By Jeffrey Jay, AKA Mockingbird
This is the fourth in a series that examines the similarities of NXIVM and Scientoloy. We are using the excellent book Scarred: The True Story Of How I Escaped The Cult That Bound My Life by Sarah Edmondson to illustrate our points.
I recommend reading these posts sequentially.
On page 19 of Scarred, Sarah Edmondson introduces her readers to the term “EM aka Exploration of Meaning”.
This is a technique I never saw in Scientology, at least not with that name.
Scientology uses a device called an e-meter to assist in their auditing.
In Scientology and Dianetics’ auditing, many techniques are similar enough to the EM used in NXIVM that it’s worth noting.
Both have methods that involve guiding questions and recalling past events to resolve underlying trauma, or at least CLAIM to do so.
In Scientology, these “answers” often include submission to Scientology procedures and the belief that the procedures are beneficial and that Scientology doctrine is correct.
I suspect that EMs also have this quality.
“Nancy’s own specialty was neurolinguistic programming (NLP), …” (Scarred page 21)
Sarah Edmondson describes some claims for NLP, and I won’t waste your time with them, because many examinations of NLP have found it a harmful fraud and a method that unscrupulous people use to try and control others.
NLP did not use scientific research to develop its practices. It doesn’t stand up to scientific examination.
I recommend you run, not walk, away from any person or group that uses NLP.
Nancy Salzman reportedly still believes in the methods used in NXIVM, and that’s unfortunate for anyone she spreads them to and possibly tragic for her mental well-being.
I suggest that NXIVM members or ex-members who still believe in the techniques look long and hard at the criticism of these techniques and actual scientific research on them and their effects.
I have a similar suggestion for Scientologists and ex-Scientologists regarding the methods used in Scientology.
The Stripe Path allowed NXIVM members to have ranks based on colored sashes and the number of stripes on each.
Clare Bronfman with her Nxivm orange sash.
Lauren Salzman with her green sash with white stripes.On page 22 of Scarred, Sarah Edmondson introduces the “stripe path” in NXIVM.
Many cults have a variation on a gradual hierarchy that usually elevates very few members to the top levels, and most people never make it past the lower levels.
In Scientology, the cult has numerous ways to be elite.
You have a training path for auditing and a path as a person who gets auditing, a path for administrative training, and a path for money donated to any one of several causes within the organization, including the International Association of Scientologists, the Super Power project and numerous other projects for which Scientology solicits donations.
Within the organization, staff members are in their hierarchy groups. Sea Org members often see themselves as above ALL other people.
In the Sea Org. various branches see themselves as higher or lower than other branches. I have known Sea Org members to feud over who is higher in the hierarchy or whose branch has more authority than the other.
In Scientology, many staff members see the public members as “namby-pamby,” “wishy-washy,” and “dilettantes.”
Likewise, many Sea Org members see the public AND staff as inferiors!
In fact, within Scientology, there’s a poster for the Sea Org with a statement I will paraphrase: “For every Sea Org member working to make things right on planet earth, there are a million people who don’t even know what right is!”
The idea is that a few thousand Sea Org members are trying to save Earth, while billions of people are so far beneath Sea Org members in knowledge and awareness that to Sea Org members, we are like mindless drones sleepwalking through our lives and utterly oblivious to reality!
A similar trait that Sarah Edmondson brought up was how she worked on the stripe path for years before making money for her labor and did thousands of tasks for which NXIVM did not compensate her. Additionally, Keith Raniere had many people do unpaid work for him and the organization in exchange for courses.
In Scientology, during my 25 years of experience, I met hundreds of staff members, a hundred or two Sea Org members, and met people from organizations worldwide. I spent most of my time at a small local organization, a few months at a large organization in Los Angeles, and a couple of months at a large organization in New York City.
Most Sceintologists are not glamorous stars.
Most people in Scientology are poor. Many staff members and Sea Org members go months or years without pay. That’s right. They go for months or years with zero pay!
Scientology seeks out and targets and exploits the rich and famous, but just as only one percent of people are wealthy, only a tiny fraction of Scientology cult members are wealthy!
Many people who are not wealthy join Scientology staff or the Sea Org, and devote their lives to the group.
They discover that the Sea Org often provides no pay or pennies per hour when and if it pays anything.
As a legally recognized “religion” in the United States, Scientology is exempt from minimum wage laws regarding “volunteers,” and all staff and Sea Org members are volunteers. (There are exceptions in rare cases where the law requires workers to be treated as regular workers. This is a tiny fraction of Scientology)
Sea Org members routinely work hundred-plus hour weeks. Although the Sea Org often provides cramped communal housing and barely sufficient food, it often provides no medical insurance, no retirement, pays nothing into social security, and doesn’t pay members enough for things like feminine hygiene products, birth control, soap, and laundry detergent.
The staff is always waiting for the promise of expansion to get to the point of consistent and decent pay.
Most Scientology staff made little to nothing most of the time. Over eighty percent of staff make nothing for years at a time. The other 20 percent make a few hundred dollars PER YEAR!
There have been rare exceptions of staff making several hundred dollars per week, but the odds of that consistently happening are extremely low.
Many Scientology staff survive by working a full-time job and working full-time for nothing in Scientology, and others have a spouse or family members that support them while they are on staff.
The fact that NXIVM and Scientology both provide a facade of extremely wealthy and successful people financially while relying on a hidden foundation of people who are either unpaid or paid well below minimum wage, is a trait found in many cults.
Cult expert Margaret Singer interviewed over 4000 ex-cult members in her decades of research.
She said a cult leader must have two traits: Willing to lie to and exploit people.
I believe these traits were present in NXIVM leader Keith Raniere, in the founder of Scientology, Ronald Hubbard, and his successor or supplanter, David Miscavige.
Stay tuned for part 6
For more of the author’s work, see https://mbnest.blogspot.com/