Tatiana Prophet: This is Tatiana Prophet, editor in chief of the online magazine, "Back 2 Facts" your moderator for the upcoming exclusive interview. Actress Catherine Oxenberg is our welcomed guest today. She is interviewed by Dr Cathleen Mann about her crusade to save her daughter, India from the cult known as (NXIVM) Nexium her book "Captive"; was released earlier this month and it's already number 24 on Amazon's books about religion. In 2011, Oxenberg saw an opportunity to bond with her then 20 year old daughter after she learned from a friend about a self improvement program called NXIVM. She and India attended the meeting and her nightmare began for nearly 20 years. Thousands of people have paid as much as $3,400 for an executive coaching workshop offered by the Albany New York based organization whose leader, Keith Raniere, (57), is known as "Vanguard" to his followers with locations in New York, San Francisco, and Mexico. The group claims to take people on a journey of personal discovery and development. In her book, Oxenberg discusses her harrowing experience with this cult in detail. Dr Cathleen Mann, a court qualified cult expert addresses family dynamics. When they are complicated by membership in cults, is interested in NXIVM, Dr Mann addresses the major topics in the book such as the early stages of deception, all the way to the shocking revelations about deviant behavior in the cult, including the horrific branding and the victimization of women as slaves of the leader. This interview is presented to take the conversation further than most discussions of cults to shed light on how and why and how cults work and how Catherine Oxenberg's fearless devotion saved her daughter.
Catherine Oxenberg is an American actress who's best remembered role was as Amanda Carrington on the prime time soap "Dynasty" other significant roles were her portrayal of Princess Diana in the Royal Romance of Charles and Diana, she's the daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. We now present this interview with Catherine OxenBerg and Dr Cathleen Mann.
Cathleen Mann: So how are you? It's such a pleasure to be able to talk to you.
Ms.Oxenberg : Oh, The feeling is mutual. Thank you so much. You know I'm doing much better, thank-you. It's been a very stressful year for me.
Cathleen Mann: I read your book and I wish you could been here while I was reading it, so I could of asked
you some questions along the way, and there were a few surprises, a few surprises in the book.
Things I didn't expect, but I thought that in general you did a very good job of explaining how,
how much torture it is for parents to see their adult child going through something like this.
I also wanted to, one of the things that really struck me was, you did a pretty good job
of explaining how terrible it is to be a cult member. I think that people forget that, certainly the media forgets, it.
They forget that being a cult member is hard. It's boring, it's stressful and full of fear and
the pressure is enormous. And, so people think that called members are having a good time. They're definitely not.
Ms.Oxenberg : I'm glad I got that across. Thank-you.
Cathleen Mann: You did. You did. And, the fact that she had to hide so much from you certainly was a bad sign. What do you think that her motivation was? Do you think it was to avoid criticism or do you think she was not aware? Or do you think that maybe she didn't realize?
Ms.Oxenberg : What do you think that she didn't realize that she was hiding stuff from me?
Cathleen Mann: Not that she didn't realize the extent of, of what she was in.
Ms.Oxenberg : Oh yeah. I think from what I'm getting now because what I'm finding
fascinating is this, her memory is coming back and I think that possibly
indoctrination causes a certain degree of compartmentalizing and obviously
normalizing of inappropriate behaviors. And now that she's feeling and her
psyche is not as much as she is remembering things and shocked that she
forgotten things. So I don't think there's necessarily constantly hiding. I mean,
you know, way more about cults than I do and the behaviors. So, you know, I
prefer to defer to you in terms of motivation.
Cathleen Mann: Kind of complicated to explain, but basically it involves the fact that there's no
time for introspection. So they're so busy, doing things, being over involved in
activities and exercises and reading and that, you know, like most of us, we have
downtime during the day where we just think about things that happened to us.
So basically it's over involvement and you sleep, you eat and you read and you
practice the activity all the time. If you don't have any time to think about
Ms.Oxenberg : Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense.
Cathleen Mann: A lot of it too, is they're afraid of the reaction, they're going to get if they share
something. There was a lot of that in your book.
Ms.Oxenberg : Oh, that she's afraid of people being afraid to share information with people.
Cathleen Mann: I think she was afraid to tell you too much about what was happening because
she was trying to protect you.
Ms.Oxenberg : Oh, that's interesting. I wasn't aware of that.
