Breaking news: young white men…also bad

I forgot about the incels! I guess every generation has people who suck. In this case, Cole Carini decided to murder women because they were attractive. Cole himself was not at all unattractive in appearance. I say “was” because now he looks like he’d been trying to turn his face into a colander.

A Virginia man inspired by notorious “incel” mass shooter Elliott Rodger fantasized about blowing up a shopping mall and killing “hot cheerleaders,” according to an FBI affidavit.

On June 2, Cole Carini of Richlands, Virginia, showed up at the Clinch Valley Medical Center with a missing hand. Several fingers on Carini’s other hand were also gone, and he had shrapnel wounds to the neck and throat. A local sheriff’s deputy arrived to interview Carini, who claimed his gruesome injuries were the result of a gardening accident.

Alas for that alibi, the lawn had not been mowed in some time, and on investigating his house, they found explosives, a blown apart container, and rusty nails, along with a little story he’d written.

He casually walked through the shopping mall, his jacket concealed deadly objects, the letter read, parts of which were illegible. He was doing it and was assured it must be done. Even if he died this statement was worth it! He had… of tension that would come and go as he approached the stage of hot cheerleaders… A dead seriousness sank in as he realized he was truly passing the point of no return! He decided I will not back down I will not be afraid of the consequences no matter what I will be heroic I will make a statement like Elliott Rodgers [sic] did he thought to himself.

Instead of killing “hot cheerleaders”, all he managed to do was blow off both of his hands, the only parts of a human body that loved him. The scars wouldn’t necessarily hurt his love life in the future, but the hatred for women is really going to ruin his future dating chances.


  1. bcwebb says

    Not sure how I feel about this – he’s clearly pretty seriously mentally ill and suicidal.

  2. christoph says

    @bcwebb, # 1: I agree about him being mentally ill, but better him than a large crowd in a shopping mall.

  3. says

    @bcwebb: Are you his psychiatrist or psychologist? No? Then you have absolutely no business diagnosing him as mentally ill.

    Are all jihadi suicide terrorists mentally ill? Or are they true believers in an ideology that rewards them for martyrdom?

    Same. Fucking. Thing.

  4. says

    The Daily Beast mentions a prior explosives charge and has a booking photo of him from 2016. Yet the mother claims she had no idea. No one ever does, I suppose. Fortunately he only blew himself up this time.

  5. says

    Yeah, no sign of mental illness here, unless you’re willing to say of every person who has fucked-up ideas that they are mentally ill, which would mean the majority of the country needs psychiatric help right away.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    Most mass-killers write rambling letters or raving manifestos to justify their actions. This is the first one I ever heard of that left a Mary Sue fan-fic.

  7. woozy says

    “blow off both of his hands, the only parts of a human body that loved him”

    Ooh, that was mean….

    “he’s clearly pretty seriously mentally ill and suicidal”

    I suppose if I had never heard of incels and I had read my first account I may have assumed such a person must be mentally ill as their reasoning is so illogical and bizarre I’d find it hard to believe it could exist but they do indeed exist and no more (or less) mentally than any other fringe adherents (e.g. abortion bombers, nazis, jihadists, etc. etc.)

    Now I suppose if I want to be extremely forgiving, I could feel sympathy and compassion for young people who allow themselves to be “radicalized” to extreme and vile ideas but.. well … that really goes too far in the blurry murk depths of individual choice and control, way too far.

  8. says

    Deviant behavior ≠ mental illness.

    99 times out of 100 incels are just sad losers that lack some interpersonal skills. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of them turn violent, long term lack of human interaction can drive anybody over the edge.

  9. says

    I saw this last night and I was like WTF? Why is this not all over the news? This guy is a terrorist. The explosive he was playing with is triacetone triperoxide. That’s hardcore shit. Where the hell did he get it? Sure, “LOL he blew his hands off”, but how many more just like him are out there?

    Also I have to point out that like the dick bags who were caught making molotov cocktails in Nevada last week, and the Police officers who murdered George Floyd this guy is being enabled by the rhetoric coming from the White House. Three years, that man has been stoking the fires of white male misogyny. We’re currently focused on the continued marginalization of African Americans, but never forget there are other vulnerable groups out there.

    Back when Trump said “… good people on both sides”, what he really meant was “There are white men on both sides”. In his mind, white anglo-saxon men are the only good people. The rest of the human race is garbage.

  10. blf says

    doesn’t everyone routinely garden with pipe bombs?

    According to the mildly deranged penguin’s Encyclopedia of Cheese Growing:
    ● Those suffering horses prefer flamethrowers.
    ● Peas, however, are best dealt with by nuking from orbit, which is basically just a pipebomb, innit?
    Admittedly, I cannot find any specific reference to the use of either pipebombs or shrapnel, but she’s only concerned with the cultivation of cheese. Other sorts of gardening could, I suppose, require or the other under some circumstances?

  11. kome says

    When will the white community take a stand against such white violence? I appreciate that PZ is calling out these thuggish white people – he’s certainly an exceptional white guy – but where are the white community leaders in all of this? How come they’re not speaking out and condemning this?

