I’m a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City. I spend most of my time working with a variety of interesting people who are struggling with some area of their lives, helping them figure out what the problem is and how to fix it. I also spend some of my time writing or speaking on issues related to objectivism and libertarianism, including at the Atlas Summit!
Quite an ironic story! Back in medical school, I was helping to organize a lobbying effort to get a law passed in New York City that would require certain businesses to buy health insurance for their workers. I considered myself a liberal democrat at the time – pro capitalism, but with regulation. While discussing my efforts on an online health policy email list, someone sent out an essay by Ayn Rand – “Man’s Rights.” I was struck by how novel the argument was and couldn’t stop thinking about it for a week.
When I first read “Man’s Rights,” I was struck by her claim that people have a moral right to their property. Prior to Rand I had only heard capitalism defended on the grounds that it was good for society. As I got into her thinking further, I was even more struck by how foundational her thinking was. She saw things about the world that were right in front of my eyes but that I had completely missed.
Her philosophy guides my life. It helps me make choices about my career, about my friends and life partner, and who I want to be internally. It helps me in the details of my work as a therapist. It helps me always look upwards and forward to the next goal or aspiration.
Prior to reading Rand, I had struggled in several areas of my life, including with my sexuality, and in managing the demands of the conservative, religious culture in which I grew up. I had been depressed a few times as well. Rand helped me with all of that, and I have been much happier ever since.
Gosh, where do I start? We live in a world that would exceed the wildest imagination of anyone who lived a century ago, or even a generation or two ago. The number of people coming out of poverty all over the world is staggering. The quality of life I am able to have is impressive compared to my parents – with the internet, the iPhone, the ability to travel and see the world, and cheap audiobooks, to name just a few examples. Also, living in New York City, I’m inspired by all the new skyscrapers being built.