Cathleen Mann: She wasn't trying to protect herself. She was trying to protect how she was being
perceived and since her primary attachment was to you, she was afraid of how
it might hurt you. I think.
Ms.Oxenberg : Yeah, that makes sense.
Cathleen Mann: But you shouldn't blame yourself for that. That's just something that I think she
probably knew instinctively.
Ms.Oxenberg : Yeah, of course they're getting reinforcement that they're sworn to secrecy and
then, but their masters are going to be punished if they do share it. I mean,
there's all these layers of guilt, coercion, and control. No, it makes it impossible
for her for a relationship and communicate with anybody outside of the group,
Cathleen Mann: Which is, which is intentional. I mean, if you think about it just in context, these,
these cult groups like NXIVM and the other hundreds of cult groups all do
the same thing. They do it because they know that no one would affiliate with
them if they knew upfront what they were really going to experience. They
know that they have to lie in order to get people to affiliate, and to me that's
always the most disturbing thing. If they can't be honest about who they are
and what they do and what the, what the sacrifices are, then to me that makes
the group very suspicious.
Ms.Oxenberg : Yeah. But how did you find out if there's that level of deception?
Cathleen Mann: A good question, because all successful cult groups practice deception.
Ms.Oxenberg : Correct.
Cathleen Mann: They have to and it's not just a one time thing. They do it during the course of
the involvement, so they don't ever start telling the truth, all of a sudden.
Ms.Oxenberg : No, No, no. Tell me what happened.
Cathleen Mann: Well, what happens is that as they rise up in level or as they gain inner awareness
and may start to see the hypocrisy, they've usually been part of the deception
either through recruiting people through deception. Or in this particular group,
NXIVM, through the practices. I call them confession letters. I mean
they all, they all do, all groups do the same type of thing and call them
something different. So the point is, by the time they rise enough in level towards
where they know anything, they are part of the hypocrisy. That's part of the
deception, so that makes it much more difficult to leave or get out. So it's a
deliberate grooming process.
Ms.Oxenberg : It's a deliberate grooming process, how do you stop that? I've seen people who
come out of this cult who are very high level. And how do you stop doing that
Cathleen Mann: Well, there's a couple of ways that behavior will backfire you. One is that if you
don't prepare someone adequately, if they rise up in the level to quickly and
they're not indoctrinated enough and they see too much inner truth, to
quickly, that can cause a break. Secondly is, if the hypocrisy or the abuse is done
to them as opposed to them seeing it done to other people becomes a lot more
personal and a lot easier to break. But most people age out of cults. They leave
after a certain period of time because they are all out of energy. I always call it a
stamina problem that the vast majority of cult members leave on their own
because they have no stamina.
Ms.Oxenberg : :That makes sense. However, with this cult, I saw, I mean, that was one of the
reasons where I understood it was a cult. There were people who never left,
Cathleen Mann: Right. But they were high ranking people that never left. That's the key
difference. I mean, let's talk about Nancy Salzman. The reason why she stayed
so long is because she was given a tremendous amount of power and she
obviously liked that. Relished it, enjoyed it. And so she would have had to give it
up and you know, there's a lot of rationalization that goes on.
Ms.Oxenberg : Somebody asked me a question yesterday, I was doing an interview and they
asked me specifically about Nancy, if I considered her what I thought of her, was
she a bad person? I don't understand enough about human psychology, to know
if people start off bad or if they're groomed into becoming bad or I don't know. I
just thought this is a woman that had good intentions in the beginning, but how
do people become corrupted like that, that they lose all conscience?
Cathleen Mann: Well, I don't really think it's a question of conscience as much as it is a question
of adaptation or adapting. I think that something could be said for
compensatory narcissism, which is narcissism that comes out of being put in a
powerful position, for a long period of time. It causes you to become
narcissistic. You learned that, you've learned that behavior it may not have
started out being narcissistic, but you learn the behavior and part of it is a
function in order to survive in the system, but a lot of it is because they enjoy it.
Ms.Oxenberg : What you're describing fits Allison Mack as well, to a tee.
Cathleen Mann: Oh yes, absolutely. And you know it's not an excuse for them, but they really
don't have any awareness. That's the thing that I think I find the most frustrating
when dealing with family members who have a cult member in their family. If
they think that they're doing it deliberately somehow. I try to explain it. All of
this is out of their awareness, they're not aware that they're being
indoctrinated. They're not aware that this is a cult. I mean, when I, when I talked
to current cult members, which I do a lot of, you have to have a special way to
talk to them and one of the ways you do it is by asking them, to give you an
example of what a cult is. Certainly they must not be in one. Can you give me
an example of what a cult is and most of the time they can't tell you and then I
say, well, would you like to know what the characteristics of cults are?
