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J Anxiety Disord. 1999 Jan-Apr;13(1-2):209-23.

Traumatic memories, eye movements, phobia, and panic: a critical note on the proliferation of EMDR.

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Department of Psychology, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.


In the past years, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has become increasingly popular as a treatment method for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The current article critically evaluates three recurring assumptions in EMDR literature: (a) the notion that traumatic memories are fixed and stable and that flashbacks are accurate reproductions of the traumatic incident; (b) the idea that eye movements, or other lateralized rhythmic behaviors have an inhibitory effect on emotional memories; and (c) the assumption that EMDR is not only effective in treating PTSD, but can also be successfully applied to other psychopathological conditions. There is little support for any of these three assumptions. Meanwhile, the expansion of the theoretical underpinnings of EMDR in the absence of a sound empirical basis casts doubts on the massive proliferation of this treatment method.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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