At every level NXIVM was a toxic practice and recruitment tool! [there is no good in NXIVM]

The leader of NXIVM - Keith Raniere - from a video.
A reader of Frank Report made a strong argument in an email today. He opposes the idea promulgated by Barbara Bouchey and others, some of whom were evidently interviewed by CBC – who say there was a great deal of good in NXIVM.
In response to my post, where I quote Josh Bloch, host of the CBC podcast, who said, “One of the things [NXIVM] did very well was create a really powerful hook. For whatever messed-up things happened in the higher levels of the organization, we’ve talked to dozens of people who took their entry-level courses … and almost everyone says they loved them. They’re really good, they were stimulating, we got a lot out of them, and we had these breakthroughs, etc.,” – this reader, alluded to above, gave this opinion.
Large-group awareness training [LGAT], like the entry level of NXIVM, is fundamentally a toxic practice and it is a recruitment tool for this kind of abuse.
A 1983 study on Lifespring found that “although participants often experience a heightened sense of well-being as a consequence of the training, the phenomenon is essentially pathological”, meaning that, in the program studied, “the training systematically undermines ego functioning and promotes regression to the extent that reality testing is significantly impaired”.
There is a perception of “help”, but frankly without regulation that requires some kind of accountability, ethically, for these organization/streamlining investigation and complaints, they are constantly going to be used by duplicitous individuals for exploitation.
People feel good with collective brainwashing, because, like any kind of abusive relationship, they suck you in with benefits. It is only later that the true cost is seen. However, you are now in too deep and can’t turn back.

It is like in Harry Potter, where half the death eaters say they were under a mind control charm.

There is no way to falsify that statement and the kind of shithead that would abuse that circumstance would lie to avoid accountability, especially if that narrative is handed on a silver platter.

It is strange to talk about the “benefit”. Drugs are beneficial initially. They just have long term consequences…without knowing about the medical side effects – drugs are great! They make you feel good. If we strip away everything in NXIVM – it was addictive dopamine dealing.

We consider someone an addict, until they start dealing to support their habit. Then they are a dealer and need to make amends for the harm done – if they are to be forgiven.

More dangerously, when a top level drug dealer gets busted, their customers still need a fix and the mid-level dealers still have relationships/liabilities.

LGATS are the hard drugs of training seminars.
Just say “no” to LGATS.


We seem to have two competing theories about NXIVM: 1. the ‘No Good NXIVM theory'”- and 2. the ‘Good NXIVM – bad Keith [and Nancy] theory.”
If what the reader [above] says is true – there would still be ample justification for some of NXIVM’s long term [ex]members – who are likened to drug dealers above –  the former High Rank of NXIVM, and former recruiters, coaches and proctors, to argue “there was a lot of good in NXIVM! – only Raniere and his top level leaders were evil.”
In reality – if this reader is correct – there was never any good in NXIVM. It was like a drug; like an addiction – and those who were addicted – especially those who became NXIVM’s so-called “drug dealers” – have every motivation to rewrite the narrative and claim, “There was a lot of good in NXIVM” – to save face – to justify long years spent, and all the people they recruited – some of them who went on to be destroyed.
Even those who took the initial courses [not the NXIVM dealer-recruiter, but just the common, everyday student] who paid thousands of dollars for the 5-day course – would have a motive to say, or even delude themselves into believing, “There was a lot of good in the NXIVM course” – since they spent good money on it and don’t want to come off as fools.
For my own part, I never took an intensive. But I read the modules. There was nothing I saw that one could not get from a $20 self-help book.  I stand by what I said in the last post:  “What is good in NXIVM is not original, and what is original is not good.”
Even if you were to say there was a lot of good in NXIVM, mixed with some evil, I have used the analogy, when talking to NXIVM apologists, that “even a drop of poison in a gallon of milk still poisons the person.”
I am inclined to believe that, even if there was some good in NXIVM – there were no good intentions of its filthy pig-like leader, Vanguard. And anyone out there claiming it was mostly good – usually has a motive for saying it – because it obscures their own part in an enterprise that harmed people and destroyed lives.
NXIVM ad mortem.
That said, I want to make one final comment. I have met a lot of ex-NXIVM members, and for the most part they are – in my opinion – good people. Some are very good. Most of them had good intentions. They wanted to do good in the world [and still do.]
Maybe this is another reason why NXIVM is not good at all. It took good people, who otherwise might have done some real good – and turned them to doing evil – or at least wasting part of their lives – unknowingly, perhaps – on a wicked scheme of a dire and sinister leader.
Raniere plotted their destruction at every turn.  They might have wanted good for the world. They were fooled. That does not make them evil. Maybe they can grow from this and become even better.
But this idea of trying to rewrite the narrative – to say their [NXIVM] drug addiction and drug dealing was for the good – or there was a lot of good in it – is a fallacy – a further bad effect of NXIVM – this need to justify time spent – unknowingly – in a criminal cult.

