Brené Brown: A Champion of Human Connection, Vulnerability, and Authentic Living

Brene Brown

Photo by Maile Wilson

For the last two decades, Brené Brown has been on a mission to foster deep human connection. A professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, she’s dedicated much of her research to topics such as vulnerability, empathy, love, and courage.

Her work has culminated in a series of New York Times bestseller books—which have been translated into over 30 languages—and you can catch her as the host of two award-winning podcasts: Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead. 

Brown is also an internationally acclaimed public speaker, who’s served as a keynote at South by Southwest (SXSW), the United Nations, and TEDx. To this day, her TEDxHouston talk on the Power of Vulnerability is one of the most viewed in the world with over 60 million views and counting.

If all that weren’t impressive enough, Brown’s also the first researcher with a filmed lecture streaming on Netflix, and in March 2022, HBO debuted a show that focuses on her recent book, "Atlas of the Heart."

Brené Brown’s Research

Brené Brown focuses her research on human connection—our unique ability to empathize with others, our desire and ability to belong, and our capacity to love deeply. 

As a doctoral student, she says that the power of statistics and "the clean lines of quantitative research" were appealing to her, but along the way she fell in love with the richness and depth of qualitative research.

“Storytelling is my DNA, and I couldn’t resist the idea of research as storycatching," Brown writes on her website. "Stories are data with a soul and no methodology honors that more than grounded theory. The mandate of grounded theory is to develop theories based on people’s lived experiences rather than proving or disproving existing theories.” 

After 15 years of research, she says she was sure about one thing in particular: that human connection is why we are here. It's the very glue that gives us purpose in our day-to-day lives.

When I first realized and resented the importance of embracing vulnerability and living a Wholehearted life, I would tell people that I was hijacked by my own data. Now, I know that I was rescued by it.


This notion was further cemented in her research when she pinpointed that a primary concern people have about connection is an actual fear of disconnection. Such fear often arises when we doubt or belittle ourselves, ruminate on failures or feel shame, or question our worthiness of belonging to enriching relationships. 

“I learned that we resolve this concern by understanding our vulnerabilities and cultivating empathy, courage, and compassion—what I call shame resilience,” Brown writes. “When I first realized and resented the importance of embracing vulnerability and living a Wholehearted life, I would tell people that I was hijacked by my own data. Now, I know that I was rescued by it.”

Her Impact On Mental Health

To say that Brené Brown has profoundly impacted the mental health space would be an understatement. Her words are deeply compelling and shine a light on complex feelings such as vulnerability, shame, love, and regret.

Through her candor, humor, and storytelling, Brown is able to break down complicated topics in a way that resonates with people who’ve felt lost, hopeless, unsure, and unheard. She’s even tapped into the hearts and psyche of people who may have realized, through hearing her speak, they still had room to grow.

A viewer on her TEDxHouston talk writes, “She has been able to articulate feelings that I have had, but I have been unable to name. She has helped me understand my own personal battle with addiction better, and my struggles with anxiety. Her research is poignant, and her presentation style is engaging.” 

Brown’s books have earned similar accolades from everyday people, as well. One reviewer who read "Atlas of the Heart" writes, “Brené explains emotions in a way I've never experienced, and I've been on my path to know myself for 30 years … Thank you Brené. You have changed 'me.’”

At the end of the day—through her books, podcasts, and speeches—she’s motivated and changed people by inviting them to dig deeper, find empathy for others, and live more meaningful, fulfilling lives. 

Connect With Brené Brown’s Work

Since beginning her career in mental health, Brown has dedicated her time and research to understanding how humans connect and how we can be better for ourselves and for each other—and it's why we've chosen her as one of the Verywell Mind 25.

If you’re inspired by Brené Brown’s research, point of view, and unique approach, we encourage you to explore her work for yourself.

TEDx Talks


  • Unlocking Us: A psychology and self-help podcast where Brown engages in conversations that unlock the deepest parts of what makes us uniquely human. Learn how to parent, love, live, and lead with more authenticity, courage, and soul. 
  • Dare to Lead: In this self-help podcast, Brown has conversations with change-makers, culture-shifters, and “troublemakers” renowned for their innovation, creativity, and bold decisions. 


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  1. Brené Brown. Research.

By Wendy Rose Gould
Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics.