This is the first in a series that examines the book Scarred: The True Story Of How I Escaped The Cult That Bound My Life by Sarah Edmondson, and how it shows NXIVM is Scientology repackaged.
By Jeffrey Jay
Known also as ‘Mockingbird’
Scientology and NXIVM – Parallels and Plagiarism
I was in Scientology for twenty-five years, so I have some familiarity with the doctrine and practices of that group.
I left Scientology in 2014 and spent many hundreds of hours trying to find out what Scientology is and does, in addition to what it teaches members of the group.
I have communicated with hundreds of ex-members and examined significant material on the organization’s true history and the founder Ronald Hubbard.
I have also been fortunate to get to question and gain excellent advice from cult experts, most notably Jon Atack.
I have read several dozen books on the topic, including several biographies of Hubbard and ex-members, and many books on hypnosis, cognitive dissonance theory, psychology, cults, abusive relationships, human predators, critical thinking, rhetoric, and related topics.
I have also explored the subjects from which Hubbard likely plagiarized his techniques, including hypnosis, the occult, psychology, and many others. It is safe to say, after finding hundreds of ideas that Hubbard almost certainly plagiarized, that he likely never had an original thought in his life.
Since leaving Scientology, I have established Mockingbird’s Nest blog on Scientology. Between that platform and the Ex Scientologist Message Board, Facebook and Quora, I have published over five hundred posts on Scientology and related topics, and likely had a million views of these posts.
I watched seasons one and two of The Vow (documentary series on NXIVM). I had heard from several people that NXIVM likely has techniques plagiarized from Scientology, among many other sources.
MK10ART painting of Keith Raniere
I listened to a podcast in which ex-Scientologists Mike Rinder and Leah Remini interviewed ex-NXIVM member Sarah Edmondson.
Mike Rinder and Leah Remini, former members of the Church of Scientology, now critics.
Rinder remarked he read Edmondson’s book, Scarred, and started taking notes on similarities or ideas likely plagiarized from Scientology.
Rinder said he was just writing note after note, and eventually just gave up.
In my efforts to untangle myself from the web of lies in Scientology, finding the sources Hubbard likely plagiarized from in their original forms was useful and necessary for me.
Only when I spent many hours looking at the subjects in their original forms did I realize that what was actually happening in Scientology wasn’t what Hubbard claimed.
He knew what he was trying to achieve. In rare moments, Hubbard publicly and privately acknowledged his true intentions and his knowledge that his techniques in their earlier forms were designed to achieve those intentions. Still, by hiding their origins, he hid his intention, and the fact that he didn’t create these methods, and they were not beneficial but harmful frauds that others abandoned in many cases when they realized they were not helpful or ethical.
This took away the false genius attributed to Hubbard, because being a prolific plagiarist is far less impressive than being a genius who comes up with hundreds of original ideas and methods with millions of words of doctrine.
I realized that if someone familiar with Scientology and cults as a subject reads Scarred, they could likely find ideas and techniques used in NXIVM and Scientology.
Reading Scarred and compiling and comparing such a list could create a helpful resource. It would be valid for ex-members of both groups.
Some NXIVM members would see Keith Raniere as a plagiarist-conman in his own right, and some ex-Scientologists could see the same predatory behavior in both men and cast aside any illusions that Hubbard was altruistic or even honest.
Sarah Edmondson’s book about her experiences in NXIVM might also shine a light on how Raniere stole from Scientology.
I believe the public can benefit by seeing what similarities exist between these groups, so they can see that all cults have the same foundation, a relationship based on lies, coercion, and abuse.
I read the book Scarred and immediately saw what Rinder realized. I took notes on similarities and likely plagiarized ideas, and found many examples.
On several pages in a row, I found four examples per page with similarities strong enough to consider NXIVM as repackaged or slightly altered Scientology.
That’s a lot of examples, and it’s worth the time and effort to document them and elaborate on the subject.
The first noteworthy similarity between Scientology and NXIVM is in the prologue.
Scarred page 3
Any resistance would be turned around and used as my issue. It would prove that I’m “entitled,” or Lauren could say that I’m “mad-dogging,” NXIVM’s term for being defensive.
This is similar to several terms and concepts used in Scientology, notably H E and R E – human emotion and reaction.
Here is the definition from Scientology’s
Human Emotion and Reaction
Human Emotion and Reaction, the counter emotions and reactions which aberrated human beings express when they are guided toward survival objectives. They are usually below 2.0 on the Tone Scale.
(LRH Def. Notes) Abbr. HE & R.
Let me explain:
“Abberated” means not sane, irrational, or in error when describing a person or their thoughts or perceptions.
“Survival objectives” are goals that benefit or increase survival, in other words, good.
“Counter emotions” are emotions against something, in this case, against survival objectives.
The “tone scale” is a way to examine and classify human emotion in Scientology. It’s not an original idea, but a combination of ideas from other practices and not remotely scientific.
The important thing to understand is that any behavior or feelings below 2.0 on this tone scale are seen as more harmful than beneficial, more irrational than rational.
So, both “mad-dogging” and H E and R E are unfalsifiable claims that a person displays improper and irrational emotions in response to something.
Think about it.
If I say or do ANYTHING that outrages or upsets you, I can say you are “mad-dogging” me, or displaying H E and R E!
It is a way to dominate another person and take attention from the criticism they may have and turn it back on them with no recourse.
It’s authoritarian and can fit the description of gaslighting.
Was “mad-dogging” lifted from Scientology?
Lots of abusers habitually blame the victims of abuse for the abuse in similar ways to both of these methods. It has been around for probably thousands of years and doesn’t seem to be going away.
(Scarred page 4)
Each time I’ve recited this part of NXIVM’s twelve-point mission statement, I’ve proclaimed my ongoing commitment to improve myself in my effort to be at-cause in our world, taking full responsibility as the generator of every single experience in my life.
The term “at-cause” is a concept that has a prominent place in Scientology.
Chapter 8 in the book Fundamentals of Thought entitled Causation and Knowledge introduces the concepts of cause and effect used in Scientology.
I recommend that any ex-NXIVM member who wishes to understand the likely origin of the term “at-cause” and related ideas used in NXIVM read Chapter 8.
It may help you understand that Raniere plagiarized an insidious idea.
The fact that Raniere took Hubbard’s redefined terms without attribution is not what I find immoral and objectionable. He used the term “at cause” in the same way as Hubbard, to restrict and control thought covertly in his followers and mentally enslave them by using loaded language.
A very abridged reference that is also useful is the definition of “responsibility” found in the book Introduction to Scientology Ethics.
Full responsibility is not fault; it is recognition of being cause.
Responsibility also means a state, quality or fact of being responsible, and responsible means legally or ethically accountable for the care or welfare of another. Involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority. Being the source or cause of something. Capable of making moral or rational decisions on one’s own and therefore answerable for one’s behavior. Able to be trusted or depended upon; reliable. Based upon or characterized by good judgment or sound thinking.
The way “at-cause” is used in NXIVM is likely to have been taken from the definition it has in Scientology as is “full responsibility” itself.
In Scientology and NXIVM, if a person is unhappy with something, they are seen as being “effect” instead of at cause, and blamed for bad things that happen to them.
But in a hierarchical cult structure, the founder or leader of a cult is somehow not responsible for the bad press they get or financial, legal, or health problems they have.
They may be convicted of crimes like Hubbard and Raniere, but they don’t take responsibility for the crimes or convictions.
It’s a con and control mechanism in abusive relationships and cults.
Stay tuned for Part 2.