Trauma from abuse, suggestibility and EMDR


One of the most complete definitions of Trauma describes it as an "extreme, unsustainable and inevitable threatening experience, in the face of which the individual experiences a sense of helplessness", an event outside the range of usual human experiences, which overwhelm the normal human capacity for adaptation. A modern and current understanding of the concept of Trauma occurs with Bowlby, which places it for the first time in a "relational" context. He argues that the way people react in adverse life situations, particularly to a traumatic event, depends on the type of attachment that has been established between the child and his attachment figures (AFs). The concept of "child abuse and neglect" includes different forms of violence against children, ranging from verbal abuse to rape. Law 66 of 15 February 1996 introduced specific rules on child sexual abuse, in particular the way of listening to children in order to collect good testimony. The theory that today represents the point of reference for most research on the accuracy of memory in testimony, considers memory a "reconstructive" process, and is the result of the interaction between interpretation that is given by the subject in the coding phase, recovery of clues based on the general knowledge possessed by the subject and the context in which it is in the moment in which it must remember. Loftus' studies on false memories affirm that eye witnessing, however bona fide it may be, can be completely unreliable because there are many distortions of memory. The problem of suggestibility in memory is not so much that the momentary account can be modified, but that a distortion of the original episode of what is represented in memory of the event in question takes place, which, from that moment on, will be irreversibly modified. The therapeutic crisis support is the first phase of the therapeutic work following the abuse and has as its privileged recipients the victim and the adult who takes care of them. Currently, a trauma-focused therapy such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), an evidence-based psychotherapy approach, is used, recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the elective therapy for the treatment of PTSD and several psychopathologies related to traumatic events, including sexual abuse. Not only because the victims of abuse could in turn perpetrate the cycle of abuse, but also so that victimisation is not considered an unchangeable characteristic of the person.






Francesca Romana Ficorilli

Original Work Citation

Ficorilli, F. R. (2018). Trauma from abuse, suggestibility and EMDR. Rivista di Psicopatologia Forense, Medicina Legale, Criminologia, (23), 41. doi:10.4081/psyco.2018.41



“Trauma from abuse, suggestibility and EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 16, 2021,

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