  12. says

    @ Ray 11:

    Back when Trump said “… good people on both sides”, what he really meant was “There are white men on both sides”. In his mind, white anglo-saxon men are the only good people. The rest of the human race is garbage.

    FIFY. ;)

  13. ilr1950 says

    I’d say that behavior pretty well suggests mental illness and I have my BA in psychology, and more graduate hours in counseling than I want to admit, since I will probably never get my MS. And yes, I think suicide bombers are ‘mentally ill’ too. He may know the difference between right and wrong and not be ‘clinically insane’ but he definitely is a couple of tacos shy a combo platter.

  14. says

    @ Ray #11: Acetone Peroxide isn’t hardcore by any other criteria than hazard. As Cole here found out the hard way, it’s extremely sensitive to ignition.It’s however not very powerful, I would guesstimate perhaps 1/3 of TNT. But it’s also very simple to make from OTC chemicals (nail polish remover and a disinfectant), making it the go-to explosive for those without real chemistry capabilities.

  15. says

    ilr1950: Well, I have my PhD in Assholology, so I am qualified to say he’s a misogynist asshole. There is nothing in PZ’s post that suggests any mental illness. Absent other information, if it looks like a misogynist asshole, quacks like a misogynist asshole…

    content note: domestic violence
    Are men who abuse women mentally ill, too?

  16. lotharloo says

    Yes, as Iris says, they are not mentally ill, they are radicalized. The same way suicide bombers are radicalized. Probably the biggest difference between the groups is that typically Jihadists are radicalized by specialized agents/leaders following a carefully planned method, whereas these idiots radicalize themselves.

  17. kome says

    @15 ilr1950

    What about the behavior reported indicates mental illness? And what kind of mental illness?

  18. jrkrideau says

    @ 15 ilr1950
    he definitely is a couple of tacos shy a combo platter.

    I hate it when a new edition of the DSM changes the names on us. I always liked “off-the-wall-whacko”.

    @ 20 kome

    behavior reported indicates mental illness
    Well planning a mass murder of a bunch of cheer-leaders might be a hint but I am not a clinical psychologist.

  19. says

    @#17, Autobot Silverwynde:

    No, you’re wrong there. Working hands and fingers have a lot of value. The valueless part was somewhere inside his skull, exact location not precisely definable, and most likely survived the explosion.

  20. chrislawson says


    Your comment looks like you missed a lot of important lessons when you did your BA.

  21. chrislawson says

    This guy makes it pretty clear: despite its overt claims, the incel movement is not about improving their chances of having sex with attractive women. It’s about violent misogyny looking for a rationalisation. If they really believed that their problem was alpha males monopolising all the attractive women, then surely they should be targetting alpha males, not women! (And this is putting aside that humans having an “alpha male” social structure is observably wrong.)

    The truth is they fantasize about raping or killing women and the incel mentality is just a way of convincing themselves that acting on their fantasy is justified.

  22. John Morales says

    PZ @5:

    Yeah, no sign of mental illness here, unless you’re willing to say of every person who has fucked-up ideas that they are mentally ill […]

    Therefore, acting out on delusional thinking is not a sign of mental illness?

    Point being, one can say delusional thinking is a sign of mental illness without simultaneously claiming it’s exclusive to mental illness.

    But I agree this is an instance of “instant karma”.

  23. says

    coldhardrealist 24:

    [M]ost misogynistic assholes don’t go blowing up shopping malls, and are sufficiently in touch with reality to understand that blowing up shopping malls is not in their own best interests.

    Who are you to say what is in the misogynist asshole’s best interests? Perhaps he aspires to fame and glory among his fellow misogynist assholes via exacting justice on “hot cheerleaders” on their behalf, and is willing to kill and die for it…which would not be evidence of mental illness.

    Are all the soldiers who enlisted in the US military in response to the 9/11 attacks mentally ill, too?

    So something happened to push this specific misogynistic asshole over the edge.


    I would like to hear from those who are absolutely convinced that he’s not mentally ill how they can be so sure.

    No one here is “absolutely convinced that he’s not mentally ill.” My point is that there has been no evidence provided that he is.

    So again, what happened to that specific minority of jihadi sympathizers US citizens after 9/11 who actually become suicide bombers combat soldiers, that didn’t happen to all the other people who share their ideology but didn’t.


  24. bcwebb says

    @3 and others.

    Writing and living an obsessive fantasy piece with dialog and narration about a hero blowing up a gaggle of hot cheerleaders at the mall does not suggest a good connection with the reality. I’m mean let’s start with the cheerleaders on stage image to begin with – at the mall? It’s like a warped version of a thirty year old penthouse forum column.

  25. chigau (違う) says

    John Morales #27
    Which “mental illness” does he have?
    “instant karma”
    are you high?

  26. John Morales says

    chigau, whatever made you imagine I thought he (Carini) had a mental illness?

    Again: “Point being, one can say delusional thinking is a sign of mental illness without simultaneously claiming it’s exclusive to mental illness.”

    “instant karma”
    are you high?

    Nah, just familiar with idiomatic language.

    It refers to bad consequences occurring when someone endeavours to do bad things. Feel free to look it up, if you disbelieve me.

