

The point of this incident is that Miss


Rand has a tendency to rewrite history. I f
she likes a person, everything he does is
wonderful. I f she doesn't like a person, BRANDEN: No. It's amusing t o think of him trying to
nothing he does is any good. I f she took
work with some of my more recent
that attitude with Edith, I knew she REASON: How do you evaluate the concepts, as presented for instance in
would do it with me. That is precisely contribution of Dr. Allen Blumenthal? THE DISOWNED SELF. It would blow
what happened.
his mind.
BRAMDEM: There's nothing t o
After Miss Rand and I had broken, but evaluate. REASON: You never miss your old way
during that period when Miss Rand and of life?
Barbara were still friendly, I told Barbara REASON: He practices Objectivist
that before this was all over Ayn would be psychotherapy, does he not? BRAMDEM: Never. The life I want, the
denying the originality of my work as a life I always wanted, is the life I am living
psychologist. Barbara looked a t me aghast BRAMDEN: What is Objectivist psycho- today.
and told me that that was impossible, that therapy? There is no such thing.
regardless of what had happened Ayn REASON: Do you feel resentful or vindic-
Rand was still Ayn Rand. But within a There are the psychological theories origi- tive toward your old associates back in
week of that conversation my prediction nated by me, on which Blumenthal claims New York?
came true. We began t o hear the stories. to base his work as a therapist-or, any-
way, he used to claim it. Now he's BRAMDEN: I f you mean the people
REASON: Have there been any new probably claiming that he got it a l l from surrounding Ayn Rand, you have to
excommunications since the time you left Ayn Rand. remember that a t one time I made many
New York? of the mistakes they are still making. And
Blumenthal was never trained as a psychi- more than that, I contributed to the
BRAMDEM: A t the time I left, I told atrist, either by me or by anyone else. His mistakes they are making. It was I who
people that it was only a matter of time sole training is as a physician. I advised created the Ayn Rand circle in New York.
until Miss Rand's lawyer, Henry Holzer, him on an occasional case, when he came I contributed t o the Ayn Rand mystique.
would be ousted. Not that that's any to me for help, and we had occasional So, t o some extent, they are my
compliment to him, by the way. My discussion, but that was all. creatures. I do not mean t o imply that I
prediction has been confirmed. He's out am responsible for their behavior, because
now, too. It hasn't been announced in REASON: Do you know anything about I do not believe that any person is respon-
THE OBJECTIVIST. I wondered if they the kind of therapy he practices? sible for the behavior of another. I do not
would be foolish enough t o make such an blame Ayn Rand for my past mistakes
announcement. I mean, how many purges BRAMDEN: Quite a bit. I've heard tapes and I do not blame myself for their
and excommunications can you have of his sessions with patients. And I've present mistakes. But neither do I wish t o
before you begin t o look ridiculous? It spoken t o a few therapists who have been play the role of a totally innocent victim
was done quietly. through the training program he offers. who never did any of the things for which
I am now criticizing them.
REASON: What kind of man is Frank REASON: What do you think of it?
O'Connor, Miss Rand's husband? Resentment? A t times I suppose I feel
BRAMDEM: It has nothing of any resentment toward them, but not often,
BRAMDEM: I don't know quite how t o importance in common with the kind of not any more. I did feel that two or three
answer that. I feel affection for him and therapy I practice. And I do not respect years ago. It doesn't Seem t o matter now.
sadness. I think he was and i s a very it. I do not approve of his whole Besides, I have accepted the fact that they
decent man, caught up in something that approach-it is pedantic, moralistic, guilt- are getting what they deserve.
he did not know how to handle. He is inducing. I used to resent the faintly
probably the worst victim in this whole patronizing manner with which he would REASON: What i s that?
tragedy, a t least in certain respects. I discuss his patients. He did not convey
cannot feel anything but fondness for respect. And he seems to imagine that he BRAMDEM: They are there.
him. is going to lecture people into mental
health. REASON: I n WHO I S A Y N RAND?you
REASON: What does he do wrote very glowingly of Miss Rand's
occupationally? A t one time I shared many of the errors novels. Have your views changed in any
he is still making. A good deal of his way?
BRANDEM: In his fifties he developed an therapy is, in effect, his own adaptation
interest in painting. So far as I know, he of the kind of therapy I did in my BRAMDEM: As a novelist, there is no one
twenties-which I subsequently discarded,
works a t that full time. like her. She is the greatest. I think that
because it wasn't good enough. future generations of literary critics are
REASON: Did he ever make any As of the time when I left New York, he going t o look with considerable scorn and
contribution t o Objectivism or to the had contributed nothing original of any contempt on the critics of our age who
Objectivist movement? importance in the field of psychotherapy. have failed to recognize what she has
From reports that I receive, I gather that accomplished.
BRANDEN: No. he i s still working with my concepts but
affecting to be oblivious as to where they REASON; There are no reservations
REASON: Was he expected to? came from. about her work whatever?