About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • A lot of people getting out of Scientology say something similar: Scientology “tech” is good, L. Ron Hubbard is good, but David Miscavige, who took over in 1986 after Hubbard’s death is the problem. It seems to be a way station on the path to full recovery. The truth is that it was all a scam from the very beginning.

    Cult leaders cobble together as much doctrine as they can from different sources because they need a product to sell. Many start with an established religion such as Hinduism or Christianity, but New Age-based ones typically steal from other New Age groups. That’s undoubtedly what Raniere did when he was looking for another scam after CBL fell apart 20 years ago. So it’s almost universally true of cults that “what’s good is not original and what’s original is not good.” Nxivm is no exception. The extreme secrecy of the group is telling: if the materials were to leak broadly onto the Internet, they would be the subject of endless mockery for their pedestrian content, and that would really harm recruitment.

    • – if the materials were to leak broadly onto the Internet, they would be the subject of endless mockery for their pedestrian content, and that would really harm recruitment.

      Some material was leaked less than a decade ago or so by John Tighe if I remember correctly. I still have a copy of the file as a pdf on my machine. It is rather pedestrian in content and I fail to see anything worthy of the label “tech” within it.

      • And that’s the ultimate problem: people could look at the material and determine that it’s just like some $20 self help book and not worth the $5,000 for the week-long intensive, which is used to rope people in. If nothing else, someone who spends $5,000 to learn obvious stuff is not going to come back to work on Monday and say “hey, I just got ripped off of a month’s take home pay by this idiot.” They are going to go on about what they learned.

  • There is one problem here. Nxivm is a way of life it is a hearth a home a family when we forget that or fail to realIze that we prove we know nothing. Nxivm was Camelot and the devil Frank and his flying monkeys destroyed it. You say there is no good in Nxivm I say there is no good in Frank Parlato. He is the devil. We’re he to be struck lightning today there would be a celebration tomorrow. I’m not condoning violence but if fate were kind to planet earth many had people would get their just fears sooner rather than later. Keith believes in peace. And harm not. But Mother Nature sometimes has other plans. Keith taught never interfere. Though he has power over nature he is a witness and will exercise his power at the right moment. Right now he is ending horrible prison conditions. Then he will acquit all from their charges and Nxivm will become world wide !!!!

  • “I feel that the Bronfmans are victims, and it is NOT Keith who is victimizing them. Any relationship Keith has had with them has been open, overt, and it has been honest.” “Those two sisters believe in their heart that the greatest thing that they could do with their inheritance, for the welfare of humanity, is to assist in the growth of the ideals that Raniere has to offer the world. You and I don’t have to believe that, but I swear to you that they believe that. And they should be accorded enough respect to make their own decisions as to how they want to dedicate their lives. AND HISTORY MAY ACCORD THEM A DEGREE OF GREATNESS FOR THE COURAGE TO FOLLOW THEIR CONVICTIONS WHILE EVERYBODY IS SAYING THAT THEY ARE FOOLS.” — Frank Parlato Metroland April 14, 2010

  • Anyone still claiming there was any “good” in a program that devastated so many innocent lives is deeply disturbed and needs serious, professional psychological treatment.