  27. John Morales says

    PS If you want an analogy, one can say driving erratically is a sign of drunkenness without simultaneously claiming it’s exclusive to drunknenness.

  28. jessem says

    I graduated as a clinical psychologist. Went another way after that so I do not really have practical experience but I’d say that there’s not enough information to say if he was mentally ill and in this case in my opinion it’s a distinction without meaning. Would he (and, if all had gone less well, his victims) have benefited if he had gotten some counseling though? Yes, I would say definitely so.

  29. unclefrogy says

    Are all jihadi suicide terrorists mentally ill? Or are they true believers in an ideology that rewards them for martyrdom?

    that is a distinction without a difference
    @5 yes and they/we would all benefit from serious counseling
    it seems to me that there is some kind of over sensitivity to talking about mental illness still.
    Like some kind of holdover to the idea that it is a bad thing something to be ashamed of or guilty for. That it is some kind of a “get out of jail card” that excuses everything.
    What is mental illness? is it some kind of black and white strict line to cross one side you are OK the other you are not? delusional thinking is something we all suffer from to one degree or another. How could any human today living with the histories we all have and not suffer from damages that would have to be called mental illness.
    Much of the characteristics of human behavior exists in the mind delusional thinking is no less delusional if it is shared with millions of others or is only with yourself alone.

    uncle frogy

  30. call me mark says

    The problem with armchair diagnosis is that it causes splash damage to those of us who are mentally ill but have no murderous intent. Knock it off please.

  31. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Don’t confuse evil with mental illness. Listen to Granny Weatherwax:

    “There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment about the nature of sin, for example,” said Oats.

    “And what do they think? Against it, are they?” said Granny Weatherwax.

    “It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”



    “There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”

    “It’s a lot more complicated than that—”

    “No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”

    “Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes—”

    “But they starts with thinking about people as things…”

  32. kome says

    @21 jrkrideau
    Well planning a mass murder of a bunch of cheer-leaders might be a hint but I am not a clinical psychologist.

    What about that indicates mental illness? What’s the link? And, again, what SPECIFIC mental illness are you claiming it is indicative of? Because, from years of work doing cognitive rehabilitation with people who’ve acquired neurological disorders (meaning my expertise is parallel to and related to mental health, but not directly about it per se), nothing about tendencies towards violence by itself is indicative of any specific diagnosis that I’m aware of. Especially not when the behavior is normalized in society; and white men plotting violence against minority groups, including women, is more normatively American than apple pie and baseball.

    Throwing out “mental illness” in response to any behavior you find disagreeable is incoherent. If you’ve no expertise in any relevant field of research or practice, which by your own admission you appear not to have, then it is very likely that your inclination to label something as “mental illness” purely on the basis of “I don’t like that” is just you trying to distance the perpetrator of that behavior from yourself in some twisted “no true Scotsman” style rhetorical ploy. And one that does real harm to people who need mental health care for real mental illnesses, like attention-deficit disorders, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, etc.

    So… stop that.

  33. Saad says

    coldhardrealist, #39

    The onus is on you to argue that it’s mental illness. Most racist people also didn’t participate in public lynchings. Why do you think those who did had a mental illness that caused them to?

  34. says

    coldhardrealist 30:

    I have not made any moral equivalency, flawed or otherwise. I am making a psychological analogy.

    [T]he thought of killing a bunch of Republicans, or evangelicals, would never enter my head.

    Therefore you are not mentally ill, and anyone whose head the thought does enter is mentally ill. Got it.

    It’s not for lack of courage; it’s more that I don’t see the point.

    If you don’t see the point of committing violence, that is solid evidence that you are not mentally ill, and anyone who does see the point in doing so is mentally ill. Got it.

    It’s a really stupid strategy. It’s a completely counterproductive strategy.

    It would be stupid and counterproductive for you, therefore it is objectively so, and at a “bare minimum a sign of mental imbalance if not actual mental illness.” Also, the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is a fucking lunatic. Got it.

    I am not going to explain asymmetrical warfare to you. However, if you insist on mistaking my psychological analogy for a moral equivalence, you really should go educate yourself about that (and maybe educate yourself about analogies, too). I will just note that by your own admission, you enlisted in the US military “as a starry eyed idealist who was going to help bring democracy to the Middle East.” You did not, say, join an NGO doing non-violent work in the region; instead you became a combat soldier, i.e., you were willing to kill and die (even if not eager to do so). Were you delusional? Mentally ill at the time?

    Or perhaps you were naive and wrong about reality.

    In any event, I am done here. Someone else can pick up this thread and run with it if they want. Just take caution: “cold hard realists” can be slippery.

  35. Saad says

    coldhardrealist, # 42

    and if it’s not mental illness, then what is it?

    So being radicalized into inceldom through peers and one’s own misogyny and the influence of online groups isn’t enough of an explanation? Why does every incel have to commit violence? Most people have enough of a conscience to not want to murder, and some of those who do want to murder wouldn’t do it because of the consequences. Why is it strange to find a small subgroup of misogynists who would fantasize about and go on to kill?

