What are Emotional Personas?

What are Emotional Personas?

Elizabeth Handy

I use the concept of Matryoshka dolls, or Russian nesting dolls, when I explain Emotional Personas (EP).

Every one of us is made up of multiple EPs—the smaller, internal dolls, which collectively make up our whole adult self—the big doll. Each EP represents an age or a moment along the timeline of our lives.

In a healthy individual with no trauma, the EPs are integrated and share neural pathways with the whole person. This individual feels and behaves in a way that is aligned with their true present-day reality.

However, in an individual who suffers from symptoms of PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), one or many of these EPs has not fully integrated, causing the person to exhibit symptoms that are not typical of the true, whole, adult self. This is why many victims of trauma describe their own behavior as being “outside the body” or that they feel younger than their true age when symptoms flare up.

Brainspotting and EMDR help to integrate the EPs into the whole person by identifying and processing the trauma of each individual EP. Depending on the client and the severity of the trauma, it can take as little as one session to process an EP. Successful processing happens when the EP becomes fully integrated and trauma symptoms disappear.