Chair: Joel Busher

Location: George Fox 1

Time: Tuesday 19th, 1530-1730

Josephine Broyd

Research Assistant | Broadmoor Hospital

Involuntary celibates (incels), violence and mental disorder: a narrative review with recommendations for best practice in risk assessment and clinical intervention

In recent years, mass violence associated with men who identify as involuntary celibates (incels) has been of increasing concern. Incels engage in an online community where misogyny and incitements to violence against women are prevalent, often due to the belief that women are denying them a ‘right’ to sex. Indeed, inceldom can be considered a form of extremism. To date, there has been little research into the mental health of incels and how, in some, this contributes to violence. This article considers the associations between mental disorder and inceldom, including the risk factors for incel-related violence. Information released about the perpetrators of incel-associated violence consistently suggests that mental disorder is a contributory factor, with depression, autism, and personality disorder being of particular relevance. In addition, hopelessness and suicidality in incels are key risk factors for violence when combined with fixations on lack of sexual experience, cognitive distortions, and misattributing blame to women for their problems. Some of the difficulties associated with autism may increase an individual’s vulnerability to engaging with the incel community. More research is required on the contribution of personality disorder and psychosis. Recommendations for best practice for risk assessment and clinical intervention are made.

Co-authors: Lauren Boniface, Cardiff University; Dr Damon Parsons, Dr David Murphy, Dr Jonathan Hafferty, Broadmoor

Paul Gill

Professor | University College London

Domestic abuse and violent extremism: Unpacking the relationship

Recent case studies suggest there may be a link between domestic abuse and terrorism. However, prevention and management policy and practice require robust evidence to scientifically establish if there is a relationship between domestic abuse and terrorism, what the nature of that relationship is, and how domestic abuse impacts upon terrorism risk. We present preliminary exploratory evidence which begins to unpack the nature of the relationship between domestic abuse and terrorism.

Co-authors: Haydar Muntadhar and Seray Mehmet, Croydon Local Authority

James Lewis

Research Fellow | CSTPV | University of St Andrews

Trauma, Adversity and Violent Extremism: A Life Course Approach

In recent years, there has been a notable increase in research exploring the relationships that might exist between trauma, adversity and violent extremism. This includes research which has examined whether, and under what circumstances, trauma and adversity might be implicated in radicalisation pathways; the extent to which engagement in violent extremism might be a source of trauma; how engagement-related trauma might contribute to disengagement processes, and whether the process of disengagement might itself be a traumatising experience; and how the effects of engagement-related traumas might persist into, and be exacerbated by experiences during, the post-disengagement period. 

This paper discusses emerging findings from an ongoing systematic review into the relationships between trauma, adversity and violent extremism. It introduces the conceptual framework underpinning the review, and outlines the importance of adopting a life-course perspective when examining trauma and adversity in this context. Drawing on empirical evidence identified through the systematic review, the paper illustrates how traumas experienced at and across different stages of life and different stages of engagement might intersect, and discusses the implications of these processes for research and practice.

Co-authors: Sarah Marsden, University of St Andrews

Lewys Brace

Lecturer | University of Exeter

The Con.Cel project: Exploring the online spread of Incel ideology

The work presented here will be drawn from the Con.Cel project, which focuses on the InCel (short for “involuntary celibate”) ideology, a misogynistic world-view whose proponents blame women for their lack of sexual activity, and the “Incelosphere”, a loose conglomerate of online InCel communities spread across various digital platforms. Specifically, it will present the results of an ongoing effort to use both interpretive examination of textual content and advanced computational methods to both map out the Incelosphere and to track its dynamics of contagion along four key axes:

1. Extremist contagion: The dynamics through which the most extreme ideas gain (or lose) traction within the InCel subculture.

2. Online contagion: To determine how the InCel ideology spreads across different digital platforms, such as Reddit, 4chan, YouTube, and dedicated InCel forums.

3. Ideological contagion: The pathways by which InCel subcultural practices have contributed to - but also drawn from - other extremist ideologies to create a “cross-pollination” of ideas, chiefly with aspects of the online far-right.

4. Geographical contagion: Developing an understanding of the geographical contagion of the InCel movement, with the aim of evaluating its prominence in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Co-authors: Dr. Stephane Baele, University of Exeter; Dr. Debbie Ging, Dublin City University


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