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October 14, 2019
by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

The Incel: Lonely, Sad, and Angry

October 14, 2019 09:18 by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW  [About the Author]

This discussion is concerned with individuals self-identified, as incels.

Incel stands for involuntary celibate.  The term, which is still unknown to a large part of the population, was actually coined by a woman named Alana (no last name available),in 1993.  Alana, who is from Carleton University in Ottawa, found herself unable to connect with a romantic, or even a friendly, other. She began a simple, text only, website entitled “The Involuntary Celibacy Project”. The site was constructed so that she could express her feelings of being marginalized. The idea was to try to find a community of like-minded adults with whom to share ideas, experiences, and collaboration on solving this painfully isolating situation.  Alana was quite courageous — no one was discussing this lifestyle problem at that time.

Eventually Alana abandoned the website, discovered she was gay, and, reportedly, entered into an intimate relationship.

 “The Involuntary Celibacy Project” was designed to welcome individuals of either gender.  Alana was looking for inclusivity. The only people who were turned away were those who threatened rape or death.

It is not uncommon for incels to feel treated as if they were not able to do anything successfully. They find it hard to be taken seriously. One can assume that there was a great deal of social awkwardness.  The group is also attractive to people who suffere from mental illness and those who are on the autism spectrum.

It may well have been a good idea to educate those suffering on Daniel Golman’s theory of emotional intelligence.  Basically, Golman, in his book Emotional Intelligence says that those who succeed socially are keenly aware of their own emotions and can accurately interpret the emotions of others.  It’s unfortunate that this path to healing does not appear to have been explored.

It is unclear at which point the group became male-dominated.  This assembly, and others like it, are currently filled with men.  The trend has been to fan the flames of fear, and thus, animus toward women.

And, yes ,there are female incels.  As far as is known, the women do not resort to mass murder as a way to dump their shame, resentment and rage.

Rather than,, learning more about themselves in a healthy way, which could do a lot to alleviate the problem, the majority of these men believe that women are intentionally depriving them of their (the men’s) right to engage in sexual intercourse. The sense of sexual entitlement is one of the markers that identifies an incel.

Some of the unconventional beliefs that bind the sufferers together would be funny, if they weren’t dangerous and sad.  Some believe it is a conspiracy of Jewish women to weaken the West (whatever that means, other than anti-Semitism). Others blame genetics on their exclusion.

Buzz words that are in common use include:  manosphere (the concept of male supremacy ) and black pill (sexist ideology).  Sometimes women are referred to as cum dumpsters.  These men live with the unfortunate belief that hate is power. 

To be sure, anger is energizing while depression is debilitating, but the outcome, when this anger is actualized is often horrifying and tragic.

Elliot Rodger, a self-identified incel, killed six people, injured fourteen others, and killed himself in 2014 in Isla Vista California.  Nikolas Cruz, who posted online,”Elliott Rodger will not be forgotten”, killed seventeen people and wounded seventeen more at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman high school in Parkland, Florida.

Arthur Fleck, the lead character, in the movie The Joker has been described as an Incel. In real life,  there has been speculation that Jeffrey Epstein was a very very wealthy incel.  It has been asserted that incels fetishize teen agers and virgins.  It has been reported that Epstein recruited young teens to join his “soirees”.  It is said that when they shed their braces they were already too old for him.  There are no reports of conventional hetero or homosexual liaisons in Epstein’s bio.  Ghislaine Maxwell, not withstanding.  In fact, it is asserted that Maxwell served as the one who groomed young girls and procured them for Jeffrey Epstein,

The publicized drop in sexual encounters in the Millennial community has led some to believe that this group has more than its fair share of incels.  They are described as disenfranchised individuals who spend an inordinate amount of time online, where they can tune out news offers contradictions to their philosophies.

A belief that is part of the incel community’s code, is that they, the incels, are innately unlovable and, as they phrase it, unf***able. One of the hardships that accompany this idea is a resistance to asking for help.  If they were, as Lady Gaga put it, “born this way” they see no possibility of change. 

Tunnel vision of this type prevents those who are suffering from realizing that intimacy is a problem for more people than not.  The seesaw between “I love you too much and you don’t love me enough” has accompanied homo sapiens throughout history.  The incels are allowing their shame to blind them to the fact that they are not as aberrant as they believe.

The irony is that the more an individual puts focus on a believed insufficiency, the more likely it becomes that rejection will become a partner.  Again, this kind of thinking is prevalent world wide.  A difference being that non-incels do not seem to have self-hatred seared into their souls.

When a non-incel befriends or shows kindness to an incel, there is an acceptance of certain pre-determined  and painful fate that often prevents the incel from accepting the courtesy at face value.  Those who are most severely affected exhibit paranoia that, eventually will drive the possible ally away.  The belief that no type of acceptance is possible mires the incel in the darkest brand of doom.

Investigation by researchers has uncovered a painful common thread.  A large percentage of incels endured school bullying.  Every loathsome thought the quarry already believes about himself is validated.  This is not to say that girls escape the same kind of intimidation.

The internet communities appear to be a place where an incel can experience the freedom to unload.  This, of course, is a mirage.  As long as the member espouses the accepted philosophy, there is support.  Those who have rejected aspects of the group’s reasoning must, eventually, resign.

The incel exists in the loneliest of worlds. No trust, joy, touch, understanding or love are theirs to experience. 




Baker, P (03/01.16) “The Woman Who Accidentally Started the Incel Movement”


Dickson, E.J. (09/27/19) “How the Toronto Van Attack Suspect Was Radicalized by Incels”


Douglas. N (06/06/18) “Where to Get Help if You’re Struggling to Find Love, Sex, and Companionship”


Emba, C (06/07/19) “Men Are in Trouble. Incels Are Proof”


Freeman, R (04/16/17) “What is the Origin of the Incel (involuntary celibate)?


Golman, D (10/95) Emotional Intelligence


Gordon, R (02/11/19) “Sex: The Revolution and Counter Revolution”


Stadmiller, M (04/30/16) “Sympathy For The Ince”


Tolestino, J  (05/15/18)“The Rage of the Incels”

About the Author

Ruth Gordon Ruth Gordon, MA/MSW/LCSW

I bring with me +30 years of experience as a clinician. My Masters degrees are from: Assumption College, Worcester, MA, Master of Arts in Psychology & Counseling/ and Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA, an MSW in Clinical Social Work. This is the 11th year I have written a monthly newsletter that is sent to approximately 500 individuals. The archive can be found on my website,

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