Trigger Warning: Trigger Warnings

When Sophie’s Choice was released, I went with a date to see it. I didn’t check reviews; I just heard about a great actress. I spent the last half of the movie sobbing and scared the bejeezus out of my date (especially since I had to drive her home). My mother had told me that story, in gory detail, from her multiple personal experiences with the Nazi “selektion” at Auschwitz. Cue “triggering.”

At the last ArmadilloCon, there was a spirited set of discussions, on and off-panel, regarding trigger warnings. Even with the book title “The Property of Blood, ” the author was urged to use a trigger warning for violence.

As someone who’s lived with PTSD for most of their lives and has had the cinematic Vietnam vet flashback, I don’t see it this way. Caveat Emptor needs to be a much finer, more granular warning, if at all. What triggers one person may be fine for another. And where’s the limit? Do we warn if there are giant spiders in the novel? What if there’s non-consensual, non-sexual touching? The echo of trauma from a bully’s beating can be very painful for some readers, but how does one alert the public?

What Ilona said, mostly. But also, if there’s a large amount of specific violence such as anti-<abuse> that’s not on the title or dust jacket, it’s probably not a big deal to add a warning on the back cover just to give a heads-up. My $0.02, IMHO, YMMV.