NXIVM, a controversial organization called a “cult,” proposed a 67,000 square foot complex to be built in the town of Halfmoon near Albany, New York. But it seems that project may be effectively blocked reports the Albany Times-Union.

The Sartoga Count Planning Board has nixed NXIVM (pronounced Nexium) proposed building.

More than a hundred residents signed a petition saying they didn’t want NXIVM in their neighborhood.

The controversial organization’s titular head and self-proclaimed “Prefect” is Nancy Salzman, though the real power behind NXIVM seems to be Salzman’s “mentor” Keith Raniere, who students call “Vanguard.”

Troubled history

Keith Raniere has a troubled history. His previous business incarnations include a multi-level marketing scheme and vitamin/health food concerns. Both businesses failed.

Mr. Raniere’s multi-level marketing business called Consumer Buyline was labeled a “pyramid scheme” by New York Attorney General Robert Abrams and literally sued out of existence by several state attorney generals including New York, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.

Consumer Buyline left in its wake unpaid taxes, liens, judgments and many unhappy participants.

A class action lawsuit filed in Boston was apparently the final round for the company. Raniere agreed to pay $25,000 in a final settlement during 1992, which effectively restricted his business. At this time he claimed to be broke.

Lesson learned?

What did Keith Raniere learn from his past business experiences?

In an affidavit filed last month in Albany federal court Mr. Raniere states, “Throughout this process I had learned how people can cheat to win.” And he seems to think that the collapse of Consumer Buyline was somehow due to “political problems.”

New business

The man they call “Vanguard” today is described as a “scientist, mathematician, philosopher and entrepreneur.” And he is now selling something called “Rational Inquiry.” This is what NXIVM says is a “science based on [a]…belief.”

Learning this “science” in-depth includes 16 consecutive days of intensive training 12 hours a day. This comes to 192 hours of structured coaching classes. Students may then take additional intensives, courses and attend various events and classes.

Expert opinions

Forensic psychiatrist and noted cult expert John Hochman, who reviewed the NXIVM program warns, “Mind control represents indoctrination without informed consent. It relies on calculated strategies to mislead and to misinform. It particularly relies on emotional manipulation.”

Hochman concluded, [NXIVM] is a kingdom of sorts, ruled by a Vanguard, who writes his own dictionary of the English language, has his own moral code, and the ability to generate taxes on subjects by having them participate in his seminars.”

Psychologist Paul Martin whose work is focused upon the treatment of cult victims also reviewed the NXIVM programs and compared them to thought reform often called “brainwashing.”

Martin said, “ESP has characteristics that are consistent with the themes of thought reform.”

He also offered this observation within a separate critical analysis. “What then are some of the consequences of those subject to thought reform programs? [Robert J.] Lifton [author of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism] observed certain clinical symptoms in the subjects he studied. For example: ‘borderline psychotic state, split identity, fear…'”

Martin adds, “There were first-hand reports of some becoming psychotic.”

At least three NXIVM students that attended its intensive programs subsequently sought psychiatric care. One of those students, while in the midst of a “Level 2 Intensive,” had a psychotic episode and was hospitalized in Albany.


In an effort to remove the reports written by Hochman and Martin from public view, Keith Raniere and his “mentored” associate Nancy Salzman have filed lawsuits in federal court against the good doctors, the Ross Institute and myself. They claim “trade secret” and “copyright” violations, because the doctors quote NXIVM material to substantiate points made within their reports.

This is the same legal strategy often employed by the notorious “cult” Scientology in numerous failed lawsuits filed against its own critics on the Internet.

In an interesting twist it appears that Nancy O’Meara, a well-known Scientology operative, has assisted Raniere and Salzman in their current litigation.

O’Meara wrote in an August email, “I am working on two cases right now where [Rick Ross] is being sued for copyright trademark violation.”

Whose model?

Raniere claims NXIVM courses are based upon “my model.” And NXIVM’s “12 Point Mission Statement” states its goal is to reach “an internal “state of clear.”

Ironically, this is precisely the same verbiage often used by Scientology to describe a goal of its training. Raniere also frequently uses the description “suppressive person,” more language commonly associated with Scientology.

Another apparent source for some of NXIVM’s language and principles seems to be Landmark Education, previously known as EST, a controversial company also engaged in the business of large group awareness training, courses and seminars.

Mr. Raniere also likes to quote Ayn Rand the author of Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead.

So whose model is NXIVM really based upon?

Is Keith Raniere guilty of trade secret and copyright violations?

Reported losses

NXIVM sought court ordered injunctions to either close down this website or remove the critical articles about its programs previously mentioned.

Last week a federal judge denied the injunctions .

Mr. Raniere claimed in a recent court affidavit, “We have even lost a 4 year veteran Principal Coach… Goldie Hawn cancelled her engagement…a billionaire network founder…has left…we are losing $10,000 a day in revenue and the problem is escalating.”

With his building plan blocked, the above claimed losses and a federal judge denying his court motions, is Keith Raniere on another losing streak?


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