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Raniere, NXIVM gets hugely positive article in NY Times

Read the entire story here

Here are some highlights. [my comments in bold and brackets]

[Last winter Vanessa Girogiradis met with Nancy Salzman, at her home. Nancy allowed Vanessa to witness an Exploration of Meaning therapy session with Jacqueline {Ronay?}] “a 27-year-old with long dark hair, who was a psychology student in college.”

Salzman connected “Jacqueline’s fear of flying; her belief that her mother was forced into a terrible life by her father; and her inability to be an independent woman” during the session.

“Are you pretending to be a helpless woman?” Salzman said [to Jacqueline in front of Vanessa, almost as if it were staged].

“That’s the way I receive attention, that’s kind of my thing,” Jacqueline said.

After the half-hour EM session, Jacqueline said to Nancy, “I don’t know what happened. I feel really good.”

[Vanessa quotes a former member]: “’[NXIVM is] the most potent way to deconstruct an emotional trigger’ and permanently change the way you process it.”

[She quoted a present member:] “Experiencing integration after integration, the Nxian feels light, buoyant and more powerful than before. ‘We are just trying to create joy.’”.

[Vanessa explains the tech]: “Breaking down identity was only the first part of Nxivm — replacing your identity with another, or ‘replacing data with data,’ in Nxivm speak, was the second part. As Nxians erased their fears, they began doing what they truly wanted to do with their lives….”

[India Oxenberg told Vanessa NXIVM helped her realize she] “didn’t want to be in the entertainment business. She wanted to be a caterer.”

[Vanessa explained] “Raniere’s courses largely teach neurolinguistic programming techniques and introductory ethical and psychological theory, which students are encouraged to understand in the context of their own lives.”

[She endorsed his teachings:] “Mobius [is] about healing the parts of yourself that you reject and not hating them in other people; and Human Pain, about understanding that love and pain often go together. Nxivm taught the power of penance as a time-tested shortcut to achieving self-improvement.”

[She enjoyed meeting Nxians] “Many members and ex-members of Nxivm that I spoke with [are] funny and strikingly perceptive.”

Vanessa concluded NXIVM members], “all agreed on one thing: The ‘technology’ worked. Raniere could program you. He had solved the equation of how to be a joyful human. Decide on your ethics and make them the guiding force in your life; do not make decisions that are not in line with those ethics. Look to create strength and character through discipline. Look to create love. Do not reject your family (unless your family rejects Nxivm, in which case some other steps may be necessary). Do not be a slave to your fears and attachments. Pain creates conscience; do not be afraid of pain.”

[Vanessa traveled to Mexico, where Clare was staying with Raniere in San Pedro Garza Garcia near Monterrey]  “I was asked not to reveal [the location] They were staying there on the advice of lawyers and consultants [Bad advice, it seems, for Raniere’s stay in Mexico was interpreted as a flight from US jurisdiction and was one of the reasons that federal prosecutors cited in arguing he should be denied bail] and also because Bronfman was fearful in the United States…. that someone connected with a disgruntled ex-member … might kidnap her when she was out for a jog. [She is afraid of what ex-members might do to her and they are afraid of what she might do to them.]

[Vanessa met Clare at Monterrey ESP Center.]  “She walked its airy halls..  a framed photograph of Raniere hanging on one wall and a stenciled quote from him on another — ‘If in the next moment your behavior would affect all of humanity for forever more, how would you behave? Every moment is such a moment.’”

 

She wears a Tiffany heart, about 10 times the size of her own. Clare cried when she spoke about the late, dearly departed Pam Cafritz – Raniere’s chief procurer of underage teens for sex.  Photo credit Stefan Ruiz for The New York Times.

[Vanessa wrote, Clare]“answered my questions directly and seemed highly in touch with her emotions.”

[Vanessa wrote, Pam Cafritz was] “a bubbly woman who was Raniere’s most important long-term girlfriend and a beloved mother figure to Nxivm members.”  [Did she know Pam?] Clare Bronfman “began crying as she told me about her friend’s death.”

 “A number of colorful sashes hung on hooks. Each color in the hierarchy was not only a higher state of self-awareness [NXIVM needs more reporters like Vanessa who have higher states of awareness].

“Anything in the group about skinniness, about punishment, about self-denial was simply to help members evolve.”

“Bronfman and I had lunch together at a local restaurant, though she didn’t eat because she didn’t like the vegetarian options.” [Too many calories?]

[Vanessa met Raniere] “whom members have compared to Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.”

[Their meeting took place in a condo; Raniere was just] “waking from a micronap” [of about nine hours duration].

Raniere in Mexico, eyes moist with tears.

 

“He was built like a wrestler [actually judo champ] and dressed in business casual: a sky-blue polo shirt, gray slacks and round tortoiseshell glasses. He was graying at the temples, but the rest of his dark hair was cut with flair and volume. [Hair stylist, Alayne Curtiss reportedly went down to Mexico; she is a cult member and owner of Make Me Fabulous in Saratoga.]

