Toni Natalie has told many of her friends and former friends about her three illnesses. She has also written about them in her book, The Program Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of Nxivm.
Her three self-proclaimed illnesses are:
Dyslexia or Reading Disability
Toni describes her “severe dyslexia” as being the cause of her dropping out of high school in the 10th grade.
She writes, “The problem was that I was not a good student. I now know that I suffer from severe dyslexia. When I read, the words swim off the page. But when I was in high school, dyslexia was not understood or diagnosed and was generally confused with lack of intelligence.”
Actually, and as an aside, it appears that Toni actually did not drop out of 10th grade, nut, instead,12th grade – which is evidenced by her senior picture appearing in the Senior Yearbook for what would have been her graduating class’ yearbook. That mistake could be caused by her dyslexia – or she might be lying.
But does Toni really suffer from severe dyslexia?
To discover the treasures contained in her book, The Program Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of Nxivm, her publishers offer several options, including the physical book, a Kindle version, and an “audible audiobook.”
An audible audiobook features someone reading the book, usually the author.
Obviously, if Toni has severe dyslexia, she could not read the book aloud. Yet, according to Amazon, which sells her book, including the audible version, Toni Natalie is the narrator of the book.
Toni confirms this on the Facebook page for her book
According to the Mayo Clinic: “Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Also called reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language…
Some common dyslexia signs and symptoms…:
- Difficulty reading, including reading aloud
- Slow and labor-intensive reading and writing
- Avoiding activities that involve reading
- Mispronouncing names or words
- Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing
Toni Natalie says she dropped out of high school in the 10th grade because of severe dyslexia. It appears she may have lied about the year she dropped out because her senior picture is in her high school yearbook (Maybe her former classmates insisted that the book include a picture of the prettiest girl in their class even though she had dropped out in 10th grade). Or maybe Toni was misdiagnosed? How is it possible that she has “severe dyslexia” and is still able to read her book aloud for audible books?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Toni has also told many people she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. She confirms this in her book and gives two different dates about when she was first diagnosed with this mental disorder.
She blames the PTSD on Keith, writing: “I began to doubt my own sanity. Maybe Keith was right. Maybe I really was the devil. My mental health was in peril, and my physical health along with it. I suffered from migraines and from weird aches and pains, the cause of which I could not determine. I was a nervous wreck. In April 2004 I was diagnosed with post¬traumatic stress disorder.”
Later, she moves back the date of the diagnosis to “the summer of 2004.”
She writes, “My mother, who had been supporting me financially during this crisis [with Keith], was forced to file for bankruptcy on July 15, 2004. She had blown through her life savings to pay my legal and medical expenses, and now there was nothing left…
“My parents were now going through hell with me, and I felt responsible for their plight. But there was nothing I could do about it, apart from putting in more hours at the pizzeria. The guilt was all consuming. I was moved by my mother’s sacrifice, by her love, but ashamed that I was the cause of so much trouble. I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping.
In the summer of 2004, I had a full-fledged nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with PTSD.”
Toni said her mother filed for bankruptcy which is true. Toni – along with her brother, John Natalie, and her mother, Joan Schnier – had engaged in a long-term restaurant leasing scheme, which, in the end, required all of them to file for bankruptcy.
They would sign agreements with leasing companies claiming to want money to buy new restaurant equipment for their various Mr. Shoes restaurants. They would get the money but not actually buy the new equipment. Instead, they would buy used or much cheaper equipment — pocket the difference in cash – and, ultimately, default on the lease payments.
According to several sources, the plan required them to file for bankruptcy at the end – which was how they avoided making any more payments to the leasing companies.
They did this in turn: first Toni, then John, then Joan. It almost landed Toni in prison on a federal rap but thanks to her criminal attorney, William Dreyer, she got off without any charges. [More on that later.]
It is not clear why Toni should have a nervous breakdown or develop PTSD because of her mother’s bankruptcy since this was a well-planned scheme that had nothing to do with Keith.
Regardless, whether she was diagnosed with PTSD in April 2004 or in the summer of 2004, she claims she got it from the trauma and terror of Keith Alan Raniere.
Yet, Toni attended every day of the trial of Keith Alan Raniere – and every pre-trial hearing. She stared at him – and claims he stared right back and gave her the finger repeatedly, something that no one else attending the trial ever observed.
She also directly called Raniere on the telephone – prior to his being arrested – to try to sell him a patent he had put in her name – for $1 million.
Is this the behavior of someone with PTSD whose trauma was triggered by Keith Raniere?
Let’s go to the Mayo Clinic for their point of view:
“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event…
PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions…
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
- Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
- Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:
- Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
- Hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
- Feeling emotionally numb
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Always being on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
Intensity of symptoms
You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.
