By Lynette McDonald, MSW
I am a trained but not yet certified EMDR therapist with two years experience.
Recently an intelligent, personable, energetic woman in her early 70s was referred to me for assessment for EMDR treatment. I diagnosed her with depression and PTSD. In recent years this otherwise articulate, functional woman has had episodes she calls “black outs.”
Example: patient remembers going into the door of the church where her best friend’s wedding is about to be held. She says she must have blacked out because she cannot remember a thing more until the next day when her best friend tells her she doesn’t “want to know someone like her,” refuses to say why, never speaks to her again.
Another example: She is ending a good first date with a man she likes. The couple is leaving a restaurant to go to the parking lot. She thinks he may kiss her, then “blacks out” and “awakens” 100 yds or so away, by her car, “and he never wants to see me again either, won’t return my calls.”
First time this happened was when she was 11 years old and an older boy “tried to kiss” her. She remembers nothing but woke up on the ground. The patient was an only child. Her mother had severe and persistent mental illness and was institutionalized when the patient was 11 yrs old. Patient has only a handful of memories of her early years. These point to her mother abusing her in unpredictable, bizarre ways. From 11 yrs on she lived with her father whom she idealized but he worked long hours, leaving her alone after school and evenings. Relatives were ashamed of her because they associated her with her mother. She was sent away to boarding school where she excelled at age 12. She says she studied meditation and achieved a profound peace. She completed DES assessment with some indications of dissociation.
Does this sound like a patient with DID? Or a person too likely to dissociate, for whom EMDR would not be appropriate? I would appreciate feedback.