    Also, you say “if it’s not mental illness, then what is it” as if murder is rife among people with mental illnesses. You haven’t given any support to why that is “a reasonable first hypothesis” and are passing me the ball like it’s now my job to present an alternate theory. The ball is very much still in your court.

  36. Saad says

    There are some things that are going to lead to violence. Racism, misogyny, transphobia. Each of those things in a sufficiently large population will lead to violence against the group they’re targeted against. Incel-ness is misogyny. The entire idea behind incel is about jealousy, bitterness and rage about women. Why would an additional explanation like mental illness be needed (unless it’s shown to be true of a specific case)?

  37. says

    The category of “mental illness” is seriously messed up. It includes many different kinds of phenomena and the public at large doesn’t differentiate them. Political abuse of mental illness language is widespread.
    I believe lots of things like tourette syndrome, adhd, autism, depression, ptsd and more are “features” and not “bugs” and this blending of things leads our species to feel fear and disgust of it’s own natural features.

    When someone applies a diagnosis to a behavior in a situation like this I like to ask for the abstract diagnostic criteria associated with the illness that the person sees, and those abstract criteria need to be connected to concrete examples. This is for a diagnosis (schizophrenia for example).

    Things get more complicated with diagnostic criteria absent a diagnosis. Diagnostic criteria are often perfectly natural behavior that are discussable as individual behavior unconnected to any condition. I find that the behaviors that constitute diagnostic criteria:
    *Independent of the other diagnostic criteria that constitute a mental illness
    *Independent of length of time, intensity, and other factors that make the behavior a more complex entity as a diagnostic criteria
    …are often good for discussing problem behavior.

    Staying away from a diagnosis, and sticking to specific concrete behavior that hurts people is the best I’ve seen so far.

  38. kome says

    @39 coldhardrealist
    Since most misogynistic assholes do not engage in mass murder, what then distinguishes those who do from those who don’t?

    Time. The difference between people who glorify and celebrate violence and those who glorify and celebrate violence to the point where they perpetuate it themselves is time.

    Why do some misogynists express their misogyny in ways that do relatively less harm whereas others shoot up shopping malls and go on murderous rampages?

    The one leads to the other, so those ways don’t do “relatively less harm.” They are responsible for the harm inflicted by the mass murders committed by the likes of Elliot Rodger and Scott Beierle. It is responsible for the serial sexual violence perpetrated by the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump. It’s no coincidence that convicted rapists justify their behavior using the same language and rhetoric as men’s magazine articles about how to get more dates and have better sex and how to treat women. When dehumanization and objectification of women is normal, and when men (particularly but not exclusively white men) are taught by society they should have all the access to sex they want, this mass violence is expected and intentional.

    You’re making an affirmative of the presence of mental illness without specificity or evidence. What mental illness? What category of mental illness? What symptoms are on display to justify an explanation of any kind of mental illness for the behavior besides the behavior itself? You’re simply engaging in circular reasoning. That’s not good conversation. That’s not even coherent thinking. That’s you asserting things as true by fiat without thinking you need to justify your assertions.

    This is just a moderately extreme version of how the intersection of masculinity and whiteness in the United States is expected to behave and has been expected to behave since before we were even a country. Dominate. Conquer. Take by force what you want. That’s all this is. Nothing more, nothing less. To take seriously any suggestion otherwise requires a pretty high standard of evidence.

  39. KG says

    “coldhardrealist” (I just can’t take your nym, hence you, seriously),

    If “mental illness” is the difference between incels who mass murder and those who don’t, why does this seem to be an exclusively North American phenomenon? (One German mass murder is included in the timeline of the linked article, but I’m not sure why – the murderer hated and killed male members of ethnic minorities, and in his case there is some evidence of paranoid delusions and being “controlled” by inner voices). Rather, look at the milieu from which mass murderers come. In the case of jihadi suicide bombers, the dynamic seems to be that of small-group psychology, manipulated by people who have no intention of doing the same: typically a small group of disaffected/disappointed young men is recruited, these days often online, and inculcated with a strong group identity, so that not going through with the suicide bombing would be “letting your pals down” (the same psychology has been used in armies for centuries). There need not be anything special about the individuals; they are not, for example, necessarily particularly religious or political. (I can’t at present recall the name of the researcher who has done the key work on this, maybe someone here can.) With incels, the milieu is the online message boards they frequent (most of which are English-language), and the dynamic is probably the competition to be the most misogynist, and the valorising of earlier mass murderers. Again, there need not be anything special about the individuals who take the final step to murder – many of them might do the same if tipped by some factor of opportunity, or personal crisis or disappointment. The opportunity factor is probably what best explains the strong North American bias – ready availability of guns, although there is one stabbing and one vehicular attack among those listed at the link. The strong American culture of contempt for “losers”, particularly “losers” in a sexual context, found even on the left, may well also be a factor.

  40. wzrd1 says

    TATP, terrorists that make it call it satan’s mother. Infamously unstable, just shaking it can cause it to decay into gases, largely ozone. Quite a few spare the world pain by blowing themselves up making and handling it.
    Making that and nitroglycerin are two common ways people end up needing significant home renovations. Thankfully, we’ve made the precursors for nitro a bit harder to acquire, perhaps high test peroxide should also be restricted. Even that shit can get really temperamental and decay explosively!

