Part 3: NXIVM is Scientology Repackaged – by Mockingbird

By Jeffrey Jay, AKA Mockingbird

This is the third post in a series that examines the book Scarred: The True Story Of How I Escaped The Cult That Bound My Life by Sarah Edmondson.

I recommend reading these posts sequentially.

Part 1 NXIVM Is Scientology Repackaged;

Part 2: NXIVM Is Scientology Repackaged; 12 Point Mission Statement

Scarred used the term “…elevate our consciousness...” [page 6]

This is similar to “increasing awareness” or “increasing spiritual awareness,” which is used to describe the promised results of Dianetics and Scientology.

“spiritual exercise” (Scarred page 9)

Again, similar to phrasing and concepts regarding Scientology.

And just like what we’ve learned for years through NXIVM’S Executive Success Program (ESP) curriculum, we will feel uncomfortable. She will push us, but if we stick with it, we will grow in ways we can’t even imagine yet.” (Scarred page 9)

This has parallels in Scientology.

 Scientology is well known for having L. Ron Hubbard’s mottoes, such as “The way out is the way through.”

I have seen this interpreted to mean that when auditing creates discomfort, pain, fear, or trauma, it means it is “working.”

(Auditing is a purported Sceintology therapy that’s repackaged hypnosis and is intended to covertly enslave people.)

If these negative experiences happen through auditing, the auditing almost always continues despite adverse reactions it might cause.

 Similarly, Hubbard’s “What turns it on will turn it off,” and other slogans Scientology uses to get people to surrender their power of choice over when to start and end things in Scientology, including auditing actions and sessions. 

Lots of cults share the feature of “one size fits all.”

If a technique makes some people euphoric and happy, but others uncomfortable, bored, or terrified, the technique is not changed or stopped.

Instead, the client is told to continue doing the techniques, as if we all have identical minds, emotions and reactions to specific stimuli.

An enjoyable technique, or at least not harmful or traumatic for some, may be extremely unpleasant or downright destructive to the mental well-being or even the sanity of others.


Scientology and other cults don’t acknowledge this. I believe NXIVM has this trait. 

 This obedience is not surprising: for years, they’ve coached us that if we feel the ‘urge to bolt,’ as they’ve called it, that’s our evidence the program is working. We have been trained to ignore our discomfort. (Scarred page 14)

In Scientology, unpleasant emotions or a desire to stop auditing mean the techniques are working and should continue. 

This attitude extends to the indoctrination in Scientology training. 

L. Ron Hubbard, (HCOB June 25, 1971, “Barriers to Study”

A misunderstood definition, a not-comprehended definition, or an undefined word can even cause a person to abandon studying a subject and leave a course or class. Leaving in this way is called a blow.
We have all known people who enthusiastically started a course of study only to find later that the person dropped the study because it was “boring” or “it wasn’t what they thought it would be.” 
They were going to learn a skill or go to night school and get their degree but never followed through. No matter how reasonable their excuses, the fact is they dropped the subject or left the course. This is a blow. A person blows for only one primary reason – the misunderstood word.

In Scientology, if you don’t enjoy a course and do not want to finish it, or you do not want to continue training after finishing a course -no matter how reasonable your reasons are, if you drop the course or stop training, this is a “blow.” 

Scientology has many, many courses, and encourages members to redo courses many times. It is a never-ending hamster wheel.

It is routine to act as though YOU must have passed words you did not understand in the course! Scientology doctrine requires you to go back and look for the word[s] and study their definitions! 

Did you want to leave Scientology or had a bad experience with the organization or leaders? Did you want goals different than the group? Were you not paid despite working for Scientology for weeks, months, or years? 

According to Scientology doctrine, it’s YOUR FAULT.

HCOB December 31, 1959, L Ron Hubbard, Blow-Offs

Scientology technology recently has been extended to include the factual explanation of departures, sudden and relatively unexplained, from sessions, posts, jobs, locations and areas.

(HCOB December 31, 1959; L. Ron Hubbard, Blow-Offs)

This is one of the things man thought he knew all about and therefore never bothered to investigate. Yet this amongst all other things gave him the most trouble. Man had it all explained to his own satisfaction and yet his explanation did not cut down the amount of trouble which came from the feeling of “having to leave.”

HCOB December 31, 1959; L Ron Hubbard, Blow-Offs

In Scientology we have the phenomenon of preclears in session or students on courses deciding to leave and never coming back. And that gives us more trouble than most other things all combined.

HCOB December 31, 1959; L. Ronald Hubbard, Blow-Offs

People leave because of their own overts and withholds. That is the factual fact and the hard-bound rule. A man with a clean heart can’t be hurt. The man or woman who must must must become a victim and depart is departing because of his or her own overts and withholds. It doesn’t matter whether the person is departing from a town or a job or a session. The cause is the same.

