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#403979 - 07/18/12 04:26 PM a question about memory and EMDR
GT13568 Offline

Registered: 09/02/11
Posts: 126
Loc: California
Hello, as with so many of us, I am looking for some advice. I want to wish you well first off and thank you for taking a moment to read this.

I've been working through things in therapy recently, and I started working with a second therapist, doing EMDR. Consistently throughout the years that I have struggled with my feelings relating to CSA I have an almost total lack of memory of the events, of IT. I have glimpses of surrounding events, but I have no idea what my dad and the other men he brought around did to me.

I hoped that EMDR would unlock things, and it has - but feelings come up, not facts or memories. The benefit of EMDR so far, as compared with talk therapy, is that after one treatment I flooded with emotion and cried my eyes out for days but I felt safe and grounded instead of powerless and resigned to a future of tears. (I'm certain I will always have tears, but at least right now I see the crying as doing honor to that child, um - to myself, and not as desolation.)

It's only been a week and two sessions but since last Wednesday my partner has been able to touch me without my flinching away! In the past even a touch I was expecting from him would make me flare with anger, now I recognize and appreciate the love in his touch. This is great, but...

What the hell did my dad do to me?

My older brother tells me that our dad used drugs on me - ether and chloroform.

Can EMDR bring back memories of such events?

The abuse began when I was a baby - less than 2, and continued until I was 12. Do perps always - well, does the sex always involve penetration? Would a young person's body show damage even if I was drugged? It doesn't make sense to me that nothing happened...

Does anybody have experience with EMDR and/or lack of memory? Does anyone know about the physical effects of CSA?

Thanks, happy July.

#403983 - 07/18/12 05:04 PM Re: a question about memory and EMDR [Re: GT13568]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6845
Loc: USA

If you were anesthetized during abuse then you will not remember it. Except in the case that you already had DID. In that case it's possible for one or more alters to not be completely anesthetized and they might remember something. That is very unlikely.

It's possible for EMDR therapy to move too fast. You can be overwhelmed by all that you get in contact with. Tell your therapist that he needs to slow down and/or help you work through what you're remembering.

The way that EMDR works is that it reconnects emotional memories within your brain with the non-emotional side of the memories. Then they can become very real. After they become real then they still have to be "worked through". Usually this requires the help of a therapist.

Sorry, but there are some dads who have done bad stuff to their boys. Get some good books to help you understand it.

As you work through these memories, they will gradually lose their power over you.

It also helps to write out your discoveries. Lots of guys write their stuff here in MS. Some also write them out in their computer or in a journal.


#403986 - 07/18/12 05:13 PM Re: a question about memory and EMDR [Re: GT13568]
GT13568 Offline

Registered: 09/02/11
Posts: 126
Loc: California
Thanks very much, Puffer

#404008 - 07/18/12 08:46 PM Re: a question about memory and EMDR [Re: GT13568]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5778
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
I agree with Puffer. The therapist may be moving too fast to allow you to process the thoughts and feelings. I do EMDR with selected clients and generally do the EMDR and next visit, we process what has come up in the past week in terms of realizations and feelings.

EMDR training discourages one to use it as a memory retrieval tool. We say "what comes up" as a means of experiencing and not as a means of remembering. It may be accurate or out in left field. It is not admissible in court. Ditto for hypnosis.

Sexual abuse is not limited to penetration. It can be speaking sexually to a child, exposing them to nudity or pornography, and any other range of behaviors that fall short of penetration.

Instead of fact-finding since the "memories" may be accurate or not, concentrate on the improvement with your feelings and relationship with your partner. EMDR can bring about almost miraculous changes in beliefs and relief for many.

#404033 - 07/18/12 11:54 PM Re: a question about memory and EMDR [Re: GT13568]
Anomalous Offline
Greeter Coordinator
Registered: 03/07/10
Posts: 1344
Hi GT,

You may or may not have memories from the age of two, or earlier. That having been said, while most people without any trauma in their early lives generally do not have memories from before the age of five, those with trauma in their early lives will form memories, albeit disjointed, or without an accurate reference to time, before age five.

But the use of anesthetics or other drugs interferes with memory formation regardless of age. You may have body memories/ sensations without accompanying memories.

Like Mr. Singer said, sexual abuse is so much more than penetration. And not all sexual abuse was/ is physically painful. The body is designed to respond to stimulation and it does not make a distinction between wanted and unwanted stimulation. That is a cognitive distinction, not a physical distinction.

There are many emotions to experience and many tears to be shed. There is a lot to mourn.

Make sure your T is giving you adequate time to process the feelings.

Acceptance on someone else's terms is worse than rejection.

#404042 - 07/19/12 01:25 AM Re: a question about memory and EMDR [Re: GT13568]
GT13568 Offline

Registered: 09/02/11
Posts: 126
Loc: California
Thanks you guys. I take your advice seriously. I do work closely with my T, but... I've always relied on myself in the past. I bet we all have, right? "I can do this." remember?

I'll talk with my T and be careful.


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