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Sincere Regret of Celebrities Who Left Cult

The NXIVM cult (pronounced Nex-ee-um), chronicled in HBO’s current docuseries The Vow, is a cult that targeted celebrities so they could recruit other celebrity friends. Their fame earned the cult more credibility and attracted new members. Actors and directors from major Hollywood productions were cleverly duped by its founder, Keith Raniere, who was recently sentenced to 120 years in prison.

Cult experts who have worked with ex-members explain the lure for famous, successful people:

Many people in that line of work think, OK, I had success with this series, and I have money, and I have name recognition. But I don't feel that I have a deeper sense of meaning. I've accomplished many of the things I hoped for regarding my career in entertainment, but what about really making a difference in the world? And Keith Raniere was selling that. He was telling people, ‘OK, you made movies. You were successful in television. But what about changing the world? What about really having an impact, not just through entertainment, but in a meaningful way?’

With the help of friends, family and cult experts, many celebrities realized that it was a destructive, abusive cult. They came to regret how they had hurt so many. One cult expert reported:

They feel terrible. When they start understanding how it works, the psychological manipulation part, they realize that it was self-perpetuating: You get hooked in, and the next thing you do is start bringing other people in and using the same manipulative techniques. And when you realize that's what's taken place, it's horrible to realize that you've messed up so many people's lives. A lot of people that I know that were in the upper echelon of it are doing everything they can to help those people they brought in.

Editor’s Note: As of 12/20/20 the NXIVM website has been taken down, and the leaders are in jail, but some followers have reorganized under different names.

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