The New Philosophy Vol 104 No 3-4, July-December 2001
In June 1998 I learned of a technique called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), for treating painful memories. It basically seems to involve stimulating the patient’s brain bilaterally, while the patient holds the memory or memories in their mind. Originally, Francine Shapiro,1 the discoverer and developer of the technique, used saccadic (sideways movement, to and fro) of the eyes. Subsequently it has been found that bilateral alternating ear sound, or tapping the hands alternately, or even the feet in desperate situations, helps to transform the nature of the memory in various positive ways. Occasionally nothing happens, but usually the memory fades, becomes laughable, of no importance, and with or without a host of other reactions. There are temporary unpleasant reactions on the way to resolution, but if dealt with skillfully, the result is usually positive. Francine Shapiro stresses the importance of getting proper training before practicing EMDR, as these reactions can be quite frightening to someone not used to dealing with them. But the good results are often astonishing. A fresh way of looking at the problem, impossible before, becomes attainable. Though memories be as scarlet they become whiter than snow to use the familiar words from Isaiah.
The Writings of Swedenborg (1688–1771) have elicited a variety of reactions over the centuries, ranging from making them a basis of a new Christian revelation to considering them the grandiose output of a mere madman and mystic. Recently, Talbot (1997) revisited the long literary history of Swedenborg’s alleged insanity, a charge which understandably has offended many New Church intellectuals.1 The logic and arguments of the Swedenborgian supporters (see Larsen, 1988; Williams-Hogan, 1988) appear far superior, more detailed, and weightier than the meager, insufficient, and contentious speculations of the Swedenborg detractors.