On Triggers & Trigger Warnings

In psychology and social therapy, a trauma trigger is “an experience that causes someone to recall a previous traumatic memory (emotionally or otherwise), although the trigger itself need not be frightening or traumatic and can be indirectly or superficially reminiscent of an earlier traumatic incident.”

So a trigger, then, is a reminder of something that causes the individual triggered to have to deal with something difficult or challenging to them as a person.  Triggers can be anything.

For example, I have issues dealing with grief and loss, especially where they concern my husband, mother, or grandmother. I can be watching a commercial and see something that is, otherwise, meaningless, and have to deal once more with the wholeness of that grief and loss.

I also have a hard time with any sort of forced sex scenes, because of my past experience with forced sex (this is me saying really distantly that I was raped and seeing rape is triggering to me).

Triggers can also involve things that force people into situations where they return to behaviors that they have been struggling to escape, such as substance abuse and addiction. The “one bad moment” that can make a person who may have been sober for even a decade turn back to some drug.

So triggers are a serious issue, and especially for persons dealing with strong mental health issues such as PTSD. But, mostly, the kind of triggers people are familiar with are emotional triggers related to interpersonal violence.

Trigger warnings are used in order to help other people who may have certain triggers avoid these things. This is a nice courtesy though ultimately enabling and not wholly healthy in a psychological sense.

Triggers indicate that an individual has something they have a personal need to deal with, and so trigger warnings should bot be required of an individual as a demand.

Organizations may have valid reasons to mark certain things with Trigger Warnings, but the problem with doing so it that there is no list of universal trigger warnings or even conditional ones that can be relied on to a greater majority of any given group of people.

The sight of a butterfly can be triggering to one person for the same reason that another person my have a trigger to a more overt reminder of some trauma.

It is too broad a concept and structure to apply such on without failing to do so for all those affected.

But, more importantly, the reason that it is important to identify triggers is that they are things that the person who has the trigger needs to overcome, on their own.

Oppression can be triggering, but to call aspects of oppression triggering is improper, since they are simply violence.

It is, then, the responsibility of the person who is triggered to *overcome* the trigger — which is not always possible to do through constant exposure or confrontation.  In cases where that is not the case, it requires more therapy and more effort to work through the emotional trauma until such time as the trigger is not held.

This is why there are not trigger warnings here at Dyssonance. It would be unethical for me to do otherwise.