Keith Raniere may simply be a guy who takes advantage of people for his own benefit.
He’s a scam artist and a liar – well, he’s got plenty of company there among the entirely sane. He got lucky with the Nxivm scam, mainly because the Bronfmans happened to drop into his lap.
After two decades on easy street, Raniere’s luck ran out.
I see a lot of speculation about Raniere being a sociopath. Okay, maybe. Or, he’s just a fairly clever guy who has no problem taking people’s money. He sets himself up as a “life coach” and a guru, and he suckers some fools into believing him.
He studies Scientology’s methods and copies them.
Adds a smattering of Eastern religion mumbo-jumbo to some stock self improvement crap freely available at the local library.
He’s got a knack for the soft sell-persuasive “I’m listening” manner that make fools believe he’s really interested in them and cares about them. So they throw money at him.
This is no different than what millions of successful and semi-successful salesmen do every day. There’s nothing particularly pathological about it. He went after his enemies hard, it’s true. That’s pretty much the norm for a lot of businessmen. If they can sue the competition and ruin them and drive them out of business, they do so. Legal firms proudly talk of “going to war” and ‘taking no prisoners”, and they’re not kidding.
This is not to defend Keith Raniere. Far from it. I did a happy dance when he was found guilty on all counts. I don’t like the “sociopath” argument because if anything it EXCUSES his behavior.
He’s not sick, he’s not abnormal, he doesn’t have a mental condition. If he does, how can he be held truly responsible? If he’s a sociopath he lacks normal empathy, he lacks conscience, so how can we expect him to show empathy and follow his conscience? If he’s a sociopath he doesn’t really understand why what he did is wrong. He doesn’t see other people as people like himself. He can’t be expected to, really.
I don’t want Raniere to be given that kind of excuse. Not without proof.
So in the absence of expert testimony from trained professionals who have conducted lengthy examinations of the man, I’m going to assume Raniere is not a mental case. He’s just a selfish asshole, a criminal who committed his crimes to advantage himself.
He’s no monster, he’s nothing exceptional, he’s simply a guy with no morals who ran a grift thinking he was smart enough to get away with it.
Scam artists like him are a dime a dozen.