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New Study Shows the Ineffectiveness of Trigger Warnings

A trigger warning is an alert that warns you of any text or disturbing content that may remind you of your traumatic experience. But a new study reveals that having warning labels at the beginning of books, movies, and television shows may not provide any help to those who have experienced trauma, making it difficult to grapple with their psychological scars.

Whenever you are about to see or read any form of entertainment that comes with a trigger warning, it’s best to ask yourself if you are truly prepared to handle what you are about to see and to always keep your mental health a priority.

The Debate About Trigger Warnings

Online discussion groups for survivors of sexual trauma came up with the idea of trigger warnings, so they could talk about their experiences without causing pain to others. Since then, the concept has spread — but this concept was adopted without any research to see if the warnings actually work.

A new study published in Clinical Psychological Science focuses on whether trigger warnings are helpful to those who have survived trauma or can actually worsen it. Previous studies trying to answer the same questions were criticized because the participants were from the general public and not specifically people with trauma.

To test the effectiveness of trigger warnings, the researchers recruited 600 people who have been exposed to a traumatic event. Both groups read a series of passages that ranged from neutral to mildly distressing to markedly distressing.

The only difference was that one group received trigger warnings, while the other did not. After rating their emotions and filling out questionnaires, the results showed that both groups reacted similarly to the passages — neither spared the emotional impact.

Study Analysis

Reactions to the study are mixed, mainly because everyone has different triggers and there is no way to determine with any certainty which trigger will set someone off. There is also no way to make trigger warnings specific enough in a general setting. Therefore, it’s important to warn others what may bother you before you open a book, turn on the television, or buy a ticket to a movie. Avoiding triggers is key to successfully managing your trauma symptoms.

Triggers play a big role in how a person recovers from their trauma. The Guest House is here to help by providing you with a safe place to talk about your trauma triggers in an individualized or group setting. We also offer equine therapy, art therapy, cinema therapy, somatic therapy, CBT, DBT, EMDR, and many other options to help you heal. We are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To learn more, call us now at (855) 483-7800.