Richard Cooper: Understanding the “Red Pill Rage”

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Unplugged Alpha" by Richard Cooper. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What does Richard Cooper mean by “red pill rage”? What truth does the red pill represent?

In his book The Unplugged Alpha, Richard Cooper describes a phenomenon he calls “red pill rage.” By this, he means the anger some men experience when they swallow the red pill—the hard, cold truth about society and dating.

Here’s why swallowing the proverbial red pill results in rage, according to Cooper.

The Consequences of Swallowing the Red Pill

According to Cooper, many men react in anger when they break free from society’s lies—a phenomenon he refers to as “red pill rage.” Some limit their interactions with women—either by exclusively pursuing sexual relationships with them (and avoiding all other types of relationships, such as friendships) or by taking the “black pill, ” which means avoiding them entirely. A small subset of men identifies as “incels,” or “involuntary celibates.” Angry at their inability to attract or keep women, incels often act violently: Several self-identified incels have committed mass murder. 

What Happens When You Swallow the Red Pill

Dating coach Alan Roger Currie clarifies what happens to a man who swallows the “red pill,” or who starts to understand the aforementioned lies. He experiences “red pill rage” because he’s angry both at himself for having naively believed the lies that society taught him and at women for their unfair mating behavior. If he then has a loving, successful relationship with a woman, he may revert to the “purple pill” mindset, which means that he’s aware of the lies but is much less angry towards women because he’s happy with one. 

However, if his “red pill rage” continues, he may take the “black pill,” which stems from the belief that only genetically gifted males can attract women, so it’s better to just avoid women entirely. Currie argues that a man who identifies as an “incel” has a “black pill” mindset—and people with this mindset are more likely to suffer from mental health issues that can cause both homicidal and suicidal tendencies.

Cooper warns that none of these reactions are productive or realistic because they won’t change society, and you can’t avoid women entirely unless you avoid society entirely. Rather, Cooper explains that men should adapt to the world: If you want to be successful, you need to forget the lies that society has taught you and become a dominant. Doing so will significantly increase how attractive you are to women. Still, success with women shouldn’t be your main reason for pursuing dominant status. Cooper asserts that you should want to become a dominant for yourself; success with women is just a fringe benefit. 

(Shortform note: Like Cooper, John Romaniello, coauthor of Man 2.0: Becoming the Alpha, argues you should try to become dominant for yourself instead of to get more women. Unlike Cooper, whose definition of an alpha is based on how women view you, Romaniello explicitly defines an alpha as someone who’s trying to embody his full potential. Additionally, while Cooper expresses some alignment with the “red pill” community by using words like “unplugging,” Romaniello explicitly separates himself from this community—arguing that men who react in the ways that Cooper describes alienate both women (due to their extreme, misogynistic views) and men (by describing most men except the most elite as betas and, thus, useless.)  

Richard Cooper: Understanding the “Red Pill Rage”

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Unplugged Alpha summary:

  • The three big lies modern men have been told about society
  • How to break free from the lies and become a high-value man
  • How you can use this newfound status to become sexually successful

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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