Wednesday, January 10, 2018

MLM and Marriage

Today's blog post is about MLM and its consistent abuse of boundaries, especially when it comes to marriage. MLM, unlike most other businesses, does not stray away from people's personal lives, but rather attempts to merge with it. MLM is often pitched as a "side income opportunity" with the potential to become "a retirement opportunity". It is supposed to be flexible and allow people to "grow" at their own pace. However, the more a prospect becomes involved with the "training", the more time and energy the "business" requires. Also, because of the unorthodox hours in which MLM holds its "meetings" and "seminars", it directly conflicts with the personal lives of the prospects and members. Ideally, in the MLM "business", a member would look for prospects during the day, then spend their evenings and weekends trying to convert potential recruits into members, and even if a member doesn't have new recruits, they are still supposed to attend every meeting.

Marriages become the target of MLM scrutiny, because marriages can directly interfere with the MLM "business". Assuming both partners are not engaged in the MLM, the MLM leaders will create scenarios in which both the marriage and the MLM "business" cannot survive in harmony. MLM leaders will force spouses to choose meetings over important events, such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, or anything else that may conflict with their agendas. MLM leaders show no remorse as they become more demanding of a prospect or member's time, and they will use a combination of "love-bombing" and passive-aggressive threats to make a spouse choose MLM over the other option. Eventually, the MLM will create a scenario, commonly referred to as an ultimatum, in which a spouse will have to choose between their marriage and the MLM "business". This is usually one of the final steps before complete indoctrination and the slow destruction of everything an MLM prospect or member had.

MLMs are also financially draining as they require a consistent monthly fee to continue to participate. Note, the FTC specifically says pay-to-play schemes are illegal, which is why MLMs have carefully disguised this fee as products, tools, services, meetings, seminars, and occasionally a membership. The MLMs require a minimum monthly purchase of some or all of these categories, or a MLM member may not continue to qualify for bonuses and their "businesses" could be dismantled assuming they have "downline" members. These categories can be expensive, and as many as 99% of MLM members may not generate enough revenue from their "businesses" to cover these monthly fees. This causes a tremendous strain on marriages as one of the two spouses could sink thousands of dollars into this "business" while forcing the other spouse to cover the losses, or worse, could force both spouses into debt and ruin their finances and credit. This process will continue until there is no money left or the MLM participant voluntarily leaves.

MLM and marriage is a particularly special topic because it effects one of our most sacred pillars of society. There are very few relatable subjects across all borders, but marriage is something everyone can relate to and understand. This is why MLMs, being responsible for the destruction of relationships and marriage, continues to be written about regularly.

The first blog I ever read, "Married to an Ambot", is designed around the misery of being committed to a person that chooses "Amway" over their marriage. Luckily, they have a happy ending. "Joe Cool", the author of "Amway - The Dream or the Scheme?", was engaged when he was in "Amway", and he too walked away from the "business" after they challenged him to choose between the two.  I also was presented with the ultimatum from an "Amway" Emerald, and he told me, "The business works better when you are with someone that is also in the business, you may want to reconsider your relationship", I chose my relationship. Even though these three examples all reflect good decision making, they should not be treated as a regular outcome, and even though these three examples are about "Amway" (because apparently the "American Way" is to promote separation and divorce), there can be examples found across all MLMs.

Here are some tips to help prevent MLM from destroying your relationship or marriage:

1. Listen to your spouse. This person agreed, usually in front of a large group, to be there for you no matter what. Ask why they think MLM is the answer, and then suggest an alternative in a positive or uplifting fashion. Do not ridicule them, they aren't your puppy.

2. Treat your spouse kindly. Usually, MLM is appealing because the spouse is receiving "love-bombing". You can provide this as well, in a constructive way, and then encourage your spouse to do more research about the "business".

3. Have your spouse talk to someone with business acumen about the "opportunity". This won't be effective unless the spouse is actually willing to listen, and could backfire if they are already indoctrinated. They have to be ready to listen to what a business person has to say, and not be defensive with their programmed rebuttals.

