|Robert: “Mr. Valliant apparently regards Ayn Rand's role as therapist or counselor--not just with Nathaniel Branden, but also with others among her followers and associates--as perfectly normal and natural.”
This is a very astute observation. Rand’s role as counselor to Branden is one of the more baffling aspects of this strange episode.
Amateur counseling of one’s intimates violates a major precept of psychology, not to mention common sense, especially since from Branden’s point of view, Rand was part of the problem. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Branden needed at least to talk about his rather messy private life. So why did he not approach a party who was independent of both Rand and Objectivism?
My view is that both he and Rand would have rejected independent professional help because psychologists from outside Objectivist circles would presumably be operating on faulty premises and would therefore be of little help to Branden.
At the same time, Branden may have felt awkward about approaching a psychologist within Objectivist circles, since not only would that have risked spilling the beans on his relationship with Rand, but also undermined his authority within the hierarchy.
So from those perspectives, Rand was the logical choice.
Branden may also have hoped that the counseling sessions would provide him with an opportunity to talk Rand around, to convince her by rational argument that a sexual relationship with him was no longer possible. After all, he and Rand had talked themselves and their spouses into the relationship. Perhaps he could talk her out of it.
No doubt Rand had a genuine – although in this case seriously misguided – desire to help Branden through his problems. But by taking part in his counseling, she also ensured she had some control over the direction of his thoughts, especially those that concerned the lovely Patrecia.
As for Rand’s explosive reaction to Branden’s evasions, I agree with Ellen that more than jealousy was involved. Rand had worshipped Branden as the Objectivist Hero, the first of a new breed of men who would transform the world into a sunlit garden. When he revealed his feet of clay, he effectively destroyed her vision of radiantly rational men and the women who hero-worshipped them.