I think most of us might be a little confused over what being ‘triggered’ is. I suspect a lot of us think it’s simply having an emotional response to the events in a story. More than that, I suspect most of us think we all share the same emotional responses, and hey, if I can get past the sorrow/pain/disgust/hurt of events portrayed in this fictional universe. Why can’t everyone?
But I also suspect that being triggered is a little different to simply having an emotional response (no matter how strong that response is) I suspect it’s more like having an uncontrolled physical and mental reaction to stimuli that brings one back to one’s own specific trauma – a type of PTSD. And while I’m ambivalent about how trigger warnings would affect the average reader’s experience of a book (would it be reductive for example?) I can see how someone who is suffering from PTSD might like to be forewarned that certain threads in a book will be potentially difficult for them. Especially if the study/reading is being done in a group or classroom setting. *
I don’t think trigger warnings equate to saying ‘don’t read this’, as much as they say ‘prepare yourself’ to those prone to occurrences of PTSD.
I’d like to think we’d all take a minute to say that to anyone we cared about, ‘prepare yourself, this might hurt’. That we’d hope others would do the same for them were we not around. What harm does it do to say, ‘hey, this book might bring you back to a place of hurt. This book might challenge your physical and mental well being. But if that happens we’ll be here for you. We’ll discuss it with you. Because you are more important than this class, you are more important than this exam. You’re important. We’re here for you. Lets do this together.’
*for those saying, ‘anyone suffering such strong reactions is in need of professional help. Yes, they are. And support. Isn’t a TW a type of support? Is it so difficult to grant such a basic, decent, kindness?