EMDR with trauma and narcissism

EMDR met trauma en narcisme


The devaluation of self and others is a relevant issue in the field of trauma and dissociation but therapy usually focuses on a victim-abuser perspective where we tend to pay attention to victims and their symptoms, and when narcissistic features are described, they tend to be considered as characteristics of the abusive figure. From this perspective, victims are described as depressed, submissive, vulnerable and usually trapped in learned helplessness. Although this picture describes some situations related to maltreatment and abuse, it can be simplistic and minimize or overlook internalization of some abuser features by victims (e.g., the presence of perpetrator-imitator parts in DID). Narcissistic features can be a cause and consequence of traumatization and can be treated effectively with EMDR. Targeting the roots of the symptoms is crucial for an adequate case conceptualization. A core characteristic of narcissism is lack of empathy. While empathy issues can be present in many people with personality disorders, there are two personality disorders that are more related with lack of empathy, and a (sometimes only apparent) lack of concern about the suffering that they can cause in other people: narcissist and antisocial personality disorder. Both types of personalities share this self-centered profile. A description of different profiles characterized by self-centerness, selfish attitude and lack of empathy will be described in this presentation. These aspects may be present in abusers and victims, in overt or subtle presentations. To conceptualize EMDR therapy in these cases it is important to understand the pathway from early experiences to present problems. Narcissism and antisocial features can be final outcomes of a neglecting environment, chronic abuse or excessive appraisal. Different attachment disturbances with primary caregivers can lead to lack of empathy and self-centerness. In some cases, structural dissociation is underlying narcissistic or antisocial features that can characterize some dissociative parts of the personality. All these aspects and the complexity of therapeutic relationship in narcissistic and antisocial personalities will be reviewed in this presentation.






Dolores Mosquera

Original Work Citation

Mosquera, D. (2012, March). EMDR with trauma and narcissism.  Keynote resentatie op de 6e congres van de Vereniging EMDR Nederland, Arnghem, The Nederlands




“EMDR with trauma and narcissism EMDR met trauma en narcisme,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed May 16, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/21548.

Output Formats