The seed of a theory of triggeredness

[epistemic status: not even really a theory, just some observations, and self-observations at that.


Related: “Flinching away from truth” is often about *protecting* the epistemology

“Triggered” seems to be a pretty specific state, that has something of rage, something of panic, and a general sort of “closing in” of experience. I think it might be a pointer to something important (I postulate a related triad of triggeredness, trauma, and blindspots, and blindspots seem like a crucial thing to have a better grasp on.) So I’ve been paying attention to my own triggeredness.

I’ve noticed that I feel triggered in only two situations.

Adversarial forces

The first is when there’s something that I think is important, but I anticipate adversarial forces, either in me or external to me, that are threatening to erode my commitment to that important thing.

For instance, if I have a standard that I’m trying to hold to, but I expect (or project) that someone is about to try and argue me out of, or social pressure me out of it. (Probably, it is necessary that I be unsteady in my commitment to that standard, in such a way that some part of me expects me to be improperly argued out of it, and something important will be lost? If I were confident in my view, or confident in my ability to respond and update sensibly, there wouldn’t be an issue.)

An example: If someone makes even mild, good-natured attempts to convince me that I should impair my cognition, or drink alcohol to relax, I might become filled with triggered rage.

[This is not quite a real example for me, but it is very close to a real example. I in fact, have trouble writing a real example, because my every attempt to fill in the what they are suggesting I do are obvious strawmen that don’t come close to passing the ITT. I get things like “meld with the crowd”, or “surrender my independence” and start feeling slightly triggered. I think I can’t currently see the real thing clearly.]

Another example: I think that I should only use CFAR units that I personally use. I agreed to teach Aversion Factoring, explicitly with the condition that I say clearly that I used to use it, but now use Focusing with a dash of IDC for processing aversions. Someone who wasn’t aware of that, asked (in a way that I guess felt presure-y to me?) if they “could convince me not to tell the participants that I use Focusing/IDC instead?” I got slightly triggered and snapped back, “absolutely not” (in a kind of mean way).

Impossibilities of crucial communication

The other is when there’s something important to protect, but I don’t expect to be able to comunicate what it is to the relevant actors, perhaps because the true reasons don’t seem defensible.

For instance, if I’m on a team and we’re considering bringing on a new member. Most people on the team feel excited about the new guy. I don’t want him to join, but despair of compelling them. (It feels to me like the excited people are being reckless with our team and I’m going to end up leaving it.) I feel a triggered panic.

This impossibility of communication is often due to some conflation of separate things, or bucket error, either in me, or in others.

Example: a person is considering taking some action, X. I think X is doomed to fail, but it is nearby to action Y, which I think is important or valuable. I’m afraid that the person will try X and it will go poorly, and onlookers will not be able to distinguish X and Y, so and so everyone gives up on Y as untenable. If I could convey that X and Y were meaningfully distinct, then there wouldn’t be an issue, and I wouldn’t need to be triggerd about it.

Common thread

There’s a thread in both of these of “something important to me is threatened because I can’t articulate what it is or name it right.”

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