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Talk:Trigger warning

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For future reference[edit] Reverend Black Percy (talk) 01:07, 29 August 2016 (UTC)

As Anyone Here Experience a Trigger Warning While In College?[edit]

Just out out of curiosity as someone who has experienced a trigger warning? I had an experience with it in college before the name became popular. It was in a film appreciation class I was taking, and we were about to watch a scene from D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation. As you'd expect the warning was about the movie's racist content, but more than that he went out of his way to explain to us that he wasn't asking us to like the movie, but to understand it's place in film history, why it's important, and why it is the way it is. He proceed to end his speech by pointing out the irony that Griffith was great admirer of Abraham Lincoln. So whenever I hear some professor complaining about trigger warnings, I get the feeling the reason for there troubles isn't because of unreasonable students, but of a failure to communicate, in the words of cool hand Luke.Ryantherebel (talk) 18:00, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

That professor gave a very nice speech but at that point "trigger warning" literally means little to nothing, it's lost all connection with its original purpose which was to protect individuals with PTSD. In that example it's largely an attempt to try to convince people to not get offended by something that's about to be shown. It kind of proves some of the criticisms true. If he hadn't given that speech and somebody got offended they could be upset with him for "triggering" them, which would be an accusation that he caused actual psychological harm to them and would have a far more serious problem on his hands than the situation deserves. That's why differentiating between "trigger warnings" and "context warnings" is important and there is no way to cover yourself everytime, eventually you could slip up. Anyways yes I've seen it used, albeit very clumsily by people who had no clue what they were doing and zero training in mental health, to the point where their use of "trigger warnings" bordered on pseudopsychology.ClothCoat (talk) 19:08, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
I think your kind of missing the point. Sometimes, while watching older movies you can get a bit of culture shock from how the movie reflects the attitudes of it's time. For example I recently went to a revival house in Brooklyn to watch a brunch screening of The French Connection. I had seen the movie before, but even I forgot the casual racism of Popeye Doyle, and was taken a back by it. It's still a great movie, but if I were doing a Film Appreciation class, I would do something similar just out of common courtesy. Analyzing art, and media isn't the same as analyzing raw scientific data. You can't break everything down into equations. In the case of media analysis you have to deal with text, subtext, symbolism, all sorts of things that make art what it is. Birth of a Nation's racial politics are abhorrent, but something that has to be addressed and my professor found a good way to talk about it.Ryantherebel (talk) 23:37, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
What you're describing doesn't sound like a trigger warning at all & it's unclear why you're both apparently interpreting it as such. Is this also a trigger warning? WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:32, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
I think I may have had professors excuse themselves when reading a text verbatim that includes words like "negro" or otherwise material not used anymore now. But "trigger warnings" as such... No. Also, some of this seems to be more common in high school in places where "difficult" subjects are part of the curriculum. College students are - in my experience - assumed to be able to deal with stuff when they chose a course of study. For instance a high school biology class might "warn" that stuff might get bloody / graphic, but no med school would. As they say in Uzbekistan: "If you can't stand the heat, don't become a cook." another Jewish conspiracy by (((Laurogeita Hamabost))) (talk) 21:41, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
Weasel I don't understand wasn't the original point of "trigger warnings" to prevent someone with PTSD from being triggered? If in practice it's increasingly being used outside that context to just warn people about offensive material hasn't it lost its original purpose? The interpretation I had of that story was that he gave a "trigger warning" than gave the speech. If he didn't give a trigger warning than I don't know why it's being brought up here either since it's not a trigger warning. ClothCoat (talk) 22:01, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
(EC) That's my point! What Ryantherebel describes is a lecturer precising a film by noting that he was showing it for historical interest rather than endorsing its message. That's a disclaimer, whereas Ryantherebel summarised it as a trigger warning. Why start a thread on "have you ever experienced a trigger warning" with an anecdote that isn't actually about a trigger warning? We might as well just call this thread "have you ever experienced any kind of warning, caution, disclaimer, exception, explanation, caveat, terms or conditions?" €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 22:15, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
Oh then yes I agree with you if there was no actual "trigger warning" I have no clue why it's being brought up here either. I interpretated it differently but now that I reread it I think you're right. ClothCoat (talk) 22:18, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
Maybe the "rebel" part in Ryan's name indicates Southern Sympathies and (s)he was simply outraged that the Southern cause was so besmirched by that contextualization. another Jewish conspiracy by (((Laurogeita Hamabost))) (talk) 22:23, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
I think that's an unfairly harsh interpretation of someone's username. It's possible, obviously, but I don't think we should leap to such conclusions unless he's explitly parrots white supremacist or "Lost Cause of the South" talking points. I'll just give benefit of the doubt he misunderstood what a trigger warning is. ClothCoat (talk) 22:44, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
Of course. I was just thinking aloud. Sorry if I have offended. It is not to be taken entirely seriously. If the user in question indeed is a Lost Causer... Well. Yaknow. If not, I apologize for any insinuation I made. another Jewish conspiracy by (((Laurogeita Hamabost))) (talk) 22:48, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
I'm not offended, it was just a kind of ignorant. I picked that name because I thought it sounded cool. My advice when judging someone's user name is to apply Occam's Razor accordingly.Ryantherebel (talk) 23:50, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

