Upcoming Professional Presentations
Then, the weekend of June 5th, I will be presenting at the AASECT conference in Minneapolis.
I'm super excited, and I'm genuinely proud of my presentation. At the same time, it's both humbling and scary to be presenting before not one, but two audiences of really smart and talented people.
There's been a lot of talk about trigger warnings, and how people respond to them.
This is another one of those pesky yes-and conversations. Yes, content warnings can be useful, and they aren't without their challenges.
I mean, yeah. If you're gonna write really explicit details about a violent episode or sexual abuse, probably not a bad idea to give people a heads up. At the same time, triggers are funny things. Not every trauma survivor shares the same triggers, triggers are not static, and triggers can be random (Among my clients' triggers are: ambulance sirens, Power Rangers, Subways, cologne, tulips... Not what most people expect.). How can you possibly give a trigger warning that does justice to the reality of triggers?
Furthermore, a major part of trauma work is teaching people how to manage triggers. One of the major aspects of DBT work is that the world isn't trigger free, and the survivor has some responsibility to learn how to manage their trauma responses. It's how we cultivate agency and empowerment. I've worked with survivors who find trigger warnings disempowering for that reason.
Then, there's the dichotomy between freedom of expression and accommodation for discomfort. I think some of the backlash against trigger warnings, for artists at least, is rooted obscenity laws. You have artists like Lenny Bruce who was brilliant, but really challenged his audience and wanted to make people uncomfortable to a certain degree. He spent his life in and out of court/jail for obscenity.
This article, while it doesn't necessarily address trigger warnings specifically, discusses the more problematic elements of trigger warnings and the culture surrounding them in the classroom.
Striking the balance between allowing subversive material and honoring the needs of marginalized groups is tough and ongoing.