Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

To understand and give therapy to male incels, involuntarily celibate men

It can be scary to listen to them. But fear blocks empathy and creativity–two crucial things one needs to help someone in trouble. My first attempt.

Let’s review several aspects of the story of some heterosexual men who, to their deep chagrin, have never had sex with a woman. (Because they’re Straight we may infer that their anger is truly flipped love.) After that, we’ll analyze their recounting, won’t forget empathy, and have some solutions.

This is a general picture. Allow for individual variation.


Fury. Revengeful. At women. At G^d. At himself for not being any better.

Bitter. It’s so unfair, unjust. Undeserved.

Deep shame. For being such a failure, good-for-nothing.

Judgmental. Negative, condemning, faultfinding.

Burning jealousy. Of men and women who seem more beautiful, sexy, intelligent, rich, and successful, or even are ugly, stupid, and poor, and who don’t have all the misfortune, hardships, and deep pain that he has.

Victim. Of G^d, Fate, others. Sometimes victimized, bullied.

Loneliness and isolation. Alone in the world. Who cares about me?

I know exactly what my wife must not look like but I can’t even get the ugliest woman.

I’ve tried everything. The years go by. My embarrassment is only growing.

Empathy Before Education

We first need to express our sympathy to the incel if we ever want to expect him to be able to listen to our insights and advice.

It must have been unbelievably hard to live with so much disgust, anger, disappointment, embarrassment, bitterness, jealousy, hopelessness, and powerlessness. To see the years go by and the problems getting worse.

When he hears that you feel for him, violence and self-pity will wane.


The anger and negativity are understandable but exaggerated. The exaggerations come from despair. How could he ever get across how bad it feels? You could never understand the depth of my pain. So, your first task is to hear his deep pain and convey that.

It is important he’s Straight. He’s not asexual or even bisexual and certainly not homosexual. His fury is attraction turned sour. (Just, as many a divorce lawyer can testify, there’s no greater wrath than between exes. Possibly the same mechanism explains the extreme rage of TERFs regarding cis-men and trans-women: heterosexual fascination turned into loathing.)

He’s convinced that many people feel very negative about them. The slightest sign of disagreement or friendliest ‘no’ is seen as ‘proof’ for deep revulsion against him. You need to tell him that this is in his head only and are not verified facts. That he projects his self-criticism onto others.

His anger, blaming, hatred, and wish to hurt and punish (even himself) are all expressions of deep disbelieve, hopelessness, and powerlessness about his ability to turn things around and be a success. We must say he can.

He typically won’t tell you his feelings but be stuck in thoughts. He may tell you of his anger and frustration but not of his deeper, more-fundamental feelings. You must make him aware that his invisible enemies are deep feelings. Feelings of disgust, self-pity, disappointment, embarrassment, bitterness, jealousy, hopelessness, and powerlessness.

When he screams, yells, accuses, rejects, threatens, takes revenge, he still feels the victim he once was, like all abusers, unaware he has turned victimizer. Not to hurt but to finally feel some power. Unaware he’s not the victim anymore, he comes across as merciless and unregretful. He needs to learn that they’re not victimized anymore and to say sorry.

Listening at length to his thoughts will reveal a number of mistakes. That he must be the best or he’s worthless. That he and his life must be perfect. That there is something deeply wrong with him. That women are trophies.

These mistakes in thoughts and objectives set unrealistic and unhelpful goals and cement hopelessness. Ask where he learned that and point out these mistakes. Women are first-of-all for companionship, friendship, becoming a team. So, most important are her character traits and acts of kindness, not her looks. Looks are the icing on the cake, not the main dish.

Fantasies of being violent to others and/or self are merely symptoms of his powerlessness. Instead of opting for the road of tedious constant effort, hoping a shortcut will bring fame and admiration he dreams of. If no one will love me now, maybe they’ll feel for me when I’m dead. That is too lazy and cheap. More glorifying is to kick the powerless habit and work hard.

He’s not ugly. He makes himself ugly–in two ways, to everyone. (He’s not troubled that Hollywood doesn’t want him. His problem is that no one wants him.) 1. Anger. When he’d be happy, he’ll look very attractive, in a second. 2. Stinginess. When he’d feel generous, his creepy smile will turn friendly in a second. A third thing that can make him attractive to many is his principled-ness. The same thing that makes him furious because it’s all unfair, will make him look very handsome when he sees that it’s all good.

Advice and Strategy

Look at and value what you’re good at. You have a good memory and ability to think. You understand the importance of principles and morality.

Take responsibility. Decide to work with what you have. To replace every thought of blame and entitlement, every memory of defeat and failure, and every thought or feeling of powerlessness by thoughts and feelings of taking responsibility. Yes, I can. I’m in charge. You ain’t see nothing yet.

Ad-hock jumps to success come from despair and often end in failure. Be realistic. Success needs time. Progress is often slow. Setbacks happen all the time. Success comes to those who fail a lot because failure stands for trying. You don’t need to be perfect to succeed; consult with others. We show our sturdiness by steadily going forward anyway. No setback proves that now all is lost. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

A quick fix or giving up is obviously easier than steadily working toward success. Yet, victory from a sustained effort will give the most satisfaction.

Be happy and hopeful. Be happy with what you’ve got and hopeful about the future. It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just like being negative and angry ended up a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your life might not become a full-blown fairytale but the nightmare will stop. You’ll have a life that’s good enough to remind you to be grateful and happy all the time.

Being negative and hopeless is like an addiction that you need to brake like an alcoholic needs to stop alcohol: not a drip of it anymore! But it’s not enough to cut out the negative. You must fill your life with the positive.

The strength of happiness cannot be overstated. It kills anger, anxiety, urgency, impatience, self-pity, powerlessness, hopelessness, jealousy, bitterness, arrogance, selfishness, stinginess, revengefulness, despair, shame, embarrassment, hate, indignance, criticalness, negativity, etc.

You don’t want a wife who would accept and be satisfied by a husband who knows no responsibility and no positivity. A bitter, blaming, punishing, critical, jealous, angry, hateful, self-righteous, over-entitled bum.

The only thing that’s deeply wrong with you is the idea that there is something deeply wrong with you. Your life got so messed-up because you got into a downward spiral. What you need to do is get it in an upward spiral and let nothing stop you on your path toward a good enough life.

Under the circumstances, the cards you were dealt with in life, you did the best you could. But you got yourself into a big mess. But as Rabbi Nachman says: If you could [not help but] ruin it, you can repair it. Yes, you can.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry, and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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