Trigger Warnings Trigger Anxiety

"When the University of Northampton added a trigger warning to George Orwell’s 1984 last year, a fresh round of conversations about speech and censorship followed. What do people in a free society owe each other when it comes to our words?" - Breakpoint

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Aaron Blumer's picture


They should replace all the trigger warnings with one general warning and put it on every book, piece of media, etc. on campus:  "Warning: Interacting with the world of ideas is often disturbing, interacting with real humans even more so. We provide these disturbing experiences as opportunities to overcome feelings, seek understanding, learn . . . and possibly grow up."

Something like that. Maybe less sarcastic. Or more sarcastic. Make it a sticker/image and put it on everything.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Andrew K's picture

This shouldn't surprise anyone. It's kind of intuitive, tbh. We're very open to the power of suggestion.

A parallel psychological phenomenon I recall reading is a study that labeling traumatic experiences as "trauma" to the victim and telling them they should be very upset can make it far more traumatic for them. (I.e. telling someone they were abused and harassed and that was terrible can take what might have been for them an initially annoying/upsetting incident that they were handling OK up to this point and make it positively crippling.)

Likely plays a huge role in a lot of the discourse about abuse right now, but not an aspect anyone wants to discuss for obvious reasons. Kind of sounds like minimizing the problem--which it isn't, or "suck it up"--which isn't the point either.

Just because the suffering is psychological doesn't mean it's not real. But it does make a tricky issue to parse, no question.