The article Eyewitnesses and Leaked Document Reveal Events From the Last Week of Kristin Snyder adds a lot of important detail and context about her disappearance. Thanks for the great work.
I’d love to know what a real professional used to dealing with people in the midst of mental health crises thought of the situation now that it is better documented.
Overall, it fleshes out the picture of Kristin Snyder definitely being very mentally disturbed, even delusional, and suicidal – not to mention sleep deprived. And it all seems too real for her to have been faking it – NXIVM’s conspiracy theory about her staging her disappearance aside.
NXIVM’s EMs [Exploration of Meaning therapy sessions] bore some similarities to Scientology “auditing,” from what I can tell.
They’re based on an early psychological technique related to hypnosis called abreaction, which takes people through past traumas in an attempt to alleviate them, and which can produce a sense of relief and even euphoria. But it turns out that it is not long-lasting, with some subjects getting significantly worse rather than marginally better, plus the technique can induce false memories (including of supposed past lives), and so it was abandoned by professional psychologists by about the middle of the last century.
If an amateur like Ed Kinnum was giving Snyder EMs when she was in a troubled state, that’s a recipe for making things worse.
Something likely similar happened in the infamous case of Lisa McPherson in Scientology, where a young woman became extremely disturbed and ended up dead after the group’s attempts to avoid taking her to a hospital for real care.
Group processes used in NXIMV’s intensives probably had a similar basis and, so, could also have similar effects. Various human potential groups have used these sort of techniques because they’re a fairly easy way to produce impressive-seeming results – so much so that quite a few figures of early psychology were enamored of them until their long-term outcomes and implications were better understood – but their overall ineffectiveness, and dangers in a small but significant number of cases, are hard for untrained amateurs to grasp.
“Being at cause” is a concept heavily used in Scientology, and probably originating with it, though it’s really just a jumble of other ideas. As this example shows, it is badly defined and covers everything from realistic personal responsibility to what might be classified as “magical thinking” – and as Frank elucidates, is often used in cults to try to hold people responsible or blame them, for things over which they had no control or were not even involved in.
Chiappone Carlson sounds like the most dangerous amateur of all, with her dogmatic and heartless attitude regarding even things she was completely wrong about, such as suicide attempts – which are actually about 10 times more common than completed suicides (though still hardly to be dismissed).
And it’s interesting that they said that Snyder was going to return to class. That indicates she may have found a ride back with someone like one of the coaches – but also, if you click the ‘Transit’ option on Google Maps, at least now there’s a bus that goes most of the way, too.
In the big picture, this is a reminder that groups like NXIVM can be dangerous, and shouldn’t be practicing counseling or therapy without adequate training or at least professional supervision.
I checked in with a source and verified what I had suspected, that NXIVM was grossly negligent in not having even done due diligence and copied what other groups do; in the Landmark Forum (formerly est), for instance, they do a bit of mental health pre-screening and then have a psychological professional on call in case there is any question about participants’ state of mind.
AnonyMaker made two excellent points:
1. The “magical thinking” technique is actually is frequently used not just by cults, but by all mainstream religions to a certain degree. ” And try to hold people responsible or blame them, for things over which they had no control or were not even involved in. An example would be if a farmer’s crop harvest was bad even though the farmer committed no sin, the said God is testing the farmer’s piety and devout belief in said God. All very much similar to the Christian God and the story of Job.
2. Ester Carlson had no business giving psychological advice or counseling to Kristin or Kristin’s wife on how to deal with Kristin. AnonyMaker wrote up a perfect outline of Carlson’s shortcomings, negligence, and culpability in Kristin Snyder’s death. I now believe AnonyMaker is 100% correct that the Snyder family would have had a strong case for a wrongful death lawsuit against Nxivm.
This article is a good read.
“[T]his is a reminder that groups like NXIVM can be dangerous, and shouldn’t be practicing counseling or therapy without adequate training or at least professional supervision.”
