Progressive Awareness Research

Improving Lives One Person at a Time since 1984.

Subliminal Literature: Bibliography and Review


Peripheral Desk Reference S

Sackheim, H.A., Packer, I.K. & Gur, R.C. (1977). Hemisphericity, cognitive set and susceptibility to subliminal perception. University of Pennsylvania. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 86 (6), pp 624-630.

Although many studies have demonstrated that subliminal stimuli influences perception and cognition, the effects have been weak and unreliable.

Harold Sackheim, Ira Packer and Ruben Gur reviewed the factors related to the magnitude of these phenomena, and hypothesized that both individual differences in hemisphericity and situational manipulations of cognitive sets are associated with the strength of the subliminal effects.

Right and left hemisphericity subjects were used.

The results revealed an interaction between hemisphericity groups and cognitive set conditions.

The right hemisphericity subjects showed a subliminal effect when their cognitive set was holistic and intuitive, whereas left hemisphericity subjects showed a subliminal effect when encouraged to think in and organized and logical manner.

*** Saegert, J. (1979). Another look at subliminal perception. Journal of Advertising Research, 19 (1), pp 55-57. ISSN: 0021-8499.

Joel Saegert reviews the research on subliminal perception.

In particular, the psychological research by Silverman is examined.

Although Silverman's work has demonstrated behavioral changes as a result of subliminal stimulation, critics argue that, as the subjects used were pathological, the results would not apply to "normal"people.

The practical implications of the use of subliminals in marketing are discussed.

The problem with demonstrating the marketing application empirically, is that, although the advertising is directed at large numbers of people, it is only perceived by a small subset and eventually will be responded to by those whose needs can be satisfied by the product being advertised.


Saito, T. (1990). "The effect of the subliminal suggestion under hypnosis." Japanese Journal of Hypnosis 35(1-2): 5-11.

Studied the effect of analgesic messages delivered in hypnotic and subliminal conditions.


Jose Salvador Hernandez Gonzalez (1998). Freedom From Dental Anxiety, Department of Social Security for Mexico.

25 patients were exposed to both video and audio Freedom From Dental Anxiety tapes for thirty minutes prior to treatment and thirty minutes during treatment. The conclusion: "..the use of InnerTalk® before an integral odontologic treatment is 100% effective, reducing patient's anxiety and the noise made by the high speed hand piece used in this type of work, and furthermore, reducing the pain suffered by comparison to previous experience." The report goes on to recommend InnerTalk: "Therefore it is convenient to promote, among Dental Surgeons, the use of InnerTalk to improve their patients comfort and achieve a better collaboration to treatments. In the same way, use will change the Estomologist image (feared for so many years).

Samide, J. L. (1991). A study of subliminal visual messages designed to enhance the self-esteem of alcoholic patients at two treatment centers, Indiana U, PA, US.


Schmeidler, G.R.
(1986). Subliminal perception and ESP: Order in diversity? The Journal of the American Society for Physical Research, 80 (3).

Gertrude Schmeidler found a positive correlation between ESP and subliminal perception skills.


Schmidt, J.M. (1981). The effects of subliminally presented anaclitic and introjective stimuli on normal young adults. University of Southern Mississippi. Dissertation Abstracts International, 42 (5-B), pp 2081. ISSN: 0419-4209.

Anaclitic and interojective subjects were exposed to one of three subliminal stimuli;

1) neutral control,

2) "I have lost mommy" - anaclitic, intended to activate memories and fantasies of the loss of vitally important loved one, and

3) "I have been bad" - interojective, intended to stimulate memories and fantasies of guilt, failure and worthlessness.

For both groups (anaclitic and interojective) it was hypothesized that the relevant depressive stimulus would illicit a depressive reaction, while the neutral-control and irrelevant depressive stimuli would not elicit depression.

There were no significant findings on the subjective measures of affective states or the Digit Symbol task.

For both groups, however, the relevant depressive stimulus led to significantly more cognitive measures of depression.

Under the relevant depressive stimulus condition, there were significantly more themes of guilt, fear, sadness, narcissistic loss and withdrawal, and less instances of denial-negation content in the freely associated verbal samples.

The relevant depressive stimulus elicited less pathological non-verbal behavior for the anaclitic group, while leading to a greater incidence of this variable for the interojective group.


