EMDR: the desensitization and reprogramming technique through eye movements

photo emdr

EMDR is an acronym for "Eyes Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing" which translates to "desensitization and reprogramming through eye movements". 

"Desensitization”In the sense of decreased sensitivity, attenuation of everything that is a consequence of psychological trauma. With "Reprogramming"Means instead the possibility of integrating negative memories with the rest of the person's memories, so that they do not stand out in the foreground and rather can lie on a sort of" mnemonic background ".

THEEMDR it is in fact one of the preferred individual treatments for post-traumatic stress disorders or disorders that sometimes affect people who have suffered exposure to trauma psychological, with danger for one's own safety (physical or psychological) or that of loved ones.

Typical events related to trauma psychological are, for example:
- road accidents;
- personal violence (aggression, injury, abuse, etc.);
- natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, floods, etc. ..).

The consequences that people sometimes experience in the periods following the traumatic exposure are presented in the form of: confusion, flashbacks (intrusive images of the event), anxiety, agitation, irritability, guilt, re-proposing the sensations experienced at the time of event and avoidance of situations reminiscent of the traumatic event.

According to the AIP (Adaptive Information Processing) theory, our mind processes negative events, progressively managing to overcome them and integrate them with the rest of the memories. It is in fact a common experience for all, that of slowly succeeding in overcoming and "fixing" painful memories.
In some cases, however, it is as if this system is jammed and people start or the experiences of traumatic events continue to live painfully fragmented through images, sounds, smells or emotions and sensations (such as feeling helpless, feeling helpless or overwhelmed).
The approach EMDR takes care of integration these fragmented aspects of the memory, and therefore of the person, and allows to overcome and integrate them with the remaining narration of oneself.
Through the 'EMDR every dimension of the memory that can still have an echo for the person: the mental dimension and in thought, the size emotional and the size sensory. In this way it is possible to stimulate precisely that natural process that normally acts in our daily life.
The stimulus that the psychotherapist uses with theEMDR is the bilateral stimulation of the eye movements, through the cadenced movement of the fingers, a practice that "desensitises" the painful fragments of memories, that is, makes them less invasive and present.

Today theEMDR is considered a election treatment for post-traumatic stress disorders and it is also used within psychotherapy courses to deal with all those painful events typical of emotional relationships that can contribute to particular states of discomfort and suffering during life.

Daniele Manasse



* Notes on the author:
Daniele Manasse is a Psychologist, Psychotherapist specialized in Post-Rationalist Cognitive Psychotherapy.
He deals with individual psychotherapy, intervening with psychotherapy in all those situations in which discomfort and malaise manifest themselves in the form of symptoms or existential problems; deals with research and training on the issues of new addictions and in particular of gambling disorder. Within Psy + Onlus he is the coordinator of the Gambling Area, coordinates and participates in the therapeutic group of pathological gamblers and their families.


psychotherapy, trauma, PTSD, memories, stress

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