The whole basis of this MLM rested on misleading and often false advertisement. It’s not surprising coaches were attempting to do things for which they lacked credentials and training.
Speaking of which, I would expect an “Executive Success Program” that charged such insanely high prices to have actual executives or former executives at the helm and in the classrooms, not self-styled “communicators” and “educators”– people who took Raniere’s lead in deflecting how little training and expertise they had with two-bit verbal provocations a la Scientology.
The coaches, both in and out of Raniere’s circle, whether they chose to acknowledge it or not, weren’t part of an MLM to train people to run complex organizations; they were there to take advantage of vulnerable, pliable minds. The proof of the deception is in the fact a business curriculum was absent. In its place was pabulum about vague psych concepts like “self” and “other.” The idea that some of the coaches were good and some were bad is absurd. They were mindless, though all to eager, mouthpieces for just another MLM scam.
What do you say, coaches?– the ones who make comments on this blog trying to blame everything on Raniere. Without your own grubby attempts at self-promotion, NXIVM would have gone the way of the dodo a lot sooner. Why don’t you just admit it?– You were trying to do a job for which you had no real training and expertise, within the confines of an MLM. Isn’t it time to go on an apology tour? In my personal opinion, it’s time for you to issue a mea culpa with an earnestness that matches your previous desire to pass yourself off as an executive-level trainer, all the while adhering to NXIVM’s odious scripts.
To help you build a self-improvement agenda, here’s an exercise even you can do at home: Stand in front of a mirror and say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me!” Perhaps also imagine that the eyes you look into are those of a former student. Repeat, till the gravity of your mistake begins to sink in and you really are sorry, though I, for one, won’t hold my breath.
Esther has been shown as particularly lethal, as an aggressively inappropriate group leader for Raniere/Salzman (so she was and is exactly their type of leader, really) and as a proponent of lies, even as she knew very well that she was pushing propaganda to protect Raniere’s image. She has been shown willfully engaged in deceptions, and we can see that she was lying deliberately, not only because Esther herself had been programmed, but because she continued to decide to represent Raniere as a celibate, a noble healer, a brilliant fellow when her own experience had included being deceived by Raniere personally.
So Esther was an ideal group representative for people like Raniere. She was happy to devote her energies to backing up his entire slate of lies and of criminalities. Just like Nancy Salzman and just like so many of Raniere’s devoted harpies and sexual predators, Esther KNEW what she was doing. What was in it for Esther, when it’s clear enough that she knew how fake the entire set-up was for many, many years?
She sounds like a damned stinker who found her gang! How relevant was any of the new age bullshit to Esther? How relevant was any of the fake philosophy, etc. to Esther’s replacement boyfriend, Del Negro, after Esther settled for him when she figured out that she’d never be Raniere’s Queen? Bitter, mean, nasty, power-hungry, status-hungry, ugly operator Esther and Del Negro, another abusive perv, what are these scumbags up to now? Still sex-trafficking, still fleecing people? Let’s just say nothing about either of these two would be a surprise, and the writing is on the wall. They are in retreat only to save their own asses, but my guess is that they have no desire to change course. Both appear to have too much to hide. Both appear to enjoy digging their heels into the endzone of the Lost Losers. Two dangerous fuckheads.
I think that Esther knew PLENTY about what Kristin Snyder experienced with Raniere at his communal headquarters in New York. Let’s be blunt, for crying out loud. This snake was in it to win it. I think that she helped Nancy Salzman, Raniere and others to entrap Kristin alone with Raniere in the first place, almost right from the moment when Kristin got encouraged to stay with Esther in New York, while Raniere was angling for his chance to start using Kristin for his sadistic and psychopathic sexual fun and games. Sneaky and diabolical Esther Carlson Chiappone, huh? How come? Too entrenched in mutual co-dependencies? Did Esther derive pleasure, just like Clare Bronfman did, from being given so many chances to vent her very own spleen, full of malintentions? You bet it all stinks.
