Nathaniel Branden's remarkable and forgotten contribution for personal transformation - the sentence completion technique

Posted by BrettRocketSci 4 years, 7 months ago to Books
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I am profoundly grateful to both Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden for all that they did to develop and then spread Objectivism. But being presented with this philosophy isn't enough. We all have to work through these ideas to reconcile, integrate, and implement them into our own lives. We all come with a lot of "baggage", as they say, which we have to learn how to deal with and overcome.
For progress in that task, I owe an incredible debt to Nathaniel Branden and his books that use the sentence completion technique.
For those not aware, this is a way to tap into your subconscious thoughts and feelings that are holding you back, getting in your own way, or causing fundamental conflict within yourself. Only by bringing these issues to a conscious and explicit level can you begin to face them.
This practice led to some very powerful revelations for myself when I was in my 20's. (It was about a mental issue and irrational "hangup" I had with my girlfriend. With Branden's technique I got to the root of it and got past it. We have now been married for over 20 years and have wonderful 2 kids. Without his help this would not have been my story.)
Now in my 40's I'm thinking that I should return to this powerful strategy. But it made me realize that this technique seems to be a forgotten secret or lost art in our world.
Thus my request to start a discussion on this topic. I did a search within our online Gulch first. My point is supported - there apparently hasn't been a single post on this topic here - EVER!
What is even more baffling (and deserving of another completely different post, probably) - in selecting the category for this discussion topic, there isn't a category for self-improvement or psychology. Does that seem strange (and troubling) to anyone else?? I humbly suggest that one or both of those categories would be great for us to try and focus on here among us fellow Gulchers.
Anyway, I'm submitting this discussion topic under the "Books" category, since Branden's books are currently the best place to learn about and start to use this technique. I'm thinking we need a renaissance with it...
You could use this post to share if & how this technique has made a difference in your life. But my burning questions really are - why is this technique not recognized as one of his greatest contributions to the world? Secondly, maybe someone should do something about that?

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  • Posted by $ jlc 4 years, 7 months ago
    I have had a similar experience with his workbook, "If You Could Hear What I Cannot Say". It is a fantastic tool that a person can use - on their own - to discover hidden motivations and perceptions.

    I endorse it for anyone who is interested in self-knowledge.

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  • Posted by skidance 4 years, 7 months ago
    How odd! In going through some old paperwork recently, I came across one page of these questions. I once was in therapy with Nathan, but had completely forgotten about this technique.
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  • Posted by sfdev0411 4 years, 3 months ago
    This is what I have felt for a long time as well. Considering the efficacy of Branden's sentence completion techniques, it is most surprising that his name not even known by most psychologists or psychiatrists here.. I have suffered from Depression for a long time and these techniques worked for me.. And, all this is even more surprising considering the fact that his books sold so well!
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  • Posted by Pecuniology 4 years, 5 months ago
    Another game that one can play alone or with someone else is "Why?"

    Make any random statement, and then follow up with, "Why?" Follow the response with, "Why?" Repeat, until you arrive at an axiom.

    You can start with any statement, no matter how trivial and quickly find yourself pondering fundamental issues.
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  • Posted by mia767ca 4 years, 7 months ago
    I am in my 70' to know a student in college, attended NBI lectures in NYC...then years later had many lunches him in L.A. on my airline layovers and brilliant individual...
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  • Posted by ewv 4 years, 7 months ago
    I'm glad you got over your emotional problem in your 20s, and those who think that they have a "mental issue and irrational 'hangup'" may very well benefit from professional counseling and introspection regardless of the techniques selected as most appropriate. ("Sentence completion" originated in the 19th century, not with Branden's psychology directed at a popular audience.)

    But it takes a lot more than "sentence completion" to understand a philosophy and "integrate and implement" it into one's own life. A lot of "baggage" does come from having accepted bad premises and the emotional reactions based on them which are so common in what everyone is taught and absorbs, but overcoming that and rooting out the errors requires an intellectual approach with conceptual understanding of what is right and why, not sentence completion following someone else's presentation of a philosophy.
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  • Posted by exceller 4 years, 7 months ago
    I read almost everything about Branden and listened to many of his presentations.

    He was a great speaker who was practicing the methodology to increase self esteem, as a direct extension of his relationship with AR.

    Why there is no more discussion on the subject? I have no answer to that. One reason (and I only speculate) may be that the work of AR has more relevance to today's political climate than that of Branden's
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    • Posted by lrshultis 4 years, 7 months ago
      It may be because of the breakup between Branden and Ayn Rand, which, to many, made him seem as though he was unable to practice Objectivism.
      I learned a lot from Branden and found a number of books that he recommended to be useful such as Dave Elman's book on hypnosis describing the trance state as being the the suspension of the critical faculty and introduction of selective thinking. That would place many in trance states especially many while practicing their religions and philosophies.
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      • Posted by LibertyBelle 2 years, 1 month ago
        My father did a little experimentation with hypnosis. He once hypnotized my brother (with his consent, of course.) I refused, because, as I said, I didn't want somebody else "controlling my mind." But later, when I was about 15, I chose to try it, because I thought he could hypnotize me to remember everything I read in the biology book, and thereby enable me to (more likely) pass an upcoming test. However, I couldn't go under, though I tried. Also, a few years ago, I wanted to remember whether I had told someone else a certain thing some years before, so I went to a hypnotist and tried it; however, I couldn't go under. I think that that is just as well. I don't think I ever could, or should, give that kind of control over to another person.
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        • Posted by lrshultis 2 years, 1 month ago
          Trying is to imply that your critical faculty was not suspended. The number in trance states often quite large. Note all those who just go along in religions, politics, military, and the media. Many thousand of years ago, it became apparent to some that they could control others by getting them to believe without questioning. That is an evolutionary survival characteristic for survival of individuals in emergencies where action emerges without questioning. For groups, common trance states can be protective for belonging, safety, and believing.
          All my life, which is most likely in the autism spectrum, I refused to join in and mentally built an independent self. I found that Rand had much to say that I could agree with but nothing to make me worship her or not question things such as "man qua man" where the standard 'man' has to be discovered. The definition of 'man' as a rational animal is not a standard because there is no standard way to measure other than as with 'with respect to reality' which is dynamic and, in the case of humans, a moral thing being a matter of choice where a bad choice is considered immoral and if not chosen as being amoral.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 7 months ago
      Thanks for your comment. IMO, the personal transformation and self improvement "culture" is where he should be the strongest. But those are driven by individual personalities. Without the founder or leader alive (or then a dedicated foundation / company to continue their work), it seems hard for anything to rise above the noise. Branden did make a huge positive impact with his self-esteem contributions but it could & should have been so much more.
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      • Posted by $ puzzlelady 4 years, 7 months ago
        In some quarters Branden is disgraced and shunned for his "relationship" with Rand. His work was inspired and derived from Rand's thoughts, including her axiomatic "Check your premises."
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