Sometimes they don't listen and sometimes they won't, but for me to measure
the level of indoctrination comes from how well they're able to defining a cult
and, and to see it objectively. 99 percent of the time they can't do that.
Ms.Oxenberg : That's very interesting! Your comments about people not aware, they're being
indoctrinated. What about somebody like Keith Raniere? Was he aware every
step of the way of what he was doing?
Cathleen Mann: I think he was aware of it, but, you know, in a different, different way than the
average person. I mean he became what he is because of trial and error.
Because the way I've looked at it is, you can kind of tell the motivations of
people and you can interpret their behavior based on how they behave when
someone confronts them or challenging them. Maybe if they're, if they're really
who they say they are and they're really this special person and they have all
these special abilities, why are they so defensive? Why are they hiding? Why are
they going through all these extraordinary things to get people to follow them
and you know, they never have a good answer. So I don't know. I haven't
evaluated Keith Raniere. I haven't psychologically evaluated him, but I can tell
by his behavior and his defensiveness, the fact that he likes to silence critics that
he feels like there's something worthy of hiding because honest people don't
act like that. Open groups do not act like NXIVM. Honest people don't act like
Keith Raniere. Honest people are willing to take you on your own terms without
trying to change you into a mold of something they want you to be. So that's
not very complicated psychologically, but if it's really, if you're a
legitimate spiritual leader or you're a legitimate teacher, you need to show me
what you've done to earn that and why I should trust you not the other way
Ms.Oxenberg : Got It. Do you think that he was born like this with his inclinations?
Cathleen Mann: Oh, I don't know.
Ms.Oxenberg : Ok.
Cathleen Mann: Psychology doesn't know enough about it, and I don't know what he would be
born with. I mean, when we talk about the behavior of people who are criminal
or antisocial or narcissistic, it's really hard to determine the cause of that.
Psychology is able to look backwards and say, oh, we have this criminal. Now we
can look backwards and say these are the events that probably led to that, but
we're not very good at predicting things.
Ms.Oxenberg : Yeah, that's true. I'm fascinated. I mean, I think he's a psychopath and I'm just
wondering, you know, in terms of if they do psychological profiling on people who
have these mental pathologies. What, what makes them that way? I'm
fascinated. Why, the way he thinks is very different than me or any normal
person? It's fascinating to me. And then he could do this much damage and
destruction under the guise of people.
Cathleen Mann: I'm not trying to defend him, but he doesn't think that's what he's doing.
Ms.Oxenberg : Oh, okay. So what do you think he is doing?
Cathleen Mann: Well, you know, we don't really use the word psychopath anymore. I mean, and
part of the reason why is because it's a term that really has no clear definition. If
we do use the term anti-social or say that someone has pretty narcissistic
qualities, and you've got to understand that from their point of view, they see
themselves as so special, that they don't have to follow the rules that everybody
else has to follow, number one. And two, they engaged in a lot of rationalization
and becomes a habit. But I do think there are just people that are, I don't like to,
use the word "evil" because it's not a psychological term, but I do like the word
effect. The fact that they are bad actors and they are much more focused on
their needs and what they want. And as time goes on, they get worse and worse
and worse. You know, like Keith Raniere erects all of these processes to protect
himself, to make himself fit his image of being special. He's been doing it a very,
very long time and so at this point, like most long term cult leaders, he's not in
touch with reality.
Ms.Oxenberg : Yeah, I see that. I saw that with my daughter.
Cathleen Mann: Well, it's interesting that with your daughter, you know, the descriptions of her
and her personality and her qualities are just perfect for someone like Keith
Raniere who is very predatory, but again, it's hard for them to know. It's hard to
see it, but it's happening to you. It's hard to see indoctrination when it's
happening. You may feel like something is off or odd, but you don't really can't
really put your finger on. He used classic indoctrination techniques. So does that
help in terms of understanding someone like Keith, because he really is is not
that special. What he does is not that special is typical of the mini cult leaders
I've had to deal with over the years.
Ms.Oxenberg : Yeah, that's what I've been told.
