Was Allison Mack brainwashed to become a NXIVM leader?
In 2019, a story broke about a sex cult that recruited actresses under the guise of a women’s empowerment network. Their leader, Keith Raniere, was arrested for sex trafficking, extortion, and related crimes of taking advantage of women. His main accomplice was Smallville actress Allison Mack, shocking fans everywhere.
Actress Allison Mack played the girl next door on the hit show Smallville. Appearing as Clark Kent’s bubbly friend, no one could imagine that she would be a willing participant in sex abuse. Her co-stars came forward to express their shock.
How did Allison Mack get roped into NXIVM? Was she as predatory as the press says, or was she a victim of brainwashing, too. Here’s our take on what happened to the actress.
What is trauma bonding?
On the surface, trauma bonding can seem like Stockholm syndrome, a phenomenon that happens between kidnappers & their hostages. With trauma bonding, the abuser’s inner voice eclipses the victims. It’s believed that cult leaders like Keith Raniere brainwash their subjects like actress Allison Mack this way.
In NXIVM, Keith Raniere would lure women with a promise to help them learn to be more authentic. He and Allison Mack would post videos on YouTube about how to discover your authentic self to drive recruitment and attract followers.
Allison Mack tried to rope in A-listers for Raniere
On Twitter, Allison Mack reached out to famous actresses like Emma Watson and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkston. She told Watson she was part of a female empowerment group and asked if she would like to join. She tweeted to Clarkston that she was a super-fan, and with Clarkston’s love of Smallville, they should chat.
Actress Samia Shoaib described what it was like for her to try and be recruited by Mack. What started as friendly chatting via email turned into a relentless recruiting attempt. Mack “love-bombed” Shoaib, meaning Mack would mirror her interests in order to recruit her. This way, they would get close quickly.
Shoaib said that looking back, fellow actress Allison Mack’s efforts felt “contrived.” Mack made her final attempt over dinner, where Shoaib said the actress appeared “dour.” Shoaib moved on, but the experience left her shocked. “I’m angry she used feminism for such nefarious ends,” Shoaib said of Allison Mack.
What is “rational inquiry?”
In trauma bonding, the connection can become so entrenched it feels like love. In NXIVM, they had a process called “rational inquiry,” designed to break down a person like Allison Mack’s sense of identity & self and rebuild it. They claimed it was to make their members stronger and more authentic. Really, it was brainwashing.
Rational inquiry, like the process Allison Mack went through, is part of a high-intensity process that NXIVM used on its members. The rationale was that the more consistent people’s thoughts were with each other, the more successful they’d be. Members would spend days and pay thousands of dollars for these sessions.
What was up with Allison Mack’s white dress?
In an NXIVM gathering, Allison Mack sang “Happy Birthday” to Keith Raniere, who she referred to as “her vanguard.” With tears in her eyes, Mack serenaded Raniere in a room full of people to express her gratitude to him. Other people onstage with the actress were also dressed in white.
Outside Keith Raniere’s prison cell, one of the dancers wore a white dress. Dancers from NXIVM come to the street outside of Raniere’s cell in Brooklyn and perform dances. While they say they’re dancing for prison abolition, some speculate that they’re dancing for their disgraced leader.
Actress Allison Mack hasn’t made a known appearance, but some speculate that the white dress worn by the NXIVM dancer was a signal to Raniere that Mack is still loyal to NXIVM.
Does Allison Mack still speak to Raniere?
Per Allison Mack’s bail conditions, the actress is forbidden to have any contact with Keith Raniere. However, Raniere was caught with two burner phones in his cell while in prison. It’s possible that the actress is calling him on those devices. If so, she’s jeopardizing her freedom to stay in touch with an abuser, speaking volumes.
Allison Mack pled guilty to racketeering in 2019. Her sentencing has been delayed so her attorneys could gather evidence for a more lenient sentence for the actress. It was delayed again because of COVID.