bessel van der kolk: on emdr and powerful eyes

ok this is going to be a weird one. you’ve been warned.

in the [bessel van der kolk on being interview][interview], bessel talks about a type of therapy called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (emdr). what happens during emdr is that you move your eyes (often guided by a therapist/doctor) in a particular pattern (i think just back and forth) while talking through your memories. it turns out that, for a specific type of trauma, this actually helps a ton. the type of trauma it helps with is a one time, intense traumatic moment (and it doesn’t work or at least doesn’t work as well for extended or repeated trauma(s)).

all caveats aside, that’s still pretty crazy.

when i heard that it made me think a few things:

  1. i’m sure this must be all up in the literature about emdr, but it seems obvious that this is connected to rem sleep (rapid eye movement). given how much we know about how sleep helps us process our thoughts and memories, this has got to be a part of that. doing it while being awake is different, but i can’t imagine that they’re not connected.
  2. the eyes are a really powerful part of the human body, both physically, mentally, and metaphorically. they’re also more deeply connected to our brains than i had previously thought.
  3. (this is the weird part) the eyes being powerful totally reminds me of naruto. whether or not you’ve ever watched it, the show is essentially about characters who use different types of techniques to fight and protect each other. the most powerful techniques of any characters in the show are the eye techniques (sharingan, byakugan, the six paths senjutsu, etc.). the show is based on some pretty ancient philosophy so this seems totally consistent with how powerful the eyes actually are. anyways, that’s it. weirdness over. for now.

interview series

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