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Keith Ranieri - NXIVM - An Evil Sex Cult Endorsed by the Dalai Lama

NXIVM - A Profile of a Cult Leader [Keith Raniere]

Source: Don’t Call It a Cult by Sarah Berman 

Keith Raniere, a dangerous and now imprisoned narcissist, was the sadistic leader of the NXIVM Cult. 

This will be a look at how he managed to manipulate so many and an analysis of his properties as a cult leader. 

NXIVM was a cult that Raniere used as a personal harem.

Initially set up as a pseudo-self-help MLM scheme that ensured that Keith had total control of his followers.

Keith had developed disturbing ways of buying loyalty from his followers. This included slavery, physical branding (with a cattle branding iron), group sex and commitment ceremonies. 

Keith also had a few up-and-coming celebrities on his books including Smallville’s Alison Mack who was probably the best actress on Smallville at that time (an incredibly talented actress and singer). Fellow co-star Kristin Kreuk dabbled with the cult alongside Alison’s partner Nicki Clyne being a full-on member and defender right up until 2023 (when she announced her departure from the group via Twitter). 

The group was set up in New York City and at their height had 700 members. The group’s ideas were around self-actualisation and trauma management alongside what Raniere called “Rational Inquiry”. 


Raniere went to trial on May 7 2019 for a slew of offences which included sexual assault, sex trafficking, racketeering and forced labour with many of Raniere’s followers pleading guilty beforehand and agreeing plea deals to testify against Raniere. 

Raniere had been a master manipulator and since the 1980s had cultivated a subculture based around women worshipping him. He proclaimed that he had an IQ better than Einstein’s, magical powers, eidetic memory and [I quote] “the keys to world peace”. 

And people unbelievably believed it! 

The group Raniere founded was called NXIVM due to its layered meanings including meaning “the next millennium” and “a place of learning”. 

The company began as boutique executive coaching for aspiring millionaires (think Gary Vee) but over time it grew into a kind of Ponzi-Scheme spanning globally and had celebrity clients. A lot of what NXIVM modelled on resembled Scientology. 

There were NXIVM daycares, yoga schools, advocacy groups, science foundations and humanitarian funds. And similar to the Jonestown Temple - they may have been set up with good intentions (Jonestown was a staunch civil rights group). 

But by the end of it, Raniere had to face trial under a RICO indictment (which is the same piece of law used to snare Mafia bosses). 

Some of the testimony against Keith Raniere was gut-wrenching. He groomed three underage women into a sexual relationship, confined a woman to a bedroom for nearly two years (her crime was for kissing another man), blackmailed women with intimate photographs and of course, seared his initials into women’s skin with a cattle iron. 

Over two decades Raniere ruined the lives of many people that tried to expose him. Raniere was extremely litigious, hired private investigators, committed harassment and in some cases, managed to bankrupt those speaking out. 

Raniere was motivated by lies and spite. 


Raniere managed to create a myth and ethos around himself. Many stories about Keith’s ‘genius’ date back to the 1980s. Raniere managed to convince members and the press that he had super-intelligence. This was through a self-administered IQ test where he scored higher than Albert Einstein. Again, I stress…. Self-administered IQ Test. 

Raniere studied the sales techniques of Amway (another multi-level marketing Company) and similar companies. Raniere said that other MLM companies were unethical and that he was going to implement something better for humanity. It was to be a ‘new concept’ in marketing. It took many years through the 80s and 90s of other failed ‘health’ companies before NXIVM found root in 1998. 

NXIVUM would live on for another 23 years. 

One method that Raniere fed into, and that quite possibly helped in his charm offensives, was the use of NLP. Neuro-Linguistic Programming. 

Some people argue that NLP is a pseudo-science. But Raniere was a fan of its techniques. It is a highly developed method of leaving suggestions in the other person’s mind. In Raniere’s case, leaving these suggestions in women’s minds. 

Rapport is a central philosophy of NLP. You match someone’s breathing, their linguistic choices, their movements, and increase agreeability. NXIVM members were taught how to use this method effectively. The whole concept of NXIVM was recruitment, recruitment and recruitment. 

NLP coaching is a growing facet of the self-help industry. It is used by MLM marketers, pick-up artists, business-improvement YouTubers, and salespeople and it is sold as a chance to help people make money, find love, have lots of sex and unlock success. Whether this works or not is a matter of debate, but it was a tool that Raniere was known to use on many of his ‘victims’. 

Raniere used many dark tactics to keep people either on his side or living in fear. He tapped into their sense of destiny and forged psychological connections through ‘hypnosis methods’, confession, intensive sessions (where people revealed all their anxieties to Raniere) and of course, physical touching. 

For example, Raniere told one of his victims during their sessions that she may have been the reincarnation of Hitler and convinced other members that in a past life, they were literal Nazi members. These repetitive suggestions drilled in feelings of shame, guilt and inferiority. They were also taught that resisting such feedback would hamper their progress within the group. Therefore, these ridiculous claims had to be accepted and unchallenged. And what does this do to the victim? 

It makes them want more treatment and more help from Raniere. It creates a stigma within them that only NXIVM can cleanse. 

