ISD’s Head of Communications & Editorial, Tim Squirrell, spoke to i News about the involuntary celibate (incel) subculture, the signs an individual might exhibit when being drawn into this space, and how concerned family and loved ones can help bring them out again.
The i News article addresses the structure of the incel subculture, focussing on how lonely boys and young men can find themselves consuming incel content, served up to them by algorithms, as well as seeking out incel communities for themselves.
Tim explained that those at risk of being drawn into this world are typically “people who struggle with social interaction and may also have difficulties with their appearance,” and that they have a relatively high degree of self-reported mental illness and autism spectrum disorder.
When trying to help someone who has found themselves in the incel subculture, Tim says that people need to act as “anchors to reality to prevent them from becoming completely unmoored,” and be willing to wait. “It’s unlikely they’ll thank you immediately, and you may have to wait a long time before they’re willing to hear you or be helped out of the space they’ve found themselves in, but if you remain a constant and stable presence in their life then you have a much greater chance of helping them in the long term.”
Seeing someone you love become immersed in a dark culture can be distressing, he said, explaining that it’s necessary to persist with difficult conversations over time if you want to help them. “You’ll likely want to reach out to them and try to dissuade them from those beliefs, and that can be frustrating because it often doesn’t work, and you may find that they don’t trust you to tell them the truth about the world.”