Has anyone here had NB as a therapist?

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Probably one of my big regrets in life (if you can call it that) is being born 10 years too late, and not being able to attend an NB group, or intensive, or personal therapy. It's just a total bummer, I feel like when he died he took a whole school of psychological thought with him, leaving us behind with a jumbled mess of approaches and theories, probably none as philosophically rigorous as his. Add to that his alleged personal qualities of genius and the ability to inspire, and it really does feel like a giant loss never to be able to be in contact with him.

However, the next-best thing is hearing the stories of those who have been his clients. I invite everyone who has to share your experiences, in as much detail as you'd like.

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I did. For one year mid-70s in a once a month NYC group--individual therapy in the group context. Nathaniel primarily used sentence completion technique which he, I think, invented, which was a structured use of sentence completion, which he did not, I'm sure. Everyone sat in a circle (in our chairs)--ours had about 23 clients--and the client went around the circle--NB at the head--pausing in front of the next person for the next sc making eye contact. NB supplied the sentence stem and would change stems when appropriate. That was the real trick--knowing when to do that with what.  It worked for me, in spades, but I can't generalize. Note, as far as I know NB had/kept no data. It was all ad hoc. He also ran concurrent weekly a little smaller groups in LA, maybe 2 or 3. The NYC group was once a month.

I extrapolated that in the course of his therapeutic lifetime NB may have had 10,000 clients since the break of 68. This doesn't count people who participated in his Intensives. Qua intensives, his then wife Devers came on board with him and was just as good but from a different perspective. So one time NB worked with someone then Devers followed on giving someone the old one-two. I loved it. Understand this was not psychotherapy which NB did not do in his Intensives out of time concerns and privacy concerns. In his therapy groups when you worked you turned on your recorder, but when someone else worked you turned it off. I have all my tapes except I can't find  the first one. (All his clients recorded work. Eventually I'll give them up to the right university, with commentary. I'll be dead in 20 years or so, so then you can hear them--be ye a "researcher."

Anyway. sc (and other techniques you just went through) is quite damantic if you know--you the therapist--what you are doing. The long term effects of abreactive exercises such as this? Well, NB said in group: It doesn't matter qua psycho change in your brain what you just went through because it hasn't changed yet. But in a few weeks or months there will be a change and you'll tell us about it. (These are not the words--most of them-- he used.)



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Guest bob_hayden

The couple of years the Atlas Summit was in NH I heard talks by a couple of therapists who  I think studied with NB.  I don't remember their names but the program -- maybe even the talks -- were online.

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Welcome to OL.

I don't know if you heard the recorded conversation NB had with Ken Wilber called "Atlas Evolved." He discusses everything with Ken. He even told Ken, "I love you," in the middle of the conversation. There is a lot of common ground in their individual journeys as authors and psychological gurus, so to speak.

It's a fascinating 8 hours or so. Ken sells it with a kind of cheesy title about NB's life and loves, but they go into so much more. They really did have a resonance that elevated both of them.

If you Google "Atlas Evolved" and their names, you should be able to come across where to get a copy. It I'm not mistaken, you can join Ken's site (Integral Life) for a dollar, listen to it and cancel (after a month they start charging you $15).

This isn't exactly what you want, but I bet it's in the neighborhood. 




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I hope this doesn’t intrude on the conversation. I saved little from people who talked about their time with Mr. Brandon. Nathanial’s approach to psychotherapy may have evolved over time. What did he charge? Peter

From: Nathaniel Branden To: Starship_Forum Subject:: Energy Psychology and Self-Esteem Date: Thu, 23 May 2002 05:49:57 -0000. I have asked to discuss how I relate Energy Psychology to the kind of issues I discuss in my books, which chiefly have to do with self-esteem, autonomy, and self-development. Let me mention that I write of "Energy Psychology" rather than "Thought Field Therapy" (TFT) because the latter is one school, although by far the most influential one, within the wider field of Energy Psychology.  These days I am immersed in the study and practice of Seemorg Matrix Work, developed by Asha Clinton.   Clinton uses some of work originated by Roger Callahan in TFT and I understand that TFT people use some of Clinton's work?¦ which is all as it should be.

I think of psychotherapy as having two broad tasks: the elimination of negatives (phobias, anxiety, depression, self-destructive attitudes, etc.) -and the cultivation of positives (living consciously, self-acceptingly, self-responsibly, self-assertively, purposefully, with integrity, a positive attitude toward the challenges and opportunities of life, etc.) Although these two tasks commonly overlap, there are distinctions here that need to be understood.

The absence of anxiety does not equal the presence of self-confidence. The absence of depression does not equal the presence of happiness.   The elimination of negatives does not guarantee the establishment of positives. The elimination of negatives opens the door to the possibility of building positives, but different processes are involved. My writing has chiefly been concerned not with the overcoming of negatives (although indirectly my work has often proven helpful in that regard, if only by inspiring courage) but with clarifying the kind of positives essential to a fulfilling life (e.g., the six pillars of self-esteem).

I have found Energy work extraordinarily helpful in dealing with negatives-healing traumas and eliminating traumatic patterns, overcoming anxieties and insecurities,  healing psychic wounds, curing phobias, lifting depression, and so forth.   But I have never found any school of Energy Psychology to be a totally stand-alone therapy.

So in my  work I interweave the kind of themes I write about into my practice when I am also using some form of Energy Psychology--and I interweave what I have learned from Energy Psychology into my practice when I am working with someone on issues of self-development and self-actualization.

When I am working on eliminating negatives, I am also weaving in positives-and when I am working on developing positives, I sometimes need to pause to focus on the elimination of a negative.

Does Energy Psychology offer some tools for installing positives?  Yes. Some.  But by my standards not enough by itself.  I might be mistaken but I don't think most therapists of a basically Energy orientation would give me an argument about this. Surely it is enough to say that in my judgment Energy Psychology has made revolutionary contributions and I am profoundly grateful to colleagues like Callahan and Clinton. Forgive the brevity of this note, by I am being very wicked by playing hooky from the book I am writing to dash off this note.  I hope it's useful. Nathaniel Branden

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I have some letters about Rand being this or that but I will stifle it for now. Here are a few of the better ones. Peter

At 12:56 PM 4/11/01 -0700, Kyle Varner wrote: >Ayn Rand was a genius, 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 Geniuses". But Ayn Rand also did some really irrational things (Namely 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 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 anti-depressive 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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  • 1 month later...
5 minutes ago, wfoddis said:

Some great historical material here. I enjoyed reading it. I loved reading the Atlantis excerpts from Barbara Branden. I sure do miss wetheliving.com. I ran a psychology discussion group there. 



It's an honor to have you on OL. I hope you enjoy your time here.



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