Anger, imagination and EMDR – what EMDR has taught us about the importance of anger and how to facilitate its safe release
Jaak Panksepp’s text, Affective Neuroscience (1998), informs us of the vast amount of neurological data available to show that, like all mammals, anger is one of our basic affective circuits. Yet it is not identified as such in the diagnostic manual, at least here in the States. Only the destructive outcomes of angry behaviors are included. Guiding EMDR sessions over the past 17 years has given me the opportunity to observe the nondestructive release of anger as a protective response to harmful (traumatic) experiences. Imagination appears to provide us with an innate ability to acknowledge the degree of harm, and to experience, at a physical level, the capability to protect ourselves and others, if anything similar recurs. Following that release, I consistently see what I call “Compassion-with-Protection”, spontaneously expressed. Others call it “forgiveness”. Because of their experiences with destructive anger and our cultural avoidance of anger, clients often have difficulty allowing their angry feelings to be felt and released during EMDR work. Letting them know they have this capability can enable them to “just notice what happens” during trauma reprocessing. This workshop will address, via description and case examples, how EMDR has clarified the nature of anger. It will specify how EMDR clinicians can support their clients in releasing anger non-destructively (by clearing the anger circuit during Preparation, teaching them how the Imagination works - for self-use and during reprocessing, - and identifying the most efficient targeting sequences), so they can update their systems to their current level of capability and fully experience the “Compassion-with-Protection” that naturally follows.
Original Work Citation
O'Shea, K. (2008, June). Anger, imagination and EMDR – what EMDR has taught us about the importance of anger and how to facilitate its safe release. Presentation at the 9th EMDR Europe Association Conference, London, England
“Anger, imagination and EMDR – what EMDR has taught us about the importance of anger and how to facilitate its safe release,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed March 2, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/18227.