What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a popular trauma therapy, and it is seriously weird.
The goal is to rewire your brain in the following way: so, you have traumatic memory, and you have an emotional reaction (usually a strong one). EMDR aims to disconnect the memory from the emotive charge. In that way, these memories are no longer, well, traumatic.
My sessions were pretty typical, though I later learned there are a few variations.
Following Dr. Levinsky’s instructions, I put on old-school headphones, which played a beep in the left ear, followed by a beep in the right ear, and then back to the left, etc.
I was told to choose a sexual abuse memory, and bring it to mind, which I did.
Then my shrink pulled out a long rectangular box that had small green lights on it. They flowed like a stream of subtitles, except it was only light.
I’m not really good at multitasking, and this was like rubbing my stomach, patting my head, and thinking about sob-worthy pedophilia fragments. It took a bit of coordination.
After trying it the first time, I found out something interesting. Recollections involving the molestation episodes didn’t bring up strong, negative feelings. Levinsky suggested I think about something else during the processing instead. For my next sessions, I chose a sense of powerlessness in an aspect of my (present day) life.
Walking out of each of these appointments, I felt altered, though it was hard to pinpoint how. A day or two later though, I’d be thinking about something, and I’d suddenly have a rush of happiness, or feel very empowered to do something I’d been scared shitless about in the past.
Although very odd, EMDR has been approved by the American Psychological Association and many other entities. Besel van der Kolk, considered by many to be the foremost international researcher on trauma, highly endorses this modality.
In my experience, EMD can very effective, especially if you’re dealing with big emotional disturbances.
I definitely had these, but eventually, I realized my main problem was I didn’t understand the mechanics of sex.
To be continued….