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Learn Speak Teach Episode #82 with Sarah Edmondson.

Watch the full episode on Youtube:

People often join cults unknowingly, primarily because these groups don’t initially present themselves as the destructive organizations they can become. In this eye-opening conversation featuring Sarah Edmondson, we delve into the backstory of her life while living in Albany, New York, and how she unsuspectingly became entangled in the infamous NXIVM cult.

Discover why people get involved in cults and secret groups, and uncover the common template they often follow in their quest for power and control.

Sarah discusses the signs & red flags that can help us discern and recognize cult-like behaviors in groups. She also touches on the common traits shared by most cult leaders, such as parental attachment issues.

Additionally, Sarah draws parallels between cults and multi-level marketing schemes, emphasizing how the compensation plans of many MLMs predominantly benefit those at the top.

Tune in for amazing insights!

During this episode, you will learn about:

[02:53] A short bio of our guest, Sarah Edmondson

[04:08] The Backstory of Sarah’s experience while living in Albany, New York, and how she joined the NXIVM cult

[09:01] Why people get involved in cults and secret groups

[12:12] The Vow:

[12:58] The common template for all cults and secret groups

[15:35] What led Sarah to take the risk and commit her time and resources to NXIVM?

[22:02] The Scribe Media controversy story

[24:24] The infamous Theranos scandal involving Elizabeth Holmes

[30:04] Sarah’s TED X Talk: 

[32:19] How to discern cults

[42:50] The positive tools she learned from NXIVM

[45:44] A Little Bit Culty Podcast:

[48:00] Dalai Lama’s involvement with NXIVM

[49:33]The Vow:


[54:38] What do most cult leaders have in common?

[1:06:29] Are all MLMs bad?

[1:11:44] How Sarah feels about her ongoing healing journey from the cult

[1:13:34] The Vow:


A Little Bit Culty Podcast:

TED X Talk: 

[1:14:24] Connect with Sarah Edmondson


Key Takeaways:

  • All cults have a hidden agenda, and ultimately, it’s for the leader’s power and control. [11:40] 
  • Gaslighting is when someone makes you doubt your reality and question yourself. [26:20]
  • No group is insusceptible to abuse of power. [32:23]  
  • “There is no better recommendation than a third-party referral, a third-party testimonial, and creating a tribe of people who speak positively about you behind your back.” ~Ben Albert [46:09]
  • Most cult leaders have parental attachment issues. [55:49]
  • The compensation plans of most MLMs are structured in a way that only benefits those at the top. [1:07:15]

People Mentioned and Other Resources:

  1. Keith Raniere
  2. Elizabeth Holmes
  3. Dalai Lama
  4. Richard Branson
  5. Jim Jones
  6. David Koresh
  7. Scarred:
  8. The Vow:
  9. Radical Acceptance:
  10. Hey, Hun: Sales, Sisterhood, Supremacy, and the Other Lies Behind Multilevel Marketing:

Keep In Touch w/ Sarah:




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