Schurtman, R., Palmatier, J.R. & Martin, E.S. (1982). On the activation of symbiotic gratification fantasies as an aid in the treatment of alcoholics. Brooklyn VA Medical Center, NY. International Journal of the Addictions, 17 (7), pp 1157-1174. ISSN: 0020-773X.

Two groups of alcoholics, undergoing treatment, were used.
In addition to the regular treatment program, both groups received 4 subliminal exposures of a verbal message;

1) "mommy and I are one," (experimental), and

2) "people are walking," (control).

The subliminal stimuli were administered under double-blind conditions.
In keeping with the main hypothesis, the experimental subjects were rated as significantly more involved in treatment.

Among the alcoholics who were more symptomatic to begin with, the experimental message, when contrasted with the control, lowered anxiety and depression, enhanced self-concept and reduced alcohol consumption after a 3-month follow-up.


Schwartz, M. (1976). On testing hypotheses about subliminal perception: a reply to Shevrin. Psychophysiology, 13 (1), pp 27-31. ISSN 0048-5772.

Marvin Schwartz recently produced a paper in conjunction with Michael Rem (1975) in which it was reported that they could find no evidence that average evoked responses discriminate between two stimuli presented for durations that were either subliminal or supraliminal for discriminating the stimuli behaviorally.

In this paper, Schwarz argues that Shevrin's (1975) criticisms are factually and theoretically erroneous.

A reanalysis of the data, following Shevrin's suggestions, confirms the conclusions originally drawn.


Schwartz, M. & Rem, M.A. (1975). Does the average evoked response encode subliminal perception? Psychophysiology, 12 (4), pp 390-394. ISSN: 0048-5772.

Marvin Schwartz and Michael Rem attempted to replicated the work of Shevrin (1968, 1970 and 1971), where it was reported that the effects of subliminal perception are encoded in the average evoked response.

The present experiment was a more stringent test in that it;

1) collected both physiological and behavioral data in the same trials,

2) attempted to minimize criteria differences in the employment of physiological and behavioral responses, and

3) behaviorally verified conditions designed to be subliminal.

Two stimuli were presented tachistopically in a given trial, separated by 1 sec.
Over blocks of trials, exposure duration for the stimuli was 3, 7, 15 and 30 msec.
At 3-msec exposure, all subjects detected the stimuli but could not discriminate between them; discrimination increased with increasing exposure duration.

There was no exposure duration at which the average evoked response measure could discriminate between stimuli.

It was concluded that there was no evidence for either subliminal or supraliminal discrimination of stimulus content by the average evoked response.


Sedgwick, C. B.
(1993). The effects of auditory subliminal messages on weight, preconscious processing, and self-esteem, U Georgia, US.


Sethna, C. (1992).
"Accepting "total and complete responsibility": New age neo-feminist violence against women." Feminism & Psychology 2(1): 113-119.

Investigated three commercially available tapes by Barry Knoikov, one side hypnotic and the other side subliminal. All three tapes dealt with female issues. The author of claims the tape message essentially blames the woman for their situation and leaves them disempowered.


Severance, L.J. & Dyer, F.N. (1973). Failure of subliminal word presentation to generate interference to color naming. Duke University, Durham, NC. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 101 (1), pp 186-189.

Laurence Severance and Frederick Dyer had previously performed a study which showed that the presentation of false color names delayed the speed of naming color patches.
In this study, the false color names were presented subliminally.

The results showed no significant effect on the speed of naming color patches when the subliminal stimuli were used.


Shah, P.M. (1981). The time course of temporal summation at various background luminances. City University, New York. Dissertation Abstracts International, 42 (4-B), p. 1660. ISSN: 0419-4209.


Shanks, D. R., R. E. A. Green, et al. (1994). A critical examination of the evidence for unconscious (implicit) learning. Attention and performance 15: Conscious and nonconscious information processing. Attention and performance series. M. M. Carlo Umilta, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, US: 837-860.

(from the chapter) address a ...question--concerning the role of awareness in cognitive processes--that has challenged researchers for several decades: can learning occur without awareness / in the course of our exploration of implicit learning, we will discuss what we believe its relationship is to implicit retrieval / the main part of our chapter considers experiments that have investigated that question / briefly consider evidence from experiments adopting a rather more direct approach /// implicit learning with subliminal stimuli / criteria for establishing implicit learning with supraliminal stimuli / awareness and conditioning / awareness in instrumental learning tasks / awareness in serial reaction time tasks.


