I don’t watch a lot of broadcast television; typically my daily is exposure comes as I pad through the kitchen in the morning as my life partner tends to have it on for Good Morning America. Typically there’s not much of note — a parade of celebrities hawking their latest consumer product or experience being gushed over by the hosts or some cutesy-wootsy or tragic human interest set piece… all very comfy and banal; which is what the audience and the advertisers who want access to them like. But today, as I passed by the set I heard the words like “initiation,” “naked on a sheepskin rug” and “secret society” — THAT got my attention (thinking — “must be above my degree!”)
The topic being discussed was a rite being performed on initiates of NXIVM (pronounced “Nexium,” like the heartburn relief medication), an executive success program that claims to pursue the loftiest of ideals, deep philosophical principles and “a remarkable development in scientific and psychodynamic understanding, education, and technology.” The reason this was being discussed on national morning TV is that former member Sarah Edmondson claims that the ceremony involved branding female members. It’s alleged that the brand is a pair of sigilized “A”s which when viewed sideways is a “KR” — the initials of program co-founder Keith Raniere and that one needs to submit naked pictures or accounts of compromising past behavior to qualify for the rite to insure non-disclosure.
From reading the statements posted on the NXIVM site it’d appear that their work is based in the same basic deprogramming/reprogramming tech described in Neuro Linguistic Programming that everyone from EST to Scientology, etc. has employed for the past century — it’s pervasive and enduring because it DOES work. One might posit that people regularly get hooked because the deprogramming part is so efficacious and has so much blissful, liberating impact — freeing one from decades of learning bias, prejudice and self-blindering — ergo when the reprogramming starts one expects that that have similarly positive results… except that the reprogramming is along very particular lines to create a very specific end product consciousness-wise. JUST SPECULATING HERE!
Personally, I don’t have a problem with branding, ritual nudity, participation in a communal ethos and initiations into groups that seek to gain self knowledge and mastery and thereby attempt to make the world a better place… as long it’s done without the slightest hint of coercion of any sort.
Here’s what these folks say for themselves: http://www.nxivm.com/