For those who have been waiting breathlessly since last summer, it’s time once again for “Vanguard Week.”

Vanguard Week is that annual event set aside to commemorate the birthday of Executive Success Programs (ESP) and NXIVM creator Keith Raniere, known to his devoted fans as “Vanguard.”

The event will take place August 26th through September 5th at Lake George New York, touted as “10 days of synergy, enthusiasm and reflection.”

Mr. Raniere was previously best known as a failed multi-level marketing guru who beget “Consumer Buyline,” his business brainchild that ended less than a decade ago amidst a much-publicized financial meltdown.

But this time around Mr. Raniere seems to be selling enlightenment, and it’s pretty pricey.

Just for the privilege of seeking synergy with Vanguard “Nixians” will shell out about $2,000.00 per head, though there are “flexible payment options.”

Assisting Mr. Raniere will be his faithful sidekick Nurse Nancy Salzman known to her pupils as “Prefect,” self-proclaimed as “one of the top trainers of human potential in the world.”

Over 400 devotees are expected to turn out for Vanguard Week at the Roaring Brook Ranch and Resort Center and Silver Bay Association Conference Center in upstate New York.

And they will be regaled with programs that include “forums, inquiries, workshops” and of course “synergy…around the clock.”

“Select world-class entertainment will include…one of the world’s leading hypnotists…[an] internationally-acclaimed pianist, author of a New York Times Best Seller” and “special surprises.”

All this will be done for a proposed budget that totals about $130,000.

$50,000 just to bring in the best-selling author.

$12,500 for “gourmet vegetarian…specialty foods.”

$12,500 for sweatshirts.

$7,500 for T-shirts.

$8,000 for a “24-hour gourmet coffee bar.”

$7,500 for a “performance by the world’s leading hypnotist.”

$5,000 for decorations,

$10,000 for that “acclaimed pianist.”

$12,000 for the “NXIVM internationally acclaimed Harmonic Choir.”

$3,000 for “NXIVM entertainment night.”

$2,000 to be spent on “welcome gifts for Vanguard, Prefect and proctors or VIP attendees.”

The $130,000 price tag for Vanguard Week does not include another $60,000 proposed for an “Oscar winning director of leading documentary.”

Nexians have been asked specifically to sponsor a item “toward the investment of creating a memorable experience.”

CultNews has learned from a reliable source that one loyal disciple of Mr. Raniere has already agreed to sponsor “gourmet vegetarian chef and specialty foods” from their restaurant in exchange for training “intensives.”

As Keith Raniere says, “Humans can be noble. The question is: will we put forth what is necessary?”

Putting forth fat fees for high profile speakers and performers is nothing new for controversial groups.

Rev. Moon, founder of the Unification Church, has hosted former presidents, including the father of our current President Bush, not to mention well-known entertainers like Bill Cosby.

Rev. Moon, a self-proclaimed “messiah” and leader of a purported “cult,” is willing to sign off on exorbitant fees, which in turn often lead to photo ops or at least a few blurbs citing big names at one of his events.

Mr. Raniere, the self-proclaimed “Vanguard,” probably cannot afford the level of notables nailed by Rev. Moon, but last year he did almost snag actress Goldie Hawn.

However, after Ms. Hawn heard that NXIVM had been called a “cult” she demurred and was a no-show for Vanguard Week despite the fat fee she might have picked up.

This year NXIVM has carefully kept its roster of alleged celebrities under wraps.

Whoever does show up at Lake George for Vanguard Week this year one thing is for sure, Mr. Raniere and Nurse Nancy will be there to hold forth for the faithful, shoveling out what Forbes Magazine once speculated might be labeled “horse manure.”

“Horse manure” was not listed as a line item on the proposed budget, but it may be provided at no additional charge.

Note: NXIVM is suing the Ross Institute (RI) and this CultNews reporter for “trade secret” violations and “copyright infringement.” This frivolous litigation has led to one court defeat after another for Keith Raniere, despite his willingness to spend big bucks on legal fees. Most recently Raniere has retained Carter G. Phillips and Eric A. Shumsky at the prestigious Washington D.C. law firm of Sidley, Austin, Brown and Wood to represent NXIVM on appeal before the United States Supreme Court. Were faithful Nexians asked to “sponsor” this too? RI is represented pro bono by Boston area attorney Douglas Brooks and Albany attorney Tom Gleason.

NXIVM (pronounced Nexium, like “the purple pill“) lost again in court this week in its legal effort to remove critical reports about its programs from the Ross Institute (RI) database.