4. Do not send an ultimatum. Ultimatums almost never have the anticipated result, and usually cause the person to vehemently reject your option. Nobody wants to be forced into a corner, especially someone that thinks they are doing what is best for the family.

5. Remove your spouse from the routine. Often, people find themselves in a rut, and life just seems strangely more difficult and frustrating. Take some time away from everything, then come back and approach the situation with a clear head and fresh eyes. You will be amazed at how much less dreary things seem you step away for a short period.


  1. Culti-level Marketing and MKult are harming my marriage.

    One year, my wife scheduled one of her "parties" on my birthday. She said she forgot it was my birthday when she scheduled it weeks before, but it was "so important" that she keep the scheduled party.

    You try to be supportive of your spouse's endeavors (and culti-level marketing scams take advantage of this), and before you know what's what, you go along with these outrageous intrusions into personal relationships. If you don't go along, you are a "dream stealer" or "unsupportive", and in my case "needy".

    Even now, knowing what I know, that incident will forever leave a scar on our relationship.

    Oh yeah... the "so important" party? All the guests were a no show.

    1. Pinkvictim --

      I deleted my previous comment. Thank you for sharing part of your story, and I'm sorry you are going through this experience. I hope you two can grow together and escape this hell, and I will send my thoughts your way.

  2. What you say about MLMs and marriage can be said equally of all cults.

    All MLMs (and the horrid "Amway" fake business in particular) are essentially cults, in that they demand a religious commitment from members that supersedes every other connection or link in a person's life. Absolutely NOTHING is allowed to take precedence over the MLM cult -- not spouse, not children, not parents, not friends, not one's regular job, not one's interests. Nothing AT ALL!

    This is at core an inhuman and unnatural way of living. It is pathologically obsessive and fanatical. An MLM is supposed to be just a way to make some extra cash, and Amway and other MLMs are frequently defended as such by those persons who come to anti-MLM websites to speak in favor of these rackets.

    But in reality, when you are in Amway or any other MLM, you are expected to make a totalistic, tunnel-vision commitment to the business, similar to taking your final vows in a monastic order. You are expected to be utterly obedient to up-line orders, and to pay fees endlessly without question, and to refuse to even think about any criticism of the MLM and its canned propaganda. You can't meet anyone without feeling compelled to recruit them into the business, and you aren't allowed to keep a friend if he is skeptical of your MLM scheme. You have to drop him, just like you must divorce your spouse for the same reason.

    Is this a "business"? What legitimate business has such Communist-style control over your personal life? In Amway, you even have to wear a particular suit of clothes, and in some cases drive only specified models and colors of cars!

    The cultic nature of MLMs needs to be more fully recognized. Only then can we generate the public pressure needed to suppress them. Going after them just on the basis of their being financial pyramid schemes simply isn't working.

    This is why the term "Ambot" (Amway robot) is a telling description of the normal MLM mentality.

    1. Anonymous --

      Thank you for your articulate and thorough response. I don't have much to add, except I'm not sure how you can go after them as a cult. The U.S. has a particularly terrible time shutting cults down, and I'm not sure how the laws apply to this type of situation. The laws of business are much more clearly defined, as far as I know, and is the main reason people can go after MLMs in this regard.

      Again, much of this "Communist-style control" that you speak of can be written off as voluntary, even though we both know it isn't. It would be hard to prove coercion or abuse in any MLM.

      Regardless of whether this gets shut down in a day, a month, a year, a decade, or longer, I will do my part to continue to write and produce content that reaches others. I can proudly say that I have had a positive effect thus far.

  3. I agree with you, Dr. Doe. It will be very hard in the U.S. to shut down a cult. America is the home of crackpot cults, and has been so since 1620.

  4. Great article. It shows the insidious side of MLM where they will have you choose between your spouse BF/GF and the business. Sadly, many people choose Amway and ditch someone they love or care about because of bad advice.

    In my case, I already was beginning to see through the facade of Amway and the ultimatum that upline gave me just confirmed that I was right in my suspicions.

