Although I missed the verdict of Keith Raniere, leader of NXIVM to 120 Years in Prison in October 2020 entirely, learning about this sex trafficking, modern slavery cult built around a very strong personality, is good. Think back to Scientology Church (1953) and their courses, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practices that can do harm if conducted with wrong intentions, and the many Ponzi schemes and multi-level marketing (MLM) initiatives that have been around for decades.
Investigative journalist Sarah Berman interviewed women that fell for Keith Raniere, read documents, articles, rare video interviews to unearth the Raniere’s youth, claims to be super intelligent, the early years of the organization that was founded in 1998, its inner workings, the perverse abuse of women, money, and power. “They draw you in with the promise of empowerment, self-discovery, women helping women. The more secretive those connections are, the more exclusive you feel. Little did you know, you just joined a cult.”
“How is it that our brains can allow for one person to see sex trafficking and another to see self-actualization? Can concentrated social influence really change what a person thinks, feels, experiences?” The book, which takes 5-7 hours to read entirely, is responding confirmative. Only in 2018, Raniere was arrested, one year later Allison Mack, NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Clare Bronfman, and bookkeeper Kathy Russell pleaded guilty to various charges. And, true to nature, the cult leader continued his practices even from behind prison bars, still holding tens of followers very loyal. Don’t Call It a Cult expresses that individual defense of loyalty and recounts very thoroughly the shocking story of Keith Raniere and the women of NXIVM. Unfortunately, this is nonfiction.
About the author
SARAH BERMAN is an investigative journalist based in Vancouver covering crime, drugs, cults, politics, and culture. She is a former senior editor at VICE and past contributor to Adbusters, Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and other publications.