Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Survivors Speak: EMDR the Movie

Rock stations often have 'Two for Tuesday'. Today, I'm rockin' out.

Mike Burns has not only learned about and experienced EMDR for his own issues, he's become so intrigued by the modality he's making a movie about it. Anyone want to be an extra? Mike's always looking for survivors to participate in the film. You can contact him through the link below.

My story is one that like many others, is still unfolding. In 2006, I was exploring talk therapy and using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) to look at some incidents from my life. I have memories that made deep impressions on me and that cause me great anxiety to recall.

Like many people new to mental healthcare, I didn’t think therapy offered much hope beyond the psychosomatic: talking to others or trying more involved therapy might do some good, but anything could make you feel better, if you just believed enough. This is what I thought. Then, during the course of talk therapy my therapist and I agreed to try EMDR. I tried the protocol, using targets we discovered and the questions that follow, and something strange happened. Not only did the incident that I focused on lose its power and ability to provoke discomfort and anxiety, but the symptoms of a chronic disease I have also dramatically subsided, something that I noticed when I was still dismissive of EMDR’s efficacy. But as time went by, the theory that it was all a coincidence- that my symptoms happened to roll back at the same moment as my most effective EMDR session- seemed less and less likely.

The more I’ve looked into it since, the more I’ve noticed that my story is not unique. I’m now convinced that the mind plays a central role in virtually all aspects of our overall health.

I now believe that we have much more power than we think we do, to affect our physical conditions by working through the anxieties and traumas of our past. Not only this, but I believe disease is a combination of environmental factors mixed with mental and emotional triggers, and expresses itself in a far more predictable way than we currently think. The research is developing quickly on these issues, and I think in the next few decades we will start to see this correlation much more clearly. I think David Servan Schreiber’s new book, Anticancer, is one of the important statements on what exactly a holistic approach means from a scientific prospective and I think it’s an invaluable resource for those interested in these topics.

My interest in these issues, combined with my audio visual background, has led me to explore them in the form of a documentary film project on EMDR. Rather than create an infomercial about the treatment, I’m interested in honestly exploring EMDR’s limits and possibilities, and along the way possibly discovering what happened to me the day I had the breakthrough. One important thing I’m discovering is that EMDR is like most therapies in that it will work if you put in the effort. Unlike our fast-food, instant gratification culture, therapy cannot be handed to us like a pill. And it’s often not painless either. It’s a difficult journey, but if we have the stamina to take one step more than we took yesterday, we’ll find our way on the path, whether it’s EMDR or another therapy that provides the signposts.

If you’re interested in EMDR and want to be a part of my film project, please see our site at emdrmovie.com.


Elizabeth Stanfill said...

Therapy truly is a journey, like life. "Never give up," is the greatest affirmation/saying when you are striving to overcome.


Anonymous said...

When I had a relapse of my PTSD last year, suddenly a health problem I'd had for ages, (but which had vanished while I was doing yoga studies in Thailand for five weeks) made its reappearance.

At exactly the same time that a repressed memory resurfaced. Hardly a coincidence.

Here's a quote from Swami Satyananda Sarasvati: When you concentrate and try to unify the vagrant tendencies of your mind, sometimes you feel strain. Because of that strain, you get a headache or some other complaint.It isn't too much of a leap from this idea to the concept of the mind impacting on your health in general. And where health complaints are suppressed or ignored, they worsen.

Certainly, I've found both depression and PTSD playing out in very physical ways in my body, which forced me to get some preofessional help.

I think its a great idea to do a documentary on PTSD and EMDR - there really isn't enough out there on the topic from those who've experienced these things.

Michele Rosenthal said...

@Svasti - Isn't it amazing how the body does this? How is gives a physical form to our pain? During my worst PTSD years my liver, stomach, and small intestine all dysfunctioned and sent me to the hospital for many tests and prcedures over the course of many years. And the docs could never diagnose anything. And then, big surprise - I cured my PTSD and the docs were shocked when my organs healed themselves. This is only one of the many reasons we really need to raise PTSD awareness in the medical community!

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