    I can think of no other business or opportunity where a "mentor" would have you choose between an opportunity and someone you love or care about. It shows hos ruthless these people can be. And it's almost scary.

    1. Joe --

      I would argue it is incredibly scary, especially since there is little to no regular solution or cure for this problem. The amount of damage they can do, based on non-quantitative psychological damage to someone's thinking, should be considered catastrophic. I don't use these types of adjectives lightly, it is truly, as you stated, "insidious".

  5. I know one hardcore Ambot, who posted a video, where he claimed, that one huge meeting interfered with their plans and as he and his wife had the kids at the age of 8 and 10 and nobody to take care of them, they just gave the kids some money and left them home alone for a week because their upline said the kids will do ok and the meeting, which took place abroad, is very important!!! How ridiculous is that....

    1. Anonymous --

      That is quite ridiculous. However, I'm sure that is far from the most heinous event these parents have put their children through. When they get older, and the scars from the Amway obsession bubble to the surface, it is going to be very hard for those parents to explain what happened.

  6. Point (3) is quite difficult (as per the reservation you added).

    For example, an enthusiast attempted to prospect me, it was 3 years since I went full time into my business. Not long, but at least it was an obvious success, and it was a good match to my strengths and work experience.

    The enthusiast that promoted his MLM to me has been involved in MLM for, what I gathered, well over 10 years, but the "business" still needed the financial support his full time job. A full time job that suffered, his once promising real career was standing still because of the MLM distraction.

    In spite of this he was not the least bit interested in hearing any of my experiences or thoughts on running a small business, but he was quite willing to mentor me.

    When you talk business he would quote Kiyosaki and ramble on about mindset and dispelling "traditional" beliefs about education etc.

    This is very similar to many responses on the internet.

    One would think that adopting this business identity, with suits, business cards etc would create a desire to enhance knowledge about business. But it does not.All info that is not fed through the trusted channel seems to be ignored.

    I must admit that I too, in believing that talking about business principles would get a reasonably intelligent guy to think, was clearly quite naive about what the indoctrination was capable off.

    1. Kwaaikat,

      Thank you for sharing that experience. I'm probably going to write something about this "mentor" nonsense and how it continues to perpetuate a stereotype of superiority. The idea that a MLM flunky of 10 years with no clear signs of success would "mentor" a person that is a successful business owner, regardless of how long it took, is completely ridiculous.

      I may also write about the idea of people preaching "open-mindedness" while exhibiting no ability to hear an outside opinion or experience. It is very pervasive in American culture, and seems to be the same sort of bizarre tactic as calling someone a "Nazi" or "White Supremacist". Instead of engaging the person and their argument, they simply label the author and the discussion is dead. The same can be said when someone claims the opponent is "closed-minded". It gives the excuse to dismiss all relevant arguments because the source is flawed.

      Quoting Kiyosaki is further proof this person has no ability to investigative work or critically think. It takes very little time to find evidence of Kiyosaki being fraud, and it takes very little thought to understand Kiyosaki is completely full of excrement. Anyone still holding the belief that Kiyosaki is essentially an MLM whisperer or some kind of "financial guru" must not be taken seriously.

      In your last paragraph you highlight the true power of indoctrination. If people were aware they weren't thinking for themselves, then they would not be so easily manipulated. Unfortunately, many people are lazy thinkers, which does not necessarily mean they are lazy workers, and they simply do and say as they are told. Part of that is due to conditioning through growth (i.e. never question, parents or teachers), and part of that is due to the fact that people don't actually want to create something new. This is the biggest riddle to me about MLMers and their inability to understand that entrepreneurs, generally, create something new that the market desires.

  7. Something that kwaaiikat said is something that I haven't seen talked about enough. Everybody talks about how some mlmers leave their careers. But there's not enough mention of how distracting the mlm can be from a promising career. Job performance dips.

    1. Anonymous --

      I don't think it is terribly common, at least at this point, for people to be employed with promising careers and getting involved in MLM. I'm sure that was much more prominent in the past, but today's MLM market targets intellectually lazy, and unsuccessful, college students.