Shapiro, T. (1978). On the verification of psychoanalytic concepts by extraclinical techniques. International Journal for Psychoanalysts and Psychotherapists, 79 (7), pp 586-601. ISSN: 0091-0600.

In this article, Shapiro discusses "Unconscious Symbiotic Fantasy: A Ubiquitous Therapeutic Agent" by Lloyd Silverman, Ph.D.

He believes that extraclinical research on propositions derived from the psychoanalytic process are useful and complementary and that the rigor of statistical, reproducible experimental approaches adds strength to analytic knowledge.

However, caution is recommended in interpreting results, because each method has its own natural yield and significance.

The work of Silverman et al regarding the effects of stimulating unconscious symbiotic fantasies as inferred from clinical settings and transferring them to an experimental model, is examined from the standpoint of situational and propositional homology, adequacy of methods of verification, experimental bias and interpretation of the results.


Shevrin, H. (1973). Brain wave correlates of subliminal stimulation, unconscious attention, primary- and secondary-process thinking, and repressiveness. University of Michigan. Psychological Issues, 8 (2, Mono . 30), pp 56-87. ISSN: 0079-7359.

In a series of experiments, Howard Shevrin uses subliminal stimulation and the cortical evoked response.

It was demonstrated that a relationship exists between the electrical activity of the brain in response to a stimulus, and unconscious thought processes involving attention, perception, primary process thinking and repression.


Shevrin, H. (1975). Does the averaged evoked response encode subliminal perception? Yes. A reply to Schwartz and Rem. Psychophysiology, 12 (4), pp 395-398. ISSN: 0048-5772.


Shevrin, H. (1976). Rapaport's contribution to research: A look to the future. University of Michigan Medical Center. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 40 (3), pp 211-228.

In this article, Howard Shevrin discusses the importance of research in investigating the theoretical propositions of psychoanalytic theory and technique.

Shevrin states that the fundamental assumptions of psychoanalysis cannot be validated within the limits of the psychoanalytic process itself and that a convergence of methods from different fields is necessary.


Shevrin, H. (September 17-22, 1979). Evoked potential evidence for unconscious mental processes. A review of the literature. International Symposium on the Unconscious. Tbilissi, Georgia, USSR.


Shevrin, H. (1980, April). Glimpses of the unconscious. Psychology Today, p. 128.


Shevrin, H. (1986). Subliminal perception and dreaming. Special issue: cognition and dream research. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 7 (2-3), pp 379-395.


Shevrin, H. (1990). Subliminal perception and repression. Repression and dissociation: Implications for personality theory, psychopathology, and health. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation series on mental health and development. Jerome L. Singer, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, US: 103-119.

(from the preface) provides a psychoanalytically derived rationale for the importance of studying defensive phenomena through the subliminal perception paradigm. (from the chapter) after a brief presentation of the psychoanalytic concept of repression, a series of subliminal studies will be described purporting to investigate the nature of unconscious processes bearing on repression, followed by an assesssment of these studies and ending with some suggestions for the future.


Shevrin, H. (1992). Subliminal perception, memory, and consciousness: Cognitive and dynamic perspectives. Perception without awareness: Cognitive, clinical, and social perspectives. T. S. P. Robert F. Bornstein, Guilford Press, New York, NY, US: 123-142.

( from the chapter) subliminal stimulation lends itself to the investigation of a broader range of significant psychological problems bearing on memory and consciousness, as well as on the nature of the unconscious itself / these problems are also of importance to psychoanalytic theory when seen from the perspective of ego psychology rather than from the narrower focus of clinical psychoanalysis / examine some of these broader issues in the context of contemporary cognitive psychology and ego psychology.


Shevrin, H. & Dickman, S.
(1980). The psychological unconscious. A necessary assumption for all psychological theory? University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor. American Psychologist, 35 (5), pp 421-434. ISSN: 0003-066X.

Howard Shevrin and Scott Dickman have found evidence from several diverse fields of research, such as subliminal perception and cortical evoked potentials, of complex psychological processes operating outside of awareness.


Shevrin, H. & Fisher, C. (1967). Changes in the effect of a waking subliminal stimulus as a function of dreaming and nondreaming sleep. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 72 (4), pp 362 368. ISSN: 0021-843X.

Howard Shevrin and Charles Fisher attempted to determine if the presleep waking state, stages 1 & 2, could be distinguished on the basis of thought processes paralleling the psychoanalytic concept of primary- and secondary-process thinking.