Esther left her family and children behind and moved cross-country to live with her fantasized new guru/lover, only to discover quickly that she had been hoodwinked. Yet she hunkered down and stayed on with Nxivm and spouted the Raniere lies and made her living from it, trying to rise through the ranks, to increase her status and earnings.
So, who are we seeing when observing Esther and her insane conceptualizations, her full-tilt support for madness which had already demolished her familial relations? She liked it all way too much. It looks like Esther is continuing to feel right at home with this shit-for-life, even now. What can one see from this? A sociopath? An evildoer? An idiot? Someone who has trapped herself by her own criminal actions, especially with reference to Kristin Snyder? Someone who is trying to be invisible so as to elude accountability? Someone who shed herself of having any sincere values long, long ago?
She let herself become dependent upon her ESP, Nxivm and Raniere lifestyle as her way to make a living, to have a life. Good God almighty, what kind of a fool is Esther? Instead of leaving when she couldn’t snare Raniere as her lover man, Esther let herself be an even more devoted acolyte. I don’t know enough about Esther’s involvement with Nancy Salzman or with Raniere or his other freaks to be able to know just how long she was into this lifestyle before she moved to New York and became a full-time freak-ass herself. However, it looks like she burned her bridges to become more and more hooked on an enterprise which she knew was a complete scam, and then Esther built upon selling false growth and concealing her group’s deceptions. So for how many years has Esther been lying to Esther?
Certainly, I can infer from many things that have been published here that Esther settled right into using ESP, etc. lingo as though she’d surrendered her own conscience and compassion radically. But perhaps Esther is similar to certain others who were and are Raniere’s supporters; perhaps Esther arrived in Raniere’s fold already with a dead or nonexistent conscience and as an individual without any genuine empathy. Could there be a worse kind of woman? She has been another one of Raniere’s Lizzie Bordens. She is just a slightly different version of Toni Natalie, of Clare, of Nancy and Lauren Salzman, etc. She knew the source was all based upon scrubbed-up falsified lies and manipulations, and Esther took her stand to uphold the entire, sickening mess.
That is how it appears to me. She was attracted to her very own trap, walked right in, shut and locked all of the exits, and here, it seems, she has decided to remain, nauseating and malevolent.
Oddly, Esther was ousted from Jness by the machinations of the wacko, Allison Mack, after Esther got cranky about Mack’s low weight and began yapping aloud about Mack being bulimic to keep her weight within Raniere’s idea of how sexy starvation was. Mack arranged to get Esther out of the way as a Jness influencer. These creeps pretend to love one another, but no one could wait to get ahead by doing a hatchet job on one another.
It’s very possible that Esther would love to scalp Allison Mack and to hang up her head and her bottle-blondie pelt on a great big stick, even now. But Esther has too much dirt of her own to do anything about Allison Mack.
One hears that Esther lives in Sarasota, Fl., so perhaps Sarasota could benefit by hearing about who Esther has been and who she is now. Heaven knows there’s plenty of information available about Esther, no matter how invisible she wants to be today.
Sarasota could very well have a murderer harboring itself right in their midst, going to their Publix grocery stores, sitting her smarmy ass down in Sarasota’s tourist spots and street cafés, looking for business. This city is less than an hour away from our home if that’s really where this beast lives today, UGH. Look out for your children, Sarasota, look out for your husbands, boyfriends, wives and sweethearts. Find out what Esther looks like and get ready to hock some loogies right in her face if she approaches you or anyone else. Self-defense is not always pretty. Okay, never mind. See Esther and decide for yourself, fight or flight. Too bad there aren’t any wanted MLM posters for Esther. Yet.
Esther Carlson Chiappone or whatever she calls herself now, is not at all likely ever to change or to leave off promoting her plague. She probably still thinks that Raniere cornered the market as a strategically helpful fake friend of all humankind and that she and her fellow banshees still have something very ensnaring to sell, to promote. Who is paying for Esther to make a living now? And Esther would still know, as well, that she is lying through her gritted teeth.
