Psychology/Psychiatry Nathaniel Branden on "My Years With Ayn Rand"


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. Go here for more information, other videos, and related materials.

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  1. It’s ironic that he is talking about the new generation of Rand’s readers. His first book about her was by far the worst thing that ever happened to her reputation. Now we have a generation of people for whom she is not “oh, the one who had that affair with one of her followers.” If only for her sake, part of me wishes he would shut up and go away.

    1. At the risk of pedantry, I thought his first book about her was “Who is Ayn Rand?”

  2. Can we get some articles about Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, etc. instead of five articles a day about Rand.

    1. Possible articles:

      The influence of Hayek on Randian thought

      Objectivism and Rothbardianism – an analysis

      Ayn Rand and no-knock drug raids

      Which *Battlestar Galactica* episode would Ayn Rand have thought was the greatest?

      Should Ayn Rand have joined the band Rush? If so, should she have been the drummer, the vocalist or the manager?

    2. Anything at all except for more Rand. Reason has become obsessed. We may have to have an intervention.

      1. Two books were just published about Rand’s life and influence by Oxford University and Doubleday, and her book sales are spiking because of the Odumbie regime fiasco.

    3. It would be nice to see this kind of focus on other leading lights. I think they did something like this for Friedman not that long ago.

      1. Friedman was a cover boy back in 1976

    4. Novelists and play wrights are more accessible than authors of weighty tomes. That’s probably why Rothbard became a Leninist pamphleteer. For the chicks.

  3. But at least Rand wasn’t a *hypocrite,* pretending to support the institution of marriage and speaking against adultery!

    That would have been *really* bad.

    1. She was a hypocrite for claiming to be pure rational while acting from base emotions.

      1. Picky, picky.

        I would think that the only way to avoid hypocrisy would be to be completely virtuous. If we fall short of *that* standard, then there’s no way to claim complete consistency. Even being consistently evil wouldn’t work – not if consistency is a virtue! Because then our one virtue (consistency) would make us hypocrites for claiming to be fully evil.

        And if consistency *isn’t* a virtue, why insist on it?

    2. None of her heroines or heroes ever seem to get married or have kids. And Miss Taggart enjoys 3 heroes sequentially who are all great friends.

      Who knows what happened in the sequel?

      1. Actually, Dominique in “The Fountainhead” marries three times – Peter Keating, Gail Wynand, and Howard Roark (the hero, who marries only the once) – the last bit of the book has her introducing herself as “Mrs. Roark.” You are right about the children.

  4. Will Reason’s Rand bender ever end?

    1. Yes, but only after one of them says, ‘wait – I don’t remember getting that Ayn Rand tattoo, and I certainly don’t remember getting it *there!*’

    2. I’m starting to wonder the same thing. I’m getting to the point that everytime I see the name Rand, my eyes cross. Which is definitely making it harder to keep track of what Rand Paul is doing!

  5. Oh for fuck’s sake people. It’s only till the end of the month. They haven’t even been at it two weeks yet.

    1. It seems like two years Warren.

      1. But that just tells us about you and your problems John

  6. I am outraged that the series Radicals For Capitalism: Celebrating the Ideas of Ayn Rand includes so many articles about Rand. This is a slap in the face.

    1. Jesus, they say they’re going to have a special Ayn Rand month, and then they have all these articles and stuff about Rand for like a whole month!

    2. Hey, unless someone through you down on a granite counter top and pounds your ass so hard that it breaks, you have no right to complain.

  7. Jesusfuckingchrist, people, it was announced at the outset as a two-week series, which is part of a larger series stemming from Radicals For Capitalism. Calm down, and I’m sure Reason will get to your favorite thinkers.

    BTW-I imagine they started with Rand because she has a higher profile than, say Hayek or Mises, and it’s easier to find people to talk about her.
    Right, wrong, or both (I think the latter), Rand is provocative and interesting. And a series on her brings attention to the site. Which is a legitimate goal for the Reason folks.

    1. Jesusfuckingchrist, people, it was announced at the outset as a two-week series

      That don’t make it right.

    2. Thank you for illuminating the obvious for the doltitude

  8. Try All the Mises/Hayek/Hazlett/Rothbard articles you could want.


    1. Articles are great, but what you want is some kick-ass videos on these people, along the lines of this on Rand. All the videos on are mainly longer taped speeches by various people. They’re great, but its not the same.

      1. You want to see Margit von Mises discussing their love life and how they met in Vienna huh? She did write a book you know.

    2. Think they could get one in about Bastiat?

    3. Isn’t it funny when you have to tell people how to use google?

  9. I rather enjoy this information about Rand. Never heard of Rand and have some books on reserve from the library.

    1. You can read her novel Anthem online. It’s at .

      The Ayn Rand Lexicon is also online.

      1. There is also a free internet service called Randex you can subscribe to that sends you a daily digest of anything published that mentions her.

        I am tempted to subscribe some of these whiners to it without their knowledge.

  10. Laissez-faire capitalism is so cruel. I think that at least one exception simply must be made: free government sponsored euthanasia centers for the unemployed. Come on people, we can bend that much, no? After all, to die of starvation is really a form of torture, isn’t it?

    1. Obama and Pelosi are going to provide that for you don;t you worry.

  11. Nice to be able to enjoy talks of Objectivity, reason, truth. Are some of you in the wrong store? Ayn Rand has a monopoly on the subject, a good one I hope, in this century, because hostility and fear about truth are stronger than success and love about truth…So help me the truth.

  12. ” Where have all the bright minds gone?”…Great song, we can all keep trying, thinking and reason can take us to our stars and to our selves: we don’t really know it all, but the rest of our abilities might depend on these two presently.

  13. No one needs to reinvent Business and labor at eachother’s throat as republicans and Democrats do it so perfectly. We need our courts records in order, to decide all support and objection to any idea or situation. Courts are not used properly is our problem, not we don’t know the difference between laws and politics. We cannot come out of all those wars against police states, and function under one ourselves. Without the proper court concept all the liberterian freedom talk becomes anarchistic. There is structure, there is laws, there is by reason of, and definitions had to be produced faster in legal theses forms, than ignorance and fear could make cultures suffer and die for trying.

  14. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on.

  15. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane.

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