The effect of EMDR on the pathophysiology of PTSD


The process of understanding PTSD has been a long and difficult one. It is safe to say our understanding of this disorder is incomplete, and our exploration into its pathophysiology is fairly recent. As with any disorder of the brain, the complexities of PTSD are extensive and require integrating cognitive, functional, and chemical components. Given this complexity, it is no wonder that treating PTSD has also been a challenge. Treating a disorder whose components are not fully understood is similar to shooting in the dark. Some shots have hit their mark and some have missed. More than ten years after its conception, the question of whether Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a hit or a miss is still debated. If understanding the pathophysiology of PTSD is still recent, understanding the possible physiology behind EMDR is just beginning. This paper will define PTSD, explain some aspects of its physiology, and present some hypotheses as to why EMDR may be a successful treatment for PTSD.






Stacy Smith

Original Work Citation

Smith, S. (2003, Spring). The effect of EMDR on the pathophysiology of PTSD. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 5(2), 85-91



“The effect of EMDR on the pathophysiology of PTSD,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 23, 2021,

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