Are Trigger Warnings Important? // Discussion

This post was originally meant to go up a couple weeks ago, but due to the amount of research and time I wanted to put into it, I had to postpone a little bit! I’m really sorry about that, but I hope that this post was informative and useful in some way. Feel free to leave any comments sharing your personal experiences, or correct anything I say if it is wrong! I want this to be as correct as possible.

I recently came across a tweet that said that trigger warnings in books are unnecessary and that they are “spoilers.”

I was stunned when I saw this because I thought that this debate was over a long time ago. Personally, I do not have any triggers that would prevent me from reading a book, but I still find the value in including them. I want to dive deeper into this topic and explain why they are important.

Aside from my personal beliefs, I also read actual research to support my claims like I stated earlier, and at the end of this post I will have a list of some of the sites that I read- both for and against the use of them.

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What is a trigger warning?

A trigger warning is a statement at the beginning of a book, tv-show, movie, etc. that lists some of the potential “triggers,” or sensitive topics covered in the media, that could be harmful to the viewer. This is especially important for trauma survivors and those with PTSD.

What is the value?

Some researchers stated that trigger warnings could be harmful to those with PTSD in the long run because it causes them to avoid those traumas, rather than dealing with them. However, no research has been done with actual trauma survivors to determine whether trigger warnings are helpful or counterproductive.

It is not a healthy coping mechanism to avoid triggers.

That is not what I am trying to say in this post. If you suffer from PTSD, I urge you to seek help and go through the treatment process. 

However, what we do know, is that trigger warnings can be helpful if someone is just recovering from trauma, and can not yet be exposed to those triggers without severe mental strain. Also, if someone is experiencing a time of poor mental health, they can know to avoid certain media if it will be triggering for them.

Additionally, these content warnings do not necessarily cause someone to avoid the trigger; Instead, it may allow them to prepare mentally for them, rather than catching them off guard and causing a panic attack.

But what if I get spoiled by a trigger warning?

First, trigger warnings are not spoilers. Trust me. Just by looking up a review or reading the description of a book or movie, you’ll probably find the topic mentioned.

Also, trigger warnings are general enough that they are more or less themes featured in the books, not plot points.

If you are someone who doesn’t like to know anything about a book or movie before going in, then just skip the trigger warnings.

You may find them unnecessary, but that does not mean that they are not necessary for someone else. Keep that in mind when you see a content warning of some kind. If you don’t see the point, that is because they are not meant for you.

Research and Resources:

Psychology Today Article

Time Article

NYT Article– Read the comments of this one as well!!

PTSD Counseling Resources

chat with me

I hope that you found this post at least somewhat helpful. Once again, feel free to correct me if I said anything wrong in the comments. This post is meant to be informative, so I want to make sure the information is as accurate as possible.

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