Inside The New York Cult That Brands Followers And Asks For Nudes As “Collateral” — Nigeria Today
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Inside The New York Cult That Brands Followers And Asks For Nudes As “Collateral”

Self-help has a history of veering into the cult realm, and it appears that the Keith Raniere-led Nxivm movement is no different.

On its website, Nxivm (pronounced Nex-e-um) offers courses and workshops designed to help improve self-fulfilment. It describes itself as having a “new ethical understanding that allows us to build an internal civilisation and have it manifest in the external world”.

Basically, the second cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.

Raniere [below] is known within the group as “Vanguard”, and former members have previously alleged that “he had sex with members and urged women in the group to follow near starvation diets,” reports Jezebel.

Now an article published yesterday by The New York Times has uncovered more sinister details about what goes on when you become a member of the group.

Take a look at the intro to the article to get a feel:

Last March, five women gathered in a home to enter a secret sisterhood they were told was created to empower women.

The women, in their 30s and 40s, belonged to a self-help organization [sic] called Nxivm, which is based in Albany and has chapters across the country, Canada and Mexico.

Sarah Edmondson, one of the participants, said she had been told she would get a small tattoo as part of the initiation. But she was not prepared for what came next.

Each woman was told to undress and lie on a massage table, while three others restrained her legs and shoulders. According to one of them, their “master,” a top Nxivm official named Lauren Salzman, instructed them to say: “Master, please brand me, it would be an honor.”

A female doctor proceeded to use a cauterizing device to sear a two-inch-square symbol below each woman’s hip, a procedure that took 20 to 30 minutes. For hours, muffled screams and the smell of burning tissue filled the room.

The branding symbol’s design is said to have incorporated Ranier’s initials as a “tribute.” Ranier texted a female follower: “if it were abraham lincolns or bill gates initials no one would care.’”

Edmondson [below], who said she wept the whole time she was being branded [that main image up top], explained how she was first recruited into the “sisterhood” by Salzman – who described the group as a “force for good” that taught female members how to overcome “weaknesses” like being overemotional.


Speaking to The New York Times, Edmondson and others provided multiple details about the secret society. Here’s six of the wildest from Business Insider:

  • The sorority reportedly had a number of different circles each led by a “master” who would recruit six “slaves.” Eventually, these “slaves” would recruit “slaves” of their own.
  • To gain admission to the sorority, “slaves” were reportedly required to give their “master” naked photographs or other compromising material as “collateral.” If they revealed the group’s existence, the “collateral” might be publicly released.
  • Membership is said to have grown steadily. “Slaves added compromising collateral every month to Dropbox accounts, and a Google Document was used to list a timetable for recruiting new slaves, several women said.”
  • “Former members have depicted [Raniere] as a man who manipulated his adherents, had sex with them, and urged women to follow near-starvation diets to achieve the type of physique he found appealing,” the New York Times reports.
  • During training, the women were reportedly required to text their “masters,” “Morning M” and “Night M.” If a “master” texted her “slaves” with a “?” and a “slave” failed to reply, “Ready M,” within 60 seconds, said “slave” would have to pay a penalty like fasting or a physical punishment, the New York Times reports.
  • NXIVM-affiliated physician Dr. Brandon Porter reportedly conducted an “experiment” on some women, where he showed them violent footage of women being murdered and dismembered while a brain-wave machine and video camera recorded their reactions.

And what’s being done? Nothing so far.

Multiple former members have filed complaints, but no action has been taken against Nxivm as of yet.

At least the cogs have been set in motion and, according to Jezebel, “after word of the branding spread among Nxivm followers, panic ensued”, with women instructed to delete encrypted messages and erase Google documents with scores of members leaving.

So much for that self-help nonsense.


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