“The vast majority of people with mental illnesses never harm a soul. I am so afraid that using mental illness to explain Rodger's violence - when hatred and disrespect is the most common cause of violence - will stigmatize a population of people who are already so vilified and misunderstood. I have not read of any doctor claiming that mental illness was the cause of Rodger's murder spree.”
“According to some of Rodger's defenders, you have the right to be so bitter and enraged about being rejected, that it's men's fault if you decide to murder them. It's sick. Also, you don't need to win an election to find love. You only need ONE right guy, and he is NOT going to be someone who wants a "skinny dumb girl". Take Care.”
“I have known too many kind, loving, and gentle men with Aspergers, Down Syndrome, and Schizophrenia (I am a social worker) to dismiss Rodger's crime as being motivated mainly by cognitive differences and social rejection. Some of the most loving men I've ever met suffered terrible rejection from society, and yet were more compassionate because of it. And many of them found love, anyway, because they developed the skills to reach out for love. Rodger's problem was hatred and entitlement, not Aspergers.”
BridgetteRodrig on Jun 2, 2014 at 15:22:50
“Penny White, based on various articles, it definitely suggests that he was being treated by several (key word) doctors for reasons beyond Aspergers. (We will never know the truth and full range of his diagnoses unless his family decides to release his records and/or otherwise decide to truthfully discuss, in totality, what he was being treated for, whether he took his meds, etc.) I believe the letter the psychologist wrote to the Editor (as noted in my original post) says it all for me. I will not rush to judgment that he was a misogynist, as to me, that is a willful act of someone fully in control of their faculties. Also, my sense is his Aspergers (which is not a mental illness, per se) combined with his apparent (but unknown) severe mental illness(es), prompted his focus on certain matters and were the underlying cause for his rants and eventual killings. Thanks for responding and posting your comments to me.”
Bellanova on Jun 2, 2014 at 15:13:18
“Yes, indeed. As a person with a touch of AS myself, married to an almost full-blown AS nerd, and mother to one kid with AS -- and as a clinician who works with this population on top of that -- I concur.
AS set the stage for Rodger's developmental and social difficulties, but his hatred of women and his malignantly narcissistic character features are not something that is typical for this population.
Although recent research* shows that autism is found in mass and serial killers at a higher rate than in a general population. The difference is "considerably higher," according to the researchers.
*Neurodevelopmental and psychosocial risk factors in serial killers and mass murderers by Clare S. Allelya et al., in the Journal of Aggression and Violent Behavior.”
“The people who claim that Rodgers crime was not misogynistic because he killed more men than women, could also claim that the Shwerner, Goodman, and Cheney murders were not racist because Shwerner and Goodman were white. It's madness. And it's not working.”
“I have found the world to be very accommodating when I have had the courage to ask for what I need. A trigger warning or, more accurately, a content note is a very small thing to ask for. It's certainly much less costly and inconvenient than ramps and restroom stall bars and interpreters. This is not about "coddling" survivors. This is about a culture that is too squeamish to acknowledge the prevalence of sexual violence. When we behave like good little girls and "suck it up" it is WE who are doing the coddling. God forbid we bother anyone with our pain. Screw that. A content note is a cheap easy way to show support for trauma survivors. The backlash to it is all about wanting us to keep our little mouths shut and stay home.”
loryncello on May 28, 2014 at 17:24:38
“I advocate owning our issues and being empowered enough to address it ourselves. That is exactly what you did and for that I applaud you. That is not sucking it up, staying home or coddling the world. It is representative of the ability to not only survive but to thrive.
Regarding content notes I feel strongly that they already exist in the form of book jacket blurbs and reviews.
I do hope all that have suffered any trauma, physical and/or emotional find some solace in this world. It's a tough place to be and for some it is harder than others. There is life after trauma and in my experience it has allowed me to move freely without needing red flags placed on items dealing with what I went through. Peace to you.”
“I understand. How about instead of calling them "trigger warnings" we call them content notes. Just a heads up for people with PTSD that a work contains graphic sexual violence, etc. It's a kind thing to do, and not such a big deal. I genuinely think the anti-trigger warning hysteria is more about us as a culture refusing to acknowledge the prevalence of sexual violence. No one wants to be reminded that the person sitting next to them in class is likely to have been sexually violated. We want her to put and shut up and not bother us with her pain.”