You can develop post-traumatic stress disorder when you go through, see or learn about an event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation.
The most common events leading to the development of PTSD include:
- Combat exposure
- Childhood physical abuse
- Sexual violence
- Physical assault
- Being threatened with a weapon
- An accident
Nowhere in the literature I’ve read does it say that a person with PTSD will seek out and eagerly spend six weeks in the same room as the person that caused the traumatic event – as Toni did when Keith went to trial – or parading herself before the media – sometimes even jumping in front of others to ensure she was photographed – to talk about the person who caused the PTSD – or write about him in a book – or call him on the phone and ask him for one million dollars to sell him a patent he owns which he put in her name.
Toni, however, reportedly has a therapist who signed off on her PTSD diagnosis and because of this, Toni claims, she now collects disability payments every month. Whether that is SSI or SSDI is not known.
It may be that Toni is suffering from a rare new kind of PTSD that compels a person to dwell exclusively on – and try to profit from – the person and events that caused all her trauma.
An investigation is warranted into whether she actually has PTSD – especially if it’s true that she is collecting taxpayer money based on a diagnosis of it.
While, from her actions, she does not appear to be afflicted with PTSD, it does sound good in her book that she has a mental disorder caused by Keith Raniere.
Another good story in her book is that her beloved dog, Raymona – the very dog that saved Scott Foley’s testicles – also definitely has PTSD. How sad is that?
After Toni savagely attacked husband #4, Scott Foley – even threatening to tear off his testicles – it was Raymona who peed on the floor -which distracted Toni and allowed Scotty to escape intact.
She wrote of the event, which she blamed on Keith, “Now even my guard dog had PTSD.”
Fibromyalgia While Swinging on Ropes?
In her book, after claiming her brother John committed suicide because of Raniere – which, once again, is not the truth as John’s long-term girlfriend claims that his death certificate indicates he died of Afib, a heart condition, Toni goes on to say that Keith’s terror caused her to contract fibromyalgia.
It makes a perfect trio.
Dyslexia, which justified her lack of success in school. PTSD, caused by Keith, which shows how mentally abused she was. And, finally, a physical ailment caused by Raniere – fibromyalgia.
Will Toni’s suffering at the hands of Keith ever end?
Toni writes, “The autopsy [of her brother John] lists the cause of death as suicide by a lethal combination of metoprolol and diltiazem, John’s heart medications. I thought about my brother, so damaged, so empathic, and wondered what fucked-up messages Keith had communicated to him in months days leading up to his death. In April 2009 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.”
As everyone who knows her is well aware, Toni is quite an athlete – especially for someone her age who has so many maladies. She swings from silk ropes.
It is called aerial silks (also known as aerial contortion.) It is an exercise routine that Toni performs three or four times a week.
She hangs in the air from a fabric folded to make a loop. Toni has been seen to climb the suspended fabric and suspend, drop, swing, and spiral her body into and out of various positions. She has used her aerial silks to fly through the air, striking poses and figures while flying.
She was even a member of Aerial Arts of Rochester.
Is this form of aerial acrobatics compatible with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia?
Again, the Mayo clinics explains the disease:
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals…
- Widespread pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
- Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
- Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks…
Doctors don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, but it can sometimes be triggered by psychological stress.
It is possible to exercise when one has fibromyalgia – and some doctors even recommend it.
I am not certain how many aerial contortionists have fibromyalgia, but it is possible Toni was misdiagnosed or perhaps as has been seen in the past, she is lying.
Help Is on the Way
It is hoped that whatever diseases Toni actually has, can be somehow cured.
The first step is in getting a competent diagnosis.
According to Medical News Today, while pathological liars tell compulsive lies without a clear motive, non-pathological lying is where the lie is often beneficial to the liar in some way.
It is clear that Toni is a non-pathological liar.
In addition to being a liar, Toni may have “Factitious Disorder” – sometimes called Munchausen’s Syndrome – a condition in which a person acts as though they are physically or mentally ill when they are not.
She may also have Narcissistic Personality Disorder [NPD]. The hallmarks of NPD are fantasies of immense importance and the need for admiration and special treatment.
She might also have Borderline Personality Disorder [BPD] and may lie to distort reality into something that fits with the emotions that she is feeling, rather than the facts concerning the events of her life.
Yet another possibility is Frontotemporal Dementia, a form of dementia that affects the frontal and temporal brain regions and causes changes in behavior and language, inappropriate social behavior, lack of empathy and loss of insight into the behavior of others and oneself.
These personality disorders can lead to significant challenges with interpersonal relationships and in writing books that are supposed to be non-fiction.
If you know Toni, urge her to get a revised medical diagnosis to ascertain what’s really wrong with her.