Reader: ‘I went to a five day intensive … it took months to get back to normal life’

How many women were coerced into being branded? Voluntary? No. Not at all.

A reader describes the 5-day intensive she attended and gives a pretty good description of their cult like techniques. She said it’s possible because she is an attractive slender female, she got to go the first 5-day intensive for free.

By Just Sayin’

I absolutely believe that Keith would instruct people to recruit attractive girls / young women.

I was offered the intensive by a guy that I was friends with for about 8 months before he offered the “opportunity” to attend the intensive for free.

I think I probably could have continued on past the five days if I had been interested, whether it was going to be free or the start of an indentured servitude, I will never know because what went on in the first five days was so horrific, I was never going to stick around to find out.

I suppose I should be grateful to Christine Collins for that.

Bear in mind, I was fine before I went to this intensive. I wasn’t having emotional difficulties. I was just open to the idea that I could learn something new that might benefit my life. I genuinely believed at that time the guy who invited me was my friend.

He suggested it to me at a moment that I had the free time to do it, and it was a relatively short drive for me to go there every day.

Because it was “free” and I trusted that guy (foolishly I now realise), I didn’t research it beforehand. I am sure I am not the only one to wind up at an intensive that isn’t some stupid, insecure nutjob that people make all attendees out to be.

First of all, it was mostly a lot of just garbage. They lecture you on how if you feel sleepy, you are having cognitive dissonance, so you should pay extra attention (talk about a brainwashing technique). There is an entire video by Nancy Salzman about how it isn’t a cult, that perfectly describes NXIVM as a cult.

You are kept in the room on horrible chairs at tables under fluorescent lights for 10 or 12 or even 14 hours in a day.

Also, you do not have nearly enough nutrition. Especially, if you are a carnivore like I am. To go from having a normal diet to only eating quinoa salad, and whatever other ridiculous vegan concoctions they laid out on those tables for us, will decimate anybody’s brain functioning.

You can’t get enough sleep at night, so you are exhausted coming back every day (also brainwashing technique).

A Mexican guy dragged his wife out saying this was all bullshit, and I wanted so badly to follow him, but because I hadn’t paid, I felt I owed it to my so-called friend to ride this thing out.

For me, I had panic attacks when I was younger. I hadn’t had one in probably 12 years before Christine Collins put me into one during the intensive, which isn’t surprising given the amount of physical stress it puts you under to be in those conditions for days on end.

She literally physically put me in a corner and wouldn’t let me out, going at me like a drill sergeant, and I literally couldn’t breathe. I had been saying I didn’t feel like I was a victim, that I am happy with the choices I have made in my life, and I like myself the way I am, so she turned me into a victim to prove to me I was one.

For some reason, in their logic, admitting you are a victim is part of realising there are no ultimate victims. It really is all pretty standard brainwashing techniques. If you can get someone to admit they are something they don’t believe they are, so that you can tell them they are then not what you got them to say they were, you have someone pretty well under control.

When I left that night, I knew there was no way I was going to do another 11 days. Ridiculously, I did show up for the last day to spend it being forcefully peer pressured to go another 11 days. I think it was about 14 of us that went to the end of 5 days and absolute max 5 people went on to the 11 days.

Anyhow, after I left the intensive, I read an article about a woman who went straight to a psychiatric unit from an intensive, and I can see why. If I weren’t as strong as I am, I think that panic attack would have put me all the way over the edge.

And it isn’t just what goes on at the intensive, which is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t attended, but many people who have will understand. It took months for me to level my emotions back out to have a normal life again, and the guy who invited me actually told me this is normal, and why it is important to stay with the program. WTF ?

Basically, it is designed so that it only gets better if you stick with the brainwashing, and then, IMO, you don’t know anymore what are actually your emotions or not because the cult is so far in your head.