Nolan Harris on May 28, 2014 at 13:59:15
“Maybe, though I think it's the concept of a "chilling effect" that has people down on it. If the college professor who has assigned the material simply put an "Adult themes and situations" would that be enough of a notice? You do we need a more granular approach?
The main fear, is if they are "required" to be posted. Since we don't have a concise list of all triggers, there might be an avalanche of CYA notices in every syllabus, which would defeat the purpose of the warning, once it's everywhere, it means nothing.
A synopsis would require work on the instructors part, but "could" be effective.
I think the other part of the equation that is upsetting people is the idea of "special treatment", What percentage of students are trauma survivors? What percentage of those have PTSD? what percentage of those are triggered by reading about similar situations?
People feel put upon when the is a call for massive change for a perceive minuscule benefit.
Even movies and shows don't call it graphic sexual violence, it merely lists each component separately.
Even I am guilty of saying "Why?" In my reason a person has considerable power to stop reading an uncomfortable passage, reading isn't an instantaneous process.
Though still, what happens when a professor doesn't recognize a potential trigger and fails to warn a PTSD student, will there be legal ramifications or civil suits?”
“I do not see how a trigger warning - which is no more than helpful information - is "coddling" or forcing people to walk on eggshells. It's just information. When I share helpful information with someone I am showing them respect, not "coddling" them. This also brings up the issue of how differently we treat mental illness from physical illness. When a person has a physical disorder, by law we must accommodate them with special ramps or bathrooms or sign language interpreters, etc. But if someone has a mental disorder - and PTSD is a mental disorder - we tell them to "suck it up" and not expect to be "coddled". I wonder why we are so much more dismissive of psychological distress than we are of physical distress (even though the two are clearly intertwined). It's really interesting to me.”
loryncello on May 28, 2014 at 10:32:47
“I could continue down the rabbit hole, but I'm going to stop and bring it back to triggers and warnings. This is for adults. This is specifically discussing college students. If you are an adult and in college and let's say you are still working through whatever trauma, you as an adult can discuss with the professor an alternate reading assignment. As a society we have a tendency to try to wrap all issues is bubble wrap, "childproofing" every possible issue. I am saying that part of the picture of mental health recovery is an ability to handle the world, yes, sometimes you may have to excuse yourself from a situation that is too painful, but you have to identify that for yourself. People with physical disabilities, especially the invisible ones, do much the same thing. The world is not as accomodating as you might think. I can speak to this from experience.”
Nolan Harris on May 28, 2014 at 09:58:17
“What constitutes a trigger though? is there a required amount of detail in describing an event? Is it possible to not realize you are reading a "trigger" part of a book until it's too late? Will clinical or legal reports also need trigger warnings? Will books be allowed to "opt out" of the review process? Will colleges stop allowing "opt out" books on syllabii?
I'm not being dismissive, I just think the concept of a trigger warning for adults in literary works is not a fully baked idea and may do more harm than good.”
“I have had plenty of help, and this was early in my recovery when I was a young woman (most people in college are young, and have not had the opportunity for sufficient counseling). Please do not shame people who suffer from PTSD. It's cruel. There is a HUGE difference between "handling us like delicate china" and providing survivors with the information they need to USE the tools they have acquired. I wish you peace and healing as well.”
loryncello on May 27, 2014 at 12:59:15
“I'm not shaming people with PTSD. I have it. I agree people need to get help so that they are ready for the world. My point is that we cannot all walk around everyone we meet on eggshells. Our issues are ours to deal with and handle, not the worlds to speculate about and coddle everyone just in case. Yes, I am a survivor and part of surviving is being able to navigate life without special accomodations and warnings.”
“Actually, I think a synopsis is a MUCH better idea than a trigger warning. Let the students make their own decisions about what they can and cannot handle. And I am absolutely opposed to mandatory warnings. As you stated, that can very easily be co-opted by lunatics who want to push a political agenda. I agree with you. So there!”
“I do not agree with exempting students from assignments. The warnings are great to allow them to prepare, but being exempt from assignments is not fair to other students and ultimately not helpful. The warning simply allows trauma survivors to take a deep breath, garner support, and say "I can do this." And I say this as a trauma survivor who supports the trigger warnings.”
