It was a golden time...: Treating narcissistic vulnerability


This chapter focuses on EMDR-enhanced therapeutic protocols to treat individuals whose painful life experience is separated from consciousness by complex defensive structures, particularly those associated with narcissistic and avoidance defenses.In many of the clients I have worked with, the healing power of EMDR is prevented or impaired by unresolved positive feelings that block the client's full awareness of the negative experience associated with trauma. This can occur when the overall complex of posttraumatic images, self-defeating cognitions, unpleasant feelings and sensations (what Francine Shapiro calls the unprocessed "memory network") contains embedded strong positive affect that is highly valued by the client. In the case of a person with narcissistic defenses, the positive material may block awareness of negative memories, especially if the positive experience occurred in the larger context of trauma and neglect. In such instances the positive part of the experience is idealized through selective memory and strengthened in intensity, because it serves as a defense against the core PTSD. The negative part of the memory is partially or wholly dissociated and is thus less accessible to processing.


Book Section




Jim Knipe

Original Work Citation

Knipe, J. (1998). It was a golden time...: Treating narcissistic vulnerability. In P. Manfield (Ed.), Extending EMDR: A casebook of innovative applications (1st ed.) (pp. 232-255). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co



“It was a golden time...: Treating narcissistic vulnerability,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed January 20, 2022,

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