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How trigger warnings are hurting mental health on campus

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File:A small cup of coffee.JPG From the Atlantic:

The Coddling of the American Mind

In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.

Some recent campus actions border on the surreal. In April, at Brandeis University, the Asian American student association sought to raise awareness of microaggressions against Asians through an installation on the steps of an academic hall. The installation gave examples of microaggressions such as “Aren’t you supposed to be good at math?” and “I’m colorblind! I don’t see race.” But a backlash arose among other Asian American students, who felt that the display itself was a microaggression. The association removed the installation, and its president wrote an e-mail to the entire student body apologizing to anyone who was “triggered or hurt by the content of the microaggressions.”More.

The way things are going, we’ll put lots of people in psych wards but never again on the moon.

This new climate is slowly being institutionalized, and is affecting what can be said in the classroom, even as a basis for discussion. During the 2014–15 school year, for instance, the deans and department chairs at the 10 University of California system schools were presented by administrators at faculty leader-training sessions with examples of microaggressions. The list of offensive statements included: “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”

Anyone who has ever been in the back of a paramedic van with a loved one believes that the most qualified person should get the job.

That such a statement would be considered controversial shows how steep, maybe irreversible (?), the decline really is.

We are not asking anyone to confront a dangerous mob here. So if a student experiences so much emotional angst dealing with routine slights (see here, for example) that might occur in a checkout lineup at an urban Canadian supermarket, that person is most likely not suited to a university.

In my view, this problem stems mainly from the university getting student loan dollars by keeping people on campus (in debt) who should either shape up or ship out.

After all, if one can earn a good living from a trade school certificate, why collapse under the seemingly insupportable weight of addressing others’ ideas, which is what a university education is supposed to enable?

According to the most-basic tenets of psychology, helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided.

But vindictive protectiveness teaches students to think in a very different way. It prepares them poorly for professional life, which often demands intellectual engagement with people and ideas one might find uncongenial or wrong. The harm may be more immediate, too. A campus culture devoted to policing speech and punishing speakers is likely to engender patterns of thought that are surprisingly similar to those long identified by cognitive behavioral herapists as causes of depression and anxiety. The new protectiveness may be teaching students to think pathologically.

Yes, but those are all business opportunities for incipient fascists! Most of whom will be government funded. It’s everyone else in society, especially people with an interest in ideas, that they aren’t good for.

Fortunately, a moment’s thought shows how false the basic premise is: Suppose an athletically talented young man gets shot by police and his injuries bar him a career in sports. Suppose the shooting was unjust. Yes, something must be done. But does that mean that other young people may not enjoy and thrive in sports, for fear of triggering  more unhappiness in that unfortunate young man?

We all know what we really think about that, and the main question is, why are we living under the intellectual dominance of these “soft-hearted” fascists? Isn’t it time to just see them to the door?

See also: Liberal prof terrified by students?

O’Leary for News

5 Replies to “How trigger warnings are hurting mental health on campus

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    Way past that time. It’s rampant insanity. I am all for political correctness in language that can clearly be hurtful, but it can evidently be taken too far.

    G K Chesterton nailed the general problem in a degenerate society:

    “When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.”

    By the ‘big laws’ I take him to mean at least primarily, those of the Judaeo-Cristian tradition, indeed probably all the mainstream religions, which seem to be the sole guarantee of the most elementary common sense.

    Atheists, certainly of the left, today – ironical since I’ve been an economic ‘leftie’ all my life – seem to go round and round in ever-decreasing circles, only to disappear you know where. (For the topologically-challenged where the sun is nowhere to be seen).

    While checking that quote on Google, I came up with some of Chesterton’s other apposite aphorisms:

    “We do not need to get good laws to restrain bad people. We need to get good people to restrain us from bad laws.”

    “Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice.”

    GK seems to have been somewhat naive about war, though.

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Axel

    Excellent analysis.

    “When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.”

    By the ‘big laws’ I take him to mean at least primarily, those of the Judaeo-Cristian tradition, indeed probably all the mainstream religions, which seem to be the sole guarantee of the most elementary common sense.

    The biggest law is the first of the commandments – Love and worship God first. That’s our protection against the assault of small laws.

    Without that, we get the weird morality that Chesterton warned about. It’s not that secularists are immoral, it’s that they’re hyper-moral. There is no scale by which to judge each moral norm. Is killing an insect evil?

    Without God, nobody knows. The secularist ideal “do no harm” turns against human life itself. By merely existing, each human is “doing harm” in many ways. Without God to say “I love my human children and I want you all to thrive”, then we have an onslaught of micro-judges deliberating micro-aggressions trying to avoid every micro-wound to Macro-Egos.

  3. 3
    Axel says:

    ‘The secularist ideal “do no harm” turns against human life itself.’

    As I read this morning, murder for convenience is now sanctioned in law. Hallowed actually, judging from the rabid rants of our own abortionist ISILs.

    ‘Without God, nobody knows. The secularist ideal “do no harm” turns against human life itself. By merely existing, each human is “doing harm” in many ways. Without God to say “I love my human children and I want you all to thrive”, then we have an onslaught of micro-judges deliberating micro-aggressions trying to avoid every micro-wound to Macro-Egos.

    A perfect summation, Silver Fox, Macro-Egos being the operative term.

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    Well I think its a microaggression that this university exists. its really a jewish segregated one for Jews. Even if others are allows. Then its a microaggresion that they segregate the ASIANS(whoever that is) from “other” Americans.
    True Americans do not hyphen thier identity and din’t have these labels. White means nothing obviously.
    Then its a micro aggresion that these ethnics get more then their share in a nation for all the people. Thats really the worst aggresion from foreigner immigrants. in fact its illegal.
    Anyways its all about these identities deciding what is right and wrong and who can say what.
    This is why they left thier own countries.
    America to be free must tell them there is no control on ideas and speech.
    The universities should be most under the gun about obeying the great conclusions and laws of America.
    if they don’t like it go back to their own country. They don’t deserve the gift of america and getting the good things. Especially this interference by these ethnics in higher education.
    Thats aggression little short of real invasion. Affirmative action too.
    They all presume to get their way in a kind, fair, innocent welcoming historic America. They show me they are a enemy to america and Canada.

  5. 5

    There should be a culture at universities that one takes subjectivity seriously besides objectivity. That people should have a comprehensive religion.

    When people have emotional depth this problem of political correctness will go away.

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