16 reason OCTOBER 1971


BRANDEN: There are certain touches in Or again, consider Francisco. For most of REASON: One last question on this
her novels that bother me and I guess have his adult life, from the time he goes on subject. Can you envision a reconciliation
always bothered me, but in the past I did strike, he exists in a state of sexual taking place between Miss Rand and you?
not pause t o consider them, I did not celibacy. After he leaves Dagny, we are
think about them. told there are no other women in his life. BRANDEN: No.

REASON: You would refuse to consider


I n THE FOUNTAINHEAD, for example, Do you appreciate what a tragedy this
it?
the relationship between Roark and would be? What in hell can the govern-
Dominique is dramatic, fascinating, ment do to Francisco, in terms of regu-
exciting. I n many ways I love it. But as a lating his economic activities, that would BRANDEN: I wouldn't put it that way. I f
psychological portrait, Dominique is be more disastrous to him personally than Miss Rand ever wanted to speak with me,
completely unreal. Her behavior is the kind of emotional starvation to which I would agree-if only out of my sense of
incredibly irrational. I am referring most he subjects himself? It's so unrealistic! It drama.
especially to her attempts to harm Roark would not be a denial of his love for
professionally. I cannot believe for a Dagny t o have a relationship with some Our relationship still feels t o me like an
moment that anyone with Dominique's other woman who he admired during unfinished novel; the last chapter is
admirable qualities would behave that those years. It would certainly have been missing. Perhaps there never will be a last
way. Literarily, the characterization possible for him to have found such a chapter. Almost certainly there won't be.
doesn't fully work. Not even if one allows woman. It would not be treason or dis- I don't like that. It's not good fiction. But
for poetic license and artistic stylization. loyalty or anything of that kind. And it then, life is seldom as satisfying as art.
would have given him some kind of
I n ATLAS SHRUGGED, I would mention a human life during those years. That Miss REASON: Why are you so certain that
few things. I think the most objectionable Rand chose to handle the situation as she she would never seek to approach you?
touch in the book, morally, is Galt's and did makes one wonder how she views the
Dagny's willingness to let Hank Rearden role of sex in human life. BRANDEN: Because by now she has
believe, for a month, that Dagny is dead. almost certainly wiped out of her mind
Miss Rand may have needed it literarily, But what the hell, so there are a few everything she ever knew about me t o the
for dramatic purposes, but morally and things one can quarrel with in the book, good and has persuaded herself that I am
psychologically it is criminal. No political so what? ATLAS SHRUGGED is the a monster. She would have t o do that, to
purpose i s served by keeping Rearden in greatest novel that has ever been written, support her own actions. Also, to
that dreadful state of ignorance. And you in my judgment, so let's let it go a t that. approach me would mean that she was
do not do that to another human being,
not for any reason whatever. It is cruel
beyond belief.

Then there is Eddie Willers. If you take


him literally, you would have to regard
him as a very neurotic and pathetic man,
but he is clearly not intended to be
viewed that way by the author. He has no
life of his own, no friends, no personal
interests, only his loyalty to Taggart
Transcontinental and his silent,
unadmitted, unrequited love for Dagny. A
man who is willing to live that way for so
many years is a man disastrously lacking
in self-esteem and self-assertiveness. Yet
he is obviously intended t o be viewed as
admirable by Miss Rand.

Just as in real life, Miss Rand tends to


evaluate people according to the degree of
their loyalty and worship of her, so, in her
fiction, she tends to characterize the other
figures in her books, their attitude toward
her heros and heroines, by the degree of
their love and appreciation. Eddie's
"feudal serf" psychology is treated as
touching and admirable; in fact, it is sick.
That Miss Rand does not recognize this
says something about her own attitudes.