The group alleges “copyright” violations and sought an injunction to delete from the Internet the critical analyses written by noted mental health professionals Dr. Paul Martin and John Hochman, MD.

NXIVM sells “Executive Success Programs” concocted by Keith Raniere its self-proclaimed “Vanguard.”

NXIVM, which has been called a “cult,” claims that the doctor’s reports violate its copyright because they quoted the group’s manual.

However, a district court in Albany rejected Raniere’s request for a preliminary injunction so his lawyers appealed.

This week The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City handed down their decision (NXIVM Corp v. The Ross Institute — Docket No. 03-7952).

“We agree with the district court that the website’s use of quotation from the manual to support their critical analyses of the seminars…[was used] for the purpose of ‘criticism, comment scholarship, or research,'” wrote the court.

The Second Circuit also noted that NXIVM’s claim that the doctors had unlawfully copied “the heart of their ‘services” within the reports was meaningless, because “such services…are not copyrightable expression.”

The appellate court decision also agreed with the lower court that “in order to do the research and analysis necessary to support their critical commentary, it was reasonably necessary for defendants to quote liberally from NXIVM’s manual.”

This decision further defines copyright law and goes some distance in precluding spurious copyright claims made by “cults” as a means of silencing their critics.

The court said that use of a group’s material “might well harm, or even destroy, the market for the original,” but that this “is of no concern to us so long as the harm stems from the force of the criticism offered.”

Regarding NXIVM’s trademark claim, the court stated that it is “without merit.”

The Second Circuit also offered this withering assessment of NXIVM’s lawsuit; “Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed.”

Judge Dennis Jacobs summed up the situation succinctly, “Ross and his co-defendants quoted from NXIVM’s manual to show that it is the pretentious nonsense of a cult…Certainly, no critic should need an author’s permission to make such criticism…”

A motion to dismiss the lawsuit entirely is currently pending before an Albany Federal Judge.

CultNews recently exposed a misleading brochure produced by “NXIVM” (pronounced nexium, like the acid relief medication), a group that has been called a “cult.”

NXIVM is the brainchild of Keith Raniere, but its titular head is his devoted disciple Nancy Salzman.

The NXIVM brochure stated, “Nancy Salzman (highlighted in this year’s O magazine), one of the world’s top trainers in the field of human potential.”

Readers might conclude that Salzman was “highlighted” in O Oprah Magazine for her touted training expertise.

However, O magazine’s spokesperson set the record straight regarding the carefully crafted blurb within NXIVM’s promotional literature.

The O Oprah Magazine Spokesperson clarified, “Nancy Salzman appeared in a June 2003 O, The Oprah Magazine ‘real woman’ fashion story. The story simply listed Ms. Salzman’s title and occupation along with her style preferences. It did not elaborate on her business any further.”

Oprah Winfrey is well known for her interest in self-improvement, but neither the talk-show host nor her magazine in any way endorsed or specifically promoted NXIVM, Salzman’s claimed expertise or Executive Success Programs.

As reported by CultNews an apparent effort to mislead was far worse regarding the Forbes article titled “Cult of Personality“.

Nancy Salzman quoted herself gushing about her mentor within the brochure, but apparently tried to pass it off as a positive review about Raniere from Forbes. The quote is attributed within the NXIVM literature as simply, “As mentioned in Forbes magazine.”

This would be like a motion picture studio taking out an ad to promote a film that says, “New York Times: ‘sensational’ ‘genius.'”

But placed in proper context the quotes actually read, “The movie’s producer called the film ‘sensational’ and said the director’s work was ‘genius.'”

Raniere and Salzman seem to have a penchant for grandiose self-promotion.

Salzman according to her brochure bio has logged “over 20 years of intensive study and practice in the fields of healthcare, human potential, and human empowerment.”

However, Nancy is simply a nurse that has attended many mass marathon training seminars similar to those offered by NXIVM and she has studied various communication and persuasion techniques.

Salzman is not a licensed mental health professional.

Raniere’s brochure bio reads “scientist, mathematician, philosopher and entrepreneur” with the “highest IQ” recorded in 1989.

But despite such titles Raniere like Salzman has no degree in psychology, is not a licensed mental health professional and in fact does not posses a post-graduate diploma.

Medical Doctor and psychiatrist Carlos Rueda is a licensed mental health professional and he has treated three former NXIVM students.