Cathleen Mann: Well it's really a lot of fun to try to interview them.
Ms.Oxenberg : Why?
Cathleen Mann: Well, because there are so easily offended. You know, I've interviewed lots of
cult leaders and the number one thing for them, is I have to be careful how I talk
to them. How do I address them as the most important thing to them? Know
that they have to be called a certain title, so why would that be the most
important thing in the world during an interview? I would think most important
thing is to show me your truth. They're all wrapped up in titles and how they're
perceived and how they're talked to and your tone and your manner and all of
these things that show how fragile they really are.
Ms.Oxenberg : Why do they even offer then?
Cathleen Mann: Well, because they're smarter than I am and because I'm so wrong that they just
think it's going to be really easy to show me how wrong I am and so I'm.
willing to do that, but I do have some rules talking to cult leaders. Like I'd
limit the title, whatever title they want to be called, limit it into two words.
Like I had a situation where he wanted me to call him "master of the universe"
and I said no, I have a two word limit.
Ms.Oxenberg : (laughter) Why do you do that? That' so funny!
Cathleen Mann: Because It's ridiculous. I mean, I'm not going to call somebody something as
outrageous as that. I prefer just to call them by their last name, Mr. Mrs or
whatever. Just call him by the right name rather than the title but it's a big deal.
So we have to negotiate for you ever start talking how I address them, you
know, and I'm told how to watch my tone and a not allowed to say certain
things. I'm like, well, you know, this an interview and I pretty much going to say
whatever I want to say, so let's get going. But they do it because it's an act of
dominance and superiority. So they're more than happy to talk to me when I'm
working, working on a case or I'm working on an investigation. I always offer
them the opportunity to talk to me and most of the time they do. I've been
turned down a couple of times. Most of the time they want to show me how
stupid and dumb I really am.
Ms.Oxenberg : (laughter) Oh, So if you were an expert witness, in this particular case, what are
some of the things that you think the prosecution should stress?
Cathleen Mann: Well, I mean, I think that they have already gathered enough evidence of
several criminal behavior, criminal acts. You know, this, this isn't the first time
that I've been been asked about these issues concerning NXIVM and Raniere.
And I just think that they are so flagrant. The problem comes when ex members
testify, a lot of the time were not treated very well by the prosecution. So that's
usually the only spot where I try to work with ex members and, and help them
understand what to expect. And the other problem is that 99 percent of people
in the world don't have any idea what a cult is. They think it has something to do
with wacky beliefs. It has nothing to do with their beliefs. Has to do with their
practices and their criminal enterprises. So I'll try to educate lawyers.
Ms.Oxenberg : How do you, what would be a simple description when you're trying to educate
Cathleen Mann: Well, I'm sorry what was that?
Ms.Oxenberg : Well, when you're saying that the world doesn't know what cults are. So how do
you, how do you explain that to people? It's definitely a problem.
Cathleen Mann: It's difficult. I mean how you can do it. Getting in many media stories as you can,
talk to people whenever you get the opportunity, but it's a huge problem. And
even on some of the shows that have done a good job of exposing these cults, a
lot of people think, oh, and I get, I get this from media that call me and say, well,
let's talk about their weird beliefs. Their beliefs are not my focus. Every, group
that you look at as an outsider has weird beliefs. Let's talk about their practices.
Let's talk about how they recruit and retain. No, they fight critics. How they
handle dissent, and what criminal activities they're involved in. Let's talk about
Ms.Oxenberg : How come a group like this, I mean, besides the ones that are under sort of
religious protection, how are they able to go under the radar for so long and
avoid prosecution such blatant criminal practices?
Cathleen Mann: Well, that's a good question. I think, there were several factors involved.
Probably the corruption of the local government, probably, people unwilling or
afraid to speak out. And I don't think that there are any cult groups that I know
of that have religious protection now. They may have religious protection for
their belief. They certainly don't have religious protection for their practices.
You can't do whatever you want to do.
Ms.Oxenberg : Scientology can get away with it?
Cathleen Mann: Well, Scientology isn't really getting away with it. I mean, they, they may still be
in business. I'm not sure it's a black and white issue. I don't think they're really
getting away with it. I think they, they pretend to get away with it. They have a
huge number of ex members that are very full. With NXIVM I think that their
attempts at syncretism have been successful. And a lot of it is because just
normal regular people don't want to believe cult members, they don't want
them to believe them. They think they must be weak or stupid or something.