It was guilt used as manipulation. And with time and repetition - these hateful ideas grew legs. 

Raniere had what he referred to as several “spiritual wives”. These women were recruited by other women, with ages going as low as 12 in some cases. Raniere liked to do business with women he had sex with, which could have been a psychological effort to draw people in and build exclusive trust between Raniere and the victim. The women was forbidden from having relationships outside Raniere, with one woman being imprisoned and shunned within the community for fostering romantic relationships away from Keith Raniere. Again, it seemed that Keith Raniere used sex as a weapon and a method of manipulation. 

NXIVM eventually grew into a massive network. At its height, it had 700 members (and had worked with nearly 20,000 people). Raniere’s members and close circle included the son of the Mexican President and members of the Seagram’s Whiskey family - this was the elite amongst North American circles. And as the cult grew - Raniere’s power grew. 

Heiress Claire Bronfman’s money was used by the organisation to fund private jets, a horse farm outside Albany, several properties rented to NXIVM students and a Trump Towers Condo overlooking Central Park…

But this would pale in comparison to the legal spending that NXIVM spent destroying their enemies. 

At the trial, it was revealed that members had to pay $2,000 to gather in Silver Bay, New York just to celebrate Raniere’s birthday. This was a tribute ceremony known as the Vanguard. It was described as a summer camp for adults but all centred around KEITH RANIERE. 

It was also revealed that Keith Raniere controlled the calorie intake of his female members and would dish out extreme and harsh punishments for any weight gain. He subjected some women to as little as 500 calories a day. 

There was a slave and master system in place that was controlled and led by actress Alison Mack, who came up with the disgusting idea of branding the female members with KR initials. 

Alison Mack was herself on a crazy recruitment campaign on Twitter to try and snare more celebrities into the cult. Her role could be compared to that of Ghislaine Maxwell’s type of relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. 

But why such a talented woman would go down this route is beyond me. Honestly, some of the acting that I’ve seen Allison Mack do is remarkable and she has squandered her talent and gifts. 

NXIVM also developed a method of shunning similar to that of Scientology where they labelled somebody a “suppressive” if they criticise the system in place. A SP (Suppressive Person) in Scientology is somebody that the forces of the organisation target as an enemy. This kind of siege mentality is a known tactic, similarly used by the Nazis and Stalinist Soviet Union. To create an outside enemy, you keep those within your circle under a state of siege and fear… and then who knows what you can command them to do. In labelling those outside of NXIVM as suppressive, you dehumanise the enemy. 

One of the most impressive achievements of NXIVM was getting a tete-a-tete with the Dalai Lama. 

At a small Albany venue, his Holiness attended alongside the heiress Bronfman sisters. The appearance of a holy and spiritual leader cemented legitimacy for the group and its leaders. Despite spending an alleged one million dollars to secure his appearance, it seemed to give the organisation respectability and credibility. 

When Barbara Bouchey attempted to leave the organisation she was sued by the organisation. They also filed criminal complaints of extortion. They sought to ruin Bouchey’s life through the courts. The lawsuits seemed never-ending and NXIVM supporters spread lies regarding Bouchey’s guilt regarding the blackmail. 

In Bouchey’s words:

Anyone who left NXIVM was terrified to talk to me. 

They had ruined Barbara’s life and isolated her from her friends and loved ones. 


Keith Raniere created an organisation which was centred around his mythology. The super-intelligence, the mystique around his spiritual awakening and the ability to train others to follow his lead ensured that 

Raniere was put on a pedestal within the group. 

The group thrived off of rules and status-seeking. 

By having a set hierarchy within the organisation and a series of draconian rules to follow to rise the ranks, he managed to brainwash people into being loyal adherents. Those loyal adherents were willing to commit social and moral wrongs (potentially against their better judgment) to progress within the cult. This can be compared to any large-scale tyrannical regime or the smaller-scale cults like NXIVM. 

Raniere created a caste system in which people aspired upwards. 

Raniere created a siege mentality and ostracised any whistleblowers and non-members. The whole “world against us” mentality is perfect for a tight-knit group and the idea of being under siege creates desperation, desperate people willing to do desperate acts. The spite and venom that they had for former members were triggered by those feelings of betrayal and control. Raniere shows all of the qualities of being a total control freak. 

The organisation could grow organically through its adherent by having the multi-level pyramid system in place. This took the workload off of the top members and pursued recruitment through lower-level members, expanding and growing organically. 

And the biggest pull of the group is the idea of self-help and spiritual peace. We all live in a stressful, anxiety-ridden world where the weight and burden of human existence can seem unbearable. Anybody offering you peace, spiritual harmony and control of your emotions is selling you snake oil. This is no quick fix. I wish there were. 

Know thyself, in the words of Socrates… 

Don’t let any charlatan huckster tell you what you are. 

If the organised group ever ask you to do something which you find morally uncomfortable, then see it as a red flag.

The branding and having sex with the leader should have alarmed the likes of Alison Mack, the Bronfman Sisters and Battlestar Galactica’s Nicki Clyne. 

Before they ventured into aiding and abetting the sex trafficker, embezzler and liar Keith Raniere. 


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