  8. This "mentoring" crap has become a big thing in Amway (and other MLM) propaganda. It used to be that you simply had an up-line. Now the up-line is called a "mentor" as a way to connect it with the fraudulent idea that your main purpose in Amway is to help others.

    More and more I hear that Amway is "an opportunity to help others help themselves." Typical highfalutin bullshit, to be sure, but it does seem to hook a few idiots.

    1. Anonymous --

      I've been watching a lot of Jordan Peterson lately, and it appears most men in my age group are struggling with a sense of purpose. I believe people, in general, want to live a life of purpose as well as a life of morality, but the opportunity for either of these is very small. By introducing this idea of "helping others to help themselves", it is creating a psychological trigger of self-worth and importance that these folks don't have. It's part of the evolution of the MLM scheme as society and people change. It's terrifying how well they adapt to their market.

  9. Legalistically there is no such thing as a cult. Most legislators dare not enter this area, because it's considered to be a moral, and intellectual, mine-field. In reality, the study of cultism has been a moral, and intellectual, vacuum into which a number of co-opted cult apologists have been allowed to expand.

    For a long time, I have contended that the only common-sense legislation which might be passed would be to identify and prohibit the perversion, or instigation, of any non-rational ritual belief system for the hidden purpose of human exploitation.

    Meanwhile, the scale of the 'MLM' cult phenomenon has long-since reached a level almost without precedent, but it remains largley unrecognised.

    The majority of 'MLM' Bot spouses who have contacted me have been wives, ex-wives and girlfriends - cast aside and branded 'negative' by their deluded men-folk.

    One ex-wife of an 'Forever Living Products' adherent told me that she had watched her university-educated ex-husband pursue his 'MLM dream' over a 20 year period. Amongst other things, he'd been 'advised' by 'Upline' to sell the family home to 'finance his MLM business.' His financially suicidal behaviour led to a divorce in which his ex-wife bought-out his share of their house at a knock-down price. The same guy remained in contact with his ex-wife but was no longer tolerated by his children or his own parents. He was living with a younger woman who was also a core- 'FLP' adherent.

    A while ago, I was contacted by the ex-husband of a 'Forever Living Products' core-adherent. This middle-aged guy (a former soldier who had once run his own building company) had been deceived into financing his ex-wife's 'FLP' activities to the tune of several hundred thousands $. He only discovered how much his wife had really been losing in 'FLP' during a divorce. Prior to this, he genuinely believed that his wife was 'bulding a business' which would enable them to retire and live in luxury for the rest of their lives.

    1. David --

      Thank you for elaborating on this point. I feared the subjectivity of identifying a cult versus a "business opportunity" in legalese would be difficult. These groups have worked very hard to create specific language for loopholes, such as "ultimate user" (refers to both customers and distributors), which makes prosecuting them exponentially more difficult or impossible. By simply identifying the cult adherents as "distributors" and "ambassadors", even though they don't have any tax forms to suggest they are contractors of some sort, makes the jargon more palatable.

      I like your definition in which to describe the cult phenomenon legally, but attempting prosecute based on these assumptions seems virtually impossible. It would take a mountain of new legalese and legislation to properly identify cults and prosecute them.

      I have also had people reach out to me, in my case mostly men, but they have been labeled with the same terminology. The more their partner gets involved in the MLM, the worse the brainwashing and negativity gets. These partners of MLMers have been put through immensely stressful situations, especially if they have offspring.

      Luckily, thus far, I haven't come across any MLM adherents that have plunged into this level of financial spending. Not to say that won't happen in the future. The idea that some MLMers have limited losses, or say it isn't a big expense, continue to amaze me. They just haven't reached a career that would pay them enough to lose exponentially more money.

  10. In the past, there were instances of family members hiring a special "de-programmer" to detain (by force) a person who had been brainwashed by a cult,and putting them through an intense process of mental detoxification that would restore them to some degree of sanity.

    I assume such a thing would be illegal, and subject to criminal action, but it seems to have worked for a while. It was of course a last-ditch clandestine effort by desperate parents or spouses to save someone they loved from the clutches of sick cults like Scientology or other freakish ideologies. But I wonder of it has been attempted with Amway and the other MLMs.

