My entry into the world of psychotherapy was a college friend's loaning me Branden's 1972 book The Disowned Self, in 1996. I devoured it. Branden was doing powerful and dramatic things in the therapy room; I found it terribly exciting.
Several years later I had shifted my professional focus from music to psychology, and had moved to Los Angeles, in part to see Branden himself in person for therapy. It was a little like a pilgrimage to see a guru.
Branden was a mensch, and teeming with energy; he ended up being one of my favorite people. The depth of his honesty is what endeared him to me the most; the reverence for clear perception, for following the facts wherever they might lead, was core to his being.
He was my biggest influence especially early in my entry into the field, and early on I knew that at some point I'd write something to give him his due historically and put him credibly alongside other innovators in my field, like Freud, Jung, Erickson.
The perfect opportunity came along when I saw the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (Branden had been a close associate of Rand prior to a rather heated break in 1968) issuing a call for papers for an issue devoted to his legacy. I wrote to the editor, who knew me from a previous paper I'd had published in that journal some years earlier, and he said "Go for it!"
In researching the paper, I found myself needing to delve into the work of Alfred Adler. I had read a bit about Adler in my undergrad days and had found him to have some parallels with Branden, but now I really needed to check that out. It turned out the parallels were deep and tremendous, to the point that it became the theme of the paper.
Not that Branden was necessarily influenced by Adler in a significant way; I'm quite sure he wouldn't have said so, and the question of whether there may have been a significant unconscious influence is neither here nor there. But to truly understand Branden in historical context one must understand Adler.
What's more, for any students of therapy history who have a tough time understanding Adler - and he can be a little inscrutable, especially as he's presented in therapy textbooks - an understanding of Branden, who is about as lucid in his presentation as they come, will go a long way.
The paper also contains some juicy tidbits about the behavior therapy tradition, and Branden's relationship with Milton Erickson, but the parallels with Adler is the paper's primary meat.