Hypothetically speaking, let’s say someone had a health care power of attorney on Kristin and that person was in class with Kristin. Wouldn’t they be liable for neglect and or responsible for providing the care expected of the health care power of attorney?
IMO. Kristin had to subtract time from someone or something to progress with Nxivm courses. Whether it be from training with the Nordic Ski Patrol or spending time with the family. IMO it doesn’t seem like killing Kristin would have been a profitable move for Nxivm. She was a paying customer. If she was saying she was pregnant by Vanguard, that seems far fetched to me. Why would a full-fledged lesbian tell people she was pregnant by the man Vanguard? If she was raped, why not go to the police instead of making a scene in class?
If a man raped me, I sure as hell wouldn’t want that bastard Ed Kinnum in my face mocking me while I had a public mental break down. And if this rape, mental break down and pregnancy was Kristin’s truth, where was her supposed close lover Heidi?…..Oh yeah, sitting on the other side of the room. Or on the other side of the door looking through the “window” or watching her from somewhere never too far away to watch her lover fade into mental health oblivion.
Maybe it was the purple slippers she wore to class that made her look even more crazy. How embarrassing for Heidi to have to deal with all this mess.
It is similar dirty tricks used to gain power, between Scientology’s and Raniere’s influence and his influencers. Raniere’s prolific sexual dictatorship is a big part of his infamy. If Kristin was murdered or helped to suicide in Anchorage, it was quick, a swift disappearance.
Lisa McPherson was a Scientology “clear” and was “acting out” in public, was taken to the hospital by an ambulance or police vehicle, and Scientologists then took her out of the hospital. She was held captive for 17 days in the Fort Harrison Hotel, which is Scientology property in Clearwater, Florida. Lisa was guarded by rotating shifts of several different individuals. Lisa didn’t live, either. She died being driven to a hospital where a Scientologist doctor could run the show, and there were two other hospitals that could’ve been driven to faster to get emergency help for Lisa, much closer to the Fort Harrison, en route to where the Scientologists probably drove her dead body. No arrests, eh?
Like Kristin Snyder’s circumstances, the more you find out about Lisa McPherson’s mental and physical health being distorted and being the opposite of helped, by the group leader’s linguistic, psychological and foolhardy “control mechanisms,” the more alike the criminality seems. There is nothing genuine or noble or even humane about it. Lisa was dehydrated and starved and allowed to decay with bedsores, in one sequestered room.
To flesh out the comparison, McPherson had been very actively involved in Scientology towards the end of her life, had previously shown signs of mental instability during an intensive course of pseudo-therapy, and had been subjected to one of their quack processes developed to try to settle down people experiencing the negative effects of abreaction and hypnosis, including borderline and full-blown psychosis.
She began showing symptoms similar to Snyder including psychotic behavior, and grandiose claims of blame and guilt. After getting in a car accident and then stripping naked, she was taken to a hospital where Scientologists came and retrieved her, and took her to one of their facilities, where they subjected her to another round of their process for dealing with psychosis, which left her in a fatally deteriorated physical condition.
Scientology has such an extensive history of using these kind of techniques and then having some subjects experience the inevitable negative side effects or bad outcomes, that they’ve developed protocols for dealing with what they call “PTS Type III” psychotic symptoms, though they fail to address the problems inherent in the techniques, essentially blaming them on other factors.
In NXIVM’s case, I wonder whether after the Snyder case and several others mentions in the 2004 Times Union article, they somehow adjusted how they handled things, or whether they just blundered on producing a certain number of psychiatric casualties and trying to sweep those cases under the rug as best they could – there certainly have to be number of other examples of bad outcomes that we just haven’t heard about, including one referred to in which Lauren Salzman surreptitiously administered drugs to someone experiencing problems.
