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#52397 - 05/31/05 08:46 AM definition of triggers
24yearsandcounting Offline

Registered: 11/05/04
Posts: 44
I've heard several definitions and uses for the word 'trigger', and it occured to me I may not have the best definition. Here is my guess:
Something that triggers a negative response, self destructive behavior, or thoughts or attempts of suicide.
something that triggers a bad memory
something that triggers a repressed sexual urge, or something distructive like drug use.
Are any of these the common usage of the term trigger?


#52398 - 05/31/05 09:37 PM Re: definition of triggers
ForeverFighting Offline

Registered: 02/09/05
Posts: 1253
Loc: New Mexico, USA
As SA survivors, we're all probably a little PTSD. I mean, it's like the war survivor who dives under a table when he hears a loud noise. Our senses are tuned to the circumstances and the experience of abuse. It was so horrible and affected us so much that our brains are on the lookout for any similarities in circumstances or things our senses pick up that might lead to abuse again. The problem is, the war survivor's senses are tuned in to the dangers of war, even if he's in a grocery store. Our senses are tuned in to abuse, even if it's in a grocery store. Our internal abuser-detector is always on, even when the reality is that we're bigger, adults, in a safe situation, and there aren't any abusers around.

The smell of a man makes me panic. The old abuser-detector starts screaming inside and forces me out of the room, away from the smell, or if there's no way out, I zone (dissociate). I may suffer for hours or even days after the situation before the panic and feeling of not being safe goes away. The smell is the trigger. Now WHAT it triggers is different for everybody. For me, it's panic. For some it may be rage, or like you say, a bad memory, thoughts of worthlessness, you name it.

From what I understand, there are all kinds of ways of dealing with it. Cognitive therapy, which my therapist says is a bunch of BS, says that I should surround myself with the smell of a man in a safe situation so that my brain can get the idea that the smell doesn't automatically mean pain. Yeah, right. I call that being traumatized all over again. What my therapist says is that I need to go back to the events, or at least the strong feelings that weren't allowed to come out back then. Let my brain put a face and an event with those feelings. See that I'm bigger now, that I can handle it. Will I ever feel comfortable around the smell? Not likely. But maybe the feelings of panic and the urge to run will become less intense with time.

My therapist also says we can't think our way through this stuff. So there's three "thinking" paragraphs that probably don't help anything anyway. Just know that, if you're dealing with triggers, you're definitely not alone. And no matter how much I try to learn about this stuff, it all comes down to, man I hate having to deal with this.

"This search for the truth--it's not for the faint of heart."--Goren on 'Law & Order: CI'
"The former things will not be called to mind, nor will they come up into the heart."--Isaiah 65:17

#52399 - 05/31/05 10:42 PM Re: definition of triggers
reality2k4 Offline

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 6845
Loc: Stuck between water, air, and ...
I think FF summed a lot of it up. Sometimes you can identify triggers and some you cant.
If I walk through a shooping Mall, I am always conscious of everyone around me, and I often wonder how people can just walk around with apparent abandon.

My radar is constantly turned on in crowd situations, especially when approaching men, I think it was always that way for me since being a kid.

When I am tired then triggers can be worse because I feel more vulnerable, darkness can do the same.
I never watch TV because there are too many trigger subjects.

Work situations are very triggering because I didnt know what someone was going to talk about, and I also dont think that people understand me because I am different to them, so I didnt really understand their emotions fully.

I have often got to the stage in work where I just want to get away and be alone, I think it is frustration I suppose.

It can be different things to different people, I cant read survivor stories so much, as I take in the hurt,

hope it helps,


Whoever stole the Sun, put it back and we'll drop all the charges!

#52400 - 06/01/05 08:20 AM Re: definition of triggers
24yearsandcounting Offline

Registered: 11/05/04
Posts: 44
Hey thanks for that. I've learned to use judgement on what is a threat, what is BS, and etc. The ambiguity I was talking about has taught me how to be a lie detector. I know I don't catch all of them, but I see through a lot of what people think is hidden. I know I think of things, and sometimes it is nothing. I overhear many conversations, I know they aren't all what I think they are.
That part about me being a kid, etc. That threw me through a loop because I've been this hight for years now, it seems like I've always been this tall. I don't even think about being younger and smaller. Usually, a trigger in the worst way would make me feel small inside, helpless, etc. Seeing that picture caught me off guard because I have for so long identified myself as a adult, seeing that took me right back to that moment and all the raw painful experience it was. I've grown to think of it a certain way. I thought I've learned good skills about self control, being strong and all these other things, that I used to attribute to the abuse, but the abuse was not the teacher. It is all stuff I learned in spite of what happened, not because of. I could have succeeded in killing myself at age 3. I could have a lot of things. I like this saying I heard once, "there is no such thing as could have been". Somehow I don't fully believe that is true. It can be helpful to look back and see where else you could have gone, and try to go that way today. Having hope is kind of like that, it is sort of like doing better, less evil then before, seeking out a higher way.



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