Ellie’s* story:
Part 3


* Ellie’s real name has been changed for confidentiality’s sake.

Session No. 2 

She looked much better when she came in, said she had felt relieved and almost back to normal the past week. She was sleeping better, was able to work, and did not feel the need to call me.

We returned to the worst part of the incident, which was now auditory, the sound of the plane hitting the towers. The SUDs was 9 ½, the NC was “I’m unsafe,” and she now was able to come up with a Positive Cognition (PC), “I’m safe now.” I asked her, as is the procedure, how true the statement “I’m safe now” is on a scale of 1-7, with 1 being completely false, 7 being completely true. She gave the statement a score of 3.

  • # 1 (50) She sees the building falling now but she has her back to it. “The most upsetting thing is the sound, it’s very loud. Later on, when I was walking away, I went under the subway and the sound was the same. I’m like an animal these days, all my senses heightened, everything is turned on. I’m always alert, I always have one ear cocked. It’s the sound I hear when the plane hit.”

  • #2 (60) “I’m thinking now of thunder, I’ve been afraid of it since I was a little girl. In New York City there was a thunderstorm a couple of days later and everyone said, `Oh, that’s great, ooh, ahhh, isn’t this cool.’ It was a massive storm. I was scared, I didn’t like it. I always liked lightning because you could see it but I hate thunder. You don’t know where the sound is coming from.”

  • #3 (38) “Am I supposed to be thinking of these things?” I ask what she’s thinking, she shakes her head and she says, “I’m thinking of all kinds of different things. I have always loved the ocean, been a surfer. I now think of the sound of the surf, which I always liked. So I’m making that sound into the sound of the surf. And I like it! That’s really weird.” She looks at me in bewilderment.

I ask her if it reminds her of things as a child because she said that, even as a child, she didn’t like loud sounds. She thinks of being in the schoolyard, her mother or brother picking her up late. She says, “They left me there. There were big trees and I was afraid they would come down on me. I saw La Bamba at the time, about Ritchie Valens, about the plane falling. I remember thinking in the school yard of a plane falling on me.”

  • # 4 (67) “I’m kind of blank, I’m trying to think about the second building. It was loud but kind of muffled because I was in the building.”

At this point I take her back to the original target to see now what the SUDS level is. She says that the sound now is not nearly as loud and is not very upsetting. “It’s now the sound of waves and the degree of upset is only 5.”

  • #5 (82) “More of the same. It’s not nearly as bad. It’s like a motorcycle or car. I heard a motorcycle go by in the alley awhile [in back of my office] ago. It’s about the same as that.”

The SUDs level is now only 2. She’s very shocked that it now doesn’t even seem like a real building in her mind. “It feels like a historical picture, like Pompeii. I can’t even picture the building! And I’m a very visual person. That’s my work.” I tell her that she actually seems a bit upset that she’s not upset anymore. And she agrees. “I can hardly believe it!” I explain that this is exactly what we want to happen, that she’s having a very good reaction to the EMDR.

  • #6 (30) “More of the same. It’s now like a history book.” The SUDS is now 1. I ask her now what the score of the statement “I’m safe now” is, and she says it’s still a 3, “Because I’m worried about our whole country. I’m thinking constantly about anthrax and biological warfare.”

  • #7 (55) “I’m thinking of all the things I’ve been thinking about. I don’t really know about any of this, this anthrax stuff. I’m a hypochondriac.But I tell you, I’d rather die that way [with anthrax] than in that building. I don’t want to go through anything like that again! I never thought about death before at all!”

  • #8 (48) “It’s weird, I’m feeling mellow. I don’t think that much.” I ask, “You mean about the building?” She says, “Yeah.”

I now take her to the Safe Place, the same beach in Italy, which is now 10 AM, It’s an empty beach, they just got there, and there are nice waves. “It’s a sleepy Sunday, which I love. My friend Louise is there, sleeping. I feel very secure when someone I’m close to, like Louise or my boyfriend, is sleeping and I know where they are. Louise is reading--not Stephen King again!--and I’m going to read a book a friend gave me. But I haven’t read it yet.”

She then told me some things about her parents. She is the youngest, with older brothers. Her mother often yelled at her brothers but she was pleased that she didn’t yell at her.

She also talks about her boss, a woman, who screams at her at times, which makes her feel always alert at work. Her father is like her boss, conservative, opinionated and only infrequently yelling. “But, when he did, it was very scary. He and my mother fought a lot, but they’re still together.”

I now suggest that she imagine her father’s face as he yells at her and hear his voice and get in touch with her feelings and bodily sensations. She says that she sees his face all scrunched up.

  • #9 (15) She starts to laugh, seeing his face, thinking, “He must have practiced that look.” She’s realizing that she was scared as a child of him, but doesn’t have to be scared anymore. She tells me that she had gotten a tattoo and was scared to tell him before. She wants to see if she can now tell him and not be frightened of his reaction. We had gone a bit over time, but she was ready to stop and said she was now feeling very good.

Continue to part 4