Here is another in my series of “things I see a lot across the web that I want to address”. This one is less directly about religion, although since the Pagan movement has a lot of marginalized people in it, I think it’s still really important for our own communities to keep in mind.
There are quite a number of people who say that spoiler warnings are polite, but object vehemently to trigger warnings on the grounds that people need to grow up and cope with life. It really brings home how much of this is about the stigma around psychological disorders, rather than any burden of etiquette or ethics.
I want to clarify my understanding of certain terms:
A Button is a thing which, when hit, prompts some emotional distress, be it sudden anger, or upset. Everybody has them. Some folks are more reactive than others. They’re often a reflection of our values. While we may not be able to change our emotional response to having a button hit, we are certainly able to choose how we behave in response to having a button hit. Not everyone has a lot of self control around their buttons, but learning to have self control around our buttons is indeed part of growing up.
A Trigger prompts panic attacks, flashbacks, or other systemic fight/flight/freeze reactions in a person who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other neurochemical conditions like Sensory Processing Disorder. They’re almost always experience-based, though they’re also significantly chemical. At best, they take a lot of time, effort, and often therapy and medication to reduce. Depending on the cause, they may well not be overcomeable at all. Regardless, triggers are not the kind of thing you can choose how to react to, or even consistently control your reaction to beyond trying to mitigate the effects after the fact.
If you’ve never experienced actual triggering, it’s genuinely hard to understand the difference. Count yourself as lucky. 5% of the adult population of the US has experienced a panic attack at some point, myself included. Before I had experienced full on triggering that I could identify as such, I didn’t understand the difference between a button and a trigger either. After the fact, the difference is painfully clear.