Ed. Note: A guest view by Shivani presents an intriguing portrait of how the world of Keith Raniere operated. I think it is very insightful.
Just thinking about how Raniere told his followers going through pain would lead to “joy.”
When you look at the amount of pain, such as branding, fright “experiments,” numerous incidents of painful, chemical abortions if he got women pregnant, the use of collateral to intimidate his flock, Raniere pitting one person against another to compete for his attention, what do you see?
Progressively, Raniere and Nancy Salzman made demands on others more and more steep. People had to allow themselves to be humiliated, people had to humiliate themselves, more intensively as time went by, as the condition for feeling acceptable became more and more irrational.
Things could always be made more awful. You are not worthy enough. You might be abandoned by him and the group. You would be told how wrong you were. Your own conscience and trust in yourself was being set up for destruction.
In fact one’s own self-destruction was designed to seem like finally, you were making progress!
The more one fell in line with losing one’s mindfulness, the more “acceptance” Nxivm and its leaders would give. Pretty much the more messed up you became, the better it might go for you personally.
Of course, receiving approval was guaranteed to be only temporary. Very soon, there would be more demands made, there would be a new “issue.”
You are good enough for awhile, until the next time an excuse would be found to send you back down to the pits of self-blame, fear, self-abnegation. Peer pressure would be a big factor applied to anyone who was not “surrendered enough” to the power structure.
Sooner or later, those who let themselves become entrapped by Nxivm and later DOS, accepted worse and worse circumstances, and demands.
Step by step, the individuals and the subsets of smaller groups, plus the entire environment, turned more and more ugly, disruptive and sadomasochistic.
But you had better like it, be a cheerleader for all the monstrous experiences, or you are no good. And you are up to no good unless you obey the ever-morphing rules of governance.
No woman was allowed to have another man in their lives; each female had to be with only Raniere. Meanwhile, he was out screwing around with everyone else’s thoughts, feelings, any other relationships they had or would like to pursue and imposing his sexual tyranny and sadistic fascinations on everyone.
People were conditioned to ignore, to overlook, to accept, even sanction and praise Raniere’s insanity.
If one didn’t cooperate, get with his program, again and again, you’re made to experience shame about your response. You had to take it, had to accept his totalitarianism, his perversions as right behavior, as supreme “guidance.”
Or else things are going to get worse and worse.
Everybody trying to be accepted, to maybe hear a scrap of praise. Yet criminality, in Raniere’s name, on his behalf, was an ongoing requirement for “success.”
Raniere and Nancy Salzman designed things to get individuals off-kilter, to invade peoples’ mental and emotional stability, then inject their demands unto their “subjects” and make them more controllable.
Make someone feel awful, wrong, unenlightened. Make people feel lowdown, inside and outside. You are all wrong in your thinking, your feelings and must change your way to Raniere’s way, sanction his manipulations and surrender to abusiveness.
Buck “up” or the whole group looks down their noses.
His techniques are essentially his methods of madness. He kept setting up people to experience nervousness, fear, unhappiness. Then, if there were emotional responses, unhappiness expressed, some kind of argumentation or protest, THAT was being wrong, wrong, wrong. You’re doomed to fail, no matter what you do or say.
You were not “advancing” unless you accepted the big, unreasonable, unfair experiences that he and his head minions dealt out consistently and systematically.