“Trigger warnings just don’t help,” Payton Jones, a clinical psychology doctoral student at Harvard, tweeted alongside a preprint of his new paper. He further explained that the paper actually suggests that trigger warnings might even be harmful.
When I saw the tweet, my gut reaction was that Jones was wrong. I have been for trigger warnings even before the Year of the Trigger Warning, which according to Slate, was 2013. Opponents of trigger warnings tend to argue that they are an unnecessary concession that only serves to further coddle already sheltered college students. I figure they might be a good way to help people with mental injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder stay safer as they move around the world, the same way that a person with a broken leg uses crutches. But after considering Jones’ paper, and chatting with him, I’ve been convinced that we’d do better to save the minimal effort it takes to affix trigger warnings to college reading assignments or put up signs outside of theater productions and apply it to more effective efforts to care for one another.