Rueda told the Albany Times-Union, “NXIVM leaders weren’t prepared or certified to deal with the potential psychological problems that can surface during the training.”

It has been reported that one breakdown linked to NXIVM ended at a hospital, while another lead to a tragic suicide.

No doubt amongst NXIVM’s devoted disciples and within its rather insular world of classes and programs Raniere (known as “Vanguard”) and Salzman (known as “Prefect”) are legendary.

But in the real world the controversial duo appears to have garnered attention as little more than “cult” leaders, with perhaps some fashion sense.

Note: Forbes was contacted for comment, but has not responded officially.

“Integrity” is a word commonly used within the group named NXIVM (pronounced nexium like the acid stomach medication). Keith Raniere and his devoted disciple Nancy Salzman founded the organization, which has been called a “cult.”

“Integrity” has become an emotionally laden word commonly used by the group’s “coaches” when they train participants within 16-day so-called “intensives,” using Mr. Raniere’s patent pending “technology.”

But it looks like NXIVM may not practice what it preaches.

In a brochure recently distributed promoting its programs NXIVM touted Forbes Magazine in a seeming endorsement that appears to be deliberately misleading.

The brochure states, “As mentioned in Forbes magazine: ‘There is probably no discovery since writing as important for humankind as Mr. Raniere’s technology.'”

However, this quote was taken out of context and not really attributed fully and/or correctly.

The statement quoted was made by Nancy Salzman within the Forbes article titled “Cult of Personality,” which was hardly a positive piece.

The Forbes reporter actually offered the following appraisal of Mr. Raniere’s teachings. “You might think it pure genius. Or maybe horse manure,” he said.

Don’t expect that Forbes quote to appear anywhere within a NXIVM brochure.

Putting the Salzman quote in context it reads as follows:

“Salzman had just gone through a tough time. She found Raniere to be riveting. He became her spiritual guide, and she became his most ardent follower. ‘There is probably no discovery since writing as important for humankind as Mr. Raniere’s technology,’ she once wrote in a brochure.”

So the quote featured by NXIVM “as mentioned in Forbes” is really nothing more than promotional hype once written by Salzman, NXIVM’s President and “Prefect.”

This appears to be a deliberate attempt by NXIVM to mislead the public in the mistaken belief that Forbes somehow endorsed and/or lauded the group.

The brochure, which is a promotion for Executive Success Programs also lists “presenters,” including Esther Chiappone, who according to the brochure was “primarily responsible for the company’s unprecedented growth in Anchorage, Alaska.”

Readers of may recall that it was during an Anchorage ESP program that one participant, Kristin Snyder, tragically committed suicide.

Ms. Snyder’s last recorded words were, “I attended a course called Executive Success Programs (a.k.a. Nexivm) based out of Anchorage, AK, and Albany, NY. I was brainwashed and my emotional center of the brain was killed/turned off. I still have feeling in my external skin, but my internal organs are rotting. Please contact my parents … if you find me or this note. I am sorry life, I didn’t know I was already dead. May we persist into the future.”

Forbes reported that three other NXIVM participants required psychiatric care and that one was hospitalized.

NXIVM’s brochure also engages in “name dropping,” or rather titles, of notable ESP participants such as a “Former US Surgeon General” and a “Former First Lady of Mexico,” but without any endorsements specifically quoting these people.

Additionally, NXIVM touts the participation of a “CEO from Forbes 400 Wealthiest List,” which appears to be Edgar Bronfman Sr.

However, Mr. Bronfman abruptly discontinued his involvement with the group and said, “I think it’s a cult,” when asked for a comment by Forbes.

Again, this is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Interestingly, Oprah Winfrey allegedly “highlighted” Nancy Salzman “in this year’s O Magazine.”

But of course that’s according to a brochure that cannot always be relied upon for its accuracy.

The NXIVM brochure seems to represent a serious lapse of “integrity.”

NXIVM says on its webiste, “World ethics can be described as a sense of consistency and integrity throughout the world…However, we cannot bring a world like this into fruition without first truly understanding.” And this statement then concludes, “NXIVM represents the possibility for this victory.”

But if NXIVM has problems itself with “consistency and integrity,” how can it “bring the world,” or anyone, into any genuine understanding of those principles?

Note: After this article was posted an O Magazine spokesperson told CultNews, “Nancy Salzman appeared in a June 2003 O, The Oprah Magazine ‘real woman’ fashion story. The story simply listed Ms. Salzman’s title and occupation along with her style preferences. It did not elaborate on her business any further.”

