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Triggers, Triggers Everywhere

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 4:00 PM
"Trigger warning."

If you browse art on dA or Tumblr, you've probably seen these words before.

What exactly is a trigger?


Triggers come in multiple flavors.
  • Trauma triggers
    • A person who has experienced a severe traumatic event—which isn't just limited to war veterans—may find that a particular sensory experience sends them back to that trauma. Although as camelopardalisinblue rightfully points out, it may not always be a full-scale flashback. Plenty of grey areas. Learn more about PTSD here.

    • I knew someone who had been abused in a room with fish-themed wallpaper. (Details changed to protect privacy.) So while something like the Jesus fish was tolerable because it was so abstract, they found real fish uncomfortable, and sudden exposure to a similar type of fish drawing would send them into a severe anxiety attack and then flashbacks, where they were trapped in the event itself.

  • Anxiety triggers: I don't have much to say here that isn't similar to the above. There are ways to manage a panic attack that's in progress, but the idea is to not have one in the first place. (Thank you LadyBrookeCelebwen for reminding me!)

  • Self-destructive triggers
    • Images or detailed descriptions of self-harm, anorexia, or other unhealthy behaviors can trigger a relapse into that behavior. Why someone would want to engage in self-destructive behavior is a topic for a different article.
    • Conditions like autism can come with a tendency to self-harm, and that will have its own set of triggers.



A trigger is something that doesn't just cause an emotion like happiness or sadness, it makes a person act in a way that they don't want to act, either through self-harm, using, or literally re-experiencing a traumatic event.


What can I do to avoid triggering other people?

Trauma triggers can be very individual. I was at a panel where they were discussing how a horror game went south because one of the people had been abused as a child, and did not react well to being surprised by people in hoods. Is that something they could have anticipated? Maybe, maybe not.

It's easier to anticipate harm-related topics being a problem, like rape, cutting, bulimia, childhood abuse, etc. A detailed description of any one of these things can be triggering. This doesn't mean you should avoid exploring these topics. They're unfortunate, but they are part of the human experience, and never discussing them isn't healthy, either.

Flag content when appropriate—though finding that line can be hard when you yourself aren't triggered. If someone asks you to add a warning, be respectful of their request. You don't know what they've been through.


What are my responsibilities as someone who is triggered?


Don't trivialize triggers.

Let's be clear: triggers are frightening for the person experiencing them. They're not simply an emotion like happiness or sadness. They can literally make trauma survivors feel as if they're reliving their trauma. Or they can drive a person to engage in harmful behavior.

I've seen some really absurd uses of the term. Every time you say something is a trigger just because it makes you cry a little, or makes you mildly uncomfortable, you are trivializing it for people who have real, serious issues. Feelings are part of the human experience. Losing control of your actions is not.

If you've read the above and rolled your eyes because you do have real triggers—please try to be patient with people when they fuck up. I know it isn't easy, but for instance in my first example, this person avoided aquariums because they knew it would be unpleasant. They didn't go around and yelling at fish owners for being insensitive, because they knew it wasn't meant to be personal. And they made sure all their friends knew what set them off, so we could help them avoid it or calm down before a full-blown panic attack happened.


With so many people on the Internet, it's likely you will run into something that causes you discomfort, or cause someone else discomfort. Being tolerant and understanding that we all come from different places, and that trivializing mental health—either by overusing the term or ignoring it—isn't appropriate either, can improve everyone's experience.

