Nxivm’s ‘Inner Circle’ are Not Victims – They are Despicable – for They Enabled the Monster

MK10ART's splendid portrait of Keith Alan Raniere.

By Actaeon

Why did his women followers (and they were legion) continue to follow Keith Raniere?

Why did they, many of them feminists, put up with his teaching of ‘Rape as a Metaphor for Orgasm’?

Without even questioning, let alone disputing, these kinds of “lessons” from him? This raises the question that’s at the heart of my interest in this and other cults: why do people submit themselves, entirely and wholeheartedly, to a cult leader? Educated, literate, often well-off middle class and upper middle-class people who surrender their free will and devote themselves completely to a dictatorial,  self-aggrandizing leader. What’s going on?

This article sheds some light on the phenomenon https://quillette.com/2019/09/04/the-frankfurt-school-and-the-allure-of-submission/ It’s mainly about the followers of Fascism, Nazi Germany in particular. But the same principles apply more universally, I think.

Freedom is hard.

Everybody pays lip service to freedom as an ideal, of course, but freedom is a challenge. Even figuring out what you WANT is a challenge. Finding the right path. And then sticking to it. Figuring out how even to get from A to B. And maybe not even being sure you want to go to B. Thinking for yourself may seem great, but then… what am I supposed to think anyway?

Much easier to let someone else do the thinking for you.

Of course, the people who follow their leader don’t admit– even to themselves– that that’s what they’re doing. Oh no. It’s not that Vanguard does my thinking for me. He’s just my guide, my mentor, my guru.

Following the leader is probably hard-wired into us.

We are social animals, who evolved into living in groups. It’s what enabled us to survive, collective effort, collective defense. Language gave us our evolutionary advantage, and language isn’t any use to the solitary individual. We banded together. The band needed a leader. Now, the fact that it’s part of our evolved psyche to follow leaders doesn’t mean we have to, or even that it’s “unnatural” to be independent. It’s just a bit harder, to resist the urge.

The fools who joined Nxivm and DOS didn’t resist the urge.

One of the appalling highlights of the Nxivm trial was listening to the audio of Keith Raniere expound with ill-concealed glee the details of how exactly he wanted his women to be branded on their nether regions, while proud feminist Allison Mack meekly agreed to every S&M inspired detail. Unquestioning, obedient, subservient.

To her male Master.

Allison Mack with her BSDM-loving threesome partner, Dani Padilla.

Have a threesome with him?

Yes, Master.

Procure new girls for him, girls who are younger and thinner than she is?

Yes, Master.

Brand his girls for him?

Yes, of course, and how would you prefer it done, sir?

So it’s really no surprise that she and all the other feminists of DOS sat meekly and listened to him lecture them on how women wanted to be raped.

All it takes is being weak-willed. Being too lazy to free oneself, to be independent. To prefer the shelter and certainty of a cult to the knocks and turmoil and uncertainty of thinking for oneself.

I find I have little sympathy for the weak-willed fools who joined this cult. They lacked the bare minimum of courage to say “No”.

They didn’t question, they didn’t think.

In their escape from freedom, they empowered this man; without his minions, Raniere would have had no power.

They are responsible for a great deal of damage done to others. Because, as it turns out, there is no escaping responsibility.

I don’t buy the argument that Nxians were brainwashed or hypnotized or mind-controlled. They were merely trying to escape freedom. To evade responsibility. Instead of doing the hard work of being an adult, they sought the comfort of childhood, of doing as they were told, of pleasing daddy.

The “inner circle” of obedient slaves are despicable. Contemptible. People who decline the responsibility of thinking for themselves, who are too weak-willed to question the path they are following, are not to be coddled as victims but should be reviled instead.


The monster with his first-line slaves.


The monster with his inner circle. Several of the inner circle woke up and left – and some of them provided assistance in taking down the monster.


Slaves and mindless fools love to smile: Front row: Vanessa Sahagun, Marc Elliot, Michele Hatchette, Allison Mack, Danielle Roberts, Siobhan Hotaling, ?, Nicki Clyne, Camila Fernandez, India Oxenberg, and Michelle Salzman-Myers. 
Back row: Jim Del Negro, Chris Pearson-Smith, Brian Elliot, Sehajo Haertel, and Justin Elliot.

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  • Once they get someone to view the world through the myopic lens of the cult, critical thinking goes out the window.

