EMDR: The Last Frontier

Now what?

Monday at 5 p.m. I will meet psychologist number 33.

Note: I had to kick the total up after committing myself to recalling every therapist I have seen in Pittsburgh. The final number, eight, surprised me. Eight in eight years. Some for only a few weeks. Christ am I fucked up or what?

So, I had to revise the total number upwards by two. That’s 33 going back to when I was 14 in 1976.

Morning music memory: I was dreaming that I was looking up the lyrics to Meatloaf’s ‘Two out of Three ain’t Bad.’ No idea why. The song was still playing in my head when I woke up.


Pushing 60. Wonder what she looks like today?

Listening to a mix of 80s songs on You Tube at work and A Flock of Seagull’s ‘Space Age Love Song’ came on. I had never seen the video before – it seems to be set in a Target store. I reflected that the model in the video is pushing 60 and I felt old, as usual. The song also brings back bitter memories of the first girl I ever really fell hard for and the only one I dated from Cleveland State (other than my first wife). She came from a huge Irish Catholic family in Cleveland. She broke up with me because (1) her ‘other boyfriend’ knew all the priests and I only knew all the journalists (for God’s sakes I was working at The Cleveland Press at 19! Didn’t that count as a cool job?) and (2) she was seriously thinking about joining a convent. She lied on number two.

She later married and worked for the Post Office. But when she broke up with me I was crushed beyond belief. That song always brings the feels back.

“For a little while, I was falling in love. . .”


I always tell people that meeting a new therapist is like being a kid on Christmas morning and going downstairs to unwrap the presents. Your kind of anxious to see what you got or are getting.

The therapist is a woman. All but two have been. Why? I’m more comfortable revealing myself to a woman and generally I feel I can act like an ass around them when I need to without being judged too harshly. I think they find me fascinating – like an entomologist looking at a curious insect in a microscope.

The only bad thing about the first session is that nothing really gets done. You barely scratch the surface in an hour and with almost half a century of issues to unpack, a kind of desperation sets in: you want to get through all of that but concisely. I want the therapist to understand just how fucked up I am and why, when I act like an ass, I have a reason for doing so.

Not an excuse, an explanation.


In theory, this is how it’s supposed to work

In any case, therapist number 32 wants me to see her since she’s trained in EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy.

A brief definition (from Psychology Today): EMDR is a unique, nontraditional form of psychotherapy designed to diminish negative feelings associated with memories of traumatic events. Unlike most forms of talk therapy, EMDR focuses less on the traumatic event itself and more on the disturbing emotions and symptoms that result from the event. Treatment includes a hand motion technique used by the therapist to guide the client’s eye movements from side to side, similar to watching a pendulum swing. EMDR is a controversial intervention, because it is unclear exactly how it works, with some psychologists claiming it does not work. Some studies have shown, however, that EMDR is effective for treating certain mental-health conditions.

I have previously written that the current therapist would be the last as I have concluded that after 32 therapists/psychiatrists over 40 years that I am completely beyond the reach of therapy. But number 32 really wants me to try EMDR. Actually, this is kind of like a ‘Hail Mary pass’ in the last seconds of a football game. I thought that if I don’t at least try this method, I would always wonder if it would have worked. So, I’m trying to keep an open mind.

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