    1. Due to legal consequences, involuntary deprogramming of adults no longer happens; today's approach involves non-forceful intervention and exit counseling. Yes, this approach has been used on victims of product-based pyramids (MLM).

    2. Anonymous - You are right, physically dragging dangerously-deluded adherents out of cults and trying to bring them back to reality, has been tried, but these drastic tactics are not to be recommended; whilst they have often played into the hands of cult bosses and their apologists.

      If a kidnapping/assault complaint was filed against the persons intervening and the deluded seized-adherent supported it, unless the seized person was under-age, the intervening persons would then have to be able to prove that the seized-person had been deceived and dissociated from external reality, was in imminent danger and that they were, therefore, only acting in the interests of an individual no longer capable of judging where his/her own interests lie.

      Interestingly, in some countries (eg. France), there are laws which make it a criminal offence not to go to the assistance of a person, or persons, in danger.

    3. Wikipedia has a short, but informative, article about the legal concept of the 'duty to rescue,' and how various countries have tried to introduce civil and criminal legislation.

      Obviously, this article does not discuss the cult phenomenon or what the law would say in the case of a deluded adult who cannot recognise the fact that he/she is in danger.

      To their credit, the authors of the Wikipedia article suggest that in countries where no laws exist which oblige their citizens to help persons in danger, there might still be a moral obligation to do so.

    4. Due to the rights given to adults in the United States, the best thing to do with an adult that is heavily involved with a cult or MLM is to not provide assistance and let them hit "rock bottom" as quickly as possible. When they are no longer able to be self-sufficient, there may be an opportunity to assist, but only under strenuous supervision and rules. Once they become dependent for support, you can have the leverage you need to make sure they do not participate in the cult and can get them as far away as possible. If they start to do better, and still go back to the cult, then you have to let them wipe themselves out again. It is one of the most painful things I have seen a family go through with drug addicted relatives, and the same applies to brainwashed cult adherents.

    5. John - As you know, a lot of people have also compared chronic 'MLM' adherents to gambling addicts - who can only continue to feed their financially/socially/psychologically suicidal habit provided they have access to cash or credit.

      It has been estimated that between 1 and 2% of American adults could have problems related to gambling.

      A lot of the information available about gambling addiction can, in fact, be readily applied to 'MLM' addiction.

      I think it might also be helpful to remember that the overwhelming majority of 'MLM' recruits have not persisted and become chronic core-adherents (prepared to go to any lengths to pursue their 'dream').

      That said, to date, the overwhelming majority of transient 'MLM' recruits have remained silent and used elements of their groups' blame-the-victim controlling narratives to justify their inevitable failure to recruit others and make money.

    6. David --

      I think your last statement is only part of the reason in which the MLM recruits stay silent. I think people, by and large, are relatively non-confrontational. They would opt to take the loss and move forward, rather than address the issue directly and try to make a change. This can be good, because it allows a person to continue through life without being hindered by a previous bad stint of choices, but it can also be bad, because it may mean they will continue to fall for the same bad "opportunities" over and over. I have personally seen this with a few of my peers.

    7. John - You're right. The list of reasons why the majority of 'MLM' victims have remained silent, and why a significant percentage have kept paying to play variations of the pernicious 'MLM' game of make-believe, is as long as your arm. However, I think these can be summed up as:

      'The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.'

      Over the years, I've had a number ex-'MLM' adherents ask for my advice about where, and how, to complain. The few who have gone on to complain to regulators, journalists, political representatives, etc., have soon given up when nothing was done. I've even had contact with a government regulator who (at a vulnerable time) briefly fell victim to an 'MLM' racket, but who felt unable to speak out publicly.

      The worst case of serial 'MLM' adherence I've been told of, involved an American guy paying to play at least 6 (and possibly more than 10) different versions of the 'MLM' game of make-believe over a period of several decades.

  11. There is, I think, one significant difference between someone who is addicted to a substance and someone who is caught up in the spiderweb of an MLM cult.

