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  • Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, Volume 22, Issue 4
  • October 1994, pp. 331-335

Effects of “Eye Movement Desensitization” on Emotional Processing in Normal Subjects

  • Harald Merckelbach (a1), Eef Hogervorst (a1), Mirjam Kampman (a1) and Ad de Jongh (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 June 2009

A number of single case reports have made impressive claims for the efficacy of “eye movement desensitization” (EMD) in the treatment of traumatic memories. Many of these case reports claim that EMD reduces the unpleasant feelings associated with traumatic images. However, at present, there are no published controlled studies that provide evidence for these claims. The present experiment investigated whether EMD inhibits emotional responding during retrieval of aversive information. Normal Ss (N=40) were exposed to an aversive slide. During a next stage, half of the Ss underwent EMD while they rehearsed the slide information, whereas the other half underwent a control procedure (i.e., finger tapping) while rehearsing slide information. Before and after EMD or control intervention, heart rate and self-report data were obtained while Ss retrieved and visualized the aversive slide. No evidence was found to suggest that EMD inhibits emotional reactivity more than does finger tapping.

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J. D. Herbert and K. T. Mueser (1992). Eye movement desensitization: a critique of the evidence. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 23, 169174.

R. A. Kleinknecht and M. P. Morgan (1992). Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder with eye movement desensitization. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 23, 4349.

J. M. Lohr , R. A. Kleinknecht , A. T. Conley , S. D. Cerro , J. Schmidt and M. E. Sonntag (1992). A methodological critique of the current status of eye movement desensitization. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 23, 159167.

X. Pellicer (1993). Eye movement desensitization treatment of a child's nightmares: a case report. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 24, 7375.

G. Puk (1991). Treating traumatic memories: a case report on eye movement desensitization procedure. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 22, 149151.

F. Shapiro (1989a). Eye movement desensitization: a new treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 20, 211217.

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Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
  • ISSN: 1352-4658
  • EISSN: 1469-1833
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioural-and-cognitive-psychotherapy
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