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Mark

Doings of Barbara Branden 1968 – 1986?

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How did Barbara Branden occupy her time in the 19 years spanning 1968 (when Rand broke with her) to 1986 (when her biography of Rand was published) besides working on the biography?   Especially where she lived, where she traveled, events she attended.

 

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BB spent time on some web sites. Below is the first letter of hers that I saved in 2001. Peter

From: Michael Carriger To: Atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Ayn Rand:  Manic Depressive Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 16:48:45 -0400. Kyle and everyone, I am a psychologists so I can speak to the symptoms of Manic Depression.  But I would never attempt to diagnose someone with any psychological disorder without meeting the person, let alone posthumously.

Manic Depressive Disorder is today typically called Bipolar Disorder which falls under the category of Mood Disorders.  Bipolar Disorder is typically differentiated from Unipolar Disorder, often referred to as Major

Depression.  The primary distinguishing characteristic of Bipolar Disorder is the tendency of manic episodes alternating with major depressive episodes.  In many ways Bipolar Disorder parallels Major Depression.  For example, the manic episode may occur only once or repeatedly.  So even a person who alternates between major depression and normal mood  (having had one manic episode) may fall under the category of having a Bipolar Disorder.  A milder but more chronic version of bipolar disorder is called Cyclothymic Disorder.  Cyclothymic Disorder involves a chronic alternation of mood elevation and depression that does not reach the severity of mania nor major depression.  Individuals with Cyclothymic Disorder tend to be in one mood state or the other for many years with relatively few periods of neutral mood.  This pattern must last for at least 2 years to meet the diagnostic criteria.  In most cases, individual's suffering from Cyclothymic Disorder are just considered moody.  However, the chronically fluctuating mood states are, by definition, substantial enough to interfere with functioning.  Furthermore, individuals with Cyclothymic Disorder are at an increased risk of developing the more sever Bipolar Disorder.

Further Bipolar Disorder has been divided into two distinct types – Bipolar I and Bipolar II.  Bipolar II involves depressive episodes alternating with hypomanic episodes rather than full manic episodes.  Hypomanic episodes are less severe than full-blown manic episodes.  Bipolar I involves depressive episodes alternating with full manic episodes.

Symptoms of the Depressive Episodes - cognitive symptoms (feelings of worthlessness and indecisiveness), disturbed physical functions (altered sleeping patterns, significant changes in appetite and weight, notable loss of energy), marked general loss of interest and the ability to experience any pleasure from life, and significantly depressed mood.

Symptoms of the Manic Episodes - exaggerated elation, joy, or euphoria; finding disproportionately extreme pleasure in daily activity; hyperactivity; grandiosity; self-destructive behavior (buying sprees, irresponsible driving - I once worked with a Bipolar gentleman who bankrupted his rather wealthy family in one buying spree during a manic episode and I saw videotape of another gentleman who drove 90 miles an hour down the main street of a small mid-western town crashing in a burning heap on a bridge and emerging from the car screaming that he was the Phoenix rising from the ashes); rapid and possibly incoherent speech; and flight of ideas.

Additional information of interest:

Average age of onset - 18 to 22 years of age.

Duration - chronic and lifelong.

Treatment of Choice - typically therapy involving managing the disorder with ongoing drug regimens.

Prevalence - (Weissman, et. al. 1991 (reference on request)) 7.8% of people in North America have had a mood disorder at some point in their lives, 3.7% have experienced a disorder over the past year; (Kessler, et. al. 1994 (reference on request)) 19% of the North American population experienced a mood disorder at some point in their lives.

There is the information.  Do use it responsibly.  Arm-chair psychologizing can be a rather dangerous sport.

Michael

At 12:56 PM 4/11/01 -0700, Kyle Varner wrote:

>Ayn Rand was a genious, there is not question about that.  She wrote what I consider to be the best books I've read.  They often call Manic Depression the "Disease of Geniouses". But Ayn Rand also did some really irrational things(Namley her actions at the time of "The Split). (Note:  I have no first hand experience- just what I've read.)  I would also take into account Nathaniel Branden's account of Ayn Rand's conversations with his wife, Devers, which is available here:

>http://www.nathanielbranden.net/ayn/ayn04.html

>Her behavior makes me think that she might have been manic depressive.  I'm not a psychologist and I didn't know her, so I  can't really judge.

