Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: We are terrified of triggers they come unbidden, unwarned, unwanted
Author: Fraser Trevor
Rating 5 of 5 Des:
We are terrified of triggers they come unbidden, unwarned, unwanted: and suddenly bam! we are triggered. Before conscious thought had chan...
We are terrified of triggers they come unbidden, unwarned, unwanted: and suddenly bam! we are triggered. Before conscious thought had chance to intervene, our body engaged in a fight-flight-freeze response. Back comes the terror, the powerlessness, the rage: the visceral memory of childhood abuse. It is terrifying to endure, but eventually we have learned that triggers are not a sign, as we so desperately feared, that we were crazy. Triggers are merely signposts to what has yet to be integrated in our memory and experience. They are a conditioned response meant to help us, to keep us safe, to avoid something that caused us harm in the past.a redundant coping strategy

But our survival-based back brains aren’t smart—they generalise, they extrapolate, they guess: preferring to err on the safe side, they identify a superfluous detail, like ‘beard’, as a signal of impending threat. Our back brains can’t deduce (yet) that lots of men have beards, and that beardedness is not a good predictor of abuse. So it screams a warning at us now, until our front brains can assimilate new data from our now-safe environment, where beardedness is simply a personal grooming preference that speaks nothing of the motivation to perpetrate: like the colour red, or the sound of footsteps, or the odour of sweat, or the feeling of cold.

But triggers came with such overpowering affect, an echo of the feelings we had at the time. So we avoided them at all costs. It took a long time for us to recognise that by doing so we are ignoring their vital message. Triggers are clues about what is still dissociated. we used to complain often that we couldn’t remember what happened to us, but then we discounted the hints, stored in procedural, implicit memory, that triggers offered us. Recovery involved accepting triggers as messengers, and learning to listen to the message that they brought, rather than building a life of distraction and noise.

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