[Evalilth submitted this post, and it is excellent amazing wonderful and true]
I’m sure this has been said somewhere on the internet before, but I don’t see it here, and I find it to be a really helpful analogy.
Being triggered is like having an allergic reaction.
A good description of an allergic reaction (speaking as someone who has a food sensitivity) is an involuntary reaction to a substance which can vary from severe discomfort to serious debilitation and endangerment. Change ‘a substance’ to ‘content’ and that’s pretty much a description of being triggered. The reaction is psychological rather than physical (although it can, of course, have physical symptoms), but it is just as serious and just as involuntary.
This is why trigger warnings are needed. Do you tell someone with a food allergy to ‘just deal’ with an exposure to the allergen? Do you say they’re overreacting when they want food to be labeled so they can avoid what they’re allergic to? Do you say that they should just avoid all public food if they’re going to complain about being allergic to some of it?
No. You label food and put on warnings so they can see that there is an ingredient in it that they are allergic to. It is still their responsibility to avoid that content, but they need to know it’s there in order to do that, and they need to know it before they react to it.
And for the people who say you just need to face up to your problem via exposure? Yes, it’s true that gradual exposure in a safe environment is one way to treat phobias and some times of PTSD. However, that is something that should be addressed with a qualified professional.
Some allergies can be treated with gradual exposure too, by a series of shots that let the person’s body know that the allergen isn’t actually a threat. Animal allergies are a type that can sometimes be treated this way. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to drop a cat in the lap of someone who is allergic to them and say ‘exposure will cure you!’” Especially when you don’t know if they’ve even started that series of shots, much less finished it.
tl;dr- Yes, it is an individual’s responsibility to avoid triggering content. However, just as an allergic person needs a label so that they can effectively avoid their allergens, PTSD/phobia/anxiety sufferers need a warning so that they can avoid their triggers. End of story.