Customer Reviews: Taking Responsibility: Self-Reliance and the Accountable Life
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on August 15, 2001
The word "responsibility" carries an unfortunate moralistic implication, which Branden takes pains to dispel repeatedly throughout this book. Nevertheless, a light reading of this important work may create a false impression in the reader that Branden's term "Self-Responsibility" does in fact mean a moralistic responsibility. This is the major problem that haunts this work.
Even with this flaw, this is one of Branden's more important books. It is brilliant and profound. It is a book to read and re-read at regular intervals throughout one's life. Two of the most important chapters are "Self Reliance and Social Metaphysics" and "Self-Responsibility and Romantic Love". Both of these themes appeared in his earlier "The Psychology of Self-Esteem". In particular the concept of social metaphysics is one of the most vital to understand in attempting to gain true psychological freedom and intellectual sovereignty. In my own case, had I just taken the time to understand how social metaphysics was impacting my decision to seek a divorce, I might been able to save my marriage.
The Introduction to this book is by itself almost worth the price of the entire book. It contains indispensible advice for finding true happiness in life. It also shows Brandon's essential modesty, as he credits his wife for these important insights.
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on November 25, 2001
In this brilliant tome, Nathaniel Branden makes a definitive statement on leading the joyful life of personal responsibility and reality-orientation...and the alternative where individuals "unconsciously" ignore the fruits of their own actions. Branden uproots this rejection of responsibility from every corner where it hides, from your choice of values to your choice of companions. He applies this vision of responsibility to romantic love (where using others for your fulfillment often becomes sport), organizations (where avoiding blame becomes the goal), and government (where entitlements have replaced rights). Branden also includes do-it-yourself exercises (I can attest to their effectiveness) to help readers explore their own deep-rooted attitudes towards their own role in the world. An essential read that communicates the true demands of the free and sovereign life.
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on February 21, 1999
Branden's writing is ever more concise, practical and powerful. He continues to challenge the prevailing norms and beliefs. He argues persuasively that the United States is promoting dependency and irresponsibility through its social policies.
He outlines the dangers and consequences of the "victim" mentality and explains why certain popular American beliefs are hurting the very people they are supposed to help.
Branden explains how responsible Americans are being forced by the US government to enable the irresponsibility of others.
Branden presents a well-organized model of personal responsibility which is unmatched by anything I have previously seen. In the book he offers practical exercises which can be used by all of us.
There is one point with which I strongly disagree with Branden, however. In his discussion of choices and consequences he uses one example of a parent giving a child a "choice" which really isn't much of a choice at all. The example is something like this "You can either sit quietly at the dinner table, or go to your room without eating. It is your choice. You decide."
To me this is an example of the use of power and punishment, not an example of natural consequences. Neither is it an example of emotional honesty or emotional intelligence by the parent. And finally, it is not even an example of using reason to explain cause and effect, something which Branden himself has strongly advocated throughout his writing career.
My only other somewhat negative comment is that Branden comes across at times as a tad judgmental, bitter and lecturing, which I attribute to the strength of his feelings and his conviction to his beliefs, and thus take with a grain of salt.
Overall, I strongly recommend this book to all teenagers, parents, teachers, professors, politicians, human service workers and policy makers.
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on July 27, 2001
This book is both a guidebook for truly "growing up" and a treatise on some of the problems that society is facing and why they are problems. This book isn't soft & cuddly--it gets right to it but in a way that makes the changes seem possible while at the same time giving you a clear view into why some behaviors are a problem and what types of behaviors are better choices, as well as a plan to improve and explanations of why people have certain types of problems. If you think you're ready to tackle some of the parts of your life that need work head-on, this book is awesome. If you are still not willing to own your issues and want to avoid directly confronting the consequences of your behaviors, you won't like this book.
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on November 28, 2013
Nathaniel Branden was a lover of Ayn Rand for many years, and as much as their extramarital affair ended abruptly, he has largely retained a similar viewpoint of individual self interest. I've been looking around for some motivation to encourage me to take charge of my financial life, and this book does that and more. We alone are responsible for - and capable of - determining our lives. I like the empowerment aspect of Libertarianism and Ayn Rand 's Objectivism, but I've disliked the distortion of the elite's destiny to get incredibly wealthy. In Atlas Shrugged, Rand wrote of the inherent laziness and stupidity of the average person, justifying the elite's right to profit, that they alone make civilization and culture possible. This point of view is lunacy. Rand was a neurotic and a narcissist as described in Branden 's ex wife's biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand.

Branden however has a legitimate background in psychology and a certain faith in general humanity. This book cuts to the core of taking charge of your life. You don't have to become bitterly selfish of an extremist, hating moochers. If you want to grow out of the victim privileged attitude that our hyper consumerist society espouses, this is the book. You gain the sense of power to take charge of your life and make your wildest dreams possible.
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on March 18, 2004
All of us have tried something and failed. The question then is, "How did this happen?" The answers are sometimes complex, but one central feature under each person's control is whether he or she can claim some amount of responsibility for their thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Self-responsibility and accountability are the heart of Branden's self-help book, especially the notion that each person is accountable for choices, decisions, actions, beliefs, values, management of time, choice of companions, and one's own happiness. At some level, this self-help book is a refreshing reality-based tonic.
Branden also talks about self-responsibility in organizations, which I found helpful. Less helpful, however, is his condemnation of welfare, because he does not take into account the lack of responsibility in the people who made the welfare system so "good." Also, he does not take into account the realistic difficulties that people in poverty have, nor the success stories of families who have emerged from poverty. In this sense, he presages O'Reilly. He would have been more consistent by talking about the destruction of responsibility by drugs and alcohol.
This is a short read. I hope you enjoy it.
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on December 14, 2013
There's a very important message threaded throughout Branden's work in Taking Responsibility. That message not only states that truly taking responsibility is important in your life at a personal level but it's important at a societal level too.

Otherwise there will be chaos in all forms of that which comprises a successful people and nation. The edition I read is 1997. Look at what's happening to the USA, and other countries around the world since this time. The lack of responsibility at all levels of our country has lead to calamity. And still, no one seems able to recognize and correct the problems that have gotten us into such a deep mess.

They keep believing the mass printing of money and falsely propping up bubble sectors is going to keep on working. It's kind of like a group of people are having a party while rafting down a river towards a huge waterfalls, a couple of sane people on the raft are warning everyone that they have to take action or we're going over the falls. But no one's listening, further they think the two sane people are crazy.

Anyway, this book covers a wide range of life topics regarding the importance of using your good, conscious mind to steer you intelligently through life. It also stresses being accountable. Others may point the way but you're the only person that can truly make a difference. A very good read. It should be mandatory reading as a part of the school curriculum.
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on May 30, 2016
This is likely the best self help book ever written...if you apply it. The reason people don't think so is likely because the message of self-reliance, and taking responsibility for one's actions, one's thoughts, one's relationships, work, and life are now forgotten topics. Unfortunately, these topics are no longer popular and have gone by the way side to more fluffy, feel good self help books. If you want to really make a positive change in life,and quit making excuses read this book.
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on October 5, 2013
Excellent book on an extremely important topic. Also helped tremendously in personal growth. Addresses concepts of victim mentality, entitlement, self-esteem, and empowerment.
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on July 30, 2000
I really love this book. Branden writes wonderfully and really makes you aware of yourself and the way you think. I love the exercises he sets out, they have really helped me (completing phrases). I feel much better and more in control of myself.
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