Why Nathaniel Branden was so Effective
A quote from science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein helps explain why NB was so effective in working with clients:
"Happiness is functioning the way a being is organized to function."
Branden believed that we are designed to function as autonomous individuals, choosing our own preferences, values, and goals. Since we live in a society that emphasizes the importance of the group over that of the individual, those determined to reach their potential frequently encounter resistance along the way.
Worse, it is all too easy to internalize this resistance. We can then wind up "fighting on two fronts," dealing with resistance within ourselves as well as in the outside world. All too many people wind up giving up, usually early in their lives, and choose one of society's many consolation prizes instead.
This perspective didn't appeal to everyone, of course. Many are unwilling to challenge or even question the status quo; for others, the possibility that they may be unwittingly sabotaging their own efforts, or maybe even those of loved ones, is just too painful to consider.
And some just didn't care for Nathaniel Branden himself, not without at least some justification -- as Branden has acknowledged in Judgment Day. For more on this in the next section, see Controversy.
But for thousands who have read his books, attended his "Intensive" seminars or participated in his therapy groups, Nathaniel Branden helped to establish the category of "Personal Growth" as opposed to "mental health."
Our society tries hard to convince those who just aren't happy that there is something wrong with them, that they must be "mentally ill." Those who suspect that the problem is with the society itself usually prefer the "personal growth" narrative. There is a clear parallel in the realm of physical health: health food stores and fitness centers -- or pharmacies and hospitals.
This site will provide resources for those interested in this category -- the "health food store" rather than the "pharmacy / hospital" approach. See the resources section for more.