64 minutes | Apr 18, 2022

Sarah and Nippy Sought Self-Improvement, Ended Up in a Cult

Sarah Edmonson and Anthony “Nippy” Ames were doing okay in life. They were healthy, they were working, and, like a lot of people, they were looking for more success. So when they were introduced to some self-help courses called the Executive Success Program, they gave it a shot. When it seemed to be working pretty well, naturally, they stuck with it.

The group they ended up in, pronounced “nexium” but spelled in unpronounceable capital letters, manipulated that desire for success and happiness, eventually consuming the time, money, and lives of the people who joined. Members were made to follow the charismatic leader, Keith Raniere, as though he were a divine figure. You could move up in rank and wear special symbolic sashes. Many members were encouraged to move to Albany to live together and be near Raniere.

From the introduction to this episode:

“I’ve always been fascinated by the mental health aspect of cult membership. How was someone doing, psychologically, before they joined up? What happened to their mind during their time with the cult. And how their mental health was after being in a group like that. I think it’s comforting to think, well, I could never be sucked into something like that, I’m too smart and aware. But I think a lot of us feel psychologically incomplete at times. Adrift. In some form of peril. I know I do. And if someone charismatic comes along, welcomes you, seems to be able to help, how can you not listen?”

Sarah's resources can be found at SarahEdmondson.com/Resources. Listen to the A Little Bit Culty podcast wherever pods are cast. Get your copy of Sarah's book Scarred wherever books are sold. Follow Sarah and Nippy on Instagram @sarahedmondson and @anthonyames11.

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