Stressor vs. Trigger - What Is A Trigger?

anthony

Founder
One recurring pattern that I have is that when someone tells me something negative about myself (or when I perceive it that way) or sometimes when a bad thing like getting a parking ticket for instance happens, I can get very upset and angry. I can say mean things and then try to escape the situation. It’s an affliction that has tarnished relationships. More often than not the criticism is another person expressing a need, but I just flip out.

So in this instance what is the stressor and what is the trigger directly related to the bullying (fear of being ridiculed, abused, etc.) It’s really made me afraid in life that I’m going to ruin good things if I find myself not able to control my reaction which is commonly yelling and either quitting at task, threatening to end a friendship or relationship.
Most of that sounds like stressors into an already full cup, even though bullying is trauma. Someone telling you something negative about yourself is not bullying, especially if accurate. Your perceptions are just that, your perceptions. Emotional response (stressor). A parking ticket is not traumatic, is a stressor, because you didn't realise parking rules, now you have a financial punishment for your lack of focus when parking.
 

BigLittle

Confident
There is actually no such thing as an emotional flashback. Big misinterpretation which some physicians online decide to use in order to make their articles seem more compelling.

A flashback is the only legitimate and factual term. A definition or understanding of a flashback is often where misinformation begins. Movies portray a flashback to be a movie like stream of a past event, and that's not true at all. A flashback is a "re-experiencing" event associated to a memory. The re-experiencing aspect of a flashback can be visual, auditory, emotional and more.

To your point though... you are really either triggered or you are having a flashback, but you aren't triggered into a flashback.

A flashback is not a fleeting memory, whether visual or emotional, it is a complete "re-experiencing" event.

A trigger is a symptomatic reaction from one of the five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) based only upon a direct connection to an actual traumatic event experienced.


A trigger produces an instant symptomatic reaction. A flashback produces a visual or emotional re-experiencing of an event. You can then have an increase in symptoms from a flashback, but they are different.

The word trigger is often used with flashback in the wrong context or meaning, hence the issues of definition. A flashback is typically formed upon an action around you (trigger), ie. it could be the smell of a specific aftershave that produces a flashback. Remember, a flashback is a "re-experiencing" event, either visual or emotional, but it is an actual re-experience, not just an instantaneous thought via one of the five senses to produce an immediate reaction. The fallout from a flashback could be instant or become heightened after hours later. A trigger is a near instant reaction from one of your senses. Even though your senses provoke a flashback, it doesn't mean you are triggered, it means you are "re-experiencing" the event in a specific manner associated with a memory. You have to look at the key words used in both cases.

Trigger = starts from one of your senses and end instantly in a reaction. Not a full memory or re-experiencing event, ending with an instant symptomatic reaction.

Flashback = a memory recall that could be started via a sense, though could just be started by a thought, though is an actual "re-experiencing" event, whether full or partial, but more than just a fleeting thought. Does not end in an instant symptomatic reaction, though could have some or heightened reactions hours or days later.

A trigger or flashback can have long lasting symptomatic results, considering the effects PTSD can cause. You have to think of a trigger as something you have engrained already in your brain, it is a memory you are aware off, its something you remember about an event. Yes, it can be something you have suppressed, but you still know that it is directly related to a trauma you have experienced. Flashback... now something has occurred that you are actually re-experiencing a part or total traumatic event, visually or emotionally. A trigger has no re-experiencing component to it. It is one or the other, but not both.
Okay,

Thanks for these clarifications.

@anthony How do nightmares fit in to all of this?
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
@anthony How do nightmares fit in to all of this?
I'm not anthonty but nightmares are telling you something. Repeating nightmares are usually holding a key to something about trauma. When they are resolved - they go away, which in it's own way is stressful, because you wait for them night after night....

When they get resolved there is a sh#tstorn that follows. It took about two weeks from when my T and I figured my big nightmare out until memories buried for a long long time popped up and we got to trauma 1. That helped to start healing of my original trauma but the six months that followed were not something I would wish on anyone.
 

BigLittle

Confident
I'm not anthonty but nightmares are telling you something. Repeating nightmares are usually holding a key to something about trauma. When they are resolved - they go away, which in it's own way is stressful, because you wait for them night after night....

When they get resolved there is a sh#tstorn that follows. It took about two weeks from when my T and I figured my big nightmare out until memories buried for a long long time popped up and we got to trauma 1. That helped to start healing of my original trauma but the six months that followed were not something I would wish on anyone.
Thanks Freddyt.

I got a session upcoming monday and I am Gonna do EMDR on the trauma 1 things.

And then ride out the storm like a pirate captain.
 
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