About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • Sadly, Christine has led her own female family members into these intensives. Some were already not so centered to begin with, so I’m not shocked at her behaviour in her “comfort zone”

  • – I’ve always wondered if Keith’s joyful “integrated” state — the goal for every paying NXIAN in good standing — wasn’t akin to a complete lack of empathy or conscience…aka “psychopathy.”

    It is. VanDouche created his own little minions in his image. The irony is the brainwashed spoke of integrity, compassion, empathy, etc., as principles but that only applied to their little clique. And if you spoke out against the obvious sham regardless of whether it was conversationally placid and intellectually potent you were seen as a suppressive and unethical and those principles suddenly didn’t apply. You were blocked and ignored. So much brainwashing. You guys were never looking for what was true and right. You guys blinded your own selves to it willfully harming others in the process, either thinking the money was great, or enjoyed living with your head so far above the clouds and its false sense of superiority.

    Look who was right now all of you NXIVM people who blocked me on Twitter? I’d say a thousand told you so(s) but that wouldn’t be sufficient.

  • “Basically, it is designed so that it only gets better if you stick with the brainwashing, and then, IMO, you don’t know anymore what are actually your emotions or not because the cult is so far in your head.”

    Wow, that is a very astute observation!

    I’ve always wondered if Keith’s joyful “integrated” state — the goal for every paying NXIAN in good standing — wasn’t akin to a complete lack of empathy or conscience…aka “psychopathy.”

    Think of vampires. Their victims get the blood sucked out of them to the point where they either die or become a vampire themselves. Good for you that you had the strength to get away with your “humanity,” emotional sensitivity or “conscience” intact!

  • That quite amusing….after you spell the name correctly earlier, you then “replicate” another poster’s spelling mistake?
    You can’t hide the fact that you’re posting comments to yourself and then answering yourself. It’s obvious you wrote both comments. Just like you wrote an earlier negative comment about Barbara, and claimed I wrote it (which I certainly didnt)

    Why? Why are you posting here with fabricated stories?

  • So, you never questioned why you were getting this course for free? What type of connections to NXIBM did this guy have who offered you the opportunity to attend for free?

    I find this story difficult to believe, especially since you posted those snarky nasty comments about Barbara Bouchey, and then tried to blame the post on me or on others that post here. You are obviously not a very trustworthy person.

  • I am not slender now. I am pregnant and beyond ready for these twins to arrive. 🙂

    The five day intensive was only a couple thousand-ish when I went over a decade ago, I would say 2500$ max, but since I didn’t pay, I am not totally sure. I did buy a block of EMs. It was more that I felt like I should pay something for what I was getting than actually being interested in them, because I had a pretty worthless EM coach, anyhow.

    I agree with shadowstate about “free”. Chet Hardin had already been exposing NXIVM, and if I had bothered to look, I never would have gone. Another thing, if I had even mentioned what I was doing to other people I knew in the area, they would have warned me. When I told them, they were shocked I went to something with “that cult”. Mea culpa.

    I never saw Keith until I visited Albany well after the intensive, and went to a NXIVM event to make an attempt to connect with my so-called friend whom I had not seen, and talked to very little since I attended the intensive. That is where Raniere’s ridiculous little stalker routine took place, and multiple people coming up to me to pressure me to go talk to him alone. Having next to no interaction with the person I was there to see, and the standard NXIVM peer pressure routine having already commenced, I left and went to visit other people I knew in the area. I was offered to attend Vanguard Week after that event, and there was no mention of any $ associated with that.

    People, who want to try to demean me, seem to be coming from a warped assumption that I think I am special or unique in this situation, and I don’t think I am. I think this has happened far more frequently than any of us realise. Especially since it was around the time they were trying to ramp up Jness at Albany. There was a very specific campaign to recruit attractive women. I have no idea if Keith Raniere ever saw a picture of me or whether he approuved me attending the intensive for free or not. Even though I had refused the offer to go to Vanguard Week, absolutely refused anymore courses, got a refund on the EMs I had cash prepaid (yes, you read that correctly, a REFUND), and Barbara Jeske drive out of state from New York to see me, and offering me business to bring me into the fold, which I also turned down, I was still pestered about joining Jness.