And then none of those things are true. Cult members are very intelligent, high
functioning people most of the time they're not seeking anything. They just get
caught up in a trap. So there's a lot of myths out there that are perpetuated by
the media mostly.
Ms.Oxenberg : When people leave a cult, their critical thinking is impaired.
I've watched a lot of people leave NXIVM, and there was a period of time, where they have a hard time making sense.
Cathleen Mann: Right. But that goes away with time, it's not permanent. And you could you say
the same thing about anyone. I mean not just NXIVM. It's all cults. People have a
hard time adjusting after they leave for, for a multitude of reasons. And one is, a
fear of the outside of the outside world because they'd been told that they
wouldn't be believed, they had been told that they're, you know, they're only
safety is in the group. It's kind of hard to overcome that
Ms.Oxenberg : Now you say that over time this is the kind of behavioral limitations disappear.
But I have also witnessed certain people who left NXIVM decades ago and
they're not that functional or there's still deeply, deeply wounded by the
experience in a way that they could never move forward in their life. How does
Cathleen Mann: I think it's an attempt to.. they want to hold onto some of the perceived as good
experiences in the group. Want to hold onto those, but at the same time they
want to try to move forward. They're trying to please everyone that they're
having a lot of doubt. And I think, I think it's just, it takes time. It takes them
becoming involved in something creative and healthy. I don't really know a very
good answer to your question except that the only thing that helps is time and
good support system. I'm trying to work these things up because a lot of times
ex members think that they're shocking everyone telling them things. So if you
can normalize what they're telling you, it's helps or to or to put what they're
telling you in context and to remember that the life of an ordinary cult member
is pretty boring and frightening at the same time. And people that have left,
we'll miss the excitement of it. I don't think that anybody really has the solution
to...it's like a traumatic experience. It takes a while to, to process that takes a
while to get used to the world again. You get used to ordinary relationships
Ms.Oxenberg : Is there anything legislatively that could be changed to protect people in a way
that they're not being protected now by these deceptions? Deceptive cults.
Cathleen Mann: I don't know. I don't think so because these people are adults. They are, they
are allowed to be deluded. Cults are allowed to exist, We can't outlaw cults. You
can't outlaw indoctrination. Very subtle process. There are laws that are pretty
specific about undue influence, that been in the laws for 300 years. That can be
used in certain situations. I know I've used the undue influence legal argument
many times, but as far as protecting people go, the only thing we can really do is
try to educate people in critical thinking and the problem with that is that most
people think critical thinking is criticizing things. When that's not what it means
at all. And so it's a good question and I wish I had a better answer for you, but
cults are very common. They exist. Every single human institution exists with
cults. Medicine, psychology, therapy, nonreligious, spiritual groups, guru groups.
There are cults in the Roman Catholic church or cults within most religious
denominations. There are cults within colleges, higher ed, you know, I've seen
them from every single possible place. We can't prevent the cult formation
from happening because a lot of it is human nature. A lot of it is explained by
human need for power, exploitation of others, for money and for sex. So I don't
know what we can do that we're not already doing except to have people like
you who writes courageous books who hopefully we'll get a wide readership
because the thing that was good about your book was that it was not just about
how you experienced it, but it gave a lot of insight into India's experience.
Which most people don't get to hear in most cult related books. It's about the
family complaining about how they lost their daughter or son and why can't
they just wake up and be reasonable, but you didn't have that aspect itself.
Yours was much better in terms of showing the emotional demands. Having a
cult member in your family and you also were very honest about the good and
the bad things that you did. So much more honest for parents could identify to
it. So the more books like this, it's telling an honest story about the struggle, the
better, if you can just get people to read them. Just pass it out on the airplane
Ms.Oxenberg : So funny. (laughter)
Cathleen Mann: Yeah. Out at the airport, being constantly approached with people trying to
recruit me into something. Why don't we just have your book around and say,
Ms.Oxenberg : Oh my God. You remember in the eighties when Hare Krishna's would be at the
Cathleen Mann: Well, and you know, they weren't exactly subtle. I mean, it was a big thing. I
think my reaction to it was, how could you be right? Look at you. How could you
be right? It was just because it was so extreme. But cults are not like that.