    From the drug interventions I have witnessed, the addict frequently is well aware that he has a serious problem. He admits being addicted to a dangerous substance, that it is ruining his health, that he has neglected his work and responsibilities, and that he has become a parasite on his family and friends. What he then claims is that his addiction is much too powerful for him to act on these perceptions, even though he might wish to do so.

    But with an MLM victim, this perception is usually absent. He has been IDEOLOGIZED, not PHYSICALLY ADDICTED. A drug addict knows that the crack cocaine or the heroin is going to kill him eventually. The MLM victim has been propagandized to think that his MLM connection is in fact good and profitable and worth maintaining. Therefore the process of freeing him from the MLM is going to have to be verbal and intellectual.

    Let's suppose you allow him to "hit rock bottom," as they say. He goes broke, and loses everything. Won't he still be able to rationalize this situation with the usual MLM parrot-talk about how "he didn't work hard enough," or "the Plan is still viable" or some other canned excuse?

    1. Anonymous --

      You bring up a very interesting point about conscious versus unconscious choices, especially pertaining to addiction. In my opinion, both would fall under the category of "ideologized", but for very different reasons.

      In the case of the drug addicted person that is consciously aware of the poor decision making. They are making a conscious decision to be too weak to the drug, and therefore, even if it is a detriment to their health and others, they will continue to self-medicate. That would be an ideologized position, and by stating they are too weak, they are giving themselves a reprieve from responsibility for their decision making. This, in some ways, is far worse than someone that is unconsciously destroying themselves and others. Especially if they have sought help, recovered, and then become addicted again.

      In the situation of the MLMer, I believe it is synonymous with the drug addict. They are consciously aware of their poor decision making, and usually MLM is not the first time they have blindly listened to others for guidance. Instead of having a drug as a crutch, they can use their MLM group and leadership to comfort them in their time of need. The MLM and the drug both help to deal with the underlying issue, which is probably related to some form of depression or inadequacy due to low self-esteem.

      I would also say that rehabilitating a drug addict, much like an MLMer, is a verbal and intellectual pursuit. Even though you can take a drug addict to a rehabilitation center, and have them detox, if they don't engage in therapy and address the root issue, then you can almost guarantee the treatment will be in vain.

      Unfortunately this comes to your final question and the ultimate problem with helping people that can't help themselves. Whether it is a drug, or MLM, if the person "hits rock bottom", and can still justify the drug or the MLM, then that wouldn't technically be "rock bottom". The other problem, in rare cases, there is no "rock bottom" and the person usually loses everything and or dies. It is a tragic reality.

  12. I agree that any attempt to help a drug-addicted person must involve some talk therapy and discussion of his underlying problems. You can't just de-tox him and hope for the best... that won't work.

    But on the other hand, there really is a physical dependence at work in his addiction, one that affects his entire body and the deepest part of his brain. Crack cocaine or heroin bring about measurable changes in one's entire bodily chemistry. This physical dependence on the drug is just as powerful an obstacle as the addict's underlying psychological problems.

    This physical and chemical dependence is absent in the MLM victim's addiction. He's in thrall to an IDEA, a CONCEPT, a WORLDVIEW, a NOTION. He won't go into withdrawal symptoms when you try to tear him away from his MLM -- he'll just get angry and argue harder with you.

    I suppose you could say that both types are "ideologized" in that they will grasp at verbal excuses to not break away from their bad habits. The drug addict will claim that he is too weak to do so, while the MLM victim will claim that his MLM plan "really works if you do it right." It is human to grasp at verbal excuses to justify our failings or bad habits.

    But I do think that the drug addict has a harder job, since his addiction has brought about an actual change in his bodily system.