Scientology’s techniques work perfectly, from their perspective. For example, McPherson is dead, mission accomplished. Now she can assume a new body and try to fix her defects again.
Good point – that’s literally Scientology’s belief or justification regarding reincarnation, that people can just “drop the body” and “come back in better shape.” Given that NXIVM adopted quite a bit from Scientology, and apparently at least some of their belief in past lives, I wonder if any sort of similar doctrine and justification was at work, or if they didn’t take it quite that far.
Scientologists want to get the thetans out of you, Raniere just wanted to f*ck you, physically, mentally, and psychologically.
Many other religions believe in reincarnation, but those religions don’t believe that suicide is a way to fix your problems. Not dealing with a problem and instead opting out, means that you will just face the same problems in your next incarnation.
Considering Kristin’s delusional state of mind at the time of her disappearance, perhaps she actually thought she was pregnant by some type of miraculous immaculate conception. She thought she was responsible for the space shuttle disaster, so its not a stretch to think she may have believed something similar to that.
Frank, here’s an Amway related comment you can make into a story if you want:
People have been asking me personal questions, which I resisted for years on my website because I never intended the Amway story to be about me, but they persisted, as have people on Frank’s website, and it became more of a distraction than helpful, so here you go, straight off of my website, with additional clarifications in [brackets]. Caution, not all links work, as the internet is NOT forever, as I did not understand at the time, but I will update them with new links if I can find them:
B. INTRODUCTION, OUR STORY, AND WEBSITE ORIENTATION
INTRODUCTION Welcome to THE Amway blog that represents the equivalent of the EIB made famous by someone I have a LOT of respect for, Rush Limbaugh. I trust he will allow some flexibility for me to borrow the initials EIB (Excellence In Broadcasting) and reuse the initials to stand for Excellence In Blogging [actually, I sent him an email that was never responded to, so I assumed he was okay with it by his silence. Actually, I doubt using three letter for a different set of words is actionable. However, I have been on Rush’s radio show twice, once to discuss the Amway Tool Scam]. In fact, just like Rush, I can successfully debate other bloggers, as well as the “best and brightest” from Amway (which I have proven in court and on blogs), with half my brain tied behind my back, just to make it fair. Not with Rush’s Golden Microphone (although I can do with with any YouTube video, microphone, telephone, loud speaker, or no sound equipment at all), but with my Golden EIB Keyboard. As I have found most MLMs operate very similar to Amway, my “talent, on loan, from GGGAAAWWWDDDDD” also applies to the MLM industry in general.
OUR STORY Also, a little about us, and these are the highlights, I could write several books about this saga. It is important to note our experiences are typical of millions of others, although we stayed in the Amway business longer than most. My wife and I were sponsored in January of 1993. At the time, we had a son almost 3 years old and another one about 5 months “in the oven.”
Our upline and their highest pins in ascending order were Steve and Mary Sawa (4000 pin), Jim and Jeanette LaRose (Founders Platinum), Charles and Pricilla Rudd (Sapphire), Dennis and Linda Turnbough (Platinum), Allen and Joie James (Emerald), Bruce and Wendy Anderson (Diamond), Randy and Valorie Haugen (Double Diamond), Don and Nancy Wilson (Double Diamond), and Dexter and Birdie Yager (Crown Ambassadors).
Recall the internet didn’t exist in 1993, and the Amway business was absolutely THUNDERING from the late 1980s into the mid 1990s. We saw massive growth at local and national functions and in Amway produced promotional magazines. Our upline included, in the order of the upline above, someone I worked with in the high technology [nuclear power] field, 2 medical doctors, two airline pilots, a helicopter pilot, car dealer parts manager, school teacher, and beer distributor.
After seeing the marketing plan, my dominate thought was, “I can do that.” The very first person I showed the marketing plan to got in, a friend from work I also played basketball with. He quit within a week [But this stoked my confidence that others would also join]. Shortly after joining, I injured my back and had surgery in May of 1993.