An apparent suicide took place almost one year ago directly linked to Executive Success Programs now known as NXIVM, a privately owned for-profit company that has been called a “cult.”

Kristin Marie Snyder was in the midst of her second 16-day “intensive” program through NXIVM in Alaska when she apparently took her own life on February 6, 2003.

Ms. Snyder had just turned 35.

The young woman was initially reported as missing, her truck was found abandoned at Millers Landing in Seward.

A note was found in the truck that said:

“I attended a course called Executive Success Programs [also known as] NXIVM based out of Anchorage, [Alaska] [and] Albany, [New York]. I was brainwashed [and] my emotional center of the brain was killed/turned off. I still have feeling in my external skin but my internal organs are rotting. Please contact my parents…if you find me or this note. I am sorry…I didn’t know I was already dead. May we persist into the future…No need to search for my body.”

An old kayak was missing from the landing and it is believed that Kristin drowned herself.

Authorities searched the waters for five days, but never recovered her body or the boat. The water in Resurrection Bay is glacier fed and extremely deep, it is doubtful that Kristin will ever be recovered.

Last month an application for a death certificate was submitted to Alaska authorities.

Kristin Snyder was an attractive young woman with a loving family and many friends. She was a self-employed environmental consultant, member of the Nordic Ski Patrol and an avid outdoorswoman. And according to her family had never experienced any psychiatric or emotional disorders.

A close friend, who attended the same ESP intensive, told CultNews that Kristin had discussed suicide several times that week and was implicit about her intention to kill herself the day she disappeared.

The same friend advised that this was reported repeatedly to NXIVM leaders, but their assessment was that the distressed young woman was merely attempting to manipulate people for attention.

No meaningful help was sought from a mental health professional and no referral made.

New York psychiatrist Carlos Rueda told Forbes Magazine and the Albany Times Union last year that he has treated three NXIVM students, one who experienced a psychotic episode and required hospitalization.

“I think that the stress and the way the courses are structured may make people who have a tendency to have a psychotic disorder have an acute episode,” Rueda said.

And the psychiatrist warned that NXIVM leaders weren’t prepared or certified to deal with the potential psychological problems that can surface during the training.

Carlos Rueda is the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in New York City and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College in Valhalla, Westchester County.

Two other highly respected mental health professionals have also been critical of NXIVM and the potential consequences of participating in its programs.

Forensic psychiatrist John Hochman an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA wrote that NXIVM is “a kingdom…with psychological borders – influencing how…subjects spend their time, socialize, and think. Increasing involvement serves to…distance participants from their relationships in a manner that is slow and subtle, and thus not at all obvious to them.”

Clinical psychologist Paul Martin wrote two reports regarding NXIVM. He is the director of Wellspring Retreat, a licensed mental health facility for the rehabilitation of former cult members.

Martin recently testified as an expert witness on “cult brainwashing” in the trial of Lee Malvo, the so-called “D.C. sniper.” In his report about NXIVM the noted psychologist specifically compared “Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria of thought reform as applied to the Executive Success Programs.

Lifton, a renowned psychiatrist and Harvard Medical School professor, is the author of the seminal book Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism.

“ESP has characteristics that are consistent with the themes of thought reform [often called ‘brainwashing’] Martin stated within a “A Critical Analysis of the Executive Success Programs.”

Some of the consequences the psychologist cited that might occur as a result of such a thought reform program are a “borderline psychotic state, split identity, fear, confusion, feeling…lonely and an inability to distinguish the real from the unreal.”

Martin also noted that thought reform victims might experience relief through “suicide.”

Kristin Snyder’s parents told CultNews, “We had serious concerns about her involvement with the group and about personality changes that we sensed in her after her first exposure to ESP…We attempted to dissuade her from attending again, but to no avail.”

Kristin lived in Anchorage, thousands of miles from her concerned family.

The Snyders researched NXIVM more in-depth recently through the Internet.

Kristin’s mother wrote, “We only recently became aware of your website, but from the beginning we were aware that controversy surrounded ESP. I wish we had known more a year ago when my husband and I were so terribly concerned about our daughter.”

Sadly, such in-depth analysis of NXIVM by mental health experts only began to appear publicly after Kristin Snyder’s untimely death.

In what seems to be an effort to suppress such information NXIVM filed lawsuits against doctors Hochman, Martin and the Ross Institute for publishing the cited reports on the Internet.