They're very much so very much out of view. Very much, but if we could just get
people to read the book, you know, I had, to fly out of the airport a week or so
ago and as I was walking past, I saw your book. I probably passed three
bookstores in the airport and I saw your book. They're all perfectly stacked up
right there on the front. And so I was like, okay, people here it is pointing to it.
Ms.Oxenberg : I know they've done a brilliant job. It's everywhere.
Cathleen Mann: It is. I was telling someone the other day that it was even in Costco, Selling it for
$10. Wow. So can't do much more than that.
Ms.Oxenberg : No, they've done everything. Yeah. Everywhere.
Cathleen Mann: So for people to read it with would be another good step. if I could just get the
media to listen, that would be a big step. And sometimes they, sometimes they
do a good job, sometimes they don't.
Ms.Oxenberg : Well I've done a ton of media so you have a ton. So now it's up to the consumer
because I've done everything that I possibly can, the publishers and everything
have done everything they possibly can and I've never written a book before so I have no idea how
this works. The good news is that this is not going to go out of the press for a
while because we've got the trial, we have potential, you know, more
indictments, more arrests and it will stick around for awhile.
Cathleen Mann: You know, when the story first broke and I first heard your name, I thought
finally somebody is, somebody is prominent enough, to bring this story out
because I've been dealing with them for so many years and it was like, I mean I
was involved in legal cases involving this group and I saw lots and lots of
evidence and I think I mentioned to you, I read Nancy Salzman deposition and I
was like, this is just as glaring as it can be, but there was not much I could do
except take it one case at a time.
Ms.Oxenberg : What cases were you involved with now? May I ask?
Cathleen Mann: Sure. You may ask, but they're, confidential. And sometimes I was just in
the background, as a consultant but I was involved and got
to see more than I wanted to. So I've been familiar with this group for a long
time, so I was glad to see something happening. finally. And the thought of Keith
Raniere sitting in jail, I'm sure he's very uncomfortable and I'm sure it is having a
hard time adjusting to it, but it's, well over time for him.
Ms.Oxenberg : Yeah, I would agree with you entirely. And just so you know, it was a very
frightening process because I was putting myself out there so publicly and
exposing myself with no idea of what, what the outcome is going to be.
Cathleen Mann: Right. You showed a lot of courage.
Ms.Oxenberg : My daughter said to me the other day, well, that I had been accused of being
just an attention seeker.
Cathleen Mann: Really? Why would you want this kind of attention?
Ms.Oxenberg : Well, I must be desperate. (laughter)
Cathleen Mann: There's lots of ways to get attention. I don't really know the best way to get
Ms.Oxenberg : No, definitely.
Cathleen Mann: Well, it's obvious, If anybody reads your book it was done out of care for your
daughter, so that's not really a legitimate criticism.
Ms.Oxenberg : No. And people will say what they're going to say and it wouldn't stop me
Cathleen Mann: Right. That it shouldn't. And you're allowed to tell your story and you have
absolutely no obligation to these people to keep their secrets.
Ms.Oxenberg : It was extraordinary that because if you think about it, when I started writing
the book, he hadn't been arrested. Nobody had been arrested for writing into
Cathleen Mann: Right. And there are other people that had been, had spoken to the press. I
mean I spoke to the press every, chance I got. I was part of Jim Odato's six part
series. Spoke to the press. He cut out 99 percent of what I had to say and put in
a tiny little bit. Nothing happened. Nothing except they went after Jim Odato.
Ms.Oxenberg : I know they did and I've met subsequently with Heidi Hutchinson who also came
out in that series. I'm telling the story of how Gina had been raped by Keith
when she was under age and again, the shock of people coming forward and
nothing happening. It was horrendous.
Cathleen Mann: It's really, really hard to not just this cult, but it's really, really hard to shut down
the vast majority of larger successful cults. Some of them have been in operation for over 100 years. You know, like the Jehovah's Witnesses have been around 150 years. They're still bigger than ever. No one has been able to shut
them down even though there's tons of evidence that they are a corrupt
Ms.Oxenberg : But this is where I'm asking you about the law. I mean, isn't this a failure of our
legal system that these types of groups are allowed to continue even though
they're like you say, they are criminal enterprises. That's where I'm confused.
Cathleen Mann: It's similar to trying to litigate the mafia. I mean you have to have evidence that
certain people are involved and committed crimes so you know, I think in this
they are using the Rico statutes, which is a big step, but to see that.