  • Actaeon & Shadowste,

    I owe you both an apology. I wrongly attributed the writings of PatrickBackup to Acteon.

    I am actually am quite sincerely sorry to you both.

    Scott Johnson can still screw off.

  • Actaeon, thanks for this thoughtful piece.

    I particularly appreciated the link to the very interesting article, The Frankfurt School and the Allure of Submission. The sort of mass movement described in times of social turmoil, can happen on a smaller scale in high control groups or cults anytime, when those with the strongest need for authority and certainty are attracted.

    It’s telling that such groups virtually always end up being authoritarian if not even totalitarian in their structure and leadership.

    Scientology is an interesting case, because two of their prime selling points are specifically “freedom” and “certainty,” and yet the former becomes totally compromised in pursuit of the latter. I haven’t seen signs that it worked quite that explicitly in NXIVM, except in DOS and SOP.

    However, while the concept of brainwashing has been discredited, I think you’re downplaying the power of undue influence, particularly when it is part of a whole milieu of control from social reinforcement and indoctrination, to suggestion and conversational hypnosis. The entire structure and function of these groups is to have people long enough and isolated enough to meld them, such that people will eventually come to do things that they would not have initially.

  • Mr bully…long time you didn’t go in one of your stupid analyze and BS stories!
    I missed you…well not really but you know.

    “The fools who joined Nxivm and DOS didn’t resist the urge.”
    Well that include the victims…you idiot! and once again, no victims, no crime!

    “One of the appalling highlights of the Nxivm trial was listening to the audio of Keith Raniere expound with ill-concealed glee the details of how exactly he wanted his women to be branded on their nether regions, while proud feminist Allison Mack meekly agreed to every S&M inspired detail. Unquestioning, obedient, subservient”
    Funny how you ignore the facts and others member present…
    Actually Allison didn’t yes, she said “Ok, ok”…This is the sound of someone not agreeing but without a choice.

    BUT an unnamed person on the record said “it’s cool,it look…” (i forgot what it was looking like for that girl) and she is never pointed.

    So Mr genius : COERCION, repeat after me, COERCION! the crime Allison was accused (without being demonstrated at all was actually done on HER)
    Then STARVATION, you understand the meaning of starvation? are you knowing enough about biology to understand what it means for the brain? (i’m often wondering you don’t starve yourself when we read your stupid statements)
    And finally SLEEP DEPRIVATION, this one is more complicate for your microscopic brain but it’s easy to try…just stay awake for 72 hours for the experience.
    Don’t come to write over here because we won’t see the difference, you never make sense.

    “I find I have little sympathy for the weak-willed fools who joined this cult. They lacked the bare minimum of courage to say “No”.”
    Nice for Nicole…why are you going after Allison then? the bully in you needs a target, that i understand but aim at someone else as you don’t even understand how stupid you sound when you are blaming those under coercion that refuse to destroy their life to say no…

    There is a decline in your articles (probably boredom)…you ,already ,make no sense usually but your reached a new low!

    • Your prose is muddle-headed and borderline hysterical. Please get your ducks in a row before commenting here.

      This is The FR, not a f*cking sorry-arse cult.

    • “the bully in you needs a target,”

      If you want to talk about bullying, nobody beats the reprehensible sadistic Allison Mack.
      A master manipulator who lied to women while leading them to be branded like cattle and lured into a sex slave cult.
      And like her cry baby boyfriend Raniere, if Allison Mack sheds any tears, it is only for getting caught.

      If you want to know about Allison Mack’s madness and cruelty, just read this story.
      It is part one of a detailed explanation of how Allison Mack manipulated and pimped other women.
      (Part two is forthcoming.)
      Allison Mack’s True Role in the Sex Trafficking of Nicole [Part 1]

    • If there were no victims and no crimes, there wouldn’t have been indictments, guilty pleas, and a conviction.

      As far as supposed coercion, you haven’t ever answered the question of why Mack never left during the several extended periods she was away from Knox Woods and could eat and rest, and recover, the sort of opportunity that lead others to question what they were involved in and leave – or why she didn’t just leave, when some like Kristin Keefe and Dani had the strength to do so even though Raniere was trying to break them.

      The inconvenient fact is that even at times when MACK HAD FREEDOM away from Knox Woods – and could even have consulted an attorney regarding her situation, such as to figure out what to do about her “collateral,” if she’d wanted to – your Ally still went back to sex slaving.

