By Marc Elliot
This is not my first appearance on Frank Report. In the autumn of 2020, some friends and I agreed to work with Frank, despite him being a man who hurt my friends and I. Our mutual interest was, and is, to investigate possible due process violations against Keith Raniere.
I’ve never made a personal statement on the FR before.
Starting in 2012, with a team of people in NXIVM, we undertook a mission to help people overcome Tourette’s syndrome, a debilitating neurological disorder, using an entirely talk-based therapy. It had excellent results with a small group of people living with Tourettes.
Perhaps the most lamentable collateral damage of the destruction of NXIVM, which in part was caused by Frank Parlato, is that the “Tourette’s Project” stopped. This project is dear to my heart, based on my own transformation, and how we helped others.
I want it to continue.
My life with Tourettes
NXIVM, Keith Raniere, and Nancy Salzman [above] provided me the opportunity to live a previously unimaginable life.
With the recent release on YouTube of the documentary, “My Tourette’s,” I felt this was the right time to discuss the project. I also want to address a controversial topic, which is how two of the Tourette’s syndrome candidates who appeared in the documentary have turned against NXIVM and examine how they and the Tourette’s documentary are part of a civil lawsuit against former NXIVM leaders.
To date, most readers of Frank Report know me based on how others label me or how I’ve been portrayed in the media — as a brainwashed loyalist, under the influence of mind control, just a gullible follower.
Sadly, because of what I stand for, I’ve had some people say they wish I would commit suicide.
Thus, I asked Frank if I could share more about my life since there is so much misunderstanding about me, my association with NXIVM, and the Tourette’s Project. He agreed.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, I was blessed with a wonderful family and support system. I had every opportunity provided for me. I played sports, had a wonderful group of friends, and did well in school. My upbringing did not look that different from many other upper-middle class families, aside from the fact that I lived with Tourette’s Syndrome.
At the age of nine, I was diagnosed with a mild case of Tourette’s, which is considered by the medical community as a genetic, neurological, involuntary and incurable disorder that manifests in vocal and motor physical outbursts known as “tics.” As I got older, my tics got worse, resulting in violent head shaking, hip-thrusting, and eventually profanity and racial slurs, which only a subset of individuals with Tourette’s exhibit. It is known as corporalia.
By the age of 15, my Tourette’s was severe. I was ticcing multiple times per minute, making verbal noises and painful body trashes. Though I hated them, I couldn’t stop for more than a few minutes at time.
Tourette’s challenged me on a daily, even hourly, basis, but I strived to live a normal life and pursue my dreams. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was captain of the varsity tennis team, student body president, and starred in a lead of our school play “Noises Off.”
Even though I developed a tight knit group of friends who accepted me despite my Tourettes, there was still life outside that small group. In public, I faced a variety of discrimination, prejudice and mockery due to my uncontrollable tics. The hardest and most painful part was dealing with the uncontrollable profanity and offensive slurs. I offended strangers. I offended loved ones. And even if people knew my struggle, it didn’t take away the “sting” of hearing those uncontrollable words.
At the age of 17, my tics were so bad I got kicked off of a public bus for ticcing the n-word and had to find my own ride home from Indianapolis back to St. Louis after attending camp over the summer with friends.
With my family behind me from day one, I formed a belief that I had to be my own advocate no matter how difficult the circumstances. This inspired me to take responsibility in every situation to create the most comfortable environment for myself and others.
By the time I graduated high school, I had spoken to various schools and organizations around St. Louis to raise awareness about Tourette’s syndrome. I enjoyed educating people about Tourettes and my struggle. I knew that as people became aware of my condition, it would ultimately make my life and other people living with Tourette’s easier. These talks would eventually create the foundation for a way I could help others in the future.
After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, I began to apply to medical schools hoping to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a surgeon. Thinking I would be committing the next 10 years to training, I decided to take a year off to apply and take the Medical College Admission Test.
In that year, I also imagined continuing to speak in and around St. Louis and perhaps turning this into something bigger – a professional speaking career in the interim.
After putting together a marketing packet, with the title “Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Noises,” with the help of a family friend who owned a printing business, and with my best friend calling high schools around the country pretending to be my agent, we booked 20 engagements during an eight week period in the spring of 2009 in major cities across the U.S.
The presentation took my experience of living with Tourette’s and being different to convey a message of how little we know about each other’s lives. The presentation resonated, I think, with students around the country and I decided to not pursue medical school.
I felt I could help people more emotionally and psychologically than physiologically. At the age of 23, I moved to Manhattan to become an inspirational speaker and never looked back on that decision. Within my first year, I booked almost 70 speaking engagements around the nation and got picked up by a top college speaking agency. Within two years I was named 2011 College Speaker of the Year by Campus Activities Magazine.
My presentation, eventually named “What Makes You Tic?”, seemed to captivate audiences of all ages around the nation.