A special subliminal technique was used which elicited primary- and secondary-process levels of responses to the same stimulus.

It was hypothesized that stage 1 would show more evidence of primary-process thinking, and stage 2 more secondary process-thinking.

The free associations obtained during the presleep waking state and after awakenings from sleep stages 1 & 2 supported the hypotheses.

The sleep reports or freely evoked images did not support the hypotheses.


Shevrin, H. & Fritzler, D.E. (1968). Visual evoked response correlates of the unconscious mental processes. Science, 161 (3838), pp 295-298.


Shevrin, H., & Luborsky, L. (1958). The measurement of preconscious perception in dreams and images: An investigation of the Poetzl phenomenon. Journal of Abnormal Social Psychology, 56.


Shevrin, H., Smith, W.H. & Fritzler, D.E. (1969). Repressiveness as a factor in the subliminal activation of brain and verbal responses. Journal for Nervous Mental Disorders, 149 (3), pp 261-269. ISSN: 0022-3018.


Shevrin, H., Smith, W.H. & Fritzler, D.E. (1970). Repressiveness as factor in subliminal activation of brain and verbal responses. Psychiatry Digest, 31 (7), p. 37. ISSN: 0033-2771.


Shevrin, H., Smith, W.H. & Fritzler, D.E. (1970). Subliminally stimulated brain and verbal response of twins differing in repressiveness. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 76 (1), pp 39 46.


Shevrin, H., Smith, W.H. & Fritzler, D.E.
(1971). Average evoked response and verbal correlates of unconscious mental processes. Psychophysiology, 8 (2), pp 149-162. ISSN: 0048 5772.


Shevrin, H., Smith, W.H. & Hoobler, R. (1970). Direct measurement of unconscious mental processes: Averaged evoked response and free association correlates of subliminal stimulation. Psychological Association, 5 (2), pp 543-544.


Shevrin, H., Voth, H. & Gardner, R.W. (1971). Research perspectives on treatment and diagnosis. Menninger Foundation, Topeka, Kan. Bulletin for the Menninger Clinic, 35 (6), pp 461-478.

Howard Shevrin, Harold Voth and Riley Gardner summarize a panel discussion.
The research findings presented involve;

a) subliminal and supraliminal stimulation and their relationship to repression,

b) autokinetic movement, its relationship to transference phenomena and to suicide, and

c) cognitive personal-organizational differences.


Shield, P.H., Harrow, M. & Tucker, G. (1974). Investigation of factors related to stimulus overinclusion. Psychiatrists Quarterly, 48 (1), pp 109-116. ISSN: 0033-2720.


Shifren, I.W. (1982). The interaction between hemispheric preference and the perception of subliminal auditory and visual symbiotic gratification stimuli. St. John's University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 42 (10-B), pp 4211-4212. ISSN: 0419-4209.

Irene Shifren designed this study in order to investigate the interaction effects between hemispheric preference and subliminal auditory and visual symbiotic gratification.

The subjects were exposed to the experimental stimulus "my lover and I are one" and the control stimulus "people are walking".

Both stimuli were presented through both visual and auditory modes.
The subjects were tested on baseline and critical measures of state anxiety, reaction time and word recognition.

Three hypotheses were tested;

1) that the subjects shown the symbiotic gratification message would show decreased anxiety and improvement on measures of reaction time.

2) decreased anxiety and improvement on measures of reaction time and word recognition would result from both visual and auditory modes of presentation.

3) the visual mode of presentation would have a greater effect on rights and that the auditory effect would have a greater effect on lefts.

Negative results were found for all three hypotheses.
Methodological issues are discussed with suggestions for further studies.


Shirin, S. A. (1993). Misattribution of arousal and post-decisional dissonance, U Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


Shostakovich, G. S. (1987). "The neural mechanism of subconscious craving for alcohol in patients with chronic alcoholism." Zhurnal Nevropatologii i Psikhiatrii Imeni S.S Korsakova. Vol 87(6): 898-902.

Evaluated cortical evoked potential with regard to neutral and meaningful emotional words.


Shulman, D. G. and G. R. Ferguson (1988). "An experimental investigation of Kernberg's and Kohut's theories of narcissism." Journal of Clinical Psychology 44(3): 445-451.

Using a tachistoscope, researchers tested the influence of certain subliminal phrases on narcissistic subjects. The phrase, "I'm needy and hateful," O. Kernberg's (1975) hypothesis, demonstrated a meaningful effect.