      There is either something especially weak or particularly sinister about Mack and you cannot address why she is such an aberration.

  • There was and is no reason to smile. And there is also no reason for joy.

    That is only the joy of the criminals about their successful deed and the joy of the fools about their foolishness.

    • I don’t like the idea of blaming this behavior on a psychological disorder, which simply provides an excuse. If it’s a disorder, a sickness, then they aren’t responsible. I reject this; short of actual mental illness, insanity, we are responsible for our actions. No excuses.

      But the main reasons I dislike the idea are two: first, it’s a psychologism. It reduces complex human nature to a psychological disorder. Second, it is a tautology, it explains nothing, it’s simply a rephrasing. Some people display behavior A; this is given a name and put in a diagnostic manual, and the riddle is solved. Except it is not solved, the puzzle remains. It’s the illusion of a scientific explanation.

      I prefer leaving this as a character trait. Some people are weak willed and play follow the leader with their lives. There are plenty of accurate and colorful terms for this, all better than the clinical and scientific sounding “Dependent Personality Disorder”. Words like “weak willed”, “gullible”, “hapless” and “fool”.

      It’s not a disorder, there will be no pill to fix it. You can’t cure stupid, but you can make yourself aware of it and endeavor not to be fooled by fake gurus who offer to sell you the secrets of a happy and successful life.

    • Pyriel,

      You are 100% correct.

      Good luck getting the misogynists like Actaeon and Scott Johnson to listen.
      Actaeon thinks “it’s okay for old men to bang 14 year old girls”. And Scott believes that “the victims got what they deserved.”

      • I never said that and don’t believe it. Other than that, you got everything right, as usual. Which means you are 100% wrong. LOL

      • X thinks ““it’s okay for old men to bang 14 year old girls”. And Scott believes that “the victims got what they deserved.”

        That is the most defamatory thing I have ever read on the Frank Report.
        No one thinks it is OK to bang 14 year old girls except maybe Pea Onyu or one of her many alter egos.
        And as much as I disagree with Scott Johnson on a wide variety of topics, he does not believe that the victims got what they deserved.

        You call yourself “Niceguy” and then defend the co-defendants of Raniere who eagerly enabled his many crimes.
        You falsely label people who attack Clare, Allison, Nancy and Lauren as “misogynists.”
        Whose side are you on?

        Clare, Allison, Nancy and Lauren enabled Ranire and NXIVM’s twenty year reign of terror.

        I favor true empowerment.
        And true empowerment requires good citizens to stand up and COOPERATE with the police and the FBI to utterly destroy NXIVM and the leaders of this gang of terrorists.
        Your defamation of commenters on this blog actually helps NXIVM and its remaining ghouls.

        • Satire-
          the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

        • Shadowstate1958,

          By your request for your reading pleasure I present to you Scott Johnson’s perspective on NXIVM victims. It is a comment and quote between Scott and I. I wrote the following:

          “October 14, 2019 at 9:28 am

          You stated the following:

          1.)”Recruiting isn’t a crime.”

          2.)”If the recruiting leads to getting people to pay for overpriced NXIVM courses, you’re wrong.”

          So by your own logic Scott the following is also true:

          If the recruiting leads to getting people to pay for overpriced Amway detergent it isn’t a crime.

          Scott you are not hypocritical or sanctimonious…….

          You are just a complete and total f*cking moron.

          By chance did one of your parents have Down syndrome?

          …..Or did you just eat paint chips and sniff glue as a child? ”

          Re: Actaeon


          If you request it; I will take an hour or two and dig up the article that your boy Actaeon wrote that tacitly implies that consensual sex between grown men and girls as young as 14 or 15 is okay and “we all” according to him check out preteens.

          How you can defend Actaeon is f*cking disgusting to put it mildly.

        • Shadowstate,

          Cat got your tongue?

          I do not have any problem with, but you should not be defending the indefensible. Why not defend Mack now? Actaeon wrote “we are all prudish” and “secretly gaze at underage girls”.

          I find Acteon disgusting.

  • This is a massive oversimplification, and to base the analysis on psychoanalysis and Marxism is nuts. And there is no need to claim the inner circle are not victims, otherwise they wouldn’t have plead guilty or been found guilty in court.

  • Since you mentioned followers of Fascism, Nazi Germany in particular.