    As for sanity, insanity, shitty outlook on life, does it matter? Do we have magical tests that can determine if someone is planning to terrorize a community? Why is anyone trying to rationalize the irrational? The same questions and claims come out each and every time and no answer is ever or will ever be found. We live in a violent society, we worship violence and violence is frequently present in our mass entertainment, complete with Hollywood explosions.
    At least he is in custody, it could’ve been far worse in multiple ways.

  41. logicalcat says

    You cant diagnose mental illness unless you have a medical proffessional thoroughly analyze the patient. And you cant do that through reading the article. Guess Nazis were all mentally ill too. This might not even be a mental illness it could well be the result of a personality or emotional disorder but the same rules apply in that yiu cant actually know this without an expert sitting down woth the patient and doing the work.

  42. vucodlak says

    @ coldhardrealist

    Why do some incels act out violently, while the majority just sit around cheering the violent ones on and bashing women/men/everyone? There’s no one answer to that question, but it’s some combination of personality, personal history, motivation, and access to weaponry and victims. The real key to making a person violent, however, is nurture.

    I’m mentally ill. I’m also a violent person. I’m NOT violent because I’m mentally ill. I’m violent because I was raised with violence, by violent people, socialized with other violent people, and I live in a violent culture. I was taught to solve my problems with violence from a very early age.

    One of my earliest memories is of being goaded into attacking a bully who wouldn’t stop hitting me by a worker at a daycare. I was crying, and telling on the bully to this teacher (or whatever we were supposed to call them), and she was telling to get him, hit him back, man up/be a man (I was maybe 4). He just kept shoving me and hitting me, and the teacher kept jeering, and I finally just snapped. I picked up my bully and threw him on the ground, hard as I could, like I was breaking a toy in a tantrum. I felt sick as soon as I did it- I couldn’t even bear to do that to toys, and now I’d tried to break a person. I knew it was wrong, but the teacher just laughed and clapped and crowed “attaboy!” Lesson learned.

    My parents taught me that if someone was bullying me, I should hit them back harder. They were certainly quick enough to hit me, shake me, and terrorize me when I was a child (and a teenager, and a young adult). When I told on bullies to others in authority the message I got (more often than not) was “no one likes a crybaby/tattletale.” I usually tried talking things out with the bullies, but a lot of bullies just won’t stop until they hurt someone. My options were either to let the bullies keep hurting me, or hurt the bullies so bad that they left me alone. So I hurt them. I got in some trouble, but I got even more “attaboys” from authority figures. I even got respect from my (mostly former) bullies. Sure, I got saddled with the nickname “psycho,” but most of the bullies left me alone.

    That is the sort of thing that makes a person violent. We build the vast majority of our monsters one little cruelty at a time; very few are born red of tooth and claw.

    The only reason I’m not a complete sociopathic monster is that I don’t like hurting people. I can’t stand to see anyone suffer. That doesn’t change the fact that there’s a part of me that screams “KILL THEM ALL” in response to every little annoyance. Some lessons can never be completely unlearned.*

    Being bipolar didn’t make me violent. Having c-PTSD, or ADHD, didn’t make me violent. Being mentally ill makes me far more likely to be a victim of violence. Some people can just sense that I’m not quite right in the head, and it’s just like blood in the water to them. But being mentally ill did not make me violent, nor did it make me more likely to act on the violence I’ve learned. I am a violent person because I was taught violence, period.

    There’s one crucial thing I’ve left out, and that’s self-esteem. Incels, at least the ones who engage in violence, do NOT have low self-esteem. On the contrary, one must esteem oneself very highly indeed to believe that one is entitled to take or destroy the lives of others.

    I have no self-esteem. I know very well that I don’t have the right to use or otherwise harm others. That doesn’t mean I’ll let other people hurt me or others in my presence- I hate myself, but I don’t believe YOU have the right to hurt me (or anyone else) either.

    Tl;dr- Mental illness isn’t what makes a person violent. Violent people are almost always taught to be violent, be it by the people who raised them, or by the culture they’re soaking in. Or, usually, some combination of culture and nurture.

    *Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not a ticking time bomb, or any of that nonsense. I don’t lash out violently. I can be an asshole, I can say hurtful things, and I can cuss like a one-eyed ship’s carpenter in the middle of hurricane, but I don’t physically attack people. I haven’t laid hands on anyone in at least a dozen years, and even then it was just to pull a man’s hand off my throat and tell him to calm down (the man in question was attempting to choke me while threatening me with a hammer).

  43. katahdin says

    As a clinical psychologist for 40 years I can say that anyone who is suicidal , as this incel seemed to be is likely to be mentally ill (depression, if you want a label), assuming the urge to suicide is emotional and not based on something rational like self-deliverance because of a terminal or intolerable disease. Suicide by cop would also suggest mental illness assuming it’s not just the result of say some jihadist ideology. Also mental illness CAN cause people to become violent, e.g. bipolar persons during a manic attack can become violent if they are thwarted. It’s their tremendous drive and anger which results in the violence. I’ve seen it. And with no history of violence in their upbringing. Also the schizophrenic woman who drowned her five children in a bathtub because of her delusions that that was the way to save them-clearly the violence was caused by mental illness. And saying this is not a slur on mentally ill people.

