My First Audio Interview With Nathaniel Branden

Nathaniel Branden

It was a great pleasure and privilege to interview psychotherapist and philosopher Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D. Branden is a lecturer, practicing psychotherapist, and author of twenty books on the psychology of self-esteem, romantic love, and the life and thought of Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand.

A pioneer in the field of “the psychology of self-esteem,” Branden has done more than anyone else to link the importance of self-esteem to human well-being, a mission which began with his involvement in Ayn Rand’s “Inner Circle.”

To listen to our interview, click on the audio player below:

The fact that I break with Objectivism over the existence of God is irrelevant for the purposes of this interview and this blog. Nathaniel Branden is a man of integrity whose work celebrates the triumph of the human spirit and for that I applaud him and wholeheartedly recommend his books, including:

The Vision of Ayn Rand

My Years With Ayn Rand

The Psychology of Romantic Love

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem

Click here to visit Nathaniel’s website.

The following Nathaniel Branden interview about his years with Ayn Rand is from the Reason Foundation’s website.

The following notes accompanied the above video:

Throughout Ayn Rand’s career, no collaborator was closer to her than Nathaniel Branden, whom she once named her “intellectual heir.”

In Rand, Branden found a fearless advocate of individualism and of man as a heroic being. In Branden, Rand saw her vision come to life in flesh and blood. “She gave people a sense that they could be effective. That if they would persevere, stick by their standards, work hard, you could achieve something you can be proud of. Find that part in you—she would say the hero in your own soul’—and work towards that,” says Branden.

After a decade at the center of Rand’s inner circle, Branden founded the Nathaniel Branden Institute with the goal of promoting her philosophy. The Institute was largely responsible for the spread of Rand’s ideas during the 1960s, but came to an abrupt end when romantic conflict between Branden and Rand tore apart their professional association.

Despite the official and unreconciled split between the two, the 79-year-old Branden has remained true to the spirit of Rand’s work during his prolific career as a psychologist of self-esteem. To this day, their legacies remain inseparable and in 2000, Branden authored My Years with Ayn Rand, his second memoir of his relationship to the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

Approximately 10 minutes. Nathaniel Branden was interviewed by David Nott, filmed by Alex Manning, and edited by Hawk Jensen and Alex Manning.

This video is part of the series Radicals For Capitalism: Celebrating the Ideas of Ayn Rand.

The following interview with Barbara Branden, Nathaniel’s first wife, is also from the Reason Foundation’s website. Barbara speaks about the passion of Ayn Rand.

The following notes accompanied the above video:

Arguably, no two people were closer to Ayn Rand than Barbara and Nathaniel Branden, whom Rand once named as her “intellectual heir.” Indeed, when the Brandens married in 1953, the author served as bridesmaid (Rand had also urged the pair to wed).

A decade later, the Brandens would collaborate on the first biography of Rand, Who Is Ayn Rand? In 1986, Barbara published a second biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, which eventually was made into an award-winning Showtime movie starring Helen Mirren.

Despite the ruinous and controversial romantic affair between Rand and Nathaniel Branden and her eventual ouster from Rand’s inner circle, Barbara still feels fondly for the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. As Branden, now 80, recalls in this interview, “I felt like she’s answering questions that I’ve been looking for answers for, and nobody’s been giving me any sort of answer until now.”

Approximately seven minutes. Interview by Seth Goldin, camera by Alex Manning, and editing by Hawk Jensen.

This is part of the series Radicals For Capitalism: Celebrating the Ideas of Ayn Rand.

I also recommend Rand’s signature novels, as I mentioned in an earlier post:

the-fountainhead-book-coverPicking up a battered old copy of Ayn Rand‘s The Fountainhead when I was twenty-nine was a life-changing experience that snapped me out of my routine-induced stagnation and reignited my thinking processes. Ayn Rand and I differ on many positions but this tale of architect Howard Roark, the living embodiment of integrity, is a thrilling portrayal of what a human being is capable of becoming and creating. After reading this book, I put off reading Rand’s follow-up magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, because I wanted to delay the pleasure I knew I would receive from reading it. A couple of years later, I did read it; I laughed, I cried, I cheered. It was, in a word, awesome. Say what you want about Rand’s philosophy but give the lady her due—boy, could she write!

Click here to view all my posts about Nathaniel Branden.

Click here to see all the video and audio interviews I’ve conducted.


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8 Responses to “My First Audio Interview With Nathaniel Branden”

  1. Mike Says:

    You’ve done a wonderful job putting together all these interviews. I am a Randian of course. I have pretty much everything she wrote. Also, I am great fans of Mr. Branden and Barbara Branden. Your work is a great service to everyone. Thank you!

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thanks so much, Mike. I’m glad you enjoyed my Nathaniel Branden posts. I am a great admirer of his work. I find much of Ayn Rand’s work thrilling as well, although I also break with her on a number of key issues. But my philosophical disagreements do not detract from the beauty and the brilliance of her writing.

  3. overmanwarrior Says:

    Nice job! I’m happy to have run across you.

  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thank you, Rich. I’m happy to have been run across!

  5. overmanwarrior Says:

    I write about Rand a lot. We have her in common. : )

  6. Phil Bolsta Says:

    That we do, Rich. While I love her foundational themes of integrity, self-reliance and impeccable character, I am worlds apart from her on issues such as interpersonal relations, empathy and spirituality.

  7. David Says:

    It’s strange for the interviewer to say that he “breaks with Objectivism over the existence of God” but that this question is not too important to bring up in an interview with Nathaniel Branden that is about, among other things, Objectivism. The “leap of faith” which he asserts can be justified in reason in fact entails repudiation of the core of Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology. It is not a minor side issue.

  8. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I’m not clear on what you’re asking, David. So I’m not sure if I’m answering your question by offering this excerpt from my audio interview with Nathaniel:

    PHIL BOLSTA: Ayn Rand was an atheist but a great admirer of Aristotle, who argued that all of creation is imbued with inherent purpose, and that the synthesis of order, direction, and continual motion in the universe cannot be a byproduct of chance. Francis Bacon and Albert Einstein both believed that some form of divine intelligence governed the universe. More recently, Dr. Francis Collins, the former head of the Human Genome project and an internationally lauded genetic scientist, chronicled his migration from atheism to faith in a book entitled The Language of God. These men are all scientists and champions of reason. Do you agree with them that there is a divine intelligence at work in the universe?
    NATHANIEL BRANDEN: I don’t agree and I don’t disagree, and I find the question fascinating because as your question shows, any number of world-famous scientists end up advancing theories which seem incompatible with the normal Western scientific rational approach to data. I have to wonder, What’s going on? You can’t dismiss Albert Einstein as an emotional limb worshiper, for example. So I’m interested to hear what the reasons are and why people think what they think. And that’s the best one can do.

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