    Someday, when I am ready, I will share the exact details about how I finally got NXIVM to leave me completely alone, because it’s really about the only entertaining aspect of the whole story. I am quite sure it was kept amongst the coaches, but you can bet your ass Siobahn Hotaling remembers who I am, because I am the woman who could have put her in jail even if it was only temporary, and that sure as hell would have made the local news.

    People should make an effort to be kinder to people who have actual experience with NXIVM, because I believe there are so many stories to be told, and every single one is important even if people weren’t physically sexual assaulted, a lot of emotional harm has been done. It has been very healing for me to take part in the comments section. When the news broke about all this last fall, I had old junk come up to be cleared out that I didn’t even realise was there, and people also don’t realise how big a shock it is to realise if one thing had happened slightly differently, it could have been me. Obviously, not nearly as bad as for the women it did actually happen to, yet it is still a shock. One woman I am sure can relate is the mother in Ireland who got her daughter out. It is scary to have a brush with something so terrible, and make no mistake about it, Keith Raniere is quite literally a monster.

    How do I know I have healed ? Because I can talk about this without any visceral reaction whatsoever. I don’t care what anyone what thinks about what I have experienced. I have nothing to prouve to anyone. I don’t mind answering genuine questions, and I will refuse to answer before I will lie about something. So anybody can be as hateful as they want to, but it says absolutely nothing about me and everything about them. So, have a lovely day !

  • @Darth
    The writer says at the very beginning of this story that she was offered the opportunity to attend the intensive for FREE. This is what she wrote, and I interpreted that to mean she hadn’t paid for her courses. Normally, you would have to pay ahead of time, I would assume. So she went there, not having paid a dime first, and assuming the course was offered to her for free.
    If these intensives usually cost $7500, that seems unusual to get it for free.
    Then she made the assumption the class was free because of her looks, but I wonder how Keith knew what she looked like prior to the classes.

  • Humans do bad things. Humans do good things. Humans do stupid things and the good or bad of it is largely dictated by the current circumstances of a person’s life in that moment. It’s much easier to blame gender, ethnicity, education, money etc. than to accept that shit is just complicated because humans are malleable and their beliefs change over time and experience.

  • I doubt this woman attended a 5 day. There isn’t one detail in this story just a lot of generalities anyone reading the Frank Report could piece together. Having taken a 16 day and many Ethos classes and many modules at Vanguard weeks, I say this person is lacking in facts.
    I am not defending Nxium, just not into fear mongering bull. Yes a lot of the program had the earmark of a cult but there was some valuable information and techniques.
    It is like everything else in life some good and some not so good. I am a strong minded person that walked away a long long time ago and didn’t look back. I was not surprised to hear about all the sexual deviant activity, tax evasion and love bombing wealthy students.

    • I think you’re right…”pretty girl” is a pretty little liar. She’s a troll who is posting here for some other reason…just like Pea Onyu.
      Think about it…why was she offered a free class?… did Keith even see her before these classes to know what she looked like? Why were all these actresses not offered free classes? If these classes were so horrific, why did people keep registering for more?

    • What is with the, “yeah,… but…?”

      ALL cults and destructive mind-control groups have the earmarks of a cult mixed with “something of value.” That “something of value” is never worth the price paid to be part of the cult, and more importantly, its never something that is unique to the cult – meaning that it can be found elsewhere without the trappings of a cult. In addition to that, if you through a little disinfectant on the “something of value,” its usually revealed to be nothing of value, just a whole lot of malarkey.

      Trying to justify the cult component with the “something of value” that’s found there is ridiculous. Its a tell that a person doesn’t quite fully understand what happened to them. Every single cult has former members who talk with the same “yeah,… but …?”