While at a college speaking conference in Portland, Oregon, I met a fellow speaker who introduced me to Executive Success Programs (ESP), a course on emotional intelligence. ESP is one of the companies under the NXIVM umbrella.
Over the ensuing months, we became friends and had many conversations about the things I wanted to improve and change in myself. Even though I was an inspirational speaker, like many people, I had a lot of self hate and judgement about myself. Through conversations with him, he helped me see that ESP could help me transform those judgements. I decided to take the course. Nowhere on my radar was the possibility of overcoming Tourette’s through courses on emotions or limiting beliefs.
After taking the initial 16-day ESP course, spread over the summer in 2010 in NYC and Albany, I began to see dramatic decreases in my tics. I still had Tourettes but I began to perceive my neurological condition differently. After another school year of speaking engagements, I took additional, higher level NXIVM courses in the summer of 2011 in Albany.
After two weeks of back-to-back courses, where I worked on my Tourette’s every day, I walked out of those trainings with my tics down around 90%. The day after, I took a train from Albany to Washington D.C. for a speaking engagement. Entering the train station in Albany, I walked to the center of the cavernous station and stood peacefully and silently. For the first time in 20 years in a public space, I was anonymous. I wasn’t ticcing.
Thankfully, my speaking career didn’t end. Over the next two years I continued to travel across the country to schools to spread a message of tolerance; however, at the beginning of each presentation, I now had to show a video of my life with Tourettes, as one could no longer tell I had lived a single day with Tourettes.
From 2009 to 2014, I had around 450 paid speaking engagements across the nation. At the age of 25, living without Tourettes, having traveled to 45 states and abroad to speak, I made the decision to temporarily “retire” from public speaking.
Though I loved speaking to audiences, I wanted to give to other individuals the same type of permanent breakthroughs I experienced with the tools of ESP. Thus, I stopped speaking and began spending most of my time learning to become a trainer in ESP, starting in the spring of 2014.
It wasn’t long after I made that decision, I teamed up with Keith Raniere, Nancy Salzman, Brandon Porter and Clare Bronfman to see if what happened to my Tourettes could be replicated with other individuals with Tourette’s syndrome. I worked with the Ethical Science Foundation (ESF), started by Clare Bronfman, to find other people with Tourettes and fund their training with the hope that we could help alleviate the pain of Tourettes for others.
Within a year, I found someone with Tourettes and the team replicated exactly what had happened to me. The team consisted of Nancy Salzman, Brandon Porter and myself, and, of course, taking direction from Keith. We could not have been more ecstatic with the results we witnessed. Neither could the young individual whose symptoms of Tourette’s, like mine, all but disappeared.
The person came to Albany over a summer and went onto freshman year of college where no one knew they had Tourettes.
Our team didn’t stop there.
Over the next four years, with the ongoing financial assistance of Clare Bronfman, we replicated the results with 10 other individuals with severe Tourettes including a 12 year old. With these unprecedented and extraordinary results, a filmmaker, Allesandro Molatore, began to document all of this early on, from the start of the therapy to its successful culmination.
The film, My Tourette’s, took almost three years to complete. I had the privilege of being an assistant producer on the film. It had its international debut at the Cinequest Film festival in California in 2017. The film went on to other film festivals around the world and won awards at the Harlem and Milan film festivals.
Within the documentary, people get to have a front row seat to watch people overcoming this unexplainable neurological disorder. Using the techniques of Rational Inquiry, using a methodology consisting of only conversations, people got to witness what seems like a miracle, right in front of their eyes.
At each film festival, moviegoers left in awe.
For all 10 of the individuals, I played a role in helping them beat Tourette’s. I stood as the example of how it was possible, and took each of them under my wing as their mentor, as they began their own journey to beat Tourette’s.
Never in my wildest of dreams did I think I could help people this way. Instead of using a scalpel, I found a different way to help be part of giving someone a “new life”.
So, yes, I am grateful to NXIVM, ESP, and, in particular, to Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman. Over the 20 years I suffered from Tourette’s, I ticced an estimated 25 million times and attempted everything under the sun to get rid of it.
My family took me to the best doctors in the nation, at Yale, Baylor, and Washington University to find treatments. I tried everything.
Throughout middle school and high school, I took intense neuroleptic medications that sedated me and almost cost me a 5th year of high school. At one point, I had a medically induced depression where I thought about suicide for the first time in my life. I tried habit reversal, a type of cognitive behavior therapy. In high school, I tried marijuana and even got Botox injections straight into my vocal chords and neck.
Though I tried everything, nothing came close to the tools in NXIVM created by Keith Raniere. Thus, I have a deep appreciation for Keith and Nancy, who helped me have a new life in a very different way.
I do not know how anyone could expect me to feel differently about them other than to feel gratitude and enormous respect.
In my next article, I will try to answer the question of why we released the Tourette’s film now. In short, there are two reasons: the Frank Report and a woman named Carysa Long.