Silbert, J. (1982). Human symbiosis, the holding environment and schizophrenia: An experimental study. New York University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 43 (2-B), p. 535. ISSN: 0419-4209.

Joel Silbert used Silverman's technique of "subliminal psychodynamic activation" by tachistopic presentation of dynamically relevant visual stimuli in order to;

1) replicate the findings that the unconscious fantasy "mommy and I are one" reduces pathological thinking and behavior, and low self-esteem, in relatively differentiated schizophrenic men,

2) test whether this symbiotic fantasy is effective because of its evocation of fantasies of the "holding environment",

3) compare the efficacy of solely verbal stimuli with verbal + pictorial stimuli,

4) explore the relevance of schizophrenics' high levels of self-touching during discourse to the "holding environment" formulation.

The subjects were assigned to one of eight experimental groups, and were exposed to the following subliminal stimuli;

1) "mommy and I are one",

2) "mommy and I are all",

3) "I make mommy whole", and

4) "mommy holds me safely".

Four groups received the verbal message with pictorial accompaniment, the other four received only the verbal message.
The "mommy and I are one" message was the only one to produce significant reductions in pathology.

Self-esteem increased with "mommy and I are one" and across all eight groups.
The original findings are therefore replicated, but its relationship to aspects of the holding environment were not supported.


Silverman, L.H. (1966). A technique for the study of psychodynamic relationships: The effects of subliminally presented aggressive stimuli on the production of pathological thinking in a schizophrenic population. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 30, (2), pp 103 131. ISSN: DHW7-0000.


Silverman, L.H. (1968). Further comments on matters relevant to investigations of subliminal phenomena: A reply. New York University. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 27 (3, part 2), pp 1343 1350.

Lloyd Silverman replies to the M. Wiener and P. Kleespies' rejoinder to the article by Silverman & Spiro on "The partial cue controversy and matters relevant to investigations of subliminal phenomena".

The discussion focuses on;

1) the data offered by Silverman & Spiro in support of the subliminal model,

2) the data presented by Guthrie and Wiener in support of the partial cue model, and

3) the evidence cited by Silverman & Spiro bearing on two subject variables relevant to the question of whether a subliminal effect can be demonstrated.


Silverman, L.H. (1970). Further experimental studies of dynamic propositions in psychoanalysis. On the function and meaning of regressive thinking. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 18 (1), pp 102-124. ISSN: 0003-0651.

Lloyd Silverman conducted a series of experiments in order to provide an understanding of regressive thinking.
The clinical and theoretical implications of the results are discussed.


Silverman, L.H. (1971). An experimental technique for the study of unconscious conflict. New York Veterans Administration Hospital. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 44 (1), pp 17 25.

Lloyd Silverman discusses a series of studies using subliminal stimuli with schizophrenic patients.

Ten experiments showed an increased intensity in pathological thinking, pathological nonverbal behavior, or both, but usually as a delayed effect.

Long term patients showed stronger effects.

Hospital employees "primed" for aggression produced pathological manifestations as well
Supraliminal techniques have been less effective at elucidating dynamic interplay between underlying conflict and manifest behavior.


Silverman, L.H. (1972). Drive stimulation and psychopathology: On the conditions under which drive-related external events evoke pathological reactions. New York University. Psychoanalysis & Contemporary Science, 1, pp 306-326.

Lloyd Silverman discussed environmental conditions which precipitate psychopathological reactions by stimulating a threatening drive.

Also reviewed are laboratory and clinical investigations of the evocation of pathological defenses by subliminal and supraliminal presentations of drive-related stimuli.

It was found that expression of conflict-producing drives which are activated by external stimuli will be blocked when;

1) the drive relevance of the stimulus is hidden,

2) when the situation prohibits drive expression, or

3) when unconscious meanings make drive expression taboo.

It is postulated that 4 conditions are necessary for external stimuli to evoke pathological defenses;

a) the drive aroused must be unacceptable to the individual,

b) ego-strength must be insufficient for the individual to handle drive adaptively,

c) a minimal level of drive derivatives must be available to consciousness, and

d) the situation in which the stimuli appear must discourage direct drive expression.


Silverman, L.H. (1975). An experimental method for the study of unconscious conflict: A progress report. British Journal of Psychology, pp 291-298.


Silverman, L.H. (1975). On the role of laboratory experiments in the development of the clinical theory of psychoanalysis: Data on the subliminal activation of aggressive and merging wishes in schizophrenics. VA Hospital, New York, NY. International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 2( 1), 46-64.

