Revising Trauma

Amal Ziv, Shaul Bar-Haim

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The chapter sets out to understand the central role that the notion of “trigger” has come to occupy in the discourse of trauma in the twenty-first century, especially in social rather than medical contexts. The term “trigger” designates a sensory reminiscence of the traumatic event that has the potential to revive the event in the survivor’s memory and thus activate a set of symptoms. In the twenty-first century “trigger warnings” have become prevalent in progressive political subcultures, digital spaces, the arts, and the higher education system, giving rise to what might be called “trigger culture”. The chapter locates the centrality of triggers as a new phase in the history of trauma, indicating the popularization of trauma as a central lens in contemporary culture. The origins of the notion of “trigger” are traced back to the coining of PTSD in the DSM-III (1980) when trauma came to be conceptualized through the traumatic event rather than by the pre-dispositioned mental vulnerability of individuals. We then examine the notion of “cultural trauma”, which created the conditions for trauma to become a major ingredient of group identity, and point to the contribution of feminist psychology to an understanding of trauma as far more pervasive and mundane than traditionally regarded. The chapter goes on to look at the work performed by trigger warnings in the context of contemporary identity politics. Finally, it contemplates the shift in the temporality of trauma introduced by trigger warnings, as the harm of exposure to “triggers” has become indistinguishable from the harm of the traumatic event itself.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Psychosocial Studies
EditorsStephen Frosh, Marita Vyrgioti, Julie Walsh
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-61510-9
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2023


  • Trigger warnings
  • Trauma
  • PTSD
  • Memory
  • Temporality


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