On Friday and Saturday I gave a workshop about combining EMDR and Ego State Therapy. At the workshop, I did a demonstration with an attendee who was 8 months out from a horrible allergic reaction to crab meat. Since then she's had daily hives, breathing issues, and has had a very limited vegan diet.  She reacted to meat and fish,wine, air-borne odors and chemicals, and substances she can't identify.  We used EMDR to clear the first huge horrible reaction from 8 months ago. Then I asked her to imagine the control room of her immune system in her brain, and asked her who was in there running it. "A big burly guy named Bruce." I told her to put on her CEO business suit and persona, march into that control room and tell him to Stand Down, aim the immune system only at bacteria and viruses and stop being so over-protective. She immediately started to feel better. We imagined that if "Bruce" began to over-perform that she could tell him to "Stand Down" again.

The next day, she told the group that she'd felt much better, had had to tell Bruce to calm it down about 4 times and that she was no longer reactive. She'd had a glass of wine for the first time in 8 months. Last night I saw her eat her first fish in months, with no reaction. And she was having none of her life-long allergy to cats, at least not to my cat.


About 15 years ago, I invented the above protocol when my friend Elizabeth and I were practicing on each other at a training. Over a year ago Elizabeth contracted a horrible leukemia and spent months in the hospital awaiting a good match for a stem-cell transplant. Finally, the cells arrived from Europe and the transplant was done. Elizabeth then developed Graft vs. Host disease: the new cells attacked her body and started to kill her. (GVHD has a 50% mortality rate.) The doctors gave her steroids and other drugs to knock back the immune response, but they didn't stop it and Elizabeth got sicker and sicker. She called me to the hospital. In two sessions we used the same kind of ego-state work, with nearly continuous bilateral stimulation, that we had done years ago for her MCS.

I asked her to personify her new immune system–it was a scared little boy. "Too bad you don't know what to do with anxious kids," I said to the wonderful mom and amazing child therapist."I'm holding him and telling him he's safe, he's with me, and he doesn't have to attack anything."    After a while she reported he had calmed down.

Me: "Tell him you're going on a tour of the body and you'll show him what's safe and what he needs to protect you from."

And we went through the list of bodily organs and places, while he was safely held." Elizabeth was exhausted after about 30 minutes of processing. When I checked in with her a few days later she had more energy and she said the little boy was chasing butterflies in a field and much happier, and she was much better.

The next week, she called me again. The "attack" was more localized: just to her digestive tract. And there were many boys.When I got to the hospital, I had Elizabeth round up the boys and announced we would take them on a spelunking tour through the entire "cave" of the digestive system. I turned on the tappers, and we "led" the boys through the "cave" from the throat, through the esophagus, to the stomach and all the way through the twisty-turny intestines. I told Elizabeth "tell the boys that they may not attack the walls of the "cave", or the "good" bacteria bugs that were around. These bugs are needed to help digest the food. You can pet them and play with them, but not hurt them. However, the bad bugs, like e-coli and C-Diff, are fine. You can stomp those bugs to death and have fun doing it." She felt even better, though still tired.

After that she had rapid improvement, but got traumatized by one of the doctors. He had been off that floor for a few weeks. When he saw Elizabeth with color in her face, walking the halls with a bit of vigor he was shocked. "You're still here."

"Yes, but they're going to send me home in a few days." 

"No, but I mean, you're still here."

"What do you mean?"

"People don't survive what was happening to you."

When Elizabeth got out of the hospital, I did a home visit and we cleared her response to that distressing conversation.

She's been home for months and is exercising, driving, able to hold her granddaughter (she couldn't before with depressed immune system.) And the "boys" are behaving in their new body, just as they should.  When she's got more energy, we think we'll write a journal article about GVHD and our work with it.

(I wrote a chapter about Multiple Chemical Sensitivities in EMDR Solutions II: for Depression, etc.)