OCTOBER 1971 reason 17


willing to consider the possibility that, in reason and emotion. Perhaps it will help politics. It concerns the anti-capitalist
the past, she may have made some some of them to become free of guilt. mentality. The psychology of a l l the
mistakes. And that would open the door Perhaps some of them will learn greater people who are antagonistic t o indus-
to the question: what mistakes? And I do self-acceptance. It would mean a great trialism, technology, and a free-market
not believe that is a question she is deal to me if I could accomdish that. society.
prepared t o consider or will ever be
prepared t o consider. You know, the old enemies of capitalism
REASON: Can you say anything about used t o denounce it on the grounds of its
your future literary plans? alleged exploitation of the worker. But
It's too bad. Life shouldn't be this way.
Sometimes the whole situation strikes me today, when the American worker is so
BRANDEN: A t present, I am a t work on
as insane. well off materially, that argument doesn't
a book dealing with the psychology of
carry much weight, not that it ever did.
man-woman relationships, as I already Now the emphasis of the attack is
We cared for each other very much. Not mentioned. It will be rather different
withstanding everything I've said, there shifting; now the talk is a l l about "aliena-
from the course on "The Psychology of
was a good deal between us that was very tion" and how capitalism and technology
Romantic Love" that I gave some years
happy, very rewarding, and fulfilling. It "alienate" man from his "true self." When
ago, although naturally there will be some
will never come again. that argument wears thin or wears out,
overlapping. I f that book comes out as
they'll come up with something else. But
scheduled in the fall of 1972, that will be
Sometimes when I am alone, in spite of why? What is it they really hate? That's
four books published in four years. The
everything I know I find myself feeling the question. And why do they hate it?
first one, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-
affection and smiling a t her in my That's another good question.
ESTEEM, took me seven years to write.
thoughts. And then I wonder, a t whom But after that it has been one a year. I'm a
am I smiling? Does that person exist? Did Of course, Ayn Rand says a great deal
bit tired. I feel I need a rest.
she ever exist? that is illuminating on this subject in
ATLASSHRUGGED. And Ludwig von
I also need time to study, to pursue some
Sometimes for a moment I forget every- Mises has some inwortant things t o say in
new ideas, new researches, and t o try t o
thing that has happened and I want t o his book, THE AN TI-CA PITA L ISTIC
synthesize and integrate the things I have
share with her some new idea of mine. MENTALITY. But I don't believe that
been observing and learning. So I doubt
And then I remember. either of them hasexhausted the subject.
that I will publish again for several years
I feel there is still more to say. And the
after 1972. But I hesitate to make
REASON: What sort of ?hings would you issue interests me enormously. A t some
predictions of this kind because anything
want t o communicate? point I feel relatively certain I will write
could happen t o change my plans. I might on this subject, but I can't say when.
BRANDEN: More than anything else, get very excited about some idea and
perhaps, the things I say in THE DIS- want t o write about it. REASON: How do you view the corrent
OWNED SELF. political scene?
I said earlier in this interview that I was
And yet I wonder if she would be able to 14 years old when I decided to be a BRANDEN: As an unmitigated disaster.
understand the importance of that book psychologist. I neglected to mention that How else can one view it?
to her own work. I don't know. But the during the same year I also decided t o be
whole Objectivist movement needs that a novelist. That is a major passion of REASON: What do you think of Nixon?
book. mine, fiction-writing.
BRANDEN: I have never liked Nixon. I
I am hoping that, with THE DISOWNED ASmy 'IanSnow my next book have never trusted him, although I
SELF, I can undo some of the damage I
caused students of Objectivism in the
~~~~~~~.ib"s"w.~~~a~~~~a~ will be
several years away. It will deal with the
suppose he was preferable to the
alternatives. But what a choice!
past. you know, in spite of Miss Rand,s
world of psychology.
and my past claims t o the contrary, there REASON: Do you keep abreast of the
is a subtle but very powerful bias against Libertarian movement?
REASON: Do you have any interest in
emotions in Objectivism-or in the way
political activity? I n involving yourself in
Objectivism is presented t o people. To the BRANDEN: To some extent. I think I
the political scene? Or writing on political
extent that I shared that error, and per- have a general knowledge of what's going
subjects?
Detuated it, I encouraged my students t o on.
fear their own emotiok, t o distrust them-
I certainly don,t plan to
selves. I didn't know that that was what I REASON: Do you see any hope there?
engage in political activin/. But I have
was doing, but it's a fact. Perhaps I will
been thinking about the question of
undo some of that damage with my new BRANDEN: I can't really judge. I don't
writing on an aspect of politics.
book. Perhaps they will learn from the know the extent of the movement. I don't
book a new way of seeing themselves, of There is a particular problem that know i t s influence. I don't know what the
dealing with their emotions, of integrating interests me; you could call it psycho- younger generation of Libertarians is

18 reason OCTOBER 1971


P

going to do. Libertarians. The fact remains that we If it were not such a bromide, I would say
should have never have involved ourselves they are suffering from a lack of know-
REASON: Would you have any advice to in Viet Nam, the draft is evil, and racism ledge of how to communicate.
give them? is contemptible. Libertarians-the true
defenders of individual rights-should I am hoping that your magazine will be a
BRANDEN: Yes, I think so. I n fact, I have been the first to speak up on these step in a better direction.
would enjoy speaking t o Libertarian subjects, loudly and clearly and publicly.
groups. I think it’s unfortunate that REASON: What do you want out of life?
Libertarians so often leave the initiative t o I don‘t mean that these are the only issues What are your goals?
the Leftists. For example, it was the to which Libertarians should address
Leftists who were the first-publicly and themselves. Far from it. But it would have BRANDEN: To live. To know that I am
in a big way-to oppose our involvement been immensely important had totally using myself, using my powers,
in Viet Nam. It was the Leftists who were Libertarians been the first t o speak up on living t o the limit of what I can do. To
the first-publicly and in a big way-to these problems. discover as much about human psycho-
oppose the draft. It was the Leftists who logy as I can. To write some good novels.
were the first-publicly and in a big way- Libertarians don’t seem to know what the And always t o feel about life as I do right
t o denounce racism in this country. vital issues are, where the battle lines most now.
need to be drawn, and which issues should
Never mind that the Leftists had their be attacked first. They don’t seem t o have REASON: You have been very candid
own motives for doing so and that those a good sense of practical reality in these during this interview, which we
motives would not be the motives of matters. appreciate. Thank you. 0

OCTOBER 1971 reason 19