If I did EMDR… with Marilyn Monroe

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” – Marilyn Monroe


I spend my days often thinking of people from the past whose lives could have been positively affected by EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). [If you’re unsure what EMDR is, look back to my previous blog post: 5 Life Changing Benefits of EMDR Therapy.]


We call this the Bargaining phase of Grief for most people.


What would have happened if Marilyn Monroe, Robin Williams, Kurt Cobaine, etc. had engaged in a more modern, progressive approach to treating their demons? Would they still be here? Would they have tried it?


Of course we can only ever engage with those who are Ready, Willing, and Able to create change in their lives… who are willing to go on the journey to healing and recovery.


But what if they knew about EMDR and were willing to give it a shot.


I know I am pretty out of my bounds to even discuss these iconic individuals, their mental health, and demons… but I like to take risks.


Most everything below is based on facts derived from internet research (Thank you, Wikipedia). Other assumptions are based on my clinical knowledge and systemic training.


So I will start with the glamorous, talented, and tragic story of Marilyn (Born Norma Jeane Mortensen or Baker, depending on who you ask). Most people know of her traumatic childhood filled with abandonment from a myriad of parental figures, including her own biological mother placing her in foster care, and never knowing her father.


Monroe went from foster home to orphanage, never experiencing a stable, consistent childhood or family life. Monroe also later reported that she had been sexually abused as a child. Her attachment wounds were organically and deeply insecure from a young age, including her negative beliefs about herself most likely being formed by the age of 7 years old.


Negative beliefs including, but not limited to:

I’m unloveable.

There’s something wrong with me.

I don’t belong.

I don’t deserve love.

I’m different.

I’m alone.

I can’t trust anyone.

I’m not in control.

I’m not safe.

It’s not safe to have and show my emotions.

I’m not good enough.

I have to be perfect.

I’m a sexual object. (my self worth and safety lies in my desirability)


“Dogs never bite me. Just humans.” -Marilyn Monroe


Her mother had her own struggles with mental illness, including paranoid schizophrenia, and spent much of her later life in and out of hospitals. It was at that time, that Monroe became a Ward of the State, all according to Wikipedia.


Monroe had everything working against her to be mentally and emotionally stable. Yet, as everyone knows, she became a Hollywood Sex Symbol and Icon. She was wildly successful in her own right, trying her best to live a normal, happy life. Yet poor Monroe didn’t know what Normal was. She never experienced it. To attach the proverbial “L” to her birth name would be a morose irony.


If I would have done EMDR with Marilyn, I would have started with the past traumas starting from early childhood. Her abandonment issues of her mother and father, and gone from target to target of major, disturbing, and traumatic events throughout her tumultuous childhood.


I would have created a thorough trauma history with her, as extensive as needed and would have asked her to scale each incident and rate the level of disturbance from 0 to 10; 0 being no disturbance or neutral, 10 being the highest level of disturbance imageinable. I would have also targeted all of her negative beliefs about herself in accordance with each event, and have her rate those as well on a scale of 1 to 7, 1 being completely false, and 7 being completely true.


We would complete the trauma protocol for each event or phase of life, until it was desensitized to a 0, the negative belief was a 1 (completely false), and a more healthy, positive belief was in place at a 7 (completely true).


I would have helped her learn how to be loving and compassionate towards herself, and help her fully understand (with love, and without judgement) why she believed the way she believed, thought the way she thought, felt the way she felt, acted the way she acted, and got the results she got in her life. And my oh my, were they impressive results. But behind the scenes, she was in deep emotionally pain and suffering.


Struggles with sleep, depression, anxiety, distorted perception, and low self esteem. And so she numbed… with barbiturates, alcohol, and other narcotics.


I know this is all hypothetical, and I am not trying to go back and time and save her. But knowing personally and professionally the healing powers of EMDR… it truly makes me wonder sometimes how powerfully it could have been for those who never knew about it, never got to experience it… before it existed.


Blessings and thankfulness stir inside of me for the time I live in, that I get to experience for myself and my clients the amazing powers of these progressive, contemporary, and innovative treatments.


I truly hope Marilyn is in Peace, and despite the controversies, I have great compassion for her and what she went though. No child deserves that, and she deserved every ounce of love and happiness she got, despite if she believed herself worthy of it.


“Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” -Marilyn Monroe


That it is, Marilyn. And remember…

You ARE so loveable!

There ISN’T something wrong with you. (You are perfect the way you are.)

You DO belong!

You DO deserve love!

You are different, though… but in an amazing way!

You are NOT alone!

You CAN trust others. (who are worthy of your trust)

You ARE in control… of so much. (but not of everything, and most definitely not your past).

You ARE safe. (when you choose to be around safe people in safe environments).

It’s so OKAY to have and show your emotions.

You ARE good enough! You are SO good enough! It is unbelievable how ENOUGH you are.

And you are SO MUCH MORE than an object.


Now I would love to hear from you. 

What do you think about Marilyn’s childhood? Have you experienced anything similar? What are your thoughts on childhood trauma and how it impacts later? What negative beliefs do you have about yourself? How do they impact you? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you in advance for reading, commenting and sharing with love, compassion and kindness. You help make our cozy corner of the world wide web an awesome place!

Sending love and healing,


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