I could say a lot about “overts” and “withholds.” 

For now, I will say that in Scientology “overts” translates roughly to “evil acts. This includes something a person did which they should not have done, or something they should have done but failed to do. 

“Withholds” means roughly that someone failed to reveal they did an “overt.” A withhold is like a secret evil act or a secret failure to do an act, which failure is evil.

There are other definitions in Scientology, and they tie into a complex belief system. I do not believe in overts or withholds because they assert other Scientology ideas are true by their definitions and usage.

I believe human beings can do evil things, and can have secrets or undisclosed crimes. But overts and witholds in Scientology are not real.

As an example, say I am with Roger and we find a white hair on the ground while walking down a street. 

I pick it up and say, “it is a tiny white hair.” 

Roger says, “It’s a unicorn hair!” 

Which proves to Roger that unicorns exist! 

I am unwilling to call it unicorn hair, though I believe the hair exists and that we found a hair. 

Unicornus Erectus

The Scientology doctrine has overts and withholds linked to departures, illness, accidents, and things that I don’t believe are evil or are keeping an evil deed a secret.

Scientology has “magic doorways”! 

If you want to leave the course, you “misunderstood words.” 

If you want to leave auditing or don’t enjoy an auditing action, it means “the auditing is working and you must continue”! 

If you want to leave Scientology or don’t want to work there anymore, you “must have been doing something evil and hiding it”! 

Depending on which room you were in when you decided to leave, decides the reason!

Scientology considers leaving NEVER a morally acceptable option!

Similarly, in NXIVM, members who made it sufficiently far enough into the organization were pressured to stay and commit themselves more and more to “personal growth.” 

NXIVM offered members “personal growth.” Who would want to leave that?

NXIVM members prepare for personal growth.

NXIVM members dance before Keith Raniere to demonstrate their personal growth.

In NXIVM, “personal growth” means giving more and more of your  time, money, and life to NXIVM.

But personal growth is amorphous! It has no form to be seen! It has no statistics to measure! It is entirely subjective!

This brings me back to an idea that resonated with me in my recovery from Scientology. 

NXIVM members and ex-members might wish to consider this regarding the “growth” NXIVM provides!

“If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable.” 

― Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer is a classic on extremism and has helped ex-embers of cults reframe and reconsider their cult experiences. I highly recommend it. 

To read more of Jeffrey Jay’s work, visit Mockingbird’s Nest

Stay tuned for part 4.

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[…] Part 3: NXIVM is Scientology Repackaged – by Mockingbird  […]

10 months ago

Nice articles!!
What are the odds that narcissistic sociopaths naturally evolve their skills in this way? I have a feeling that if asked to codify these methods in the way that you do, they might have difficulty. I think that we have a tendency to give them too much credit. Like whole political systems that flow to where they are pushed by their environment, it’s easy for us to generalise, but the blueprints weren’t there from the beginning.

10 months ago


I’ve enjoyed your series.

Thank you!

Scott Johnson
10 months ago

You missed the entire point, it’s word salad for dollars.

Arabian Nights
Arabian Nights
10 months ago


A beautiful poem by Sultan of Six to Kristen Kreuk.
Sultan is a gifted poet! Seriously!

Here is a poem written 5 years ago by Sultan of Six:

“The Tiger Protector”

Kristen Kreuk, make a stand
Be an angel in the sands
A beauty for sure, in shining armor
But her heart lies strong, no harm her
From far away, her love still gleams
So many admirers, in wayward dreams
and yet one loan tiger
waiting in vain
Soft spoken and sweet, with perfect eyes
and pursed lips of wine.
Her silky hair moves, like a symphony’s lies

Unfurl her soul, to its full potential
Her aura so strong, she’s not interested in rentals or
credit card debt
From the east and the west, her power edges out
Like the sun that set, with not even a doubt

My moon my stars my ice cream castle dream!

My heart lies in a zoo. Be still my gypsy queen!

She is quite wise and a queen of strength
Subtle like a breeze, so often in length and taller than mountains

Please don’t run from my roar!

I respect her all, and her journey to be free of loss but not love
Kristen Kreuk, set sail with thy Sultan to Galilei!

Beautiful poem and yes the Sultan is crazier than ever!

10 months ago

This is a good analysis

10 months ago

For a good book for anyone who wants to understand why people join cults I recommend Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer”.
I read it many years ago.
It explains how NXIVM is related to Communism and Nazism and other cults.

For those of you who want to multitask or rest your eyes, here is an audiobook of “The True Believer.”

The True Believer (Audiobook)

10 months ago

“The only new thing in this world is the history you don’t know.”


10 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated: Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083


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