Is orienting reflex in EMDR successful?


We tried to “dissect” the EMDR method in the component desensitization through rapid eye movement (EMD), that is also the original part, to explain the neurophysiological functioning, Charney et al, say that a lot of persistent symptoms of PTSD are caused by an elevate arousal of NVS, particularly due to the increase of norepinephrine. Others hypothesize, again, that EMDR method is rapid because it is based on Classic Conditioning. Pavlov found that every stimulus of environment causes to the organism (animal or human) an immediate orienting response due to the arousal of the Autonomic Nervous System. In this situation the animal begins to look around moving its eyes laterality (as it happens during ocular movements of EMD); if it perceives a danger in the environment it stimulates a visceral negative response (hyperactivation that means fear) that leads an an avoidance behaviour (stiffening) and/or fighting. In other cases it causes a visceral positive response (de-arousal process that means reassurance) that leads to an approach behaviour through interaction or exploration.

The EMD should produce an orienting reflex in the patient in a protective sitaution like a psychotherapeutic setting; that means an important reduction of neuro-vegetative nervous system activity (dearousal) and some visceral positive response. We propose an experimental design with a single subject (ABACADA) by interruption treatment and by monitoring Neurophysiological functions through biofeedback instruments to test this neurophyiological hypothesis.






Davide Munaro
Roberto Anchisi
Rossella Bossa
Roberto Guzzi

Original Work Citation

Munaro, D., Anchisi, R., Bossa, R., & Guzzi, R. (2001, October). Is orienting reflex in EMDR successful? In International CIANS Conference (CIANS: Collegium Internationale Activitatis Nervosae Superioris; International Association for Integrative Nervous Functions, Neurobiology of behaviour and Psychosomatics, (pp 149-158) Palermo, Italy



“Is orienting reflex in EMDR successful?,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 23, 2021,

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