Ms.Oxenberg : But if you think about it, to fight them off, they had to come up with the Rico
Cathleen Mann: It's not so much the Rico statutes that helped break down the mafia, but it was
the people that were flipping, people that were coming out and and testifying at
a high enough level that they could take out major players, but they haven't
been able to shut them down completely.
Ms.Oxenberg : That's true.
Cathleen Mann: It's still there. It's just not as flagrant. I suppose. With the Jehovah's Witnesses, I
mean, time after time after time, major legal story are broken about them and
you know, it doesn't change anything. They're still recruiting. Still hugely
successful. Millions of members and that's where you kinda have to just try to
take it one case at a time. That's all you can do.
Ms.Oxenberg : Wow.
Cathleen Mann: The big thing with NXIVM is that, I think what surprised me in your book was the
amount of money they had stashed in their houses. You know, this was like a
mafia behavior. Why would you have a half a million dollars in your house?
Ms.Oxenberg : I don't know, in a shoe box.
Cathleen Mann: And behind books in the bookshelves. I mean, I don't understand where you
think you're going to go, without a passport when you can go to Mexico. Sure.
But why would you want to be arrested in Mexico? Well, it's really difficult. I
mean, and just thinking about having to get out in a moment's notice, we had to
remember where you put all the money way too much.
Ms.Oxenberg : Way too much money. It shows as well, I'm sure they have millions stashed in
Cathleen Mann: That attracts the attention of the Treasury Department and the IRS, so we
should get these people involved. Then, you know, gets a little easier. Like a lot
of times ex members are afraid to say anything because they fear retaliation.
Ms.Oxenberg : Yeah.
Cathleen Mann: So in terms of recovery, when you can get them past the phase where they're
afraid of retaliation and now they're angry, that's when they're the best and
most useful to the case. So it takes time, effort, encouraging them to speak to you
about it, telling them you're not going to be shocked.
Ms.Oxenberg : Well, that's a given that's my personality. People pretty much tell me anything.
Cathleen Mann: Right? Because first you said "I'm a mother. I can handle a lot" I remember you
saying that, so, but your daughter is going to want to protect you. So I think you
should have the conversation. I don't want you to protect me. You know, when
you feel ready, please, please tell me everything. Whatever you tell me cannot
be worse than I imagined for. Why don't you just tell me everything?
Ms.Oxenberg : Yeah.
Cathleen Mann: Sort of giving her permission, you know, because she was texting you and she
saw a lot. How are you handling the book and the media attention and all of
Ms.Oxenberg : Well, the good news is, because my background in entertainment, is that I'm
fine with media attention. That doesn't bother me. The one thing that' hard is
that every time I have to go out there and speak about the book to kind of re
traumatizes me. I had a sense that writing the book will be closure, I would be
able to move forward, but I am rehashing details and it was very painful to
write. So that's something that I'm having to deal with it and I'm dealing with it.
I've dealt with worse. That would be the only kind of glitch.
Cathleen Mann: Right and that I know will happen over time. Part of it is, I don't know if you're like
most people, but they read the book and they wish they'd put something else
in. I wish they'd put more about this, but as an expert in, and an outsider who read
your book, it was quite powerful.
Ms.Oxenberg : Thank you. Thank you, Cathleen.
Cathleen Mann: I mean I started reading at 12:01 in the morning.
Ms.Oxenberg : You're amazing.
Cathleen Mann: I was afraid I was going to miss it.
Ms.Oxenberg : Oh my God, you're probably the first person to read it.
Cathleen Mann: Well, Amazon was great because, you know, you put in your pre request and
you wait, you wait and you wait. And I was thinking, well maybe they'll release it
early because sometimes they do that. No, you know, has to be on Tuesday. So I
just sat. I sat up and kept refreshing my browser and finally it was there. Really
anxious to see it. Oh, thank you. Because I know so much about this group, I was
hoping that know I want them to be defeated. I want them to be prosecuted. All
Ms.Oxenberg : Thank you. Do you think there's still other groups, some that you think need to
be arrested based on your understanding?
Cathleen Mann: Many, many. You know, I can only do what I can do, and try to educate the legal
system as much as I can. A lot of times lawyers don't want to hear it, it makes
them uncomfortable. They think it's about religion. It's not, Judges are
uncomfortable with it, they think I'm going to give some kind of a doctrine
dispute. I'm not going to talk about their beliefs so it's a lot of fear of based on
the First Amendment. I don't talk about their belief. You can give me 10 minutes
and you won't hear me talk about the beliefs.
