Recovery and processing of repressed traumatic memories during EMDR


The identification and description of different defense mechanisms was one of Freud’s early discoveries. Defense mechanisms are defined as unconscious strategies in order to protect the subject from painful and anxious emotions or affects. The first defense mechanism described by Freud was repression. The repression is defined as the process in which unacceptable impulses and/or affects associated with traumatic experiences, or unresolved conflicts are repressed into the unconscious.

During the last 100 years, a number of discussions and controversies have taken place regarding repression. Are the so-called repressed memories and experiences stored somewhere? In that care, how can the subject get access to such repressed memories during the psychotherapeutic process?

Originally, Freud suggested hypnosis and later on free associations as a way of accessing repressed and unprocessed traumatic experiences and the underlying emotional conflicts in ‘neurotic’ psychopathology.

Is it possible to use EMDR in order to track down repressed memories of severe traumatic memories? If this is indeed possible, can EMDR make possible both a re-experiencing and a processing of the conflictual content? Is it possible to work through and integrate shame, guilt, and hate associated with grave abuse through EMDR treatment?

During this workshop, an extensive clinical material is presented from treatment sessions with Grace, a woman of 55 with severely traumatic background (torture, prison, and childhood sexual abuse). During the workshop, several video-taped sequences will serve as examples of the remarkable findings as Grace, assisted by eye movements, for the first time recovers and re-experiences severely traumatic childhood experiences.

The EMDR treatment works simultaneously in disarming repression, to process, and to liberate her from severe psychosomatic symptoms; symptoms which have neither found explanation nor remedy during a long treatment process.






Luis Ramos-Ruggiero
Roger Solomon

Original Work Citation

Ramos-Ruggiero, L., & Solomon, R. (2004, June). Recovery and processing of repressed traumatic memories during EMDR. In psychodynamics and EMDR (R. Hultstrand, Chair). Symposium conducted at the 5th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Stockholm, Sweden



“Recovery and processing of repressed traumatic memories during EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 17, 2021,

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