Raniere said, “It’s quite a point in life for me. I question my values, how I conduct myself, all of these things…. I don’t think I’m seen as the person I think I am, and I also want to be the person that I think I am.”

[Vanessa wrote of her Vanguard] ‘Raniere… seemed intelligent and intensely sad [he] broke into tears several times, particularly when talking about Cafritz’s death. He was honest about the fact that he was polyamorous and spoke to me about the importance of not only sex but intimacy. But what was important to know about him was that what he does every day is simply walk and think, he told me. He walked 14 to 20 miles a day…  and during those walks, he thought about how to solve humanity’s problems. [He helped solve one of humanity’s problems when he got arrested].

“I’m like a nerd who has read too much, only I’ve thought too much.” [He’s got plenty of time to think in his prison cell.]

“In Nxivm, the point of integrations was reaching what they called ‘unification.’”

[Vanessa asked Raniere if he was unified. Vanguard said] “That’s more a theoretical or goal state. I don’t think if someone was unified they would particularly talk about it.”  [Of course he is unified – that’s why he did not answer the question.]

“There were some light spots, like when he told me that humanity needed to develop more humanity, and we deserved to, because we were a special species; cats don’t have “catmanity,” he said. [nor horses horsemanurity]

[Referring to Consumers’ Buyline, Raniere’s former business closed down by authorities for allegedly being a pyramid scheme, she wrote] “It might be surprising that people would sign up for a self-improvement endeavor led by a man who might have led a pyramid scheme, but today in Nxivm, leaders explain to incoming members that Consumers’ Buyline had been unfairly targeted, but Raniere refused to be vengeful and instead conceived the group as ‘an opposing thing that would be good in the world,’ as one member told me.”…

“Raniere began thinking more deeply about persuasion and how you could talk people into anything, even helping themselves.”

[Vanessa met Sara Bronfman] “a lovely woman who made me eggs in her Albany-area mansion this winter”.  [Vanessa was being loved-bombed]

“Before Nxivm, Clare didn’t deal with her finances. As a wealthy woman, it was all done for her.” [After NXIVM she did not deal with her finances either – Raniere did it for her and lost about $100 million].

“Clare continued to want to use her inherited money ethically.” [She ethically spent about $50 million in lawyers to sue Raniere’s enemies.]

“Raniere…  taught that dexterous use of money — the assigning of value to various goods and services — was one of humanity’s highest virtues.”

[Dexterously, is one way to describe Raniere’s use of money]

[Raniere explained he is poor, despite being arrested with access to $8 million in the late Pam Cafritz’s bank account], Vanessa wrote, “But after the Consumers’ Buyline debacle, he was careful not to put his hands on much of it [money] himself. In fact, Salzman owns Nxivm, and Raniere has nothing to do with it, officially. He received no salary from Nxivm, nor possessed a credit card, A.T.M. card or a car. [He used Cafritz’s cards with $8 million at his disposal] He told me, ‘I don’t pay taxes because I live under the poverty level.’ I asked him where he got his clothes, which require money to buy. He answered that they usually appeared. Pointing to the polo shirt he was wearing, he said, ‘until I put this on this morning, I don’t think I’d worn it before, and I didn’t know about it.’”

[Vanessa laid it on thick for Vanguard and Bronfman] “With access to Bronfman funds, Nxivm engaged in all manner of legacy-creating enterprises, many demonstrating kindness and concern for others. The group invited the Dalai Lama to Albany…  They’ve designed a ‘peace pledge’ for Mexicans and made a film about Raniere’s ideas to solve violence in the country. They formed an a cappella group named, appropriately enough, Simply Human. They host ‘Vanguard Week,’ an annual celebration of Raniere’s birthday, running triathlons and solving Rubik’s Cubes. Through the year, they played volleyball, Raniere’s favorite sport, usually after 9 p.m., when he preferred to play.”

[No mention of lawsuits and attempts to jail defectors].

“[T]he group opened centers in New York City, Vancouver and, strikingly, Mexico’s big cities, including Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, it became more certain than ever about the power of the tech.”

[Vanessa wrote how NXIVM’s tech is being used to try to heal diseases: “Salzman introduced me to an 18-year-old high school student she was trying to help surmount Crohn’s disease through Nxivm’s technology [Alayne Curtiss’ daughter]. Bronfman has also produced a film about Nxivm improving the symptoms of Tourette patients, which screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival this spring. Raniere had free rein to indulge his interest in scientific experiments. He conceived a new type of school to teach children as many as eight languages at a time [Rainbow Cultural Garden]; each teacher speaks one language, on the theory that children pick up language more easily from a beloved caregiver.”