In 1997 I took a new job with the same company, and had to move about 100 miles. In 1998 I had pancreatitis, which took 2 major surgeries and about a year to recover. In 2001 I was laid off after the company mismanaged its business [thanks to Enron’s scam] (I had received a $17,000 bonus the year before [the first and last with that company] for restructuring some leases and saving the company $1 million/year for the next several years).
I mention these life experiences not because I expect any sympathy, but because I was told like everyone else is told, you have to be consistent for a long period of time if you want real business growth. [I also recognized this concept was needed for me to earn an Electrical Engineering degree and qualify as EOOW and EDO on a nuclear powered, US Navy ship]
In 2004, the upline Emerald held the usual annual outing in Florida, a sort of casual/cabin major function [for the movie buffs, yes, it is THAT Camp Crystal: https://www.google.com/search?q=camp+crystal+florida+movie&oq=camp+crystal+florida+movie&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l7.10984j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8].
He invited Bruce Anderson, who showed up in his motorcoach. As was the usual case, he was treated like a god-like rock star/hero. By the time the event came around in 2005, Bruce had been booted by Amway (long story, google it), and I knew he made about 2/3s of his $350,000/year profit from the tools, as he stated this on his own blog.
Instead of Bruce being at the retreat, Don Wilson shows up, and Bruce was not mentioned the entire weekend. It was as if he never existed. I made a business comment to my upline Founders Platinum toward the end of the meeting [it was regarding the 6-4-2 business structure, which made sense, given the person who sponsored the 6 was in the longest, so they had the most number of legs, and those towards the bottom who were not in as long, had a lesser number of legs], and got back a blank stare.
This is when I canceled our standing tool order [it was actually right after we got home, by email], and went from “best buddies” to being totally ignored, which was okay with me. I drew the line of communications at the Platinum level, as these were the LCKs stealing ATS profit from their downline. My immediate sponsor was inactive, so that left nobody upline to communicate with at all.
So, I had to decide what to do. I felt there was value in the Amway business minus the ATS, so I made a decision which is summarized in this letter, which was also sent to DeVos via certified mail, and I spoke with an underling about the letter after receiving both an email and voice mail from him, as I went on a short vacation soon after mailing the letter: http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/businessopprule/522418-04681.pdf [https://stoptheamwaytoolscam.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/devos-2005-letter.pdf].
After spending 2 years buying tapes/CDs on eBay for 20 cents each or less (includes shipping costs), books for $1 or less, and a variety of other brochures and other marketing materials, I decided to get into the implementation stage. The first step was to attend some Open meeting and a monthly Seminar. Wilson had broken away from Yager from a tools perspective a few years earlier, and Wilson’s business was doing so bad he turned to Orrin Woodward and TEAM for tools.
After attending a couple of Opens [Open Meetings, where the marketing plan is shown, mainly to distributors who couldn’t get/didn’t try to get anyone to join them] (one local and one in Houston, I waved to my upline Sapphire from the audience, never said a word to him and walked out after the Open was over) and a Seminar, I wrote the following email to Quixtar’s rules department: [to be continued….]
NXIVM’s psychological professional on call was Raniere, except not during the day when he was sleeping, only during the night when he wasn’t sleeping, unless he was in the middle of f*cking some woman/women.
Nancy Salzman seems to have been the one most directly responsible for such things, and, as reported in this case, she was on the phone with Chiappone Carlson giving directions about how to handle Snyder, though, of course, her only training was a 2-year nursing degree and some seminars on hypnosis and NLP. But then it seems Salzman was deferential to Raniere’s guidance, even though he had no even tangentially relevant training – not to mention a propensity to mis-manage things to disaster.
Raniere may have been “busy” f*cking one or more of his female friends that night, perhaps he even handed the phone to Salzman as he was pounding away on her!