Psychology Today has published an article online by Alan Jern, Ph.D., dealing with the question of whether there’s any validity for NXIVM’s psychological ‘techniques’, and whether they were beneficial in some way to those receiving it.
It’s called Did the NXIVM Cult Actually Help People? – HBO’s “The Vow” returns to give NXIVM defenders a voice.’ Doctor Jern talks about the second season of the documentary ‘The Vow’, and how ‘the main narrative spine of the second season is Raniere’s ensuing trial.’
‘But if that’s all it had to offer, it might feel a little stale or repetitive’, he writes, ‘after all, Raniere’s high-profile trial concluded over two years ago. Instead, the series goes beyond its first season in a compelling way by delving into the murkiness of NXIVM’s impact on its many devotees and the thousands of people who went through its Executive Success Program.’
The author notes how ‘The Vow Part 2’ gives a voice to NXIVM defenders, most prominently Nancy Salzman.
‘Hearing from these people may provoke conflicting feelings in viewers. On the one hand, it may provoke pity for people who are still deeply in the throes of a harmful, cult-like ideology. On the other hand, it may provoke curiosity about whether NXIVM genuinely helped some people, despite the undeniable pain it inflicted on others.’
We have had reason to comment that on multiple articles: how a bogus narrative develops that the ESP curriculum was a ‘wonderful force for good’. It’s a narrative that Alan Jern is willing to put to the test in good faith.
‘Salzman points to her success at treating Tourette syndrome using the methods she developed at NXIVM as evidence of the good they did’, he writes.
Jern talks about a ‘sense of ambivalence’ when watching the interview of Isabella Constantino, ‘who underwent intensive therapy at NXIVM to treat her severe Tourette syndrome years ago.’
‘Constantino, whose tics are now gone, nevertheless feels betrayed by her time in NXIVM: ‘It’s true, I stopped ticcing, but I become broken in other ways.’ ‘
The author of the article is prepared to accept the possibility of the claims that Salzman and her team may have found an alternative and effective treatment for Tourette, but remarks that ‘it seems highly unlikely given the group’s well-documented history of lies and manipulation’.
He notes that their approach ‘is not dramatically different from the Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT).’
In ‘Part 2’ Salzman makes her usual complaints about being betrayed by her former deferential pupils: “17,000 people got good results. Where are they?”
Alan Jern reminds us that ‘getting good results through NXIVM’s programs is not necessarily evidence of their effectiveness.’
After much goodwill in his examination of NXIVM’s claims, Doctor Jern can’t help but come to a devastating conclusion: ‘Despite NXIVM’s obsession with being taken seriously by influential people and mainstream institutions, their penchant for secrecy and refusal to follow the norms of science means that their research was scientifically pretty worthless.’