Psychotrauma and EMDR: The philosophical and biopsychosocial substrates


Three decades or so into the innovative approach of management of psychotrauma through ‘eye movements’ and ‘reprocessing’, numerous exciting neurobiological, psychological and social theories have been proposed as the basis of its therapeutic impact. The possible Eastern philosophical and spiritual substrates of trauma and EMDR however remain less discussed. This talk focuses on ancient Eastern philosophical perspectives drawn from Buddha, Zen, Confucius, Carvaca, Hafiz, Rumi, and Avicenna to understand psychotrauma. The Eastern modes of dealing with pain, and injury through Ananda, Nirvana, and Ishq or immortal love are alluded to. Reference is also made to modern Western philosophical overlaps with these Eastern thoughts based on works of Hofstadter, Goedel, and Escher. The speaker goes on to correlate these ancient and modern philosophies, with the neurochemical and molecular hypotheses of psychoneuroimmunological, neurotransmitter and receptor changes to provide a deeper understanding of EMDR and the way it possibly works. The aim of the talk is to reconstruct philosophical and neurobiological thought to develop a holistic understanding of trauma and explain how EMDR may influence the existential, spiritual, and physical realms of a trauma survivor.






Mowadat Rana

Original Work Citation

Rana, M. (2017, April). Psychotrauma and EMDR: The philosophical and biopsychosocial substrates. In EMDR models/theory/techniques /strategies (Atara Sivan, Chair). Presentation at the 3rd EMDR Asia International Conference, Shanghai, China



“Psychotrauma and EMDR: The philosophical and biopsychosocial substrates,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 24, 2021,

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