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Dor

Dor Does Books

Oh, hai! I read books, then I write down what I think of them. 

 

 

No, Anne Rice. Just ... No.

Anne Rice has linked to a NYT article about whether trigger warnings are necessary for students studying the literary canon. She says they shouldn't have them, saying:

 

The idea of education is that teachers offer to students books that students would never themselves choose in the hope of providing an education for them that students would not acquire on their own. Education always involves risks.

 

So, let me describe for you what happens when I have a fully-fledged panic attack

 

I do not always know when it's going to happen. I have plenty of small ones which physically manifest with flushed face, slight breathlessness, sweaty palms, cold fingers, and shivering. During these times whatever has triggered it goes round in my head, like an earworm. These are fine. I've learned how to cope with them, how to get my head and body to understand it's just a thing, no biggie, and to actively move forward and get on with it. These are fine.

 

Not fine: the unpredictable point where it tips over into the uncontrollable.

 

It begins with my breathing. My breathing becomes harder and deeper but I feel as though I'm not breathing at all. I can feel the air being dragged in and out of my body but there's still no oxygen. My mouth will be open by this point, my gasps loud. I may moan - although it's not really a moan, it's just a noise that gets made because this air is pumping in and out of my body as though forced from the outside.

 

I'll feel light headed, like I'm going to faint. Sometimes I'll feel nauseous as well. Press your throat just above your collarbone, where your thyroid gland is. Feel that? That nauseous feeling? It's that, while you're trying to breath and feeling like you aren't even though you know you are.

 

I'll need to hold onto something for support which is difficult because I can't feel my hands terribly well. They're cold and they don't bend properly so it's difficult for me to tell if I'm touching something. They'll tingle, with pins and needles. Just like when you have a heart attack.

 

I'll be crying by this point. Great sobs I have no hope of stopping. Maybe I'll be drooling as I cry - you know, the properly gluey spit which takes a moment to commit itself to gravity. And I'll probably be rocking because I need to move.

 

Every muscle in my body will be straining against itself which I won't feel until it stops. I'll be bent over, clutching whatever's nearest, sobbing, drooling, trying to breathe and not being able to.

 

And I won't be thinking anything. I won't be feeling afraid of something, or thinking about what's happened, what's triggered it. It will be there, but not in the "nyer, nyer, you're rubbish" way of the little ones. There is only the overwhelming knowledge of that moment. 

 

It will stop. I know that, even as it's happening. I can try to slow my breathing down, and get hold of myself again. I can talk myself round because I have learned how to. I am an old hand at this.

 

And when it's done, it's rather like having fainted. Weakness. Shaking. In desperate need of a quiet sit down with a cup of tea and a chocolate hobnob.

 

It happens because it's an extreme fight or flight reaction. Adreneline is being dumped into my system in massive amounts because my brain has seen something to make it think it needs to be. The only thing I can do is avoid triggers when I am already feeling stressed.

 

So no, Education does not, and should not, always involve _ing risks. *tips hat to Terry Pratchett*

 

ETA: I was going to post the comment on her page, but ... meh.

 

I can cope with my panic attacks because I have learned how. I am not going to tell anybody else they should do so too - mine are pretty bad but I've talked people through worse.

 

The article is offensive. The examples it cites in the first para are not trigger warnings, and as for " Trigger warnings, they say, suggest a certain fragility of mind that higher learning is meant to challenge, not embrace." No.

 

It's a straw man. A trigger warning is not required for a naked statue.

 

And that final para:

 

“If I were a junior faculty member looking at this while putting my syllabus together, I’d be terrified,” Mr. Blecher said. “Any student who felt triggered by something that happened in class could file a complaint with the various procedures and judicial boards, and create a very tortuous process for anyone.”

 

Yup. Sounds exactly like the fear men have that they'll be reported for rape in the morning. If Mr Blecher understood what a trigger was and why it was important, I'm sure he'd be able to put together a syllabus which wasn't a problem.

 

Ms Rice, your comments and many of the others belittle those who rely on such warnings through necessity, not choice. It's hard enough to stand up and ask for help. This is one of the reasons why.

 

Source: http://www.facebook.com/annericefanpage/posts/10152487179545452