Idealization and Maladaptive Positive Emotion: EMDR Therapy for Women Who Are Ambivalent About Leaving an Abusive Partner
After ensuring safety, treatment of victims of intimate partner violence is typically focused on the adverse and traumatizing experiences and related negative emotions. In addition, in many cases, idealization of the perpetrator and maladaptive positive emotion are initial elements that also need to be taken into account. The concept of dysfunctionally stored information described in the adaptive information processing model can be viewed as being broader in nature than maladaptive negative emotions from memories for adverse experiences and can include dysfunctional defenses such as maladaptive positive emotion and idealized life experiences. Self-defeating, dysfunctional, and unrealistic idealization in a relationship can be treated through targeting, with focused sets of bilateral stimulation, specific positive affect memories that are the origin of the distorted idealization. In this way, the client is able to develop adaptive resolution, that is, a more accurate perception of both past events and the present nature of the relationship. This approach to targeting idealization defenses is illustrated with 3 case examples of women who were ambivalent about leaving a highly abusive partner.