bigskeptic, to us this handshake business may seem hilarious. Yet put yourself in their place.
You’ve just started a new management seminar, for that is essentially what you’ve applied, paid and signed NDA’s for; so you’ll probably go at that open-minded since you actually want to learn something and being negative is such a damper to that; it’s been your choice to attend after all. Now they start talking about rules and rituals; give examples to each of them from other professions, courses, etc. (The only module they actually do so in such manner, by the by!); and one of them is how to properly shake each others hands, both in the seminars and outside, again giving a not utterly implausible explanation (to counter the objectification of humans in society). Yeah sure, you’ll feel a bit silly, but nonetheless, you do it; especially so since everybody else, feeling just as silly, does so too. Pretty soon this handshake becomes second nature; turns into something you’d feel naked without among your fellow students; ends up being a coveted sign of togetherness within the group. The same applies to bowing in respect to the session space and the founders: First it’s silly; then becomes routine; and finally respect is automatically generated towards anything you bow to without consideration as to whether it’s earned or not, be that in response to their bow or simply by their existence and the initial command to bow to them. (Mind you, for a non-American the pledge of allegiance seems just such a thing as well.)
How is something like this possible? How can a silly gesture become such an important element in your life? How can there be such seemingly unconnected reactions triggered by a mere movement? If you know a little bit about acting, you might have stumbled across terms such as Affective Memory and, in these examples more importantly, Physical Action. (A more scientific reference if you like would be Psychophysiology
.) By recalling some memories from the students past (e.g. feeling objectified in society for the handshakes, martial arts for bowing, etc…), adding some subtle explanations about ‘respect’, ‘sense of community’ and denoting ‘rank’ (like in the military, they do that too, don’t they?), and finally linking this whole mixture of personal experiences, clever suggestions and new group-awareness with a physical action. Thus after a while, whenever that movement is performed, an emotional response is triggered, creating unconditional respect, a sense of belonging to a group, or whatever else has been implanted into the action.
PinkUnicorn, we may recognise Raniere as the paranoid narcissistic person he is; they can’t! It’s not due to an inability of theirs, but rather to his sense of self-preservation; he needs admirers that are in awe of him, or his whole mental construct of himself will falter and crash, leaving him with nothing but the reality of his meagre emotional existence. So towards the espians he will show but the most compassionate, generous and thoughtful personality that has but one goal in life, to make others happy, successful and help them better the world: To them, he becomes a selfless humanitarian par excellence, the paradigm of good! Add to that the other elements of group-awareness, manipulations, distancing from real truths and maybe even your social base; all done without you’re being aware of it; but justified nonetheless, just in case, with this being an intensive course whose experience would be diminished if you chatted outside the group during it, and of course the fact that you would disclose vital course materials if you did so nevertheless. There is a clear pattern in all the control mechanisms applied here, a combination of socially established elements (recalled by memories or evaluated in the many guided discussions), a screen of plausible and often even quite reasonable (in concept at least) ideas and methods in the teachings, and finally a well placed combination of suggestions, limitations, triggers, etc. often linked with physiological aspects and thus integrated into the teachings (breathing, facial expressions, etc. in the ‘Building Desire & Motivation’ module on pg 98
for example in the ESP Training Materials as to be found in the patent application for Rational Inquiry™ (1999) on public record at WIPO).
You are right of course, some people do walk out of an organisation such as this; but even they are not over it just like that. With time, they will overcome all the triggers implanted, but believe me, it is one of the hardest journeys of personal discovery imaginable. How does one now of all the triggers? There are the obvious ones like ‘suppressives’; but what about the less apparent? There are physiological, emotional and memory triggers that are known to the organisation by having been discussed and exposed in the group. In the ESP Training Materials on page 99
under ‘3 Finding the Trigger to the Desire State’ there is a prime example of how such triggers are being made known to the coaches, even explored in depth by them, and thus made available to Raniere and NXIVM to be used on the espian at will. And it’s not only triggers a (former) member has to overcome; there are also behavioural patterns that need addressing, such as ‘pacing’, ‘leading’, getting into the ‘Power State’, etc., patterns that are questionable to begin with, applicable only in sales, and considered manipulative, unfair and unethical by most of humanity (I’ve posted about that in relation to Raniere's mental make-up last night on some other forum
you might have read (post of March 16th, 11:18 PM)).
But you do mention a very important fact: These things can be overcome with time! Some people may walk away (Bouchey’s defection probably was triggered by mounting inconsistencies between the teachings and Raniere’s behaviour, but most others will not have the luxury of such insight into the inner circle, the higher echelons of NXIVM), others need more help to do so, but all require our help thereafter, for getting out is but the first step in a long process of healing. Without help, this process is hell to bear and takes much longer than it needs to, believe me; it took me almost ten years on my own to get back to a semblance of a normal life after my experiences with a man like Raniere; and in my case it wasn’t even an organisation but rather a very small, private group. So yes, this can mostly be reversed, but we should help them as much as we can along the whole course of their journey back, help them even when it hurts all of us, them as well as the helpers. We need to try to understand not just on an abstract level what they’ve gone through, but truly comprehend with all the implications; otherwise they will feel abandoned even in our attempts to help, for it is very hard to relate such an experience to somebody, even a helper, who is not able to put themselves into the circumstances, to imagine what powers worked on them. To do so, we should use all the resources we can lay our hands on, get as much help ourselves as we can, build up a network not just to discuss, but of helpers and helper's helpers as well; we need to cover all the bases, from professional to personal, from philosophical to economical, from private to public, inside to outside. Do we need to be careful with the help offered? Sure, but that doesn't mean we can't use what is unconditionally available to us!
As has been said, the court case in California will make some headway in the right direction; yet it is up to people like us to make sure that this is not just a blip in the night, that the movement is continuous and sustained. At the moment, there is an additional advantage coming from the shift in the economy due to the failures of recent years. Purely libertarian thinking becomes ever more unsustainable; ideas that social-obligations such as taxation are slavery are neither ethical, nor very popular in humanity (ESP, ‘Mission’ module, pg 207
); the notion that the rich can just do whatever they want to be successful is fast becoming an offensive idea; in fact the concept of success is slowly changing in society, moving away from big cars and houses towards a more personal model of happiness. So, now is the time to keep up the pressure, now is the time to make sure that the often good intentions of NXIVM members can indeed bear fruits once their obstacle is removed from their path.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/18/2010 04:35AM by Macumazahn.