      • There are no absolutes in life. If you live in a life of absolutes, I feel sorry for you existing in such a rigid world. I doubt from your comment that you have any experience in philosophy. Having the capacity to see the world from many perspectives idoes not make you a cult member. Absolutes are limiting narrow and linear making for a dull existence!

        • You better believe there are absolutes in life. Error only means something within the context of truth. Relativism only means something within the context of an absolute. There is no such thing as absolute relativism, which is an incoherent and self-defeating proposition because it special pleads to itself be an absolute principle. As Schuon states:

          “Relativism reduces every element of absoluteness to relativity while making a completely illogical exception in favor of this reduction itself. Fundamentally it consists in propounding the claim that there is no truth as if this were truth or in declaring it to be absolutely true that there is nothing but the relatively true; one might just as well say that there is no language or write that there is no writing. In short, every idea is reduced to a relativity of some sort, whether psychological, historical, or social; but the assertion nullifies itself by the fact that it too presents itself as a psychological, historical, or social relativity. The assertion nullifies itself if it is true and by nullifying itself logically proves thereby that it is false; its initial absurdity lies in the implicit claim to be unique in escaping, as if by enchantment, from a relativity that is declared to be the only possibility.”

          Schuon was real philosopher unlike VanFraud.

        • Agreed, there are no, or very few, absolutes in life.

          But there are common behaviors that are consistent through all cults, and one of them is former adherents saying: “Yeah, something.. something… cult is bad, but … something … something … subsection of cult is good.”

          Usually the subsection is some teaching, philosophy, or cultural aspect of the cult. Its never something that is unique to the cult, and usually its something that isn’t even “special.” Philosophy or not, its all a load of bull if its related to a cult.

          Maybe former adherents who talk like this just can’t admit to themselves that they got taken for a ride, so they have to find some redeeming value amidst all of the insanity, not realizing that the redeeming value is nothing more than a sales hook to suck them in or keep them in.

          Anyways, if you were in this group and have now left, I’m glad that you are out. No person deserves the mindf@ck that cults deliver, and any person that thinks it couldn’t happen to them is sorely mistaken.

  • But you still haven’t explained why you chose to go *knowing full well* that you were the object of some misogynistic guy’s sexual fantasy.

    There’s no other reason to give pretty girls a free intensive that others pay thousands for.

    You have admitted to knowing that your ‘looks’ is what got you in free, thus you must have known that you were enabling some sick guy’s misogynistic view that women are sex objects and nothing else.

    How can you claim to be a defender of women against misogynists?

    You’re not a saint yourself — so please stop acting like one. You’re no defender of women’s rights.

    • I don’t think she is trying to portray herself as a defender of women’s rights. Women accept freebies all the time knowing sex is often the paycheck, such as accepting drinks from strangers in bars. You can throw around words like “misogynists” all you like, but women are no perfect angels. They prostitute themselves, they steal, they con, they take a man for everything in divorces including his children and more. The women of NXIVM are scum whether you like it or not. Most men are not as bad as the women of NXIVM, certainly in the west.

      I wonder if the celebrities like Kristin Kreuk and Allison Mack got freebies.

    • – But you still haven’t explained why you chose to go *knowing full well* that you were the object of some misogynistic guy’s sexual fantasy.

      Because she didn’t go “knowing full well” at the time, and she implicitly said so in response to my response to your post that alleged that she did in a previous article here, ignoring you in the process because she thinks you’re a bully.

      Also, women using their beauty for favors doesn’t promote misogyny, nor the idea that women are only sex objects. That doesn’t follow at all.

      What’s up with all these whiny alt-right men who have been prolifically posting on this site lately? ‘Women are no perfect angels, they prostitute themselves, steal, con, etc.’

      You guys sound just like VanDouche and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if you are sociopaths just like him.

      • “What’s up with all these whiny alt-right men who have been prolifically posting on this site lately? ‘Women are no perfect angels, they prostitute themselves, steal, con, etc.”

