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The Disowned Self was written by Nathaniel Branden in 1971. It was Dr. Branden's third book in the area of psychology (preceded by The Psychology of Self-Esteem and Breaking Free).

The Disowned Self explores, "...the problem of self-alienation - a condition in which the individual is out of contact with his own needs, feelings, emotions, frustrations and longings, so that he is largely oblivious to his actual self and his life is the reflection of an unreal self, of a role he has adopted. The problem of obliviousness to self, the causes and consequences of such obliviousness, and its treatment psychotherapeutically - is the theme of this book." p. xi[1]

Dr. Branden describes the process whereby individuals become disconnected from their inner experience. The book reintroduces, in an abbreviated, summary form Dr. Branden's theory of psychology and the central role played by self-esteem. It goes on to provides a philosophical foundation for the psychological theory of the disowned self. The book gives us detailed descriptions of patients experiencing the problem, the history of their problems, and the treatment.

Of particular importance are the extensive examples of Sentence Stems (taken from the therapy sessions). Sentence stems are a theraputetic technique Dr. Branden developed years earlier.

In the Appendix, the book contains a reprint of an interview with Dr. Branden published from Reason Magazine where he discusses his work and this book in particular. There is also a reprint of the chapter on emotions taken from The Psychology of Self-Esteem.

The first edition was published by Nash Publications in January 1972 with two reissues. Then the second edition was issued in paperback by Bantam Books beginning in June, 1973 followed by more or less annual reissues through 1984. ISBN 0-553-27867-3.

Quote Edit

So long as an individual cannot accept the fact of what he is, cannot permit himself fully to be aware of it, cannot fully admit the truth into his consciousness, he cannot move beyond that point: if he denies the reality of his condition, he cannot proceed to alter it, cannot achieve healthy changes in his personality. This thought is expressed in Gestalt Therapy as the 'paradoxical law of change,' which states that a person begins to change only when he accepts what he is. [1] p. 89

Table of contents Edit



1. Discovering the Unknown Self
2. Childhood and Neurosis
3. Self-Acceptance and Self-Awareness
4. The Psychotherapy of Alientation


Reason Interview with Nathaniel Branden (not in the Nash Publications first edition)

Appendix A


Appendix B


See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Nathaniel Branden, (1979). The Disowned Self, 237, London: Bantam.

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