Love & Sex Magazine

Triggers and Triggering

By Megbarker @megbarkerpsych

Justin Hancock and I have just released a new podcast over on megjohnandjustin.com all about the topic of triggers and being triggered in sexual encounters.

You can find this - and our other podcasts - here.

If you're interested in the topic you might also like to check out this piece I wrote a while back for Open Democracy which unpacks the idea of triggers and trigger warnings in a bit more detail.

There has been a great deal of discussion lately on the topic of trigger warnings. First a spate of articles appeared in the press describing situations in which students had asked teachers to provide warnings about the content of materials on their courses. These warnings aimed to provide people with information about any topics that they might find personally difficult, due to connections with events that had occurred in their own lives. Many of the newspaper articles ridiculed the idea of putting warnings on great literature, for example, and portrayed such requests as entitled, over-sensitive censorship.

Following this, a number of online authors wrote defences of trigger warnings, portraying them instead as a means for people to have some control over what they are exposed to, often in the context of wider discriminations.

Most of the articles and blog posts that I have seen on this topic have taken a stance for or against trigger warnings, often presenting an impassioned argument in favour of providing trigger warnings or virulent opposition to the practice. To me this binary either/or approach seems unhelpful. Instead I think it is more useful to adopt an approach where we first clarify what we are talking about when we speak of trigger warnings; we then ask what they have the potential to open up and to close down; and we finally consider how we might engage with them in order to maximise this potential (instead of whether we should engage with them).

What are triggers? Read more...

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