Weird totally unrelated stressor behaves like trigger

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New Here
I’ve been looking for an explanation/solution for several years now, professionals couldn’t make heads or tails of it so I thought other sufferers might have more insight.

I hope I can explain it properly.

There’s a very weirdly specific thing (the matter in question is human experimentation) that should count as a stressor, even though strange, but actually causes a trigger reaction that comes with totally unrelated flashbacks (sometimes) and even blackouts, if the reaction is mild, “only” dissociative panic attacks.

I’m diagnosed with PTSD dissociative subtype and DID, for nearly 20 years, I’m anything but new to this but still can’t figure out what’s going on.

This thing never happened to me, it’s not even similar to anything that happened, and although big portions of my life are missing from my memory, it’s nigh impossible that this specific trauma ever occurred. I don’t live in a war zone, no mad scientists anywhere as far as I’m aware.

I don’t understand this reaction and neither did professionals, every attempt at working on it was fruitless, likely because the true cause hasn’t been found, exposure to it did nothing apart from making it worse, I react even faster to it than before.

Luckily, it’s something that is relatively easy to avoid, it’s basically only present in fiction, but when I do stumble across it, the consequences are severe, not to mention that I can’t stand not knowing why it happens.

Does anyone here have a similar illogical “trigger” or any idea why unrelated matters cause an actual trigger reaction, including random flashbacks and blackouts, and how to get rid of it?

I thought that my brain might have made some weird irrational connection but considering how out-there the “trigger” in question is, it seems extremely unlikely to be a random misguided association, the only possible explanation would be that something similar was used in conditioning, maybe as a threat, although I can’t quite imagine why anyone would use this instead of a more believable/prevalent matter.

Edit: Maybe it’s helpful to note that torture has been used on me, in different ways, but nothing that would warrant an association with human experimentation, at least not logically.


Red wine stain = trigger for blood. Red wine has never been used in any trauma for me. Neither has a felt place mat (where the red wine stain was on). But seeing that freaked me the f out. Because my mind took it to blood stains.
Just one example of something innocent and not related at all taking my trauma brain back to trauma.

Triggers don't have to be related to the precise event for them to be triggers? It's how we connect with them that is the issue?


New Here
Yes, that’s what I mean, there’s a logical association behind what you described, just like for my other triggers – very few of them are 100% connected to the actual trauma but it’s obvious why and how my brain associates them with it.

That makes this so baffling, there’s no logical association and even the flashbacks it triggers are random, totally unrelated, like something that happened in a car and is in no way associable with human experimentation.

Just going by the randomness of triggered memories, it seems my brain hasn’t really connected it to anything specific but treats it as a general reminder, which would be normal for something generally applicable and with a less severe reaction.

I have a bunch of general triggers with mild reactions like body memories, the severity for this one is just so off, and the missing connection makes it impossible to treat it, so I’ve been walking around with this for decades – I have an intense need to understand my own inner workings and it drives me mad that even professionals couldn’t explain it.


Sounds like you’ve got a good grasp for the most part (minus one key element) of this >>> Stressor vs. Trigger - What Is A Trigger?

The RESULT of a stressor? Is usually identical to the result of a trigger.

There’s really
- Triggers
- Stressors
- Stresses
(but are still spelled/referred to as stressors, “Aha, that’s the stressor!”, linguistically/scientifically which can make things confusing. Like being triggered -vs- a trigger are 2 different things. 🤪 Ah English. So vague and full of double meanings and loopholes it’s been the favorite language of diplomacy since it was discovered. Whilst science tries to stick with Latin. Psych is still a soft science though. So we get drowned in made up words, and words with double/triple/multiple many times over meanings. LeSigh.) >>> See Stress Cup for the best conceptualisation I’ve ever come across.

The difference between triggers and stressors meets in the middle to diverge, again. Like an X on its side. T&S = Symptomatic Reaction (that middle point) but identifying whether it’s a trigger or stressor? Makes sorting it easier/faster.

Back on target though...

Edit: Maybe it’s helpful to note that torture has been used on me, in different ways, but nothing that would warrant an association with human experimentation, at least not logically.
Seems logical as f*ck to me.

Even if you were wih the most skilled interrogators on the planet? YOU would be the experiment. As they discovered your limits, and used them. But most of us who were tortured had amateurs (getting off on it, but not really knowing what they were doing), or relative newbies who were still experimenting in every aspect of the word. On you. With themselves. With their tools. With their own limits and preferences. With people in general. Sometimes overseen by someone else. Sometimes on their own.

Makes perfect sense to me that any kind of experimentation could hit a hot switch for you, much less on people, both by agreement -or- against their will.

Add in the fact that MOST people have a violent physical reaction faced with human experimentation (nazi camps, unethical regimes, drug companies)... even with absolutely no trauma history? Hell, it’s used as a plot device to engage peoples most primal reactions!

I’m not understanding why your pros never caught either link. It’s visceral, even for people academically. Much less people who have lived through it.


New Here
Thanks for the explanation of trigger and stressor, I’m not from an English-speaking country, here “trigger” is only used for something that triggers a flashback (so being triggered is only correct when it causes flashbacks) and these flashbacks are usually connected to the trigger (by association), while a stressor causes a simple stress response (panic, anxiety, etc.).

What you say makes total sense, I thought about it like this as well, but several professionals insisted that it isn’t a likely association because it’s “too broad” in this specific case.

I was already wondering if they dissected it too much and that’s why they came to this conclusion, if you break it down a lot then it really doesn’t make sense, because it bothers me only when the human experimentation is done to alter the human’s body, turn them into an abomination, or holds the possibility of dying in a horrifically disfigured state.

I’ve always been afraid of not being human enough (complicated story) and not looking flawless, coupled with torture, that can very well be associated with human experimentation.

Torture doesn’t bother me at all, I’m perfectly fine with that, but the human mind is a naughty little thing that can act in strange ways, sometimes it’s just not useful to break things into tiny individual pieces.

Maybe here’s a cultural view at play, professionals in different parts of the world have their own ideas about how things work, of course trauma per se can manifest in ways that are heavily culturally tinted, so it’s very interesting to see how the rest of the world thinks about it.

Professionals here aren’t the best at seeing the whole picture, they are often struggling when things are connected in more complex ways and rather focus on individual details – for better or worse.


What feels right to you?
What is in your mind when it's triggered, is there anything you associate it with?

Could well be that those experts are wrong. My T keeps saying I:m the expert of me, not her.
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