Guest View: How do NXIVM ‘insiders’ justify branding?

This was a previous comment that should be placed as a post for it provides some interesting insights from a individual that was not in ESP but has been watching revelations about it unfold…

Guest View:

I’m not baffled by the people who are based outside the Vancouver or Albany communities, and not as directly connected to this. They all have the “don’t listen to what the mean media says about Keith!!!” basic level of classes under their belt – it’s a knee jerk response.

My question is about the ones who actually ARE informed – Lucas Roberts and India Oxenberg, for instance, {Both wrote defenses of ESP following the major New York Time expose] are closer to this, and should be aware the New York Times story is based in true events, yet both are just shrugging it off. I’ve seen a handful of other comments from people still in, along the lines of “YOU DON’T HAVE THE DATA I HAVE” or “IF YOU BELIEVE THE NEW YORK TIMES THEN YOU’RE THE ONLY TRUE VICTIM HERE” and I’m just wondering if anyone here can provide any clues on how those inside are still justifying this to themselves when they’re branded themselves or close to someone who is?

As an outsider who was never involved with ESP directly myself, both SOP and DOS seem really weak on the “saving the world” illusion, so it seems like a harder mental hurdle to keep jumping. At least with ESP, you have something tangible to aim for with the stripe path to provide a sense of accomplishment (while DOS just seems like it’s about never ending humiliation and punishment and collateral) it’s never been quite clear to me quite how DOS was “serving the mission,” aside from the vague comment in the New York Times article that it was intended to influence elections somehow – it seems fairly transparent that it’s all about serving Keith.

I get on some level that “everything is great because Keith says so” might be enough of an answer in itself once you’re in long enough, and a lot of the DOS girls also probably feel like they don’t have a choice anymore once they’ve passed off enough collateral. I see the thought process behind joining DOS in how it was sold, I get that once you’re hungry and sleep-deprived enough, some weird shit starts making perfect sense in your head, and I think that Keith is a soulless monster capable of anything, and that everyone he’s broken down into upholding his sham of a cult are his victims. But the branding being shrugged off by people who “know” it’s real, is just a hard jump for me to make. Even though I know objectively that there’s hypnosis and serious brainwashing in play here, and victim-blaming is always going to be the default response since anything inconvenient to Keith gets waved off with “well, that’s your issue”… Still, I’m left wondering what “data” could possibly make a person still believe they’re totally in the right and “ethical” to keep perpetuating the branding in their own community? It’s not like it’s being done to strangers, these people were your friends… It’s so heartbreaking.


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Frank Parlato


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  • The Manson family comparison is interesting.

    I think that the people still involved have to combine several justifications –
    I think:

    – it is likely that they are firmly convinced that everything that happened was consensual at the time that it happened and that the non-consent was invented after the fact. (I don’t believe that those people would believe that force and coercion would be acceptable). They blame this non-consent invention on “the person wasn’t strong enough to hold to the program” – which further justifies the belief that ‘women are weak and can’t hold up their commitments’. So, the very thing that shows Keith as malignant to us, proves him ‘right’ to them.

    – Branding is not significantly different than a tattoo or any number of other bodily modifications that humans routinely inflict upon themselves.

    – Collateral doesn’t matter, it’s a trust exercise and since the women aren’t going to break their word, who cares. In fact, it’s a good thing, since it will make the women less willing to break their word in a moment of weakness. It supports the members in their goals of building a stronger word and sense of self as an individual capable of carrying through on her commitments. (This view has to completely ignore that the creation and gathering of collateral completely invalidates the consent idea above. Never shall these two mental ideas meet each other in the individuals mind. The reconciling of the two ideas would have to result in some serious abrogation of critical thinking. As long as you keep all the elements individually justified, you don’t have to look at the holistic picture.)

    – the program and individuals that the collateral are being supplied to are the most ethical people that the individual believes exist in the world, the collateral could never be misused by these people.

    – The program has helped some women and those women view it as a positive thing, so that it is not a positive thing for other women is viewed as the failure of the other women. How can this be positive? Well, increased discipline in one’s life often leads to improvements, and this program does seem to impose discipline from outside. Self discipline is hard. it’s easy to see someone benefiting from an imposed discipline.

    – I suspect that there is some other idea floating around that “the women were ok with it all the way up to the branding” so it isn’t about the collateral or the commitment or the master-slave thing, or the diet, since these were all acceptable up until the branding. That again, ignores the collateral and manipulation which makes that argument completely irrelevant. It’s likely that many women didn’t find it acceptable but couldn’t see a way out.

    Anyway, that’s my view on the mental gymnastics you need to keep pushing on and believe this is a good thing.

  • I just finished the Diane Lake memoir – “member of the family” – Diane was the youngest member of the Manson family joining at age 14.. Critics have pointed out that some of her memories conflict with what is actually known to be true (probably because of her LSD addled brain) but that is besides the point.

    When you read her story you can begin to understand how she got on Charlie’s bus. You also can see how similar the familiy is to the harem or to DOS with the techniques used to control. Which made me realize even more that Raniere hasn’t had one original cult idea in his brain except maybe combining Nxivm with a MLM scheme.

    The Manson Family and DOS both operate(d) on, malnutrition, readiness drills, sleep deprivation and sexual slavery within a polyamorous community. . Keith uses hypnosis and NLP, Manson used LSD. Manson was weaponizing his girls to “Do something witchy” or start Helter Skelter.

    Based on the NY Times article about DOS, My feeling is that, Keith thinks he can influence elections by getting his girls to go out and sleep with businessman and politicians. The story has already been told here that Keith ordered one of the slaves to sleep with Robbie Chiappone. My feeling is this was a test to see how far someone is willing to go.

  • The everything is great because the great master said so works in many cultures. Look into the Chinese culture where you do what your boss said because he is your boss and not because he is right. We got our boss to the point where he tells us what to do and we find out the how.
    Several years ago that was very much different in the west as well and in some companies, especially private owned it is still the case that the owner has more influence than it is good for him or the company.

    This is called proof by authority and is usually not what is good for morale in general.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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