    1. Anonymous --

      I completely agree, there is a physical dependence when using drugs. My point was to suggest that MLMers may also have chemical changes as well, especially if they are dealing with depression. People dealing with depression, especially after quitting an addiction of any kind, may suffer from lack of sleep or too much sleep, lack of appetite, lack of energy, lack of support for a partner. The "love-bombing" and the identity change (i.e. clothing, social circle) can have a huge impact and probably show certain parts of the brain lighting up in a CAT scan that otherwise wouldn't. Add to the fact that they may become dependent on this energy as they become more entrenched, and the idea of making money becomes less and less important, and you have an addict with very little resemblance to their previous self. This is the biggest fear I have with MLMs, they have the ability to completely dictate and transform a person's life.

      I think people do tend to show physical symptoms when withdrawing from anything, including MLM. They may not get shakes and chills, but they may go into a deep depression that can leave them bed ridden or sick. If someone was deeply involved with MLM for multiple years, then suddenly stopped, I would find it hard to believe they wouldn't have some withdrawals.

      I agree it would be harder to quit drugs over MLM in a wide statistic, but in general, each individual will have different types of withdrawals and recovery times from each, and both can be substantial.

    2. Another drug-like factor is that when the most-vulnerable people fall-heavily for the 'MLM' fairy story, the radical personality-transformation can at first appear to be beneficial.

      When my own brother, a scruffy self-centred teacher, fell for 'Amway,' he had been suffering from depression. Suddenly he was smartly-dressed, wildly-optmistic and full of 'MLM' BS about 'positive-thinking' and 'achieving success by helping others to succeed.' He also began to speak about his former 'negative' self and admit to his many personal faults (something he could never do previously).

      At this time, I talked with some friends who described exactly the same radical 'Amway' personality-transformation in another 30-something teacher who lived in their village in the N. of England. They said that he'd become known as the 'Jackpot Witness' in the local pub and that people would literally hide from him if they saw him coming their way in the street. I was told that this guy had ultimately ended up receiving psychiatric treatment after losing his wife and home. In fact, this was the first time that I'd heard anyone compare 'Amway/MLM' to 'Scientology' and use the word 'cult.'

  13. I too have heard of cases where the new Amway IBO goes through a visible change -- improvement in personal hygiene, better clothes, a more energetic attitude, and even some insight into previous faults.

    But that would be so in any situation where someone makes a major change in life, and looks forward to better things. He'll be temporarily fired up with enthusiasm and optimism. Nothing wrong with all that, of course, but in an MLM it can only last for a little while if the hoped-for profits don't start rolling in.

    At that point, the enthusiasm and optimism become forced and pretended, and must be maintained by a vigorous self-policing of thought and expression. And if the self-policing doesn't happen, the other MLM members will jump in and do it for him, with all kinds of pressures and external compulsions.

    This is when the "cultish" nature of the MLM kicks in, and takes on the aspect of brainwashing, propagandizing, and religious taboo-fixations. The individual cult member either accepts and internalizes this cultish aspect, or becomes a terrified prisoner of it, desperate to escape but without the means to do so. I suppose in some cases there is a mix of both reactions. At least this seems to be what happened to the fellow in the north of England.

    1. Yes, 'MLM' adherents have been trained to play essentially the same seductive role in the fictitious cult controlling narrative - complete with: script, costume, props, gestures, etc.

      In chronic cases, the 'MLM' fairy story completely replaces external reality and adherents begin to live their role constantly, effectively killing their previous real self. Unfortunately, in order to return to reality, this means that chronic Bots have effectively to go through a similar process in reverse.

      Born-again Bots have been taught to focus on their future Utopian existence - to fix ritual images of their 'dreams and goals' at strategic points in their homes and to spend regular periods imagining themselves living out these fantasies.

      My brother's 'MLM' icon (which he regularly prayed to) was a picture of large black macho American SUV (stuck on his refrigerator).

      In the case of the English Ambot I was told about, he had images of yachts and exotic destinations all over his home. He became completely dissociated from external reality - cutting himself off from all his previous 'negative' social contacts. When he'd lost everything in 'Amway,' he then couldn't face the fact that he'd been duped and I was told that he only got professional help, because he tried to kill himself.

  14. Oh my god. My wife has been taken in with this stupid Maskcara MLM. It's basically a bunch of women telling each other how wonderful/beautiful/great they are. All the while pedaling entirely too much makeup. That is a powerful draw for many young mothers that don't get enough of that at home (the attention that is)...

