The Trigger of Eye-Movement Desensitization:
Dr. Allan Botkin's EMDR Research

Dr. Allan Botkin's photo.

Induced After-Death Communications book cover. Dr. Allan Botkin is head of the The Center for Grief and Traumatic Loss at and is a clinical psychologist with over 15 years of experience in the treatment of psychological trauma (PTSD) and grief. Many years ago, Dr. Botkin began to experiment with variations of a relatively new and very powerful psychological treatment using Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). He discovered by accident how one variation of EMDR reliably induced an experience known as Induced After-Death Communication (IADCs) which almost all patients believed was authentic spiritual contact with the deceased regardless of their prior belief system. He published his findings in his book Induced After-Death Communication: A New Therapy for Healing Grief and Trauma with  R. Craig Hogan and Dr. Raymond Moody. An November 2003 article about IADCs and Dr. Botkin involving the IADC of a journalist can be found on Dr. Botkin's Experiences section of his website.

The ADC research of Bill and Gudy Guggenheim describe after-death communications (ADCs) in their book Hello From Heaven. ADCs occur spontaneously in about 20% of the population, and are now recognized by a number of authors and many professionals in the field as emotionally transforming and very healing experiences. Just as near-death experiences convince those close to death of the continuation of life after death, ADCs convince survivors that the deceased are still very much alive.

Dr. Raymond Moody, who sparked the public's interest in NDEs with Life After Life, was the first to purposely induce ADCs with any success. He describes the results of his technique in Reunions. His 50% success rate with highly motivated individuals indicates that we do have some control over the production of the ADC experience. Dr. Botkin's discovery is simply a method, based upon a variation of a new and very powerful psychological technique (EMDR), that induces ADCs in a much more reliable (98%) manner across a more heterogeneous population.

Moreover, since the ADC induction procedure provided by Dr. Botkin's method provides greater control of the experience, they are generally more elaborated than either the spontaneous variety, or those induced by Dr. Moody's procedure. These more elaborated experiences not only result in a more complete resolution of grief, they are also more NDE-like (going through a tunnel and towards light, seeing beautiful and rich landscapes, etc.). Dr. Botkin cogently makes the argument that ADCs and NDEs are essentially experiences of the same phenomenon, although clearly from different points of view. If true, then all arguments that NDEs are nothing more than the physiological by-products of a dying brain, can be seriously questioned. Dr. Botkin's patients routinely experience nearly all of the same components of NDEs, and they are, in almost all cases, very healthy and not near-death.

Dr. Botkin argues that the most important aspect of this discovery is its clinical application: it simply works, and offers hope that we will be able to ameliorate a great deal of suffering. From a scientific and philosophical point of view, however, we also now have a means to study ADCs, and logically NDEs as well, in laboratory settings. The results of these efforts, which will hopefully be multi-disciplinary, may answer some questions humans have had ever since we evolved to the point that we had the brain capacity to consider our ultimate fate.

Dr. Botkin's article appears in the Volume 18, No. 3 (Spring 2000) edition of  Journal of Near-Death Studies.

The following article is an example of Dr. Botkin's IADC therapy used by permission.


A Vietnam veteran spent many years experiencing guilt and sadness over killing a young enemy soldier.


Few human beings can kill another without feeling great remorse, even in the heat of battle. That is especially true when the soldier can see the face of his enemy, the living person carrying photos of his family, hoping to return home to them at the end of the war hope ended by the soldier's bullet. The face becomes a permanent image in the soldier's memory that will appear again and again for the remainder of his life, wherever he goes, at every age. And when the veteran arrives at a maturity where regret over the killing is too great to suppress, the image creates unbearable sadness, often masked by rage and guilt.

That is what happened to Mike.

Mike arrived in Vietnam a few days before his first major battle. The battle went on for some time and when his unit started running low on ammunition, Mike was intensely afraid they were all going to die. Just when it appeared all hope had faded, a helicopter arrived with supplies. As they were unloading boxes of ammunition, Mike looked up and saw a young enemy soldier running towards them. He could see his face clearly. Overcome with intense anger, he shot and killed him. Even though it was the first time he killed another human being, he felt exhilarated and in control of his fate. When the battle was over, Mike was congratulated by other soldiers, and he felt fully trusted and accepted by his peers. He didn't think much more about the event for the remainder of his tour.

However, when he returned home, Mike experienced nightmares of the event that continued for the next 25 years. He repeatedly saw the face of the young enemy soldier he killed and began to wonder how old this enemy soldier was and whether he had a family who grieved his death. At times, he could retrieve his combat anger to justify the incident, but at other times he felt great remorse and sadness. "I just feel terrible. What I did goes against everything I have every believed," he said to me in my office. It was clear that Mike needed to confront his sadness by fully grieving the death of the person he killed.

I performed the IADC procedure and he closed his eyes. He described what he saw. "I can see him, the young soldier's face, but it doesn't like the face I saw in 'Nam and what I see in my nightmares. I see him smiling and happy." Mike sat quietly for a moment, then opened his eyes. "He communicated to me that he was very content where he was, and he understood that I had to do what I did."

After a few minutes of describing what happened, he ended by saying, "I'm really surprised that the person I killed would have such feelings. This is really strange. I feel like he and I are not just OK with each other; I feel like we're friends."

After that session, the look on the enemy soldier's face before he died that had haunted Mike for over 25 years was replaced by the smiling and happy face he experienced in his IADC. He told me at the end of the session, "I'm trying to bring up in my mind the old image of his face I always saw in my nightmares, but I can't."

A two year follow-up revealed that Mike's nightmares of the incident had vanished from that day on, and he felt only an important connection to the enemy soldier he had killed.


"You see, death is not the grave as many people think. It is another phenomenized form of life." - Edgar Cayce

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