    “Most of us live relatively comfortable lives – and when we do see violence in the news or on a movie screen it is so far removed from us it ceases to exist the minute we turn off the screen. The fundamental question remains – if we pretend such atrocities do not exist – will they disappear? How long can we continue living our comfortable lives before the violence ends up on our back door?”
    Clare Bronfman 2009

    “The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty, and truth. To make a goal of comfort or happiness has never appealed to me; a system of ethics built on this basis would be sufficient only for a herd of cattle.” Albert Einstein

    Much easier to let someone else do the thinking for you? Indeed, it was easier to allow Dr. Danielle Roberts to brand humans like cattle. Strangely it isn’t illegal to brand consenting adults. Unless however, you take the hypocritic oath and became a Doctor and that said Doctor practiced unlawful human branding. A fine line between just and the unjust. Victim and perpetrator within Nxivm. Its clear they had Raniere as a Master, for which all will cast their sins on, as he rots. The truth will not sit in the well forever. It will rise to the top like a nice cream.

    Negligence is a failure to exercise appropriate and or ethical ruled care, expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort law known as negligence involves harm caused by failing to act as a form of carelessness possibly with extenuating circumstances. The core concept of negligence is that people should exercise reasonable care in their actions, by taking account the potential harm that they might foreseeably cause to other people or property.

    Medical malpractice is a legal cause of action that occurs when a medical or health care professional deviates from standards in his or her profession, thereby causing injury to a patient.

    Why do people submit themselves, entirely and wholeheartedly, to a cult leader? IMO because its a choice. This is America land of the free home of the brave. A melting pot of ignorance and bliss. It was their collective thoughts of survival and humanitarian ethical “evilloution”.

  • Interesting assessment.

    It might be time to also examine the men who joined NXIVM. Seems to me like that Society of Protectors were a bunch of soyboys looking for the same kind of structured empowerment — and they submissively did the bidding of the master. He may not have branded their bodies but it’s possible that Vanguard may have achieved something akin to mental castration.

    We’ve read endless copy about the “weak willed” females. But few seem to willing to analyze the men who would follow the dough-shaped dictator. They are almost treated as if asterisks to this story. Perhaps we shoud consider that the devil is often in the details. The “World’s Smartest Man” wasn’t the only man involved in the growth of this group.

    Who recruited them? Why did they join? Why did they stay? Who did the men recruit? What was their role? What kept them there?

    • Good luck with getting that information about the men. Most of them will probably clam up, because men aren’t as gossipy as women. LOL

  • It truly is a depressing topic.
    After all of the agitation for equal rights for women so many women, even Liberal women, were willing and eager to become oppressors of their fellow women.
    They were even willing to become Mormon style sister-wives to each other and eager to be impregnated by the Leader’s sperm so they could bear Super Babies for the Master Race.
    But for the intervention of the FBI these women would still be oppressing each other.

    And after two recent stories in the Frank Report detailing Nicki Clyne’s apparent continued adherence to female sexual slavery. she is playing the “Victim Card” as if Pimps are somehow oppressed working girls.

    “Pea Onyu
    October 14, 2019 at 10:01 pm
    The stuff Frank wrote about beautiful Nicki Clyne is disgraceful. How can you defend him? She is just trying to work and do what she thinks is right.”

    I should note here that when Pea Onyu aka Nicki Clyne first came on the Frank Report to comment she had to refer to her sexiness and attractiveness

    “.Pea Onyu
    October 10, 2017 at 7:58 pm
    Nicki is still one hot sexy woman. Your comments Van Douche are unwarranted and unwelcome please apologize.”

    • Shadowstate1958,

      Re Your question why do I care about other people’s mental health:

      I want to help people….However,
      today I came to the reality one cannot help people with mental health problems on a web forum and I am not good at it.

      I still care about people but will no longer be inquiring regarding somones mental health.

      Goodnight 😉

      • Shadowstate,

        Read the comment above by Scott Johnson.

        Is this the person you want to be defending?


  • This topic is well explored in the podcast “The Dream” episode “BONUS 4: How to fire your boss” and expicitely uses NXIVM as an example. A previous episode “BONUS 3: Dream Stealers” is specifically about NXIVM and how it is both an MLM Ponzi scheme as well as a cult. The entire series is primarily about MLMs and well worth a listen. But the BONUS4 episode specifically addresses how and why otherwise intelligent people get sucked in and stay.

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.” He also appeared in "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM, and was 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 premieres on May 22, 2022.

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