Feel free to add your thoughts on the matter :peace:

"Trigger warning"—what does it mean?
Add a Comment:
 
:iconl33tn3rdz:
l33tn3rdz Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
gb2 tumblr. Get triggered there!
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:iconshootingstar12345678:
shootingstar12345678 Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Would you say a subject that makes you extremely nauseous is a trigger?
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Not in the sense of this article, which is about being triggered into experiencing a severe psychological reaction, but if you go by the basic definition of 'trigger' it is certain a 'nausea trigger.'
Reply
:iconshootingstar12345678:
shootingstar12345678 Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh, alright. Thanks. 
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
That said, since people generally assume psych symptoms, I'd just say 'this makes me sick.'
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:iconshootingstar12345678:
shootingstar12345678 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yeah. 
Reply
:icondarksider16:
Darksider16 Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist
I think this is definately important to know, thank you for making it aware to everyone
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:)
Reply
:iconhenryindiana:
HenryIndiana Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014
What about people that use the word and concept of "triggers" to justify their own selfish needs?
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
What specifically about them?
Reply
:iconhenryindiana:
HenryIndiana Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014
For example, "My Trigger gives me an excuse to be a bitch" kind of person.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I got that, but what specifically about them are you asking?
Reply
:iconhenryindiana:
HenryIndiana Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014
You find those a lot on tumblr and well they kind of send the wrong image to people with triggers.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, that's why there is an entire bit on people's responsiblities if they have a trigger.
Reply
:iconbergunty:
bergunty Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the journal. Just a quick question: I am making a comic, and there will be some sensitive topics. I will tag it when it is obvious, but there will be some instances where a character will mention something in passing - would I need to tag that sheet as well?

(Also you mentioned "flagged" - is that different to tagging?)
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Good question. For comics I usually just see that info on the About page, e. g. "sensitive topics x and y will be discussed"(and if a bunch of pages are about to be disturbing, sometimes an insert) ...I don't imagine mentioning something in passing would be so problematic, especially if people already know your comic discusses those things, but there's only one way to know for sure.
Reply
:iconbergunty:
bergunty Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for your response. Just a question; what do you mean about the "About page"? I'll be uploading each page as one deviation; so do you mean the "about" section in the folder I'll be storing in? 
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, that would help. I was thinking more of a site for the comic, if it's on here you can also use the Mature Content flag.
Reply
:iconbluefireballs:
BlueFireballs Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014   Writer
Thank you; I can't describe the gratitude I feel that someone took time out of their day to explain this. 
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:)
Reply
:iconwhispersofdragons:
whispersofdragons Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014
Thank you for the journal. I never really understood what "trigger warnings" meant, as they are used practically EVERYWHERE. This really cleared it up for me.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Cool! Just one disclaimer, researchers/medical professionals don't seem to use the term that much, so who knows it may change :B
Reply
:icondducke:
dducke Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for this wonderful post :) People should always be careful and considerate when it comes to trigger warnings.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:D
Reply
:iconqueen-soulia:
Queen-Soulia Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I wish reality would work like this. That people would respect anxiety and triggers.
But fact is with all teens and adult-teens , acting like a giant disrespectful mob.
I saw a few below who I know for a fact , does not respect problems such as this.
I have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) and a lot of things trigger me. When people start using a deep voice I go into a anxiety attack.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I hope you have a good support system :heart:
Reply
:iconqueen-soulia:
Queen-Soulia Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Let me see...
A mother who calls my problems : " It's in your head only, just get over it."
My family believes mental problems and phobias are made up to ruin the word of god. Yeah that type of people..
I do not believe in the our mental health care , it is the same one who told me to get over my problems.
It ended with me almost doing something that would have left a lot of people sad.
Back to the topic :
I have gotten pass my fear of spiders almost, almost. I do not freeze up anymore. And can actually kill it with a paper.
I still can't handle deep voices, how do I get pass this?
I have friends, this is all I can count on.  And I am super grateful for it.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm sorry to hear about that, but glad you have friends...still, it's just shit when family doesn't take your side :/ I would take a second look at the mental health care that's available, though, possibly there might be someone more reasonable out there.

Honestly, I think you'd be best off maybe searching for forums that discuss getting over those types of issues (though not specifically the voices). I konw that I deal with my - fairly mild - issues by making sure to have more positive than negative experiences when I do something, so afterwards I can reinforce that it's not so bad. But, baby steps.