JHWriter on May 24, 2014 at 17:25:38
“My question is this: Who decides what constitutes a "trigger"? What army of reviewers will be deployed, by whom, at what cost, and on what authority, to issue these warnings? If this is mandated, SOMEONE has to review every text and decide which of them require warnings. Based on what? I can only imagine that the warning has to be based on a history of reactions to the given work. Who will track and document these reactions? What's to keep a little army of zealots opposed to—oh, let's say abortion—from filing "trigger" complaints in order to make the use of particular books so difficult that professors drop them from the curriculum? There goes "The Waste Land" because of Lil's abortion. There goes the "Iliad" (gory violence); there goes Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" (Lavinia's rape); there goes Yeats's "Leda and the Swan" (bestiality); etcetera. Again, I have no problem with providing a synopsis of any work on a required reading list, but "warnings" have no place in college level education.”
“The guy who shot Reagan and the guy who shot John Lennon both had a copy of The Catcher In The Rye with them when they committed their murders.”
RosellaA on May 24, 2014 at 13:11:00
“That's an interesting bit of trivia, but I doubt it's the type of trigger warning universities are considering. (Penny, I realize you're just answering my question, which was inspired by someone else's sarcastic comment, so I don't want you to think I'm suggesting you believe that fact is related to trigger warnings.)”
“As an incest survivor, I have experienced dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath in class when blindsided by an insensitive account of rape/sexual violence. A little warning would have been nice.”
loryncello on May 27, 2014 at 10:17:23
“I hope you are getting help. I cannot imagine what you went through. I have my own survival stories and yes, I am constantly bombarded by reminders of my trauma, but it's a book (or other media) and not reality. Maybe it's the counseling, but I have no problem with it. Whether it's books, movies, music or even a story on the news, you cannot escape reminders, triggers for memories. Rhetorically, is it the world's responsibility to handle us like delicate china or our responsibility to develop the tools it takes to get through the world? I wish you peace and healing on your journey.”
“I wish there WERE trigger warnings on movies and tv shows. I actually think that would be much more beneficial than trigger warnings on books/articles. I spent my childhood getting raped by my own father, and I wish there had been a trigger warning on some of the movies/tv shows that added a little rape scene "just for fun". A trigger warning is information that helps those of us with PTSD to make healthier choices for ourselves. It's just product labeling, and what's wrong with that?”
“"It was nothing but human instinct to do so." Well said, Mr. Hu. He reminds me of sociobiologists who insist we only care about each other to preserve our genes. I'm sure he did a genetic profile of the baby before bothering to save him. And I'm sure we only care about this story because the baby might be related to us. We're just heartless gene-perpetuating machines.”
“Thank You. I needed to read this right now. Actually, I "broke up" with my mother years ago (I send gifts and communicate electronically, but phone calls are rare and visits nonexistent. This works best for both of us). But I also have broken up with friends over the years, usually when I felt a relationship was draining me (once you have a child, who needs draining adult relationships?) Anyway, like you, I HATE driving in SF. And I live in SF. And it is lonely in SF. So I have been beating myself up for letting go of a friendship that wasn't working anymore. I had been trying to resurrect our friendship, which was amicably ended, but my former friend is not interested. And that's a good thing. The friendship has been let go, and that needs to be respected. Yes, I am lonely. But I am new here in SF, and intimidated, and I feel like a divorced woman who wants to run back to her ex cuz single life is so scary. Clearly that won't work. The ability to endure loneliness rather than accept disrespect is an important skill for adults to learn. Also - I am in the middle of your novel and I LOVE IT!!!!! Keep writing!!!!”
“I am a feminist, but I saw nothing misogynistic about Nathaniel P. He was shallow, but so are most women his age. And why were the women in the book pursuing him? Because he was successful. Why was he successful? Because he valued his work more than his relationships. What did the women who pursued him complain about? That he valued his work more than them. Would they have wanted/pursued him if he weren't successful? No. (spoiler alert)Whom did he end up with in the end? A woman as successful and driven as he is! This is a feminist book and a cautionary tale for shallow young people and their romantic choices.Loved it!”
“I'm concerned that articles and videos like these perpetuate ignorance. Women are in MUCH more danger in their own homes than they are out on the street at night. Women are MUCH more likely to be raped, beaten, or killed by a husband, friend, or family member than by a stranger in an alley (and much more likely to be blamed when that's the case). Interpersonal violence, not random violence, is the biggest threat to women.”