>What do you all think?  Has anyone else speculated that she might be a manic depressive?

>-Kyle Varner

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Ayn Rand:  Manic Depressive Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 01:46:38 EDT

Kyle Varner wrote: << Her [Ayn Rand's] behavior makes me think that she might have been manic depressive >>

No, she was not. She had none of the symptoms of manic depression. She did go through a bad depression, and some of the reasons for it certainly were psychological But that's another story. In almost twenty years with her, seeing or speaking with her almost daily, I saw no signs of manic-depression. And even the depression, although t it lasted for some years, was not typical of her. It's too bad that she did not seek help in the form of antidepressive medication, but her view of herself did not permit even the possibility of this kind of help. Barbara

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Ayn Rand: Manic Depressive? Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2001 14:39:41 EDT

Peter Taylor wrote: <<If only Ayn had had friends and family (including children) living near her or even on the same floor as her apartment in New York City. Then she may have had the optimism, support and distraction she needed as she grew older.>>

Ayn Rand did have friends living near her. Nathaniel and I lived in the same building, and a number of other friends lived nearby. We certainly gave her our support, and we tried very hard -- especially Nathaniel, in seemingly endless conversations over a period of years -- to instill her with some of our own optimism, but it was impossible to do; she would grow angry if it seemed to her that we did not understand or evaluate as she did the terrible disappointment that followed the publication of ATLAS SHRUGGED.

There were many things she did not recognize about her own emotional state. One crucial reason for her depression, I am convinced, was that she had finished ATLAS. It was the book she had wanted to write all her life: she had presented, to her full satisfaction, her concept of "the ideal man." This had always been the goal of her writing, it had been the goal of her life. Now, still in her fifties', she had completed her life's work. What was she to do now? There was no other book she wanted to write, she had said what she wanted to say, and, with her enormous intellectual energy still working in high gear -- she was unemployed, and there was no job she wanted. But since she did not see her problem this way, she could not solve it. She looked only at the world outside her for the source of the problem.

I remember that a couple of months after the publication of THE PASSION OF AYN RAND, my Doubleday editor said to me: "Well, Barbara, has the post-partum depression hit yet?" She was referring to a phenomenon very common among writers. While one is working on a long project, that work is one's life. (I recall thinking, when I was close to finishing PASSION, "They can drop atom bombs and I won't mind -- if they'll just let me finish!") Then, when the book is finished, and one has had years of working in a state of almost unbearable excitement, with the feeling that nothing else is so much worth doing, that one wants only to remain in this intellectual and emotional state forever, that there is a bright golden light shining over one's life, that THIS, the work, is reality and everything else exists somewhere in a dim, distant background -- one looks at the real world, which had seemed for so long unreal, and it is flat and dull and inconsequential in comparison to the endless wonder of the work years.

So very many writers have experienced this "post-partum depression." William Styron wrote about his own terrible depression after he'd finished SOPHIE'S CHOICE, and spoke of other writers who had had the same experience.

I believe that this experience was Ayn Rand's experience after she had completed ATLAS. Would could the world offer her to compare with what she had experienced in creating John Galt, and Francisco, and Rearden? But she did not know what she was experiencing, nor did I at the time, nor did Nathaniel, and so we could not help her.

The only thing that seemed to help at all was her turning to the writing of nonfiction, after Nathaniel had convinced her that that's what she should do. But it could not completely solve the problem. A few years after ATLAS was published, she began speaking of writing another work of fiction, which she called her "non-philosophical novel." She even reached the point of signing a contract for the book with Random House. All through her conversations about the book with Nathaniel and me, I had -- and I suspect he had, although I've never asked him -- the slightly sickish feeling that she would never write it. How could the writer of ATLAS SHRUGGED bring herself to write something lesser? And she never did.

