On Being an Individual of.

“It’s always consciousness — of

I can see and hear him very distinctly now in my consciousness, even though he is gone.

My father had said it to me, on quite of few times, and it’s full impact has finally come home

Because of another person, who I was barely conscious of … most of my life.  And I never met the man.

But James and Sharon know him.    There is the two degrees of physical separation.

But the abstract connections are deeper.

It is called the Gestalt.

For my father and Nathaniel Branden had at least two things in common…

Besides their Virtue of Selfishness,

and besides their kindness,

and besides their respect and understanding of the individual in their context.

For one, both my father and Nathan Branden had studied as psychologists.  But secondly, the most important thing in common, they both were greatly impacted in their lives — because of reading…

“They had left the book behind on a coffee table.

I walked over a little disdainfully, picked it up, and glanced at the title. The Fountainhead, a novel by Ayn Rand. I read the dust jacket and gathered that the book’s central idea was that the ego, meaning the independent mind, “is the fountainhead of all human progress.” I was intrigued. I studied the author’s photograph on the back of the jacket. Nothing about the face reminded me of anyone I had ever seen. Perhaps it was the dark, perceptive, intense eyes, conscious in some heightened way, that imparted a glamorous, even exotic cast to the face. I vaguely recalled the boy up the street mentioning the book to me months earlier. I tried to recall what he had said—something about an architect with a very unusual philosophy of life. I turned to the first page.

‘Howard Roark laughed.’  That is how it began  — Nathaniel Branden, My Years with Ayn Rand

My father was introduced to the book by my mother, an Idealist, both were interested in Philosophy.  Nathan’s sister and friends had left the book on the table after reading a juicy sex scene.

My father, a Rational, from rural Tustin California, and Nathan Blumenthal, an Idealist, a fourteen year old from the city of Toronto Canada, were entralled by the novel from the minute they started reading — but not for the juicy parts, but for the fresh look at moral philosophy from a self-reliant individual’s point of view.

Nathaniel Branden, Counselor Idealist, (born April 9, 1930) as Nathan Blumenthal, is an American psychotherapist and writer known for his work in the psychology of self-esteem. A former associate and romantic partner of Ayn Rand, Branden also played a prominent role in the 1960s in promoting Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism. Rand and Branden split acrimoniously in 1968, after which Branden focused on developing his own psychological theories and modes of therapy. [There’s complexity there]

Counselors have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their human potential. Although they are happy working at jobs (such as writing) that require solitude and close attention, Counselors do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial, and that they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries. Counselors are both kind and positive in their handling of others; they are great listeners and seem naturally interested in helping people with their personal problems. Not usually visible leaders, Counselors prefer to work intensely with those close to them, especially on a one-to-one basis, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes.

Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one’s goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group.

I was what psychologists call an “alienated adolescent.” Certainly, I felt radically different from everyone I knew, to the point of sometimes feeling that I had almost nothing in common with anyone. At times I felt almost unbearably lonely. However, the concept of alienation is somewhat troublesome. To some extent, any thinking person experiences alienation as a by-product of independence, although I do not believe that independence was the only reason for my alienation.

By my teenage years, my sense of distance from other people had grown stronger. My recollection of those years is not so much that I was unhappy as that I was questioning, searching. What I wanted, without the words to name it, was a world that would somehow match what I had felt as a child running down the street. I longed for a place of laughter and challenge and high-energy excitement. I wanted to find heroes. What I saw instead was a world in which life was perceived not as an adventure but as a burden and in which growing up was equated with giving up. [Nathaniel Branden, My Years with Ayn Rand]

A Stranger in a Strange Land.

“… I lived in a void, but, without having lived any other way, I did not always recognize it. So it was easy, at times, to be oblivious to signs of both hostility and friendship. My protection was my exuberant conviction that it was great to be alive and my hope that someday in the future I would find my kind of people.

Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, I read and reread The Fountainhead almost continuously with the dedication and passion of a student of the Talmud. The Fountainhead was the most important companion of my adolescence. When I opened its pages, I was transported into a world where the issues I cared about really mattered.”  — [Nathan Branden, My Years with Ayn Rand]

“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”  —Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

 … For if people are fundamentally different, born with different needs and inclinations, then they might not all share the desire to take Maslow’s last step into self-actualization. Perhaps not even most of them. Of course all must have self-esteem. Maslow was right in this. But as it turns out, most people base their self-esteem on something else entirely. Only those of one particular temperament, Myers’s NFs [Idealists], are concerned with becoming self-actualized — finding their true selves — and value themselves more in the degree they achieve this aim.

Thus it is not that self-actualization is a step beyond self-esteem; rather, it is but one path to self-esteem. There are other paths. Freud, for instance, was right when he said that physical pleasure is the way. But not for everybody, as he supposed, and not as an end in itself, but as a means to self-esteem. Those of the SP [Artisan] temperament prize themselves more when they live sensually and hedonically. Harry Sullivan was also right. The security of social status is important — for some at least, and in the service of self-esteem. Those of the SJ [Guardian] temperament hold themselves in higher regard when they attain a reputation as pillars of society. Likewise, Alfred Adler was right in that the quest for powers motivates us — some of us — and those of the NT [Rational] temperament look upon themselves with pride as their technological powers increase. [Please Understand Me II]

Q: Okay, what are the two most important things you’ve learned?