    I discovered my wife had booked a trip to the upcoming convention (airfare, hotel, conference, etc.) without saying a word to me. When I confronted her, she said,"I didn't think you would care or even notice." What!? I wouldn't notice my wife disappear for 5 days!? So far she is showing little remorse or much of a hint at understanding where I am coming from. This breaks my heart because she was the last person I would have suspected of doing something like this...

    1. Nick --

      I'm very sorry to hear your wife has fallen victim to this scam. Her judgment has been clouded by the psychological tactics her MLM compatriots have been using. It is important to let her know this behavior is not okay, but it is also important to do it in a way she cannot consider abrasive. This is difficult, because she has been taught to treat any dissenting opinions as severe attacks, so you have to have an immense amount of patience. It may be good to introduce an outside party, such as an arbitrator or psychologist.

      If you cannot reach her through communication and third party assistance, it is important to make sure you don't get dragged down with her. This is especially important if you have kids. She cannot be spending this kind of money or time without your consent, and if she thinks this is okay, it will only get worse in the future. She will have a hard time being considerate of you and your needs, which means you may have to make sure you insulate yourself from her behaviors.

    2. She finally conceded that she messed up, but is still more concerned about letting her new "friends" at the convention down than fixing the marriage. It feels like she is going to resent/hate me forever. She complains about a lack of communication and I can point to exactly when it started... I am signing us up for counseling. God I hate MLMs.

    3. Nick --

      It will take some time for the hype and energy to wear off, but I don't think you have to worry in the future about her priorities. It may be a good idea to look at a hobby for the two of you to take her mind off of this subject.

      That's great news about the counseling, and also great news that you two are willing to work on your marriage. I have a bias against MLM for this exact reason. Personal life should not be influenced by the professional life. When I was trying out for Amway, an Emerald told me I may have to choose Amway over my wife (fiance at the time), and it was at that moment I knew something was wrong. These people cross the boundary between personal and professional religiously, and that should always be a huge red flag. For better or worse, you and your wife are a team trying to fight to survive in this crazy world, and if you can't depend on each other it only gets way harder.

      Good luck Nick, and if you have any updates please keep us posted!

    4. Nick - You might be interested to know that I was contacted about 'Maskcara' last year by the worried parents of 17 year girl old in the USA. The girl had been recruited into a 'Maskcara' group connected to the young woman who features in this video link.

      I advised them to file a complaint (on behalf of their child) with the FTC against 'Maskara' as an endless-chain pyramid fraud.

      The young woman in the video link doesn't even mention selling 'Maskcara' products for a profit to the public. All she talks about is recruiting other women (to buy the products), who then recruit more women (to buy the products), who then recruit more women (to buy the products), ad infinitum. She eventually explains that when you get 6300 women in your team, you get a bonus check of $142 000. Of course, she fails to explain that for all the 6300 women in your team to arrive at the same level in the 'Maskara' pyramid, they would each need to recruit (and maintain) a team of 6300 women. etc. ad infintum.

      It beggars belief that these absurd frauds are just allowed to operate in plain sight.

      Behind all the 'MLM' BS, what the 'Maskara' bosses are actually doing, is peddling an endless-chain of vulnerable women infinite shares of their own finite money.

  15. I've checked out this "Maskara" scam on-line. It's based in Utah, the central office for many MLM rackets.

    The basic appeal is strictly to women, who are lured from two different angles: 1) the promise of looking more beautiful (Maskara's motto is "Get out there, gorgeous!") and 2) making money by becoming a cosmetics artist, and signing up other women to do the same, with you getting a commission in the usual pyramid fashion.

    The whole thing is a simon-pure MLM rip-off, but artfully aimed at vaguely dissatisfied and unhappy women. I have a suspicion that this particular MLM was founded because people noticed that Amway's "Artistry" cosmetics were one of the big sellers in the Amway racket, and that there was an untapped market out there composed of housewives who secretly wanted to be glamorous and sexy.