Lauren believed what she wanted and decided to believe and what she had to want to believe, to conform.
Whatever she could think to make exceptions for Keith Raniere’s commandments and for his whoring around, she would just transfer her genuine resentments about it into questioning her own reactions. Here, she and many others would stay stuck, accusing themselves of feeling bad about Raniere’s real behavior, as if any criticism of him were automatically wrong.
This is what Lauren and all of Raniere’s sexual “congregants” had been trained to do. They were taught to blame themselves, as this cut them off from feeling okay to object to Raniere’s agenda and his programming.
One of Raniere’s routes to successfully sustaining his dictatorship was making others accuse and condemn themselves for not being dedicated enough, “strong” enough or “noble” enough to cooperate with what were really his personal choices. He had to be right or else there would be even more trouble and exclusion aimed outward, as a control mechanism.
Or sometimes Lauren could blame the other sexual partners of Raniere a little bit, too, but knew that doing that wasn’t cool or “kosher.”
She’d be rejected or censured if she expressed how she was really feeling. So, she would revert to blaming herself again. This was the only way that she could keep belonging in his/ her/their world.
Raniere insisted that he was reluctantly having sex with others to “teach and enlighten” them with his ejaculation superpowers.
So, objecting to his fiction was to be seen as selfish and was letting “disintegration” take over and mess with Raniere’s so-called higher mission.
He never had a higher mission. His mission was to be a sexual and a “spiritual” sadist and to do as much harm as he could get away with doing while disguising himself as an advanced one of superior intelligence who was kind enough to be the Master.
No one would ever be worthy, but Saint Flabturd would keep trying to help them.
No matter what Raniere did or said, the duty of his groupies was to support him, and they were required to go blind, deaf and dumb in order to support his real foulness, to deny their own emotions and thoughts about his behavior. He kept his acolytes in a tower of flowery but paranoid babble, fully injected with peer pressure, with members of the group pretending to trust him and each other, when essentially and realistically, no one could ever really trust anyone else for long, as they kept jockeying with one another to be amongst Raniere’s most favored.
Yet even limpdick Raniere, as he eventually became, could not have sex with EVERYBODY every day or night. So everyone had to be kept in confusion; thinking clearly about the whole huge mess was not allowed.
How blind did one have to make oneself, and for how many years, just to keep going with him and his devotees? One was not allowed to see Raniere for what he really was.
Always, the insistence was that he was the one who was right and oh-so-nobly teaching others the best and the “real” way to think and to live. The minute that someone bought into Raniere’s psycho control net, life was being lived without real attention or awareness. You had to ignore your own conscience, your own thoughts, just to survive as a member of this group.
Everything was fake, but especially the “growth” or so-called progress.
Lauren had to put herself into a lose/lose situation every day, and who could guess how many times she went into this impossible quagmire, every day and night for a couple of decades, while her God was doing whatever he felt like doing all the while insisting that he was faultless and always in the right. Everyone else just had to “wake up” and to get how superior and wise he was and to follow along with his fiction as though it were some form of existential advancement.
Since he was really a complete phony, no one could really be advancing at all, but then you had to blame yourself for not getting it, for failing, while really you just kept spinning through the same old bullshit and pretending to be experiencing growth.
We might see more of what Lauren really thinks and feels currently when she receives her sentence, and we might not. I don’t know if Lauren has been able to get in touch with her thoughts or her feelings by now, or if she is still caught up in her trap. But after spending at least half of her life on a rat-wheel of inner chaos and fear, jealousies and increasingly criminal activities, just in order to support Raniere (and therefore, her own habitual lifestyle) right now, I see her as still adapting to all of the changes since their arrests.
She seemed to me to be hopelessly attached to Raniere during all of her testimony, and she struck me as being very unstable and still extremely caught up in “believing” Raniere’s conditioning. She might have been starting to blame Raniere and to let herself have anger towards him. Yet, even still, she wasn’t evincing self-awareness. It was as if she had no center within herself at all, and that might be true.
Lauren might not have ever had a sense of her individual self or to have ever able to think for herself.
Lauren will never be able to figure out Raniere or her mother, Raniere’s co-leader. The one whom Lauren needs to begin to understand is herself, not them. Only then will she have enough room in herself to detach from her 20 years of dependencies. She seems to be a complete stranger to herself.
During all of Lauren’s court testimony, she seemed as stuck as she had always been with Raniere. She was very, very emotionally miserable and still very much attached to her misconceptions about him. I don’t think that Lauren can get the strength on her own, particularly not for as long as she is glued to her mother and her mother’s interests.
Lauren might need years of therapy to be able to even hear or to acknowledge her own voice, her own thoughts. Her entire mindset seems to be one of fear and sometimes, even panic, or overwhelming anxiety.
If only she could understand that Raniere never, ever helped her. He was only ever “helping” himself. But it’s possible that Lauren will never be able to come out of her deep unhappiness and confusion. Certainly, I don’t see her being able to get a real grasp of any of this without genuine professional help.
If Lauren or anyone in a similar position to her is still not getting counseling or therapeutic help, I don’t think that the real inner battle has begun to be faced. You cannot make a choice to give up having any real choices, to live under those conditions for years while pretending “it’s all for the good” without killing your own inner voice and perception.
If anyone says, “I’m in ongoing therapy now to help me to overcome the years of conditioning and the damages,” I’d feel more hopeful that authentic recovery was recognized as being necessary.
However, one has got to be able to see that and to stick with it. It will not be easy, and there’s almost never any quick fixes or sudden “freeing epiphanies.” One has got to have the courage and the determination to get real with oneself, to come out of the conditioning and, most of all, to be able to forgive oneself and to start over, again and again.
Once is not enough; it is too superficial. To get free takes true grit. You have to be able to respect your own thoughts, to like and to love yourself enough. This is the opposite of how Raniere wanted anyone to live. He wanted to be number one and to make everyone else struggle and suffer.
First, you have to want that freedom. You have got to be able to realize that what you were calling “growth and freedom” was really living under a monstrous monster’s rules, designed to propagate his insistence that everyone live in his hell. He designed his dictatorship only for himself. He was utterly dependent upoan the group to worship him.
There was no freedom, and there was no genuine growth.
Even that comprehension isn’t going to be easy for someone as entrenched as Lauren has been to allow for herself.
It’s hard to see that Raniere’s group can even really see how deep their problems go, never mind that any of them will be showing definitively that they are trying to heal.
Many are still very likely to think that nothing has ever really been that wrong. That is how stuck many Nxivm/DOS participants appear to be, even after Raniere has been in jail for so long.
Look at Clare Bronfman, who is said to be carrying on with the mantle of Nxivm leadership still firmly attached to her self-identity.