Lloyd Silverman discusses the role of laboratory experiments in the development of the clinical theory of psychoanalysis.

He believes that the experimental and the clinical approaches compliment each other as both have limitations that can be offset by the other's strengths.

Silverman cites a series of experiments which relate to the role of conflict over aggression in schizophrenia, and to the schizophrenic's tendency to merge self and object representations.

From the examples given it is possible to see the kinds of experimental techniques which are the most promising for investigating psychodynamic relationships.


Silverman, L.H. (1975). An experimental method for the study of unconscious conflict: A progress report. New York VA Hospital, New York. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 48 (4), pp 291-298. ISSN: 0007-1129.

In this report, Lloyd Silverman reviews research in which psychodynamic activation has been used to investigate the relationship between psychopathology and conflict over unconscious libidinal and aggressive wishes.

Results show that the subliminal stimuli designed to stir aggressive wishes in schizophrenics lead to intensification of oral-aggressive forms of primary process ego pathology.
It was also found the subliminal content designed to;

1) stimulate aggressive wishes in depressed individuals intensified their depressive feelings,

2) evoke conflict over incestuous feelings in homosexuals increases their homosexuality and decreases their heterosexual feelings,

3) evoke conflict over anal wishes in stutters increases their stuttering.

Furthermore, unconscious conflict is temporarily resolved by the subliminal presentation of content designed to activate a fantasy of symbiotic gratification.


Silverman, L.H. (1976). Psychoanalytic theory: "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. VA Hospital and Research Center, New York, NY. " American Psychologist, 31 (9), pp 621-637.

In this article, Lloyd Silverman discusses two ongoing research programs, which were designed to study the relationship between psychopathology and unconscious libidinal and aggressive wishes.

In study 1, it was hypothesized that the tachistoscopic presentation of a wish-related stimulus would affect the level of manifest psychopathology. This hypothesis was supported.

In study 2, there was a decrease in primary process ego pathology in schizophrenics when conflict was reduced by activating a fantasy of symbiotic gratification.

Overall the results illustrate a theory validation by converging operations and pose a substantive challenge to critics of psychoanalytic theory.


Silverman, L.H. (1978). Effect of subliminal stimulation of symbiotic fantasies on behavior modification treatment of obesity.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46.


Silverman, L.H. ((1978). Further comments on matters relevant to investigations of subliminal phenomena: A reply. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 27 (3), pp 1343-1350.


Silverman, L.H. (1978/79). Unconscious symbiotic fantasy: A ubiquitous therapeutic agent. Internal Journal of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, pp 562-585.


Silverman, L.H. (1979). Two unconscious fantasies as mediators of successful psychotherapy. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 16, (2), pp 215-228.


Silverman, L.H. (1979). The unconscious fantasy as therapeutic agent in psychoanalytic treatment. Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysts, 7 (2), pp 189-218. ISSN: 0090 3604.


Silverman, L.H. (1980). A comprehensive report of studies using the subliminal psychodynamic activation method. Lund University. Psychological Research Bulletin, 20 (3). ISSN: 0348-3673.

In this report, Lloyd Silverman reviewed more than 60 studies which, using the subliminal psychodynamic activation method, provide support for the method.
The varied findings of these experiments are explained.

Silverman, L.H. (1982a). A comment on two subliminal psychodynamic activation studies. New York University, New York Veterans Administration Regional Office & Research Center for Mental Health. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 91 (2), pp 126-130. ISSN: 0021-843X.

Lloyd Silverman discusses experiments reported by T.J. Condon & G.J. Allen and also by K. Heilbrun, where the subliminal psychodynamic activation method yielded negative results.
Silverman discusses the number of reports by other investigators of similar experiments that did yield positive results.


Silverman, L.H. (1982b). Rejoinder to Allen and Condon's and Heilbrun's replies. New York University, New York Veterans Administration Regional Office & Research Center for Mental Health. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 91 (2), pp 136-138. ISSN: 0021-843X.

Silverman, L.H. (1983). The Search For Oneness. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Lloyd Silverman has developed the theory psychodynamic activation, which uses symbiotic fantasies for alleviating anxiety in schizophrenics.

From the many experiments Silverman has either performed himself or has directed, he has shown that by presenting emotionally charged words or messages subliminally, this can trigger unconscious thoughts and feelings, which in turn can alter behavior.