  44. John Morales says

    katahdin, conceivable, though hardly likely.

    In my estimation, he was just a foolish and (evidently) incompetent person who lacked sufficient impulse control to avoid attempting to act out his Walter Mitty fantasy.

    And no way was he attempting suicide — for a professional clinical psychologist, you sure are full of shit.

  45. chigau (違う) says

    “As a clinical psychologist for 40 years …”
    OMG. 40 years.
    How many people have you killed?

  46. katahdin says

    He wrote “ He casually walked through the shopping mall, his jacket concealed deadly objects, the letter read, parts of which were illegible. He was doing it and was assured it must be done. Even if he died this statement was worth it! He had… of tension that would come and go as he approached the stage of hot cheerleaders… A dead seriousness sank in as he realized he was truly passing the point of no return! He decided I will not back down I will not be afraid of the consequences no matter what I will be heroic I will make a statement like Elliott Rodgers [sic] did he thought to himself.”
    Suggests he was willing to maybe wanting to die(as he says).
    Seems if anyone ever suggests that violence an mental illness are related they are vilified. Anyone who questions the reigning ideology here.

  47. wzrd1 says

    @vucodlak, thank you. I’ll say, I’ve had a number of TBI’s over the decades, a lot of military experience (see TBI’s) and don’t suffer from your qualms, I just loathe waste and the inevitable chain reaction of bad things should I cause harm.
    My joke, which is rather honest is, my wife is my failsafe, my safety. She refused to give permission for me to join the protests when things went south due to violence, in 20/20 hindsight, I agree. What good would come out of eliminating a half dozen lawless enforcement officers, injuring a similar number and no gain occurred?
    She’s also big on calling me on bullshit, likely why we’ve been married for over 38 years.

    @Brony, trigger alert, people!!!
    Seriously, go away if you can be triggered, it’s just that fucking honest and ugly enough to grant nightmares for the remainder of your life.

    Reason keeps me from snapping a hyoid bone and grinning while the trachea collapses and someone expires. It also keeps me from shoving a blade just along the clavicle to find the subclavian vein and artery, turning things into a spectacular shower of red and a rag dropping to the ground.
    It keeps me from producing a firearm and removing someone’s brainstem from the front.
    Reason keeps me from harming some motherloving SOB that wants human shaped targets from shoving his firearm collection up his rectum, along with his house.
    Reason is that little voice inside of one’s head that says, “Dude, that’s fucked up, even for you”.
    My personal instinctive reaction to a Trumpette is to grasp my cane at port arms, then send the jawbone of that ass into the stratosphere. I realize that’s fucked up and don’t, try to reason, flash over from rage to cold rage and reason with the wannabe morons into their own personal painted corner.

    In person, everyone, small animals, people, children all think me a nice guy. I was also trained and experienced in doing some really, really, really bad things, as long as there were lawful orders attached.
    And I’m still scratching my head over MP’s attacking protesters, it was indeed the most unlawful of orders, since there was zero violence. And some of them likely have nightmares even now that I was there in front of them.
    One is victorious or one dies where one fought, so choose one’s battles well. These days, Everest is a lot too short for my liking, but then, I do have a community policing, helping when someone’s SOL PD.
    A couple of years ago, I’d go for take off and nuke the site from orbit, it is the only way to be sure.
    Amazing what a few good experiences can generate, isn’t it?

    For those few who don’t know, I’m a retired US Army type, SF medic for a fair part of my career, which means qualifying as SF, then surviving a grueling SF medic course. Google “Goat lab” for a small chunk of that.
    Win hearts and minds campaign did pay off with us, visiting a new village, we started a recipe exchange.
    Commonality is the watchword and whoinhell doesn’t like good food?!
    Marketplace bombers could expect anything from a JDAM or white phosphorus.
    Playing with babies and helping to establish a school was something that makes platinum look cheap.

    Welcome to the world of nobody is white or black, but shades and layers. I’m the ogre that smells bad and makes people cry.
    And that’s a pale joke.
    The kid that puked into my mouth while playing “superbaby!” is worth every element in this universe to me.
    Played superbaby after as well. A bit longer after feeding.

  48. katahdin says

    To make it clear since you seemed to have missed it-he was -panning to go to a mall to kill cheerleaders, an act likely to result in his death or at least arrest and long incarceration. You can say it was an aberrant ideology, but to take that kind of personal risk for such an ideology more than suggests mental illness. Very likely he was suicidal. Wonder why there seem to be no psychologists on this blog. Wonder why everyone here does not believe that intelligence is strongly heritable while the APA interprets all the scientific evidence to say that it does. Politics, ideology.

  49. chigau (違う) says

    Wonder why everyone here does not believe that intelligence is strongly heritable while the APA interprets all the scientific evidence to say that it does.

