Does EMDR Therapy Have an Effect on Memories of Emotional Abuse, Neglect and Other Types of Adverse Events in Patients with a Personality Disorder? Preliminary Data

Laurian Hafkemeijer*, Annemieke Starrenburg, Job van der Palen, Karin Slotema, Ad de Jongh

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background: Little is known about the effectiveness of trauma-focused therapies for memories of events not meeting the A-criterion of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Objective: Determining the effect of EMDR therapy on memories of emotional abuse, neglect and other types of adverse events in patients with a personality disorder (PD). Method: We conducted a secondary analysis of the data from our study, which aimed to determine the effectiveness of five sessions of EMDR therapy in 49 patients with a PD. Patients were divided into three different groups depending on their most prevalent type of adverse event. Data were analyzed with Generalized Estimating Equations. Results: Of all patients, 49% reported emotional neglect, 22.4% emotional abuse and 26.5% other types. Only one patient reported memories that predominantly fulfilled the A-criterion of PTSD. After five sessions of EMDR therapy, medium to large treatment effects for memories related to neglect (ds between 0.52 and 0.79), medium treatment effects for memories involving emotional abuse (ds between 0.18 and 0.59) and other types of adverse events were found (ds between 0.18 and 0.53). No significant differences in symptom reduction associated with the application of EMDR therapy among memories involving these three different types of adverse events could be revealed. Conclusions: The results support the notion that EMDR therapy is not only an effective therapy for memories related to A-criteria-worthy events, but that it also has a symptom-reducing effect on memories involving other types of adverse events. This suggests that EMDR might be a valuable addition to the treatment of PD without PTSD.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4333
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Volume10
Issue number19
Early online date23 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • personality disorder
  • EMDR
  • neglect
  • abuse
  • adverse events

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