        Do you think women are incapable or doing anything wrong? Is it “misogyny” to say women can be bad humans? Why is saying that “alt right”? Yes or no, are there women who prostitute themselves for resources? Are there women who steal? Are there women who make false accusations? I have met many women who are grade-A cunts. I have met others who were not. Get over yourself with your self righteousness.

        You want the narrative to be men in general are bad and oppressors of women and women in general are good and victims of men.

        • No one claimed women can’t do anything wrong. No one claimed women are perfect angels. Nothing in the previous post even alleged such a notion to bring up such a rant that generalized women in the manner you did.

          Your response was not to tell it “like it is” concerning women as if there was some initial contention that women are “sugar and spice and everything nice”. The intent is clear to anyone with a discerning mind.

          I’m not being self-righteous. You’re being an asshole.

          Men *are* greater assholes than women in general, to both men *and* women. They commit more crimes, are more violent, abusive, oppressive, etc. They show a greater lack of impulse control with more men being sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists than women. All sorts of statistics prove it.

          • I bet your ugly. You sound like a typical feminist hag. You need to do some dishes, make a sandwich snd shut the fuck up. Yes you are self rightious AND an asshole. You accused me of being “alt right” for saying women can be cunts too, like you are.

        • Yes, because looks can be discerned from posts on the internet. No. I just read what is posted and make an assessment from the content the intent of the author. It is part of the process called reading comprehension, something people start learning in grade school and are tested with throughout their education and on standardized tests such as the SATs.

          But thanks for proving my point for me in your latest response.

          • Of course like most elitist blowhards your assessment is pure propaganda that fits the narrative of your pink little world.

          • I’m not a feminist because there isn’t a single definition of feminism. I believe in some feminist principles but not all of them.

            I’m just a person who emphasizes the truth about Reality. Maybe you all should live in it.

          • Go away alt-right man-child. I already said I’m not a feminist.

            I didn’t watch the video, but anyone can post a video making a select subset of people look stupid. The general population has never been the example for intellectual worth. Such a representation is a prima facie example of intellectual dishonesty.

          • Are you a male or female? And I mean real male or female, none of that shitty tranny crap. Do you have nuts or a snatch?

      • Please show where in her writing is it indicated that this woman knew beforehand why she was going for free. I don’t see it. Please accurately quote from her writing where you are getting this idea that she knew beforehand why she got to not pay. The way I read Frank’s introduction, it sounds like she came to the realization Afterwards that the reason was because she was young and slender.

        • She says right at the beginning of the story that she was offered it for free…at least that’s my interpretation of what she meant.

      • Hey Douche bag, what is up with all these whiny alt left women posting here lately? You know the Clinton, Weinstein defenders. The enlightened feminists with those pink pussyhats on their empty heads. Face it numnut, NXIVM only got as far because of cuckold men like you who were just hoping to get a sniff of what Raniere had.

        • I don’t believe I’ve read any posts by alt-left women (is that even a term?). I did a quick search on the Internet for the term and here’s what I found out.

          Unlike the term alt-right which was created by the supporters of the movement, alt-left is something that “appears primarily in social media and news reports as a term leveled against an inconsistently defined group of people with liberal ideologies in an effort to imply a parallel of extremism on both sides” as the source said.

          In other words, there is no clearly defined meaning of the term and thus, I couldn’t know if women were posting such material here like you claim.

          Also, I couldn’t care less what VanDouche himself obtained in terms of the opposite sex. Feeding off of the insecurities of vulnerable women seeking validation in their lives in order to bed them is really low. I like strong women who are educated, can be independent and do well for themselves if the need arose, have moral fortitude, and can raise good kids. Women who would choose you outside of the context of brainwashing environment. He was a manipulative predator whose conquests were obtained in a manner where the end justified his means. I could never live his life and feel good about myself.

          Finally, NXIVM got as far as it did because of Bronfman money buying silence, but don’t let the reality door hit you on the way out.

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