From Silverman's research, he formulated the idea that "wish related subliminal stimuli and the power to activate psychodynamic processes - processes in which unconscious wishes, fantasies, anxieties and defense operations - affect overt behavior".

Silverman, L.H. (1985). Comments on three recent subliminal psychodynamic activation investigations. New York University. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94 (4), pp 640-643. ISSN: 0021-843X.


Silverman, L.H. (1985). Comments on three recent subliminal psychodynamic activation investigations: rejoinder to Oliver and Burkham and to Porterfield. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94 (4), pp 647-648. ISSN: 0021-843X.

Lloyd Silverman replies to comments regarding his research on psychodynamic activation.

Silverman, L.H. (1985). Research on psychoanalytic psychodynamic propositions. Special issue: current thinking in psychoanalysis. New York University. Clinical Psychology Review, 5 (3), pp 247-257. ISSN: 0272-7358.

Lloyd Silverman discusses the psychodynamic activation method.

Verbal and/or pictorial stimuli, which either relate to unconscious wishes, fears or fantasies, or which are neutral, are presented to the subjects.

Major findings include enhanced adaptive behavior after the subliminal exposure to the "Mommy and I are one" message, and an intensification of symptoms in clinical groups such as schizophrenics after exposure to stimuli aimed at stirring up unconscious conflicts.


Silverman, L. H. (1985). "Research on psychoanalytic psychodynamic propositions. Special Issue: Current thinking in psychoanalysis." Clinical Psychology Review 5(3): 247-257.

Discusses the psychodynamic activation research the author has been involved in, both of a verbal and pictorial nature.


Silverman, L. H. (1985). "Comments on three recent subliminal psychodynamic activation investigations." Journal of Abnormal Psychology 94(4): 640-643.

Discusses the need for a nonverbal measure of psychopathology in psychodynamic activation research and claims that unwarranted statements have been made about subliminal psychodynamic activation research.


Silverman, L. H. (1985). ""Comments on three recent subliminal psychodynamic activation investigations": Rejoinder to Oliver and Burkham and to Porterfield." Journal of Abnormal Psychology 94(4): 647-648.


Silverman, L.H., Bronstein, A. & Mendelsohn, E. (1976). The further use of the subliminal psychodynamic activation method for the experimental study of the clinical theory of psychoanalysis: On the specificity of the relationship between symptoms and the unconscious. VA Hospital, New York, NY. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 13 (1), pp 2-16. ISSN: 0478-7013.

Lloyd Silverman, Abbot Bronstein and Eric Mendelsohn performed four experiments in order to test the hypothesis that the subliminal presentation of wish-related stimuli would intensify the psychopathology of various kinds.

In experiments 1 and 2, schizophrenic and homosexual subjects were presented with aggressive, incestuous or neutral control stimuli.

In experiments 3, stutterers were presented with incestuous, analitious and neutral control stimuli.

In experiment 4, depressed subjects were exposed to aggressive, analitious and neutral control stimuli.

The results obtained supported the hypothesis.

It was concluded that there is a specificity of relationships between symptoms and conflictual wishes.


Silverman, L.H. & Candell, P. (1970). On the relationship between aggressive activation, symbiotic merging, intactness of body boundaries, and manifest pathology in schizophrenics. Journal for Nervous Mental Disorders, 150 (5), pp 387-399.


Silverman, L.H., Candell, P., Pettit, T.F. & Blum, F.A. (1971). Further data on effects of aggressive activation and symbiotic merging on ego functioning of schizophrenics. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 32, pp 93-94.


Silverman, L.H., Frank, S.G. & Dachinger, P. (1974). A psychoanalytic reinterpretation of the effectiveness of systematic desensitization: Experimental data bearing on the role of merging fantasies. Veterans Administration Hospital, New York, NY. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 83 (3), pp 313-318.

Subjects with insect phobia were exposed to the tachistoscopic subliminal exposure of the verbal stimulus "mommy and I are one" during the visualization part of systematic desensitization, whenever the subject's anxiety level rose above a specified level.
The control group were exposed to the same procedure except that a neutral stimulus ("people walking") was used.

The experimental group manifested significantly more improvement than the controls.
The results support the proposition that part of the effectiveness of systematic desensitization resides in its activating unconscious merging fantasies.


Silverman, L.H. & Goldberger, A.M. (1966). A further study in the effects of subliminal aggressive stimulation on thinking. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 143 (6), pp 463 472. ISSN: 0022-3018.