Ms.Oxenberg : Very interesting. That's what the defense is using as their argument.
Cathleen Mann: They all do that. They don't have anything else. So what kind of special beliefs
do you have to have to brand women? That's no belief system. I know of. That's
a problem, it's an illegal practice. Again, remember lawyers don't really know
they are gonna throw out anything they can and they all claim the first
amendment, all of them, So, you have to have an expert in there that doesn't
fall into the trap of criticizing no other beliefs, to diagnosing them or saying they
have some kind of a pathology because that's unethical and illegal to diagnose
someone you'd never evaluated as long as you can dodge those two things. Say
they have narcissistic qualities, which is different than saying someone is a
narcissist. As long as you could dodge these two major issues. You should be all
right if you stick to practice it.
Ms.Oxenberg : Well, I'm very curious to see how this plays out in court and I think they have a
lot more evidence than just a dispute views about whether it was an abusive
group or whether it was a female group.
Cathleen Mann: It's a criminal organization and I'm not ashamed say it as loudly as I can and they
have been here 20 years and their behavior shows that. Yeah. And so, you
know, lawyers are going to do what they have to do. I also was taken back when
I, you know, I was shocked, literally shocked when I saw that Park Dietz showed
up and I thought, oh my God, he's not involved in this, is he? And then I read
about it, and first of all, I don't believe that he doesn't know when you think
about cults. I think he knows plenty, but as a psychiatrist he's a medical doctor,
which means he doesn't use any psychological testing. They're not trained in
that. He's a psychiatrist. He sees things in terms of pathology or mental illness
or mental dysfunction. I mean it's practically worthless because he's a
psychiatrist. He's a big name psychiatrist. but you absolutely right not to
cooperate with him. I mean, he shouldn't have even asked.
Ms.Oxenberg : Well, yeah, he must have been paid a lot, right.
Cathleen Mann: But regardless of whether you're paid or not, a lot or not, you still should have
ethics. And that includes not reaching out and contacting the family of the
victim. I don't know what, here's what's going on with him. But, I would like to
read more about his opinion of NXIVM.
Ms.Oxenberg : He didn't have one. He said, "I know nothing about the group."
Cathleen Mann: I don't believe it. This is a forensic psychiatrist that everybody recognizes his
name. He was just trying to pretend to be objective.
Ms.Oxenberg : That was very disappointing.
Cathleen Mann: I would never, I would never take money from someone like Keith Raniere and
say, Oh, I'm going to do an evaluation for you would never do that, would never
associate myself with cult leaders and take money to help them promote their
cause or to justify their actions. That's me. I'm not going to assist leaders to
rationalize or justify or normalize. You need to call somebody else because I'm
not going to help you. I get a lot of criticism for that. When I testify in cases
involving cults. Where they say, well, you know, you, you didn't want to hear
their side of it. I said, well, I certainly did. I interviewed their leader. How much
more do I need to hear? And these are my impressions based on interviewing
their leader, but I'm not going to take money to interview their leader. She's
part of the case. I think you think you did a very good turn and contributed
greatly to thousands of books we have out there about cults. Because I've read
the whole thing.
Ms.Oxenberg : Well, if you feel inclined to, a review on Amazon. That would probably help
tremendously. Thank you. Thank you so much. Anyone else to read it and liked
it. Get the word out.
Tatiana Prophet: Once again, this is Tatiana Prophet with "back 2 facts" and as we close this interview between Catherine Oxenberg and Dr Cathleen Mann, we thank Dr. Mann for in depth analysis of how a devoted mother saved her daughter from a dangerous cult. Also discussed were cult dynamics, the struggle to understand what cults are about and the legal system. A written transcript will soon be available on Dr Mann's site at cultexpert.net. We thank Catherine Oxenberg and highly recommend her book "Captive" sold at all major book retailers. We urge you to visit and join in on Dr Mann's social media pages about cults. Dr.Mann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to connect with "back2facts" on Facebook or go to www.back2facts.com with the number two, between back and facts for media critiques and in depth contextual articles you can't find anywhere else. And last but not least, we thank the producers at "Thinking Agenda" for their efforts, editing and assistance visit their site at cultscults.com. That's the word cult (plural twice) dotcom.