By John Cavil
As I see it, there are three groups of victims in the NXIVM lawsuit.
In order of least affected:
1. People formerly in NXIVM who got ripped off.
2. People directly recruited into DOS who suffered various degrees of psychological, physical, and emotional abuse while there, particularly towards the end, but mercifully escaped after the scandal broke – we should also remember we have Sarah Edmondson to thank mainly for that. This group also includes Sarah; luckily for them, they never completely bought into its philosophy, if you can call it that.
Sarah Edmondson warned many whom she recruited to escape from NXIVM3. The converts, who bought into it, and whose lives, to varying degrees, have been seriously affected.
Principal amongst this cohort is Allison Mack and Nicki Clyne, two aspiring and talented young actors whose careers were cut short by a monster who was able to prey upon their deepest vulnerabilities to satiate his demonic lust.
Nicki Clyne and Allison Mack bought into NXIVM that they married each other, though both were committed to Keith Raniere. They poured their money, lives, and souls into a dream, or rather nightmare, a Potemkin life coach program that systematically defrauded its clients through deliberate and duplicitous indoctrination techniques, rendering them initially acquiescent and by degrees increasingly complicit in its machinations, a self-perpetuating evil.
What did they get out of it? Bankruptcy, public condemnation, hatred, sniping and ridicule from the media, criminal investigation (of course, in Allison’s case, a criminal conviction); they lost friends, the opportunity to work, and even their ability to rationalize the maelstrom of everything that had happened to them.
What is fascinating is when you watch some of the recent “Dossier Project” (the remnants, rump of DOS) broadcasts on YouTube.
Headed by Nicki, they are 6-8 women who are unapologetic apologists for their NXIVM perspective on the world, covering topics such as ‘the Narrative of Victimhood”.
Quickly you detect the influences of second-hand Rand (Ayn Rand, the right-wing of the ’40s to the 60s). First, they talk about the experience being purely subjective and therefore not always reliable (Rand’s notion of objectivism) in an attempt perhaps to preemptively undermine the recollection of those many women DOS plaintiffs in there and testimonies in Raniere’s criminal trial.
For a group of women claiming to be seeking female empowerment, their notions of the underlying nature of women are surprisingly negative.
Women’s nature is described as entitled, lacking accountability and discipline, spoilt, selfish, grasping, and weak, partly perhaps due to their liberal middle-class indulgent upbringing, no doubt reflecting the “mainstream fake news media values.”
Boys are not mentioned.
Such blanket scorn for their sex is a constant theme emerging from all of them and likely stems from the teachings they endured during relentless intensives and EM (exploration of meaning) sessions covering the wisdom of Aristotle.
I’m not sure Rand would have been a big fan of DOS either.
“The initiation of physical force against the will of another is immoral, as are indirect initiations of force through threats, fraud, or breach of contract. The use of defensive or retaliatory force, on the other hand, is appropriate.”
So much for readiness drills, coercive dieting, and penances.
So, who is Nicki Clyne?
Is she the evil, malevolent, manipulative, dishonest person portrayed in some sections of the media, the kind of person you wouldn’t feel safe leaving alone with your children?
The truth, I believe, is the exact opposite.
From what I have read and seen (including the entire Frank Report), I see her as scrupulous, sweet-natured, honest (I’ll come to that), moral, hard-working, loyal, courageous, and protective of others.
In their dying days, she took time to look after her father and her friend, the actor Richard Hatch; she was one of the few approachable people in NXIVM (see Sylvie’s testimony).
I believe she looked after and tried to protect her “slaves” in DOS, sometimes even taking punishments for them.
Though misplaced, loyalty is usually considered a virtue, and we need to respect that whatever we might personally think, Nicki believes in many of the teachings she experienced.
Finally, I believe there’s a possibility (and I might be wrong) that in the end, Nicki reappraised her view of Raniere, and some part of her began to suspect he was not quite the person she had always believed him to be.
Let’s turn now to the issue of honesty.
In a recent discussion with Keri Smith and Brian Edwards on YouTube, Keri quizzes Nicki on her approach to acting. I believe the interest here may have stemmed from Nicki’s various online denials and understatements of what went on in DOS, which the dogs in the street knew to be at best misleading.
Keri asks Nicki about the techniques she uses when acting to make for a convincing performance.
Nicki talks about the techniques of method acting where you become the character in a psychologically real sense. She then talks about her style of just remembering similar real-life situations and applying those memories to the relevant scene.
Keri then outlines a psycho-social experiment:
A volunteer is told that a die will be rolled, and whatever number comes up, they will receive the monetary equivalent – if it’s a 6, they get $6; if a one, then only $1.
A polygraph is attached to the volunteer to determine their honesty; they are told this is only to measure their excitement level.
After the dice is rolled and lands on a 1 facing up and a 6 facing down, the controller apologizes that they did not specify which side the number should be facing and asks the volunteer what their understanding was.
Many volunteers said they understood it was ‘down’ and claimed the six bucks in the example.
Not surprisingly, if the 1 was facing down, they all naturally said ‘up.’
The polygraph was easily able to determine those many volunteers in the first instance were lying.
However, and here’s the interesting part: when the volunteers were told that the money was for charity, i.e., a ‘good cause,’ the polygraph
could not determine any difference between those who were lying and those who were telling the truth.
As Nicki says, “oh so if they have a good justification, and it’s not self-serving….oh wow.”
Her facial expression reveals her amazement at this and perhaps a dawning realization of her own power – the reason she’s able to lie so convincingly because she still believes what she represents is a good cause.
So, to answer the question, should Nicki be held liable to compensate the plaintiffs?
I think the answer is a resounding no and would urge the plaintiffs to remove her from the list.
The poor girl has suffered enough, and what does this say about our humanity by continuing to hound her? It drives her further into the defensive position of maintaining the company of those friends who share convergent world views, making it more difficult to meet other people and get on with the rest of their lives.
One day, there’ll come a moment when Nicki will realize that things she experienced may not have been as she has so long believed them to be.
I only hope that when that happens, she’s with someone who loves her for who she is, underneath all the bluff and bluster, the nightmare that was NXIVM and DOS.