However, the judge denied NXIVM’s request for an injunction.

“Our hearts are broken, but we are also enraged that a group like this can legally peddle such destructive propaganda in America,” says Mrs. Snyder.

“Kris was a lovely and gifted young woman who loved life and had never before had any emotional instability, but her descent into mental illness was rapid and we believe that it was a direct result of the manipulation of her mind by…’Vanguard’ and his doctrine,” the Snyder family concluded.

“Vanguard” is the self-proclaimed title Keith Raniere, the creator of Executive Success Programs, has chosen for himself.

When asked about NXIVM causalities Raniere told the Schenectady Sunday Gazette that the number of people who have gripes with the program, he estimates at 1 percent, are disproportionately reported in comparison with the 99 percent who had a positive experience.

Such self-serving spin offers no solace to the Snyders.

A controversial group called a “cult” by local residents suffered a serious setback in New York federal court yesterday reports the Albany Times-Union.

NXIVM (pronounced Nexium) also known as “Executive Success Programs” has filed lawsuits against John Hochman, MD and Paul Martin, Ph.D. regarding their written analysis of the group and its programs.

The Ross Institute (TRI) was also sued for publishing those reports.

The group founded by Keith Raniere, a failed multi-level marketing guru, wants $9 million dollars in damages.

Raniere’s lawyers claim that because NXIVM material is quoted within the reports Hochman, Martin and TRI are guilty of “trade secret” and “copyright” violations.

However, a federal judge once again denied NXIVM’s requests for temporary injunctions, aimed at removing the critical articles from the Internet.

This is the third time the court has turned down Raniere’s efforts to suppress the information.

Interestingly, NXIVM’s recent defeat comes not long after The Hague gutted Scientology’s last hope of removing its own trade secrets and copyright protected material from view on the Internet.

Scientology, the controversial church that Time Magazine dubbed the “Cult of Greed,” has a long history of legal defeats. Observers have often claimed the organization simply uses litigation as a vehicle to target its perceived enemies.

In an ironic twist, a well-known Scientology operative Nancy O’Meara claimed that she is cooperating with NXIVM regarding its current New York litigation.

“I am working on two cases right now where [The Ross Institute] is being sued for copyright trademark violation (filed in July 2003),” stated O’Meara in an email dated August 22nd.

It appears that Raniere is being coached by Scientology, arguably the most litigious “cult” in the world.

And judging by his recent court setbacks, the man NXIVM devotees call “Vanguard” may be losing his edge by following in Scientology’s dubious legal footsteps.

Goldie Hawn has been hired to speak at an event sponsored by a group called a “cult.”

The actress is being paid by “NXIVM” (pronounced Nexium), formerly known as Executive Success Programs (ESP), to speak at its “Vanguard Week” celebration.

NXIVM was recently criticized by residents of Albany, New York and labeled a “cult.”

Ms. Hawn will speak about “the importance of seeking joy in one’s life,” reports MSNBC.

But what the star doesn’t know is she is actually featured entertainment for the group leader’s birthday party.

“Vanguard Week,” the event Hawn has been hired for is named for the NXIVM founder Keith Raniere, called “Vanguard” by his devoted students.

Raniere formerly ran a multi level marketing (MLM) scheme “Consumer Buyline,” which tanked after State Attorney Generals took action against it. The MLM was also the subject of a class action lawsuit.

Some years later Raniere started up ESP with the help of Nancy Salzman, a registered nurse.

ESP seems to borrow heavily upon the teachings, philosophy, seminar structure and/or terminology of Scientology, EST, Landmark Education, the Forum and Ayn Rand.

An ESP “Intensive” can cost thousands of dollars and take 10 hours a day for 16 consecutive days.

One clinical psychologist has compared ESP training to “thought reform,” often called “brainwashing.”

Complaints associated with ESP range from strained relationships, estranged families and at least one breakdown during an “intensive” that led to a hospital stay.

Hawn is not the first star to be seemingly used by a purported “cult” to promote an event.

Both Bill Cosby and Whitney Houston were once booked as entertainment for events associated with Rev. Moon’s Unification Church.

Scientology routinely uses celebrity members to promote its associated programs, such as Tom Cruise and his recent round of appearances related to “Applied Scholastics.”

Goldie Hawn is probably picking up a hefty honorarium for her professional appearance at Raniere’s birthday bash. But the Oscar winner, who first became widely known through the television show Laugh In, should realize that this is no joke.