I feel so many sad "if only's" when I think of her years of depression. If only she had understood . . . if only Nathaniel had understood . . . if only I had understood. But none of us did. Barbara

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BG,

Thanks, that will be useful.  (For a while I’ll have to put off giving the reason for my question.)

Peter,

It’s hard to see how your post addresses mine.

 

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Sorry. I cut and pasted that piece of a thread and then realized it didn't fit your timeline, or questions . . . but I decided not to delete it since people might still find it interesting. Hmmm? Are you writing a article or biopic? Her moniker BBfromM? I seemed to trend towards Memphis. Peter  

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Why didn’t you post Moby Dick, Peter?

Then, you could have noticed that it is not relevant.

Then, you could have told us it stays regardless, because, well, someone might want to read Moby Dick.

The Bible, Peter! Someone might want to read the Bible. Post it.

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Mark,

Here's the payoff I think you're looking for--Jewishness.

Ta-Daa!

:)

I personally knew Barbara for some of the time you are interested in. I don't have times and places, but she embraced her Judaism, not religiously, but culturally. According to what she told me, she worked for a time at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. She often wore a large yellow star on the left side of her chest at public events when she thought that was relevant. 

She still stayed in the Objectivist movement, mainly through TAS, but she wasn't publicly active all that much. After the splash of The Passion of Ayn Rand and the movie, the Internet came along and she started posting online, mostly on the old Atlantis forum, then on SoloHQ (which splintered off into Solo Passion, RoR and OL), then over here on OL after that breakup. In the very last two or three years of her life, she was sick and withdrew from many of the people who cared about her. She did not want to be a burden on anyone.

Kat and I took her around during the AS 50th anniversary and one TAS-sponsored Objectivist convention in California (I would have to look up the dates). She also stayed active with many libertarians. Jim Peron was a good friend of hers. I believe James Kilbourne was her best friend in her latter years. She also had a circle of friends left over from her NBI days, but the ones I met are not public people and I doubt they want to be. 

Barbara stayed in touch with Nathaniel Branden and rained hell down on him when Judgment Day came out. She got him to rewrite it and republish it as My Years With Ayn Rand. (NB kinda painted her as too much of a hottie in the first book. :) I teased her about that a few times, and she laughed, but she was really mad at him over that.) Still, they were fairly good friends during when I knew her. They sought each other's counsel a lot.

I thought of putting together a bio of her, but I'll leave that to others. I'm not sure there is a market for it.

But, just for the record, I do have a fiction work in the works loosely based on her with the working title of The Apostate. I don't intend for the guru to be Ayn Rand, but some of my fictional guru's ideas will reflect a reasoned view with some woo-woo thrown in. My interest for this story is in the psychology of a person changing their worldview after being clobbered over the head hard by the social dynamics of closed groups, especially by falling from grace and being excommunicated, not the actual ideas of respective worldviews. 

Barbara was a great lady in that respect. She came out alive and with no suicidal impulses, nor did she waste away. In fact, she wrote a bestselling memoir-biography in her own voice, not the voice Rand would have had her use. Nor did she give in to the impulse to get revenge. She used a witness perspective rather than teacher and told her story--in her own voice--to the best of her ability, which was considerable. She is a much better writer than she has been given credit for.

I don't think I need to say this, but I have great love for Barbara and I miss her. So please be respectful to her when you talk about her on OL.

That's about all I've got right now.

Michael

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18 hours ago, Mark said:

How did Barbara Branden occupy her time in the 19 years spanning 1968 (when Rand broke with her) to 1986 (when her biography of Rand was published) besides working on the biography?   Especially where she lived, where she traveled, events she attended.

 

this is a question for Michael. What clues do you see that suggest Mark is asking about BB's cultural attachment to the Jewish culture? Trump is giving an update at 3:21pm 

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Peter,

Just a hunch.

:)

Michael

Well, Pilgrim, your picture shows you massaging your chin, and it looks like you are chuckling as you say, :"hmmm."

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