PBS Ideas on classroom trigger warnings[edit]

An interesting video I found worthwhile watching. Watch it before reading on!
As worthwhile as the video, however, was the top comment (rocking a solid 1200 upvotes!) made by this guy. He wrote:

I am a literature professor. I work at colleges and with students. I'm on the front line of this. There has been little formal research done on this topic, so much of what we have to go on is the stories of professors and students. I know the internet doesn't like personal evidence, but this is my life. I live this every day.

Unlike some instructors, I don't blame the students or their generation for this at all. It's not a generational issue. Some of the complaints are framed as 'get off my lawn' style generational conflict, and there is some of that, but it's not the root or the import.

Here's the thing (if you'll allow someone who works in the industry to present some information without citations):

Beginning in the 80s, and accelerating ever since, there has been a strong push to run colleges more like businesses. More like corporations, to be specific. The structure of the leadership, the marketing, the profitcentric mindset, all of that is new on a historical scale, just the last thirty years or so, and it is caused by the corpratization of the schools.

This does a lot of things. One of the worst, from my personal perspective, is that it's shifted the place where the money is spent at colleges and universities. Hiring good professors used to be more than 60% of the budget at many schools, and now it's less than 20%. This is caused by organizations which are extremely top-heavy (like 10 administrators for every 1 full-time professor (this is not an exaggeration)), and reliant almost entirely on part-time instructors who are (as Mike points out) over-worked and underpaid (that's me, BTW).

That's not what we're talking about here though. One of the other effects of this corporatization is a shift in thinking of the students as 'clients' rather than 'pupils' (Mike touches on this but doesn't really connect it up, I think). In some ways, this can be a good thing, and we can talk about that too, but there is a definite and visible amount of what some might call "coddling" going on. This presents in a few different flavors, but what it boils down to is this: There is a shift in how student concerns are handled by the administration.

Once upon a time, if a student went to a dean and said that they were having a problem, they would almost always be dismissed. Don't like your grade? Don't like the material? Don't think you should have to take this class? Feeling discriminated against? harassed? stressed? Too bad. You can go to class and get through it, or fail. The Professor is always right. Unless there was a serious, public infraction with evidence and many complaints, the administration would very rarely take the side of a student over a professor. This was bad.

Over the last few decades this has shifted. If students are customers, and customers are always right, then we should listen to them. At first it was refreshing. Students who had legitimate complaints were actually being listened to, professors that everyone knew were bad, like the guy who refused to let women talk in class or the gal who just read the book to the students instead of teaching, were getting let go. There was change, and bad professors were no longer protected by the institution.

However, the pendulum continues to swing. Schools are starting to flop the old ways, and now many schools, especially private ones, are taking the side of the student over the professor every time. If a student complains, it's the professor's problem, not the student's problem, always. (Not every school is like this. I've taught at both public and private schools, and private (profitcentric) schools are more likely to be this way). This is bad. Maybe it's not as bad as the old ways, but it's still something we can recognize and hope to fix.

I can tell you stories (like the time I had to remove a classic literary work from my syllabus because a student told the dean it was pornographic, or the time the school changed my student's grade up by a letter because her mother came in and yelled at the campus president, or the time I almost took a job with a school which had a policy that every student should always get an 'A' or "the professor has failed") but those are all anecdotes, and the internet hates anecdotes.

I know a lot of professors. Not one of them does not have an anecdote about the school taking the student's side too far. Are all of them valid? Maybe not. But it definitely IS a thing. There is a shift in the way we treat students and teachers in this country, and some people, apparently including our President, don't think much of the patterns they see.

