Your Joke About People Being "Triggered" Isn't Funny


Not funny: “My political post triggered one of my Facebook friends.”

Being “Triggered” Isn’t Funny

“Triggered” is a term straight out of the PTSD literature. As in: “When the car backfired, the Vietnam veteran was triggered and he hit the deck reflexively.” But like at lot of words that have their origins in mental health diagnosis and treatment, “triggered” has been adopted for general use. And as is often the case with mental health language, “triggered” is being used as pejorative.

Here are some examples of the proper use of the term:

  • The combat veteran was triggered by a loud crashing sound from outside on the street.

  • The home invasion victim was triggered when when she heard a sound like breaking glass penetrating through the dark night.

  • The domestic violence victim was triggered viewing a violent police drama.

  • The rape victim was triggered when a stranger walked closely behind on an otherwise empty sidewalk.

“Triggered” isn’t funny.

Being triggered means that a person’s trauma hijacks their nervous system and they find themselves again in the scariest or most horrifying moment of their life. Triggered people aren’t present here now; they are sent spiraling into there, then- into trauma. They are re-experiencing it all at once. Triggered means actively reliving the trauma. Triggered means it’s happening right now. 

Triggered isn’t s joke. It’s a nightmare.

Posted on October 1, 2018 .