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A GIF to actually help people....
...instead of celebrating victimhood.
I study EMDR at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. EMDR is a treatment method used to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD, and reduce the emotional intensity of traumatic memories. If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD, or even just has some really bad memories from the past you just can't shake (I had a girlfriend cheat on me 2 years ago, and I'd still have nightmares about it), here's what you can do about it:
- Dowload this GIF and view it full screen. Sit with your face approximately 35cm from the screen (about 12 inches).
- Close your eyes and think about the memory you'd like to modify. Try to picture an image which perfectly sums up the memory. Pay attention to any physical reaction or sensation you may feel when you think about it, and try to locate it (eg tightness in the chest, a "spaced out" feeling in your head, etc)
- Think of a phrase that sums up the memory for you (eg "I feel helpless," or "I have no control.")
- That firmly in mind, open your eyes, wait for the steady dot in the middle of the screen, and when the dot starts moving side to side, track it with your eyes without moving your head.
- As you move your eyes back and forth, try to keep that image, that feeling, and that phrase in your head as best you can.
- When the dot stops moving, close your eyes and think about those three things again.
- Repeat this 3 or 4 times.
- If a new image, or new phrase, or new sensation pops up, repeat this process with the new memories.
That's it. Do this a couple of times in a row, and then stop. After an hour, try to recall those memories, and you'll find that you might have trouble picturing that image your created, and the negative feelings you have might feel diminished.
EMDR was pretty much discovered on accident about 25 years ago by an English teacher named Francine Shapiro. Without any psychological training, her explanations for why this treatment was effective were very naïve and ignorant. As a result, EMDR was ignored by the scientific community for about a decade. It wasn't until years worth of success stories came around that researchers started paying attention. All the research we have suggests that EMDR is a very effective treatment for PTSD and other traumatic memories, but we are currently mystified as to why it works. The research I do is geared toward understand the mechanisms of its functioning.
I hope this helps someone.
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