"Trigger warnings" is only a small part of this huge issue. Every professor I know is fine with trigger warnings themselves (though most think it's dumb to call them that) and many, including myself, already had notices about potentially uncomfortable content in their syllabi before this ever became a public issue. What professors (the ones I know) are worried about is how far it will go. It may be a slippery slope fallacy, but we've seen the accommodation train go really far in the last decades, and there are already a few stories of institutions actually banning works that the literature professors want to use based on the complaints of uncomfortable students.

Honestly, it's really more of a symptom of a much grander disease. In general, instructor autonomy (or "academic freedom" if you prefer) is being eroded just a bit every day, in a thousand different little ways, and its adding up to a teaching world that seems very different from the one I started teaching in only 11 years ago. Imagine how it feels to someone who has been teaching for 30 years or more...

None of this is the fault of the students. It's all the fault of an administration focused on pleasing customers (and making moneys) rather than teaching pupils.

One final thing I want you to consider: If someone actually has PTSD they should be working with the student services department at the school to make sure that this is on file. It's the student services department's job to inform instructors when they have a student with any kind of disability or special need, then the instructor can, and is required to (by federal law) accommodate that student's needs. Professors are not allowed to give special treatment to ANY student, no matter their condition or needs unless they go through those channels (again: federal law). This means that any student who is being made uncomfortable in the classroom without any warning is in one of four cases:

  • They do not have a diagnosed disability or condition, they are simply uncomfortable with the topic. (solution: No solution required)
  • They have a diagnosed disability or condition, but they failed to properly report that condition to student services. (solution: student should be working with student services)
  • They reported the condition, and the instructor was not notified properly. (solution: student services personnel should be reminded to do their jobs)
  • They reported the condition, the instructor was notified, but the instructor ignored the notice. (solution: instructor should be reminded to do their job)

Note that none of those solutions involve removing the work in questions from the syllabus.

I'm sorry for no citations.

I think I'm in more or less perfect agreement with the above. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 12:33, 19 January 2017 (UTC)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (really?)[edit]

As far as I known, no psychologist or psychiatric talks about "trigger warnings" in relation to Post-traumatic stress disorder, the correct scientific term should be "Trauma trigger"

PTSD is a really serious mental disorder, which can originate from assault, torture, rape, warfare, and others very very bad things.

On the other hand, "trigger warnings" is an Internet slang, which in almost every case does not refer to nothing as serious as such a mental disorder.

The fact that RW associates "trigger warnings" with PTSD from the very first line of the article shows something incredibly wrong. McLaghing (talk) 15:55, 28 November 2017 (UTC)

Most of the article you linked to is about trigger warnings. Christopher (talk) 16:41, 28 November 2017 (UTC)
It is true: The Wikipedia page on "Trauma triggers" has an introduction related to PTSD, and the rest, says 80%, of the page is about "trigger warnings". In my opinion this is wrong too, Wikipedia should put "trigger warnings" on a different page. However, at least Wikipedia begins by giving the scientific definition of trauma triggers, which are related to PTSD, and then it discusses trigger warnings, also presenting criticisms of the term by various psychologists. On the other hand, RW immediately presents "trigger warnings" as related to PTSD, somehow mixing the concepts of "trauma trigger" (a medical term associated to PTSD) and "trigger warning" (an Internet slang, often related to silly things). McLaghing (talk) 18:53, 28 November 2017 (UTC)
The phrase obviously originated in medical circles regarding treatment of PTSD: [1]. From there, it was co-opted to Internet slang. Leuders (talk) 20:31, 28 November 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for the reference. So, OK, the term "trigger warning" has been used by the scientific community in relation to PTSD. But do you agree that this scientific usage is really far from what is the common use of "trigger warning" as Internet slang? Would not be much better if RW makes this distinction "serious mental disorder VS opinionable Internet slang" loud and clear? McLaghing (talk) 06:59, 29 November 2017 (UTC)
IMO, people who only know it as internet slang should understand that the term originated in medical context related to PTSD -- and is probably still used in this context among medical professionals. The slang term is an example of pop culture borrowing a phrase and giving it a meaning which was never originally intended. Leuders (talk) 18:26, 30 November 2017 (UTC)


There are certain things where people see good reason for a mention of content that may distress, disturb or cause problems (excessive violence, flashing lights); many people can accept 'some topics can generate phobic-like reactions/persons from some cultures have particular attitudes towards X, etc so occurrences should be mentioned'; and 'attitudes change, so things which were considered acceptable in the past no longer are - occurrences are being noted, so you can consider them and understand the past and the present better' and similar.

Then there is use of 'trigger warnings' in the same manner as 'Elf and Safety Gone Mad!' - which is where the problems arise. Anna Livia (talk) 17:09, 28 November 2017 (UTC)