    It’s one thing to have been ignorant of the dark side of NXIVM while participating in it or to have been duped by it’s “ethical” facade or manipulated by its cunning leaders who relied on brainwashing techniques and criminal tools to coerce others into criminal and evil acts.

    It’s a very different thing to have so little consciousness and such insensitivity for the victims of these heinous crimes as to defend any part of it in view of the truth that’s emerged.

    Those who participated and are now rationalizing their role by claiming there was “some good” are demonstrating a disturbing lack of remorse and disrespect for the victims and their rights to seek and obtain justice in this Country.

    I’m not talking about anyone who got a LGT “buzz” from taking NXIVM modules or who went in with good intentions and now regrets their unwitting participation.

    But if you participated and are patting yourself on the back for the “good” you think you did or you think you can convince
    others of at this point — sorry, but NXIVM has robbed your soul and blown your brains out!


  • I like succinct. This passage is terse, and pithy: “Large-group awareness training [LGAT], like the entry level of NXIVM, is fundamentally a toxic practice and it is a recruitment tool for this kind of abuse. A 1983 study on Lifespring found that “although participants often experience a heightened sense of well-being as a consequence of the training, the phenomenon is essentially pathological”, meaning that, in the program studied, “the training systematically undermines ego functioning and promotes regression to the extent that reality testing is significantly impaired”.”

    I suggest we all highlight it. Thanks for that.

    There is widespread agreement to beneficial pointers/truths being woven through every religion/cult: those ‘wisdom nuggets’, in and of themselves, signify nothing.

  • Thatguy

    September 3, 2018 at 3:33 pm
    A $20 self-help book can still do you a lot of good

    For that matter there are self-help videos from people like the late Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra that are far less toxic and less expensive than the offal churned out by NXIVM.

    • Wasn’t defending NXIVM’s program, just pointing out that they had to include enough benefit to retain people beyond that first intensive or two.

  • The usual of course every day the techniques from the course and then they deny that they benefited from the course. Sad im

  • A $20 self-help book can still do you a lot of good, and certain minds respond better to certain methods better than others. Of course any good done by NXIVM was just to draw people in deeper and was probably either undone later, or allowed to remain because the leadership thought it made for useful tools. Is a course the boosts self esteem only for a later one to replace it with Vanguard esteem where you credit him with your victories actually doing you good? Of course not, but if you get out in time you might manage to keep the Good without the bad. A shame that was never an intended result. Like the milk analogy, the good is just to mask the taste, or at best, to make you a useful tool (curing shyness makes for a better recruiter after all).

  • Oh brother, now people are crossing the line into grouping everyone in NXIVM equivalently and engaging in serious victim blaming. If LGATs are so detrimental and have been around since 1983, where are there no laws against them? How about actual regulations that make sure such “drug-like” ramifications don’t happen or can’t be abused in the same way? LGATs have been around since the 1970s, maybe earlier. That’s around forty years or so that they have been in existence. If the drug analogy is applicable then they would’ve been outlawed far earlier so this is simply not the case. This notion is just appealing to emotion. It also ignores the social camaraderie that is built into these type groups. Many LGATs do not devolve into what NXIVM became. You know why? Because it was led by a specific someone who is more guilty and responsible than anyone else, helped by those who are also more responsible and guilty than others. Stop grouping everyone who participated like they all engaged in some insidious and illegal activities. Some of them were actually used themselves. They had to be.

  • Yes, there will be a lot of saving face going on and it will help people sleep better at night to think that the courses benefitted them when really they were duped out of a lot of hard earned money.

    • Some people in NXIVM did a lot more than just take a few courses. They knew about behind the scenes activity. If you were on the “striped path”, you knew more than the average 5 day intensive course taker.

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.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

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 premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato,_Jr.

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083