  50. katahdin says

    chigau (違う)
    9 June 2020 at 12:23 am
    katahdin #60
    Bless your heart.
    Have a nice day.
    Have a porcupine.

    I know when you tell someone “bless your heart” that what you mean if fuck off” . I really dislike that . Why don’t you say what you mean. At time the object of your snark believed you were being nice.
    With regard to all you comments on my comments-you have said nothin to refute anything I said. So please fuck off.
    The have a porcupine is new, I think. Very clever, so cute.

  51. katahdin says

    Not a troll. If you had read closely you would understand the connection between that statement and another of mine. But since you are not interested in reading closely, fuck off. I like that so much better than that insipid and cowardly bless your heart.|

  52. unclefrogy says

    This might not even be a mental illness it could well be the result of a personality or emotional disorder

    what the hell does that mean anyway?
    are not personality disorders and emotional disorders not mental illness? What is mental illness?
    are personality disorders “OK”? are emotional disorders”OK” as well. are we splitting hairs or are we supposed to follow things as defined by criminal code?
    what is the definition of mental health then I am trying to understand just what point of view is the accepted one on this subject, because it makes little sense to me.
    There is some much cultural baggage on this subject as to make it very nearly impossible for me to understand the disagreement is or what point is. The whole subject seems to me to be intertwined with what reality is and how we define it and where delusion and illusion mix together. It is constrained in discussion on what a personality is and how we define that and how we get one and how much that is influenced by all the things we have heard seen and how we defined the experiences we seem to have had, all cultural in nature steeped in illusion and emotion.
    uncle frogy

  53. kome says

    @katahdin in various comments

    As a member of the APA, let me say that no, the APA does not interpret “all the scientific evidence” to say that intelligence is strongly heritable. Between that clearly incorrect statement – one which could be Googled very easily to be disproven – and your descriptions of mental illness and various behaviors are so off the mark that I have strong suspicions you are simply lying about having been a clinical psychologist for 40 years. No one in the field that long would say the kinds of abjectly wrong things you’re saying. And this is to say nothing of your use of phrases that professional clinicians simply do not use, but are used frequently by people whose confidence in their understanding of mental health is inversely proportional to their actual knowledge of the subject (e.g., manic attack? No no no, child, people who know what they’re talking about just don’t say that. It just sounds like something they’d say to someone from outside any relevant profession though).

    Also, once again, based on this guy’s written fantasies, he was planning on being a martyr and sending a message to the world, which is kind of different than “merely” (for lack of a better word) being suicidal. Again, nothing in what has been reported about him suggests he’s anything other than an extreme but inevitable consequence of the US’s fetishization of manliness and whiteness that we have seen manifest time and time again in the United States far more than in the entire rest of the world combined. To suggest anything else would require evidence that connects specific indicators to specific classes of mental illnesses and not vaguely defined or ambiguous indicators to poorly defined and generic labels of “mental illness” or “mentally ill.”

  54. John Morales says


    The have a porcupine is new, I think.

    A meme that originated back in 2010, in The Endless Thread (episode 97), ScienceBlogs days.

    As PZ puts it in his current commenting rules: “This is a blog. It is an ephemeral arrangement of electrons. Someday I will die, and it will fall into unread neglect, and maybe it will get archived somewhere, temporarily, but it will be completely forgotten.”

    (I don’t think he’s suicidal, either)

  55. vucodlak says

    @ katahdin, #54

    As a clinical psychologist for 40 years I can say that anyone who is suicidal , as this incel seemed to be is likely to be mentally ill

    The question being argued here is not, “Is Cole Carini potentially suffering from mental illness?” The question here is whether mental illness is, as seems to be assumed by bcwebb, christoph, ilr1950, coldhardrealist, the cause of his violence. I’ve seen no one present any evidence to that effect. All I’ve seen is people saying “well he must be mentally ill, because only a crazy person acts like he did.”

    So what we have here is people claiming that Carini did what he did because he was mentally ill, and that he must be mentally ill because otherwise he wouldn’t have done what he did. Beautiful logic, that. Really. I’ll admit I’m a little envious of it- I couldn’t draw a circle that neat if my life depended on it.

    Also, you seem to just gloss over the little detail that his main drive here seems to have been to commit mass murder, not commit suicide. Now granted, I’m not an expert with 40 years’ experience in clinical psychology, but it seems to me that there’s a difference between “I don’t want to live anymore” and “I want to kill as many people as possible, and I don’t care if I die in the process.”

    Suicide by cop would also suggest mental illness assuming it’s not just the result of say some jihadist ideology.

    Oh, that is true. It’s not like he identifies with a hate group that has a history of committing terrorist attacks, or idolizes an infamous mass murderer.

    Nope, must be a crazypants (apologies for the technical jargon, but you are an expert).

    Also mental illness CAN cause people to become violent, e.g. bipolar persons during a manic attack can become violent if they are thwarted.

    It’s been my experience that “thwarting” people often involves laying hands on them. I’m not necessarily a model of restraint if people go getting handsy with me, especially if they’re grabbing me when I’m already in the midst of a bad day.