:heart:
Reply
:iconqueen-soulia:
Queen-Soulia Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. I try my best to get pass everyday. But sadly my panic attacks are not mild and medication did little.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:( Yeah, really it's supposed to be a combination of medication and therapy. I do hope you're able to find a better resource.
Reply
:iconqueen-soulia:
Queen-Soulia Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Sadly I suffer from serious problems taking the medication. Liver problems..
So I have to live without them. I thought about herbal options
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:( I haven't heard much about those being successful unfortunately.
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconspudfuzz:
Spudfuzz Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"Every time you say something is a trigger just because it makes you cry a little, or makes you mildly uncomfortable, you are trivializing it for people who have real, serious issues. Feelings are part of the human experience. Losing control of your actions is not."

I strongly agree. Especially being on tumblr, I see it thrown around any time some pre teen is mildly upset over a topic that was either loaded, or they simply disagreed with someone's opinion, demanding these things never be said or talked about and it pisses me off to the high heavens because it trivializes the issue for people with real PTSD/ phobias/ anxiety etc. I have an unexplained fear of planes and helicopters flying over my house, It's enough to the point where I will wake up in the middle of the night, run out the door and trying to find it's location and plotting various escape routes for each million different scenario I work out in my head because my irrational mind is convinced it's going to crash. It happens at work, at home, wherever. You know what my cognitive behavioural therapist recommended? Exposure. As in, dealing with the problem instead of just running away from it. It's not only retarded to run around screaming at people who post plane crash pictures or talk about them, it's extremely arrogant because the world doesn't revolve around me or my fears. Random strangers on the net have no obligation to tip toe around ever fear imaginable, especially when their intent was just to show something they like.

It's also unhealthy to try to live your life in a safety bubble wrap pretending you can just ignore all the horrible things around you. Shit happens and you have to learn to cope.
Reply
:iconsavagefrog:
SavageFrog Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I live near an airport, Spud & in the 13 years or so that I've lived in the area, only 1 plane came close to crashing into my house. You'll actually know when a plane's coming down since the noise it makes before then is so loud that your eardrums feel like they're gonna burst & everything shakes...it really sucks & I don't blame anyone for being terrified about it.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Shit! And yeah exposure therapy has proven success.The people who think that an MD doesn't mean shit, though... fuck them. I can't even begin to care for someone who lives that firmly wedged up their rectum.
Reply
:iconanachr0nic:
Anachr0nic Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Student General Artist
This is really great! As someone with anxiety and some other mental issues, and this is really explanatory for people who don't know how to use trigger warnings and how it can affect some people.
 
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
(:
Reply
:iconkatara-alchemist:
Katara-Alchemist Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Student General Artist
I totally agree with all of the above. You forgot flashing based triggers though. Not sure that would fall under the categories you've included. That's the one trigger I, personally, prefer people to use. I don't have epilepsy but flashing can trigger some really serious migraine like symptoms for me. I have to put my hand over a lot of the flashing icons people have on here.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, Vigilo mentioned those as well but I wanted to discuss the more "mental" side here so they're not in. I get headachey from those things and avoid them too... fucking framerates.
Reply
:iconkatara-alchemist:
Katara-Alchemist Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Student General Artist
Ah, fair enough.

And yeah, I hate them. It didn't used to be this bad, but over the past couple years they've really started to get to me.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
That blows. D:
Reply
:iconkatara-alchemist:
Katara-Alchemist Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Student General Artist
It does.
Reply
:iconspookaskyle:
SpookasKyle Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
this is definitely somthing people need to get. I have triggers and things that make me a little anxious sorted away from eachother, and though both should be attended to Theres a firm sepration in at least how the triggered/uncomfortable person needs to treat it.
For example I've got a major phobia of cigarettes, I've gotten black-out  panic attacks from being around someone whos smoking and on a few rare occasions I've gone as far as to hallucinate people smoking around me, getting panic attacks from nothing anyone else can see. Thats gotta be treated way differently than an issue that I have with self harm images. At most I'll be offended and I'll get an ich to do it again, but I can see it here or there without going into panic. 

