By Dawson Church, PhD
The 9 Gamut Procedure is part of the EFT Full Basic Recipe. It involves 9 actions performed while tapping the “gamut” point on the Triple Warmer acupuncture meridian on the back of the hand. It includes behaviors designed to engage both the left and right hemispheres of the brain, as well as eye movements.
New research shows that eye movements such as those prescribed in the 9 Gamut procedure are instrumental in reprocessing old traumatic memories. The University of South Florida (USF) conducted a study of people with PTSD and depression, using a new method called ART or Accelerated Resolution Therapy (Kip et al., 2012).
They found that the emotional charge held in memories of traumatic events was rapidly reduced by ART. ART uses eye movements, and also has clients re-imagine a desired outcome. Participants in the study experienced dramatic drops in both PTSD and depression symptoms, as well as improved sleep. The two major components of ART include minimizing or eliminating physiological response associated traumatic memories, and re-envisioning painful or disturbing experiences…” (Hudak, 2012).
The study was published in the journal Behavioral Sciences.
Another study, published in the journal Traumatology, was a collaboration between a psychiatrist and an optician. They were colleagues, and stumbled upon the discovery that when traumatized people remember an emotionally charged event, they are unable to maintain stable peripheral vision. When turned sharply to the side, their eyes flutter. After successful psychiatric treatment, however, the fluttering disappears, and they are able to recall the event without emotional distress.
Neuroscientists don’t know exactly why this association between traumatic memories and eye movements occurs. It may be linked to the ability of the brain to process a disturbing event. The midbrain or limbic system contains structures that are responsible for turning short-term memories into long-term ones. The phenomenon of involuntary eye fluttering has also been observed in a study of adults with ADHD, published in the journal Vision. According to another published report, 90% of psychiatric patients have these visual anomalies (Tym, Dyck, & McGrath, 2000). Another study examined the eye movements of medical students as they became progressively more fatigued, and found that the degree of their stress could be predicted by the stability of their eye movements (Di Stasi et al., 2014).
This memory processing function is impaired in patients suffering from PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.
This theory is discussed in an article in Scientific American. It summarizes how research into EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a therapy which is as effective as EFT for PTSD (Karatzias et al., 2011), demonstrates that the eye movements are an active ingredient of the therapy and not an inert placebo. The phenomenon was observed as early as the 1940s by a British doctor treating WWII survivors (Traquair, 1946).
Other Clinical EFT Techniques such as the Floor to Ceiling Eye Roll (Feldenkrais, 1972, 1981) also use eye movements to reduce emotional distress. Bandler and Grinder (1979) used eye movements in NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) and believed that they correlate with aspects of experience such as internal dialog, kinesthetic sensations, and imagery.
Experience with tens of thousands of clients has shown the 9 Gamut Procedure to be effective even when the other parts of the EFT Basic Recipe are unable to provide resolution to a problem.
During Clinical EFT training and certification, the 9 Gamut is emphasized; slow eye movements covering every point in the field of peripheral vision are found to be particularly valuable.
For all these reasons, backed by the emerging science linking eye movements to memory reconsolidation, the 9 Gamut is an essential part of every EFT practitioner’s toolkit.