Raniere and his group are using her name to promote NXIVM, a group that has allegedly hurt families and students.

Note: Goldie Hawn later cancelled the engagement.

More controversy is swirling around the Executive Success Programs (ESP) led by a failed multi-level marketing guru Keith Raniere, now known to his devotees as “Vanguard.”

Raniere is pushing ahead with a proposal to build a 66,000 square foot NXIVM (pronounced Nexium) center in a small town near Albany, which would then be run by ESP.

But the townsfolk seem to dislike both the building plan and Raniere’s group, reports The Community News.

“Their Web (site) sounds like a brainwashing type of cult,” wrote in one resident.

In an apparent dedication ceremony to launch the project, before receiving Planning Commission approval, one perplexed resident witnessed ESP members “on their hands and knees kissing the ground, scooping up the soil and kissing it, some…rolling on the ground.”

The president of ESP Nancy Salzman, who was mentored by Raniere, told the planning commission that the proposed center would offer instruction for “people to maximize their potential through parenting, relationship and executive success classes.”

Does this mean the project is business related or a social service?

Salzman is called the “Prefect” by devoted “ESPians” and seems to be the second in command.

Right now the group is preparing to throw a weeklong birthday bash for “Vanguard” later this month.

Vanguard Week is a celebration of the human potential to live a noble existence and to participate in an interdependent civilization,” says Raniere.

So why is it named “Vanguard Week” and celebrated on Raniere’s birthday?

During this week of “celebration” there will be “forums every night with Vanguard and Prefect [Salzman],” notes the ESP website.

Sound a little creepy?

Does this mean reaching the “human potential to live a noble existence” is somehow dependent upon this dynamic duo?

Is that what Raniere means by an “interdependent civilization”?

Raniere’s last scheme was an interconnected multi-level buying club called “Consumer Buyline,” which collapsed amidst scandal and lawsuits.

It doesn’t look like many of the residents near the proposed NXIVM complex feel like celebrating Raniere’s birthday during “Vanguard Week.”

A so-called “human potential” group that offers courses devised by the originator of a failed “pyramid scheme” is causing controversy through a proposed building project reports the Albany Times-Union.

Keith Raniere, known to his students by the title “Vanguard,” hopes to build a global headquarters for his latest venture called “NXIVM” (pronounced Nexium) or Executive Success Programs (ESP) near Albany.

But area residents don’t seem to appreciate his vision of an almost 70,000 square foot edifice in their neighborhood.

Raniere’s first foray into business failed badly.

His company called “Consumer Buyline” allegedly bilked members financially and was shut down after multiple lawsuits, numerous investigations and substantial bad press.

Raniere was restricted from starting another multi-level operation for some years and told plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit he was broke.

But now the self-proclaimed “scientist, mathematician, philosopher and entrepreneur,” assisted by his faithful “Prefect,” a registered nurse named Nancy Salzman, appears to be in the midst of making a comeback.

This time instead of selling memberships in a buying club the man they call “Vanguard” is selling courses to “allow for accurate, consistent measurement of human psychodynamic performance.”

However, Raniere and Salzman are not licensed mental health professionals, such as a board certified clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.

John Hochman, M.D., a forensic psychiatrist and professor of Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA described Raniere’s current enterprise as follows:

“The ESP Intensive appears to be a gateway that encourages participants to attend further training sessions or seminars, and get friends and family to do the same. In a general sense, the goal is integration of individuals into a subculture – however, a particular kind of subculture. It 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. It is a kingdom with no physical borders, but with psychological borders – influencing how his subjects spend their time, socialize, and think. Increasing involvement serves to increasingly distance participants from their relationships in a manner that is slow and subtle, and thus not at all obvious to them.”

Paul Martin, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in the study of destructive cults and the rehabilitation of former members offers these observations:

“The claim that ESP is a science. Raniere says it is, but that does not make it so. Science must meet certain requirements. There is nothing in the published scientific literature about ESP nor has an exhaustive search of the psychological literature base shown any publications by Keith Raniere…the workshop participant appears to have to accept these claims by faith. But this faith is a far cry from the scientific claims of ESP that Raniere asserts.”

Martin concludes, “The teaching and practices of the workshop contain elements that correspond to the eight themes of thought reform as described by Lifton” and the mental health professional then offers the following parallels to those criteria evident within ESP.

What then is Keith Raniere the “vanguard” of, a supposed science regarding “human psychodynamic performance,” or just another personality-driven cult?