[Are $15 per hour nannies from foreign lands, who usually stay briefly, really beloved caregivers? I heard reports that children of Rainbow are in constant anxiety since they are constantly pummeled with languages from a bevy of alternating strangers.]

“Nxivm members also created and operate The Knife, an active website that uses ‘scientific analysis’ to gauge the relative honor of news outlets like this one.’”

“In the larger Nxivm community, most thought Raniere was celibate. But the inner circle knew that he maintained multiple relationships from his home. Consenting adults can surely engage in whatever sexual relationship they prefer, including many women having segmented and siloed relationships with one man.”

 Barbara Bouchey saw both good and evil in Keith Raniere.

[Enter Barbara Bouchey, she said she knew Raniere] “as a loving boyfriend, affectionate and … measured…  He almost never raised his voice, showed anger or talked condescendingly in her presence.”

“I’ve seen Keith tirelessly mentoring someone over a phobia or becoming a better speaker or giving someone piano lessons, because he has those values,” Bouchey said. [Bouchey is] haunted by one question: “Did he really love me?” she asked. “I honestly felt it at times. It seemed genuine, especially in the early years.”

“To his philosophical theories, Raniere had introduced his followers to a concept called ‘collateral,’ or ‘collateralizing your word,’ which members understood to be ‘adding extra leverage to your conscience.’ …  About three years ago, some female members began approaching others on the sly, [Raniere did not know?] asking if they felt stuck in their personal growth and wanted to join a secret international women-only self-help group [DOS] to move quicker in their personal growth. … This particular self-help scheme did not cost anything….

“In order to learn more about this secret society…  invitees had to turn over something valuable. And what was truly valuable in life? These were mostly affluent women, [that is not true – most DOS women were not rich] so it couldn’t be a diamond necklace; they could always get another. It needed to be something that, if lost, would punish you or damage you — a nude photo, a video confessional about a law you’d broken, maybe even the deed to your house, signed over. This was true collateral, the most direct way to show your trust. And only through complete trust could you truly love another person. You might also call it blackmail.’….  Raniere described it to me as a “sorority.”….

“To this day, dedicated DOS members insist that they began the secret group themselves [i.e. Raniere knew nothing] … Over time, the group morphed into a military-style boot camp that was simply trying to address the place of women in the world, to make them realize that they were not victims.”

[Vanessa visited Allison Mack]. “When I visited Mack in her gorgeous apartment in Brooklyn… Mack [explained] … she was unhappy with her TV acting career (she asked Raniere to “make her a great actress again”), [He sure did] [Mack] explained the way DOS worked. …. The woman who invited you to the group was your master, Mack said…  or the “representation of your conscience, your higher self, your most ideal.” Masters would help slaves count calories to save them from the trap of emotional eating, [or normal eating] … Masters would dictate an act of ‘self-denial,’ like cold showers or rousing yourself from bed at 4 a.m. and standing stock still for a time. … Slaves might be told to abstain from orgasms, ostensibly to heal their negative sexual patterns. {Those are hard to heal, ask Raniere] Mack said that this was ‘about devotion’ and ‘like any spiritual practice or religion.’…

“Many women told me they improved from this [DOS] scheme, and Mack agreed. ‘I found my spine, and I just kept solidifying my spine every time I would do something hard,’ Mack said passionately. DOS was ‘about women coming together and pledging to one another a full-time commitment to become our most powerful and embodied selves by pushing on our greatest fears, by exposing our greatest vulnerabilities, by knowing that we would stand with each other no matter what, by holding our word, by overcoming pain.’”

[Vanessa explains branding as a rite of passage.]  “When the cauterized brand was introduced, it was a scary experience, like any real rite of passage…. Even if they cried when they were getting the brand; even if they wore surgical masks to help them with breathing in the smell of burning flesh; even if the brand was much larger than they were told it would be …  even if they were in a state of sheer terror, they were still able to transcend the fear and cry out to one another: ‘Badass warrior bitches! Let’s get strong together.’”

Vanessa writes “an estimated 150 women ultimately joined [DOS]. … Mack told me each circle was ‘like a little family.’”

Vanessa added, “Belief is a tricky thing, particularly when it involves taking responsibility for the idea of branding women … when it may not be in your self-interest to do so.” [that’s an understatement]

“In Mexico, Raniere insisted to me that claiming he brainwashed anyone was ridiculous. Brainwashing was a farce, a scientific impossibility, and indoctrination can be positive. ‘What is wrongful about my indoctrination?’ he asked…..

“Raniere did not express remorse about his claimed role in DOS nor even admit to it to me. He was a wandering prophet, not a mastermind; he talked to me about angry former lovers, ex-members’ ‘loose lips’ and extortion letters that had come his way.

[If nothing else, Vanessa Grigoriadis has proved the NXIVM tech really works. After one meeting with Raniere and a few with High Rank, she seems utterly brainwashed.]

 


About the author

Artvoice

Artvoice

News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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