    If I’m manic, I’m probably having a real bad day. I’m paranoid, I’m extra prickly, and if I’ve slept in the last several days I’ve had nightmares that like as to drive me mad. Madder.

    Paw at me when I’m feeling like that, and the very least you can expect is some extremely salty language and a finger of admonition. Possibly more than one.

    And with no history of violence in their upbringing.

    I’m assuming that you’re a sentient tumor on the ass of the bipolar person you’re talking about here, because that’s the only way you could know this. Seriously, if I had a nickel for every person I’ve known who came from a “nice, wholesome family” who did terrible things to said person when no one was watching, I’d have a couple of bucks at least. That doesn’t even take into account all the other possible sources of violence, like peers, bullies, and outside role models.

    Mental illness may lower the inhibitions of someone with violent inclinations, but it doesn’t cause the violence. If it did, then we’d expect the majority of people with this illness to behave violently.

    Also the schizophrenic woman who drowned her five children in a bathtub because of her delusions that that was the way to save them-clearly the violence was caused by mental illness.

    There’s a massive difference between killing someone because you believe whole-heartedly that you’re saving them from a fate worse than death, and killing someone because you hate them. Andrea Yates drowned her children because she believed it was the only way to save them from Hell. Cole Carini intended to kill cheerleaders because he hated them for refusing to recognize what a catch he is.

    Are you seeing the difference here?

    And saying this is not a slur on mentally ill people.

    No, but rushing to label every hate-filled asshole who goes on a killing spree “crazy” is.

    From your #60:

    You can say it was an aberrant ideology, but to take that kind of personal risk for such an ideology more than suggests mental illness.

    Millions of people swear oaths to uphold ideologies, even at the cost of their own lives, every year all around the world. You going to tell me that every soldier, every cop, every politician, every true believer in this or that cause, is suffering from a mental illness?

    Fine. Name it.

  56. Anton Mates says

    I’m no kind of clinical psychologist, but I did get a psychology PhD fairly recently, and I’ve taken up-to-date courses on behavioral genetics, and also I can read. So I just wanted to back up kome @ #69 against katahdin’s claims. The APA does not claim that intelligence is “strongly heritable.” In fact, it has published editorials arguing (correctly) that heritability is meaningless except in reference to a particular population, and that depending on the population the measured heritability of a particular cognitive trait may be high or low or anything in between.

    As for how the DSM characterizes mental disorders (not that the DSM is holy writ, but I’m just accepting that it represents the self-declared “mainstream” of clinical psychology), a behavior pattern is not a mental disorder if:

    it is “a culturally sanctioned response to a particular event (for example, trance states in religious rituals),” or:

    it is “solely a result of social deviance or conflicts with society.”

    Cole Carini’s goal of killing femoids and normies is absolutely shared and sanctioned by a high-visibility chunk of the incel community, and his plan was explicitly a deliberate attack on a society that incels feel has rejected them. So no, none of this indicates a mental disorder. It indicates that he was radicalized by membership in a shitty subculture, as others have been.

    The fact that he was willing to die to carry out his plan simply shows that he was very radicalized, and the fact that he was prepared to massacre lots of innocent people simply shows that his subculture is very shitty.

  57. says

    I don’t see you actually using any knowledge in your assertions. You haven’t yet justified the separation of reason and emotion that I asked about.

    I have a DSM-V and I think it’s time you back your shit up. You don’t tell people to look up your position, you bring that shit to us. If you want to be able use professional language like mental illness language you’re going to show competence. This isn’t going to be nice. It’s not going to feel good. But if your courage matches your claims you will do it. You don’t get to ask people to use language that feels better when you’re willing to do that with casual application of mental health language.

    Without you going the whole way it looks like excuse making that lets society avoid the difficult choice of socially confronting people like this. You aren’t a coward are you? I’m not sure yet, but putting pressure other people instead of the ones doing the damage sure makes it look more likely.

  58. logicalcat says


    I was trying to make a distinction between something like anti-social personality and autism or schizophrenia. Maybe my terminology is wrong. I don’t know. I’m not a psychologists. Also I don’t think I communicated myself well. I don’t think what this man planned to do is any of these things. Its straight up a toxic violent ideology. I shouldn’t really have said anything.

  59. woodsong says

    I need to point out something that seems to have been overlooked here.

    coldhardrealist @42:

    In this culture, there is a heavy taboo surrounding murder. If you’re going to kill someone, you better have a damn good reason. This is not a society in which, for example, honor killings are tolerated. So an incel who commits a murder has managed to suppress one of our most deeply implanted cultural taboos and engaged in behavior that even most of his fellow incels would find unacceptable.

    Are you kidding here? Especially about the part I bolded? I mean, I’m looking at a second-hand, outside view of incels, but I understand that they regard the fellow who violently acts out against women as a hero, and if he dies in the process, a martyr. Am I wrong about this?

    I mean, I see a lot of people here wondering what he had to gain. Isn’t the hero-worship of your peer group reason enough for some? How many people have done things against their better judgment under the influence of peer pressure?

    I think if the incels have anything they’d mock or ostracize one of their number for, it would be publicly admitting that a woman was smarter than him, or was right to refuse to go out with him.