Had a passing thought about learned helplessness in general, and my brain brought up the idea of incel culture. 'I wonder if there's an article on that connection....that the psychological process might be part of the pathogenesis of incel ideology indoctrination.
Another thing: I have done a lot of asking out, and I have experienced several 'no's. I hesitate to say 'rejection' because that word is so dramatized to imply we it's a wrong when someone rejects the offer and that they are rejecting US. It's a weird slide into entitlement to other people as lovers. I get the nervousness when it comes to asking out one's crush.
I also get that realization that one looks unattractive lately. I personally realize I might not date again. I know how that feels.
It isn't okay to, or reasonable to, attack others in some selfish, stupid way. I'm curious about the difference between my mindset at my most nervous and lonely and that of someone who is experiencing those same states who then chooses violence. I've been a very violent person. I know generally we're all capable of evil. What's the path of habit, environment, decisions on top of decision, ideology, etc that results in that hostility undertaking?
The Psychology of The Deadly Incel Movement
Men belonging to the online ‘Incel’ community are now responsible for two tragic mass killings.
Jun 5, 2018·5 min read
"In 2014, Elliot Rodger stabbed three men to death in his apartment before driving to a sorority
house and shooting 3 female students. On April 23 this year, Alek Minassian drove a rental van
into pedestrians, killing 10 people, and injuring 14 more.
Both Rodgers and Minassian were deeply involved in an online community known as “Incels”
(short for involuntary celibates). Men in this community share a frustration: they are unable
to have sexual relationships with women.
Certainly, feeling completely undesirable to women is a source of pain for some men, but how
could this pain get channeled into a philosophy that justifies mass murder?
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For members of the Incel community, sex is out of reach. These men believe they are so
physically unattractive that a woman will never be attracted to them. Incels see themselves
as sexually handicapped — and therefore unable to receive the female affection they believe
they are entitled to. On the Incel forums, you’ll see posts that range from extreme self-pity to
violent misogyny. Here’s a few examples of what their forum posts look like (taken straight from
an Incel website):
“When a woman refuses sex, they are taking away your god given right to spread seed. They
are preventing your offspring from being born. They are preventing life and thus cannot be forgiven.”
“Being deprived of sex can lead to psychological trauma and feelings of suicide/genocide of others.
It is the worst thing that can happen to a male.”
“It’s over, my friend. If you don’t have looks you’re worthless. Women will attempt to “fix” a good
looking child rapist before even thinking about giving some incel a chance.”
The above posts are examples of the psychological phenomenon that fuels the Incel community:
learned helplessness. Psychologist Amy Prezworski defines learned helplessness as, “The sense
that nothing that you do really has any effect on what is happening in your life.” Incels have lived
their entire lives without having a single sexual encounter with a woman. After years of failing to
get the sex they want, these men eventually conclude the problem lies not in their own behavior,
but in female nature.
Imagine you were a man in your mid-20s, and you still had not experienced a single sexual
relationship. Which of these explanations would be more attractive?
That you should improve your social skills and actively pursue a relationship by risking humiliating
That it’s not your fault women don’t want you, women are shallow and no matter what you did, you
would still be a virgin. The appeal of the Incel community is that it allows men to relieve themselves
of responsibility for their biggest problem. Blaming your lackluster dating life on bad genetics and the
shallowness of women is much easier than taking responsibility (by admitting your own decisions got
you where you are).
Learned helplessness becomes a pernicious self-fulfilling prophecy. If a young man were to ask a few
women out in college, but he got rejected each time, he might start to think, “Well, every time I ask
a girl out, I get crushed, maybe I’m just fundamentally unattractive.”
As soon as this man thinks he’s fundamentally unattractive to women, there’s no reason for him to ask
another woman on a date, he’s confident that to do so would only lead to more rejection. Of course, now
that he’s stopped trying to meet women, he’s practically guaranteeing that he will not find a relationship,
which will only reinforce his belief that he is unappealing.
When men find the Incel community, they’re greeted with a community that tells men their status as an
involuntary celibate is not their fault — it’s women and society that are to blame. If you’re already in a spiral
of learned helplessness, this community has a magnetic appeal, it gives you a space to vent your frustrations
with like-minded men.
Because the Incel community bases its philosophy on the presupposition that involuntary celibates are literally
incapable of attracting women, it is a breeding ground for extreme and hateful thought. These men feel like their
backs are against the wall: there is nothing they could possibly do to change their situation. So, they focus their
thoughts on self-victimization and getting revenge against women and society for putting them in such a pitiful situation.
The Power of Self-Victimization
The Incel community is an unfortunate example of how failure can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As soon as soon as
an involuntary celibate believes they cannot change their situation for the better, that belief makes itself come true.
These men’s beliefs entitle them to completely stop looking for relationships with the opposite sex. And if you can’t be
with women, the easiest way to deal with that frustration is to blame them for your struggles in life.
Members of the Incel community may very well be below average in terms of physical attractiveness. But, instead of
adopting a victim mindset, they could start working out, improve their fashion sense, develop their confidence, pursue
a meaningful career, learn how to be funnier, more charismatic, etc. And if they did, they would likely be able to form
relationships with the opposite sex — it would take a lot of time and effort, but the alternative of wallowing in self-pity
and venting on online forums is far worse.
We could scoff at the Incel community for being pathetic, but I see it as a grim reminder
of the powerful psychological forces that can twist our thinking when we blame the world
for our problems instead of taking responsibility for them."