Branden: Let yourself know and fully experience how important love is and honor that importance in your actions. Don’t ever be careless with love. Be aware of the preciousness of each moment of your existence. Be aware that none of us is immortal — the clock is always ticking and none of us knows how long any of us has got. The time to let that other person experience how loved and valued he or she is by us, is right now. It’s one thing to love — and quite another to have the wisdom and courage to live that love fully, unreservedly, and to the hilt. Fully to surrender to love can be terrifying, but it’s the price life asks of us in exchange for the possibility of ecstasy.

Q: And your second message to the world?

Branden: Don’t deny or disown what you see or experience merely because you can’t explain it, justify it, or fit it into some familiar frame-of-reference. Allow a large space in your psyche to accommodate ambiguity and uncertainty. Don’t invent explanations prematurely just so you can tell yourself you have the universe all tied up in one neat package. Keep your eyes open, keep observing, and be confident that sooner or later the truth will appear to you, providing, of course, you live long enough. And if you don’t, well, hasn’t it been an interesting adventure anyway?

Now, my father and Nathan Branden are not able to answer our burning questions about what it means to be an individual in and of society, but we have the legacy of their books, papers, correpondences — and we have consciousness of them as individuals as they once were.

Other examples of Counselor Idealists include: Eleanor RooseveltMilton EricksonTed SorensenAung San Suu KyiVaclav HavelCarl JungEleanor Roosevelt[excerpted from Presential Temperament], Mohandas Gandhi

9 thoughts on “On Being an Individual of.

  1. Kappeler November 4, 2014 / 4:31 pm

    As you quoted David, Branden was “questioning and searching”, but what?
    “I longed for a Place of laughter and challenge and high-energy-excitement.”
    This sounds more like an artisan/ Explorer (Helen Fisher) to me.
    by the way: could you indicate the source of the Q&A part?
    his thoughts about love don’t have to be a result of his mere body-mind-configuration (i.e. temperament), it could also be the effect of his thought adjuster/controller (god fragment/ divine spirit), a concept which is taught in the urantia book.
    Best Wishes
    Simon

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  2. Kappeler November 4, 2014 / 5:57 pm

    the title “virtue of selfishness” is simply blasphemic. Moreover, it’s wrong from a spirital viewpoint.
    “In order to become more like God, we have to go from selfishness to selflessness” (marylinn hughes),
    which is not a question of temperament, but of free will!

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    • David Keirsey November 4, 2014 / 8:34 pm

      There are many people that don’t believe in a “doG”(Yaweh, Allah, Zeus, Prometheus, or yada yada), Branden and my father among them.

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      • krakowian December 4, 2014 / 1:52 am

        The problem with selfishness is that it is a word with negative connotations. It is not the best word to use. It is like the word “greed” vs “profit motive.” The parallel would be selfishness vs self interest. Self interest and profit motive are connected, and positive, whereas selfishness and greed are also connected and negative. Greed and selfishness are both destructive–both self-destructive and destructive of others. On the other hand profit motive and self interest can and will work for the good of others as well as self. It is the difference between, say, a waiter serving the customer expecting a better tip, vs a fast food employee who doesn’t care a bit about the customer, because he will get paid either way, and, in fact, may feel led (by greed and selfishness) to actually bring potential harm to the customer through sloppy and unhygienic work habits. The negative ones are short-sighted, with long-term consequences, while the positive ones look to the long-term benefits. If you want to look at it a slightly different way, compare Samsung to Apple. The first operates from greed, while the second from profit motive. Jobs was not at all a selfish man. But he did operate on self-interest. (and his philanthropy was private, but huge).

        I know that you are trying to make a point using the word selfish, but honestly, you ought to reconsider. Be precise in your word usage. That is an INTP trait, isn’t it? 🙂

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      • krakowian December 4, 2014 / 1:59 am

        Oh, I have another illustration of selfish vs. self interest. A number of years ago, I lived in an apartment block. The intercom system for the doors broke. The co-op (like a condo system) couldn’t repair it because a couple residents didn’t want to spend their own money, because they didn’t need it so much, and it would help others (selfishness). After putting up with the situation for a while, and because we lived on the ground floor, and were interrupted constantly by people knocking, I decided to pay for the whole new system myself. Acting out of self-interest, I helped the other residents. And no, it wasn’t a “generous” thing I did. It was entirely out of self interest, and not at all worthy of praise or thanks.

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      • David Keirsey December 4, 2014 / 6:36 pm

        Yes the use of “selfishness” is rhetorical: to break the unthinking conventional connotations. The book that Branden and Rand wrote made the book title to make the contrast between the conventional view of “altruism” is automatically good, and productive self-interest (however intentioned — greed, selfishness, or common good or bad ass) is bad. http://blog.keirsey.com/2012/06/03/american-temperament/

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  3. Simon Kappeler November 7, 2014 / 7:54 am

    A scientist who serves the truth (and not money/ power/ influence) isn’t selfish for me (I think your father was interested in truth; so he did a good job)
    after all, selfishness is relative and without it one would die of hunger (denying the basic need of nutrition).

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  4. David Keirsey December 3, 2014 / 3:44 pm

    Reblogged this on Please Understand Me and commented:
    It was announced that Nathaniel Branden died this morning, December 3, 2014

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