Toronto Van Attack Suspect's Facebook Post References Misogynistic Online Group06:53
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A police oficer walks around Alek Minassian's house in Richmond Hill, Ontario, on April 24, 2018. (Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images)MoreCloseclosemore
A police oficer walks around Alek Minassian's house in Richmond Hill, Ontario, on April 24, 2018. (Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images)

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people, primarily women, posted a message on his Facebook page that appears linked to a misogynistic online group of men who identify as "incel," or involuntarily celibate. Its members hate women because they believe they are denying them sex.

Alek Minassian, 25, is not the first alleged mass killer from this community.

The Facebook post also praises Elliot Rodger, who killed six people near the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2014 and said it was because women denied him sex. Chris Harper-Mercer, who killed nine people in 2015 at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, also described himself as an incel.

Here & Now's Robin Young learns more with Sam Louie (@DrSamLouie), a psychotherapist in Seattle who's been writing about the group.

Interview Highlights

On the incel community gathering in online forums

"It's growing, and part of the reason is because of the way the culture has shifted, where folks are teased mercilessly ... for — I'll just say it bluntly — for being virgins. Some of them may be socially awkward, all the way through the autistic spectrum, and then they also don't fit the hypermasculine description of what they think would be attractive — all these different facets that just fuel their sense of shame."

On how the incel community formed

"This community started in 1993 by, coincidentally, a woman who was from Toronto. She wanted to make this very inclusive, all men and women were welcome, it wasn't about violence, but it was more or less helping people to connect with other men and women who struggled with her ... and what happened was, a lot of young men had nowhere to [vent] their sexual, emotional, social frustrations, so they found these online communities and forums."

"Some of them may be socially awkward, all the way through the autistic spectrum, and then they also don't fit the hypermasculine description of what they think would be attractive — all these different facets that just fuel their sense of shame."

Sam Louie

On some of the lingo incel forums use, like "black pill" versus "red pill"

"The 'black pill' is probably a very small percentage. That's the pill that they metaphorically take, which means, 'I will now espouse violence, hatred and misogyny,' whereas others might go the red pill. So the red pill is similar to the whole 'Matrix' analogy — 'If I take the red pill, this is the reality and the reality is I need to learn other skills to pick up women' — so they might use manipulation tactics, not necessarily violence, but they need to come up with other strategies."

On treating a client who identifies as incel

"He said, you know, '10,15 years ago when I was in college, I had so much hatred. I had so much rage. I can sympathize with this Minassian killer because I could sympathize with the internal rage and struggles.' But he was able to learn other coping skills. He went through various therapies and other support groups to get him out of that state. But you know, don't get me wrong: he and others that I see, they still really struggle with self-hatred and inability to really feel comfortable with romance."

On possible ways to help those who are struggling with these feelings

"What I really support is group therapy, and I actually know other therapists in the area that actually get men who are very introverted who might fit this psychological profile together in one room, five to six of them, and one of my therapist friends says it is hard. They have such struggles sharing even amongst themselves. But that's part of the healing, is how do you get known? What does it feel like to be able to express your thoughts and feelings and still be validated? And I'm not talking about feelings of misogyny, but just general feelings of ostracism — feeling alienated, feeling not good enough. Core beliefs that a lot of us struggle [with]."

This segment aired on April 25, 2018.

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