I also agree with ExtremeYaoiFanatic , there oughta be a blocking option, preferably it should have links or small descriptions to explain the use of trigger warnings and a list of common triggers that should be tagged. that would honestly be the best bet DA has.

Though if youre aware that a certain piece of content is triggering you could probably warn it and put the deviation under an irrelevant mature content warning, so anyone can click through but theres fair warning in the description
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh shit o: Don't go to Greece, it's friggin everywhere. It's great you know your limits though, I think that is important. And hopefully you can get the support to make it more manageable :heart:

Yeah, that's another kind-of fix.
Reply
:iconextremeyaoifanatic:
ExtremeYaoiFanatic Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
(omg people like my idea)

The only issue with putting the content under an irrelevant filter is that some people (myself included) have their search settings up with the filter turned off.
Reply
:iconextremeyaoifanatic:
ExtremeYaoiFanatic Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is one of those cases where I feel like dA needs something besides the mature filter to shut out certain things for certain people on the viewer's end. For example, if you have mature conent because sex and gore don't generally bother you but there's one specific thing that sets you off in a panicked/uncontrolled manner, like say medical-related because you have severe iatrophobia after a past hospital experience, then a stock image of someone in scrubs (even if there's nothing wrong with the picture and it doesn't even need a mature filter) could potentially cause an attack.

In my honest opinion, there could be a seperate filter for more common triggers, a selective content block (like if you wanted to show mature content that included everything but gore/violence), or even just a simple tag blocker (and not the one implemented now where you put "-tag" at the end of the search either; I mean something in user settings where there's a "block tags" option you can use, and yes that's for people who aren't Premium users too). Even if someone were to make a Tumblr Savior or XKit-like browser add-on but for dA that would be awesome. Sadly I don't know how to code things like that, or even really code at all, so I couldn't do it if I tried.
Reply
:iconelectricjonny:
electricjonny Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Heya, I'm the guy neurotype mentioned that knew coding.

So as far as I understand, you want some kind of script where you/people could "tag" images/writings with subjects that could potentially be triggers that could upset people?  As far as coding goes, this may be possible.  But, there are some caveats:

• This would rely on both the submitter and viewer to both be running and using the script in order to work.  I could work around that if I just filtered deviations based user descriptions/titles (not image).  But as you may already Now, many people don't even post user descriptions.  Or at least not in the photography deviations I follow.  I would basically have to look at the description and rule one way or another based on what I see.  Could work, but is no way definite.
• If both parties used this, it would require that the submitters enter in a special tag (something like negative-keywords) in order to work.  Basically, I'd have to hide a specific set of keywords and people who want to hide those deviations with those keywords would enter them into a box on a settings page.
• And this would take a bit of time in order to work.  If you used such a script and browsed a gallery somewhere, it would either show all the images and then hide those specified, or it would hide all images and then after the script was done, show all "allowed" images.

Now, if you just want to hide deviations in a specific category, that's much easier to do.  You still have the wait time while browsing galleries, but there wouldn't be any sort of user interaction people would need to do (aside from users negating certain galleries from being shown).



So, it may be possible, but I'd need to know more about what you (or others) would want.  And given the caveats, it may not be worth it.  And I'm not even certain I could do it.  Theoretically it's possible, but I'm not the best coder out there ;)  So if you get back to me with more specifics, I can try to think of a way (or not) to do it.  I'll take a look at those extensions/scripts you mentioned and see how they work.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I love you. d:

As far as I know, we don't have access to see tags... but are they in the source page?
Reply
:iconelectricjonny:
electricjonny Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
I don't usually "mention" people, but I thought I'd do it here, just to let you know that yes, I saw your mention, and responded, which I assume was the point to all these crazy mention notices that we now get? ;)  It's a rather cool feature, but more often than not, I just get stupid old emote mentions on my side :lol:

Anyhwo yeah, there is no "access" to tags (as far as I know), there's just the data presented to us in descriptions.  So as far as coding, I can maybe whoop up something as far as descriptions go, but that's it.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha, I turned it off for my emotes. You can selectively do that, which is cooool.
Reply
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