The Trigger Happy Man

“For Pete’s sake, Sir, teach the men not to be ‘trigger happy.’ (Note: an expression used on Guadalcanal for men who are very nervous and who fire without seeing the enemy. This man is dangerous and has caused a lot of trouble . . .)”

Russel P. Reeder, jr. Fighting on Guadalcanal (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943).

Skittish souls say they are “triggered” when a traumatic and allegedly repressed memory is recalled by a “triggering” phrase, image or act.  And souls even more sensitive therefore tell us we must set out “trigger warnings” whenever there are “triggers ahead.” Devising a “trigger warning” that is not itself “triggering” requires uncommon subtlety and skill, such as might be demanded of a highway department that was forbidden to mention roadwork, or a janitor sworn to silence on the matter of wet floors.

Freudian repression lies at the back of this theory. Freud tells us that the unconscious mind is a seething cauldron of dangerous desires and shameful memories, and that the lid on this cauldron is held in place by stout clamps of ego defense. Indeed these clamps are so stout that the human psyche more closely resembles a pressure-cooker than a cauldron, but the lid nevertheless leaks jets of neurotic steam. In Freud’s mind, relieving the psychic pressure of his patients was only somewhat less important than depositing their fees in the bank account of S. Freud.

There are, no doubt, genuine and pitiful cases of repressed trauma.  But like all genuine and pitiful cases, they have been swamped by a crowd of impostors–in this case trigger-happy impostors.  These impostors are trigger-happy because they are happy to be triggered, and they are happy to be triggered because triggering excuses wrath.

And what is happier than that!

You will know an impostor by the fact that his traumatic memory is not repressed.  In fact, he thinks and talks about little else. The Freudian neurotic cannot live with the traumatic memory; the trigger-happy impostor cannot live without it.  A “survivor” of the remembered event (sometimes altogether imaginary) is who he is.  And if you trigger one of these trigger-happy fraudsters, the object of his wrath is who you will be.

And this is the key to the essential difference between the pitiful cases who have repressed their traumatic memory and the impostors who are obsessed by their traumatic memory. If you trigger a pitiful case, you will hurt him.  If you trigger an impostor, he will hurt you.

8 thoughts on “The Trigger Happy Man

  1. … and they are happy to be triggered because triggering excuses wrath.

    That, and fraud. Many who are easily “triggered” receive, or stand to receive, a nice taxpayer provided monthly stipend to boot. Depending on how well they keep up the charade. The guy who recently threw a fit at the Game Stop, insisting he be called Ma’am, is highly eligible for such a stipend. He’ll probably calm down a lot once he receives his first monthly installment.

    Regarding Freud’s bank account, my understanding is that he preferred to work with patients who had large bank accounts of their own, from whom he could extract enormous fees and philanthropical gifts. Not every S. Freud aspirant can be an S. Freud with his high-end clientele, however, so the less talented invented “school counselors” and “private” businesses that minister to “troubled teens” and their troubled families. It’s a pretty lucrative medicaid-funded racket, I hear tell, these days.

  2. Pingback: The Trigger Happy Man | Reaction Times

  3. I am myself have survived violent crime. All my life I thought it was my duty to remain calm when, for example, I have to do business with someone who reminds me of certain violent thugs I’ve known. I feel it’s only fair to stop and remind myself that this is not that person. And there are situations that bother me a lot that wouldn’t bother anyone else. But again, those situations aren’t in fact signs that something bad is going to happen. I’ve always felt that I owed it to the rest of humanity to keep it between the lines, period. Sometimes these days I wonder if I’ve done this whole “deal with my own PTSD on my own terms” thing wrong. Lots of repression. Lots of telling myself “now what would a brave smart girl do?”

    But you know, the thing I most regret is realizing that a lot of lefty people remind me of my ex-husband. And that led me to being far more tolerant of them than I ought to have been. As in, “now, now, Vera, just because they’re using the same rhetoric that Ex did, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to start screaming at you when not gas lighting you.” But low and behold, screaming and gas lighting is exactly what so many of them are now doing, so … I was seriously wrong about that.

    • I’m sorry to hear of the pain in your past. As I said in the post, there are people who we should treat with special sensitivity. And then there are people who manipulate us by being specially sensitive. It sounds as if you know the trick first hand–from the receiving end. They make you feel guilty about thinking their bad behavior is bad.

  4. As a fairly safe generalization, there is no such thing as a trigger. It’s the biggest lie going. And Freud….was a fraud….and quite anti-Christian if memory serves. The world is a mirror to your soul and if you don’t like the worm of inequity under the veneer you call your good personality – that is your problem. In general – anyone who parades their victim hood status – is a fraud.

    • Most of them are, as I say, “trigger-happy,” but there are some genuine cases we should tiptoe around. The genuine cases experienced severe trauma personally. The trauma of the “trigger happy” may have happened a long time ago to someone kind of like them.

  5. Pingback: Cantandum in Ezkhaton 02/10/19 | Liberae Sunt Nostrae Cogitatiores

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