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  • Writer's pictureJami Moore

My Favorite Resource for Trauma in Media

A misty, grayscale forest with a couple of lone birds flying.

Aficionados of horror and mystery alike may be in a bit of a bind if they also suffer from any kind of trauma. Take me, for example. I love having the shit scared out of me in literature, games, music, you name it. (Oddly, I'm still working into horror movies. It's 20+ years later and I still haven't recovered from The Ring.) That said, I also suffer from C-PTSD, or Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. There are some things I just can't sit through without having a panic attack, and believe me, panic attacks are like Pringles: once you pop, you just can't stop.

Trauma can hit at any time, and it can be a sneaky little bastard. Even if something has never been a problem before, suddenly, there it is. Your chest tightens, tears sting at your eyes, and your breath ties itself in chaotic, shallow knots until you're not sure if you're breathing in or out -- or even if you're breathing at all. The picture haunts your mind and all cogent thought just ceases, and this can last for several minutes. And then, you're in a bad way for hours, and sometimes nothing fixes it. So I know for me, if I can head off the triggers I know, my viewing experience (and day) will be much more pleasant.

Or, even if you don't have an actual trauma response to something like sexual assault, or being buried alive, you might have a phobia or a genuine squick-reaction to certain imagery. When I GM horror homebrews in my Pathfinder group, I specifically avoid any kind of eye mutilation for one of my best friends, because I believe in safe spaces, and honoring boundaries. But Jami, you ask me. There's way too much media out there to always know if something bad is going to happen, and so many types of triggering material. How do we sort it all out? Have I got a recommendation for you.

This site is pretty self-explanatory. It is a trauma/phobia resource for any kind of trigger you can possibly think of. Dead cats? (Like me, in episode 2 of The Haunting of Hill House). Red light. There are dead cats in that one. But they'll give you the exact episode and timestamp, so if it bothers you, you can skip right over.

And this site has absolutely everything you can think of in terms of triggers. There are notes for drug abuse, mental abuse, vomiting, different types of mutilation and injury, and of course, all types of death, animal and human alike.

The wonderful thing is that it covers books, TV, movies, even video games, and you can cross-reference by the type of trigger you're looking to avoid. For example, clicking on the link "Does a Cat Die" on the screenshot above will take you to a list of shows with the appropriate trigger. (Thanks, guys. Now I can never watch Midnight Mass.) Ideally, then, you can use this as a litmus test -- checking for media that does or does not have a given type of trigger material.

There is also a mobile app available, so if you travel to a friend's house for a movie marathon, Does The Dog Die has got your back.

My wife and I have used this site dozens of times before committing to various media, especially since I love literature that keeps me on the edge of my seat. That being said, it's a relief to have a resource handy to help me skip the parts that will ruin my enjoyment (and/or make me hyperventilate for several minutes or burst into tears for an hour or two at a time.) I have since recommended this to my therapist, and she thought it was a wonderful resource to pass onto patients. In that spirit, I know most everyone has some trigger that makes them want to close their eyes, if only for a few seconds -- or maybe avoid a piece of media altogether. Does The Dog Die is ready and waiting to be a resource for your viewing needs, and I couldn't recommend it more. The site and app are both free to use.

Please note: I am not being paid for this promotion. I'm honestly just a stress-ball of a human who happens to like horror, and that's a very precarious place to be. I can't be the only one, so I thought I would share what I know.

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