Smith: Like any true sociopath, Raniere’s need to act overwhelms any sense of pragmatism

MK10ART's brilliant painting of Keith Raniere.

By Smith

Everything I have seen about Keith Raniere suggests he will avoid judgment at all costs.

This man has lived his life casting himself as an idealist and a visionary. A guilty plea invalidates that constructed identity in an irrevocable manner he could never accept.

Consider how he never paid the judgments against him for Consumer’s Buyline and the way he constructed his assets. Everything was kept in someone else’s name for a reason, and it’s not financial. It’s his contempt for anyone or anything that challenges the authenticity of his world view.

He flees the consequences of his actions because of a deep-seated belief they are the result of outside suppressive forces. This is someone who has been living for decades in his own story, where he’s the hero being put upon by backwards thugs that can’t understand the grand plan. That person doesn’t accept fault and apologize for anything, that person just constructs a new narrative to explain why everything but him is bad.

Consider the social structures he put in place around him to enforce a hierarchy where he is on top. Aside from the boisterous claims of excellence and reincarnation mythos he established at the upper echelons, NXIVM’s DNA is centered around financial domination of adherents.

This isn’t someone spreading the good word, this is someone who finds validation in the sacrifices of others. This is proven by the way he incentivizes believers to do it to each other; nothing speaks louder to one’s true beliefs than leading by example. That person doesn’t apologize for anything, that person takes other’s participation as validation of his ideas and self. Those sacrifices are more true than some abstract judgment from disinterested parties, precisely because it’s something that came from him.

Consider the attacks made on those who sought to leave NXIVM, the concept of the suppressive, and the lengths his organization went to in order to attack journalists.

These aren’t the actions of someone who hears criticism and dismisses it, these are the actions of someone profoundly affected by disagreement and unable to accept ideas that do not harmonize with his own. Like any true sociopath, his need to act overwhelms any sense of pragmatism and compels him to behaviors that harm others and, ultimately, himself.

Look at what the other defendants are being charged with – it’s not for corrupting the justice system, it’s not for harassing people looking to leave the group, it’s for financial and sexual crimes that are embarrassingly foolish. Raniere could have achieved the same/superior financial and ‘physical’ outcomes in a number of other ways that are not criminal. But that person acts in a manner that degrades and destroys those involved precisely because he’s compelled to do so; anything less diminishes the harmonious sacrifice he seeks in all adherents (to ultimately validate himself.)

Socrates drank the Hemlock instead of escaping because he did not want the state erasing all he had contributed to the culture. He was not content to be branded a criminal when he could live on as a martyr. Raniere is no Socrates, nor is he someone who will let others rewrite his story to turn him into a monster.

Raniere has a limited set of options for what to do next. We’re not privileged to any discussions that may be continuing between him and NXIVM hard-liners or those outside the USA. A lot of what he does depends on whether or not he still has a network in place to support him. Here are the potential outcomes.

– Raniere will hang himself in his cell before sentencing, avoiding judgment

– Raniere will be killed by someone else in prison before sentencing, avoiding judgment

– Raniere will plead out in exchange for a more lenient sentence, receiving judgment and a shorter sentence

– Raniere will go to trial and have his friends testify against him in open court, receiving judgment and a longer sentence

– Raniere’s super lawyers find a way to get the charges dismissed and he walks

Of those outcomes, what sounds like the most likely for the person described above? I don’t see any upside for him in going to jail, decades of his life are wiped away in the eyes of everyone who matters. I can’t see the value in having his closest allies testify to the things he’s done because making it all public destroys any credibility he ever had. I can’t really see him taking a deal to save his own neck, mostly because there’s not much waiting for him on the other side.

Then again, I don’t know what else is going on with his Cult. Maybe Gillibrand wins the presidency and pardons him as her first act. Who knows?

About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • So this very interesting article about the real monster gets 7 comments, and the one about Allison Mack (for the umpteenth time) gets 32. Go figure.

  • Idealist my ass.
    The man found a schtick to satiate his peccadillios, nothing more and among them was the grooming and rape of underage females.
    He was enabled, and abetted, by the adult females around him.
    Way to go, my sisters. Brand, enslave, groom, starve, blackmail, impoverish for a dick of an xy.

  • Smith,

    I agree with you that Raniere’s sociopathic tendencies, such as lack of impulse control, did him in.

    I am interested to see if his atypical sociopathic narcissism and grandiosity will prohibit him from making or taking a plea deal.

    My gut feeling is that Keith Raniere truly believes in his self-fabricated omnipotence. Therefore I believe he is going to trial.

    Would you expect anything less from a man that gave himself the title of Vanguard?

  • I’m open to the idea that Raniere is a sociopath. He doesn’t seem to have any kind of empathy for others, his actions seem solely for his own gain. He does apparently have some kind of gift for manipulating others. He seems to think of himself as being above normal standards of decency. Kind of like Manson lite. The ends justify the means, the end being whatever benefit himself.

    But he seems eminently practical. Not as smart as he thinks he is, but hardly detached from reality. He’s clever and manipulative, relentless and amoral. In no sense is he detached from reality. He’s just another clever criminal, nothing special. Ran a clever scam for years without getting prosecuted but then he overreached and his little empire has fallen down around his ears. Just another grifter whose luck ran out.

    He may plead out for a reduced sentence. Depends what the Feds offer. That’s what he did in his previous brush with the law, when Consumer Byline got busted.

    • Actaeon: Your comments are spot on. I see many parallels with Jim Jones – on all levels. “Jim Jones lite.”

      As far as KAR being practical, he seems to have made numerous errors based on his grandiose judgment of his own intelligence. (Those who think they know all have nothing to learn.) The blunders in leaving the country, hiding the asset trail, emailing draft harassment letters back and forth with Clare, and the betrayal / dismissal of former close confidants have come back to bite him.

      Plus let’s not forget Rhiannon’s police report from long ago.

  • Good article, Smith. To answer your question, I have a weird feeling that it’s going to be the last option. Super lawyers. Already they’re getting the child porn pics thrown out as evidence? The only other likely outcome is his testifying in court.

  • “This isn’t someone spreading the good word, this is someone who finds validation in the sacrifices of others.” You are onto something, Smith. Starting at 45:40 in this video of Allison Mack interviewing Raniere, he expounds on love, and how the measure of love is not pleasure but pain and sacrifice.

    • Another thing VanDouche gets wrong. Love is what binds someone to the pleasure and joy of another which is also reflected in the self. It causes the possessor of it to voluntarily give of one’s self to the other. Love merely motivates and enables one to suffer pain and sacrifice when nothing else will. But you have to have it first. You don’t win or try to find love as if it is a competition or it is lost. You are blessed with it. So don’t use or abuse it.

  • I think Raniere did eventually pay the CBI fine (or more accurately, had someone pay it for him, probably Bronfman money) and not having things in his name is because part of the settlement agreement was for him to never have a stake in another MLM scam, and this is why he never had anything in his name. He was trying to use this limitation to his advantage, and ultimately he got carried away with what he thought he could get away with.

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.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

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


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