Lloyd Silverman and Arthur Goldberger used four groups of psychotic subjects, and exposed them to tachistoscopic pictorial stimuli which were;

1) subliminal aggressive,

2) subliminal neutral,

3) subliminal libidinal, and

4) supraliminal aggressive.

The subliminal aggressive condition;

a) produced significantly more of the clinical phenomena than did the neutral subliminal condition,

b) produced an increase in pathological thinking in subjects who gave independent evidence of having a relative impairment in their ability to neutralize aggression,

c) gave more pathological thinking than the subliminal sexual condition or the supraliminal aggressive condition.


Silverman, L.H., Klinger, J., Lustbader, L., Farrel, J. & Martin. A.D. (1972). The effects of subliminal drive stimulation on the speech of stutterers. Veterans Administration Hospital, New York, NY. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 155 (1), pp 14-21. ISSN: 0022-3018.

A study was performed to test the hypothesis that adolescent stutterers would show increased speech impairment after the subliminal pictorial presentation of anal and oral-aggressive themes.

The results showed that speech impairment increased after the oral-aggressive and the anal themes for a paraphrasing task.


Silverman, L.H., Kwawer, J.S., Wolitzky, C. & Coron, M. (1973). An experimental study of aspects of psychoanalytic theory of male homosexuality. Veterans Administration Hospital, New York, NY. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 82 (1), pp 178-88.

Lloyd Silverman, Jay Kwawer, Carol Wolitzky and Mark Coron performed this experiment in order to test the psychoanalytic dynamic propositions using the subliminal exposure of drive related stimuli.

It was hypothesized that male homosexuals would show an intensification of homosexual related reactions after the subliminal presentation of an "incest stimulus", and a decrease in such reactions after the subliminal exposure of a "symbiosis stimulus".

On a "sexual feelings assessment" the incest stimulus intensified "homosexual orientation" for homosexuals.

On a Rorschach-type task, the symbiosis condition led to a decrease in a "threat index".
Neither of these results were found for heterosexuals.

The results from this study lend support to;

1) psychoanalytic propositions linking homosexuality in males to conflict over incestuous wishes, and

2) the proposition that the stimulation of a fantasy of symbiotic gratification has a "therapeutic effect" on individuals in various psychiatric syndrome groupings.


Silverman, L.H. & Lachmann, F.M. (1985). The therapeutic properties of unconscious oneness fantasies: Evidence and treatment implications. New York University. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 21 (1), pp 91-115. ISSN: 0010-7530.

In this article, Lloyd Silverman and Frank Lachmann discuss the research evidence that supports the thesis that unconscious oneness fantasies can enhance adaptation.

The implications of this thesis for the conduct of psychoanalytic treatment are examined.
The subliminal psychodymanic activation research method, which was developed by Silverman, is outlined, and the limitations of evidence from psychoanalytic treatment explored.

Studies of oneness fantasies in schizophrenic and nonpsychotic populations are also described.


Silverman, L.H., Lachmann, F.M. & Milich, R.H. (1984). Unconscious oneness fantasies: Experimental findings and implications for treatment. New York University. International Forum for Psychoanalysis, 1 (2), pp 107-152. ISSN: 0738-8217.

Lloyd Silverman, Frank Lachmann and Robert Milich propose that fantasies of oneness,in which self and object or other are merged, can enhance adaptation (for example, for schizophrenics) if a sense of self can simultaneously be preserved.

This theory is supported by the experimental research which has been performed on schizophrenics using subliminal psychodynamic activation.

The research which has been carried out in this field has shown that subliminal stimuli can trigger as well as dissipate pathology or adaptation, depending on the psychodynamic content.

Previous experiments have shown that the success of the symbiotic fantasy in ameliorating the schizophrenic's symptoms depends on the degree to which the schizophrenic was differentiated.

It is concluded that the attainment of oneness may be the goal of attaining separateness, and that oneness gratifications and psychological separateness are not mutually exclusive.


Silverman, L.H., Lachmann, F.M. & Milich, R.H. (1984). In response. New York University. International Forum for Psychoanalysis, 1 (2), pp 205-217. ISSN: 0738-8217.

Lloyd Silverman, Frank Lachmann and Robert Milich respond to comments by P.L. Giovacchini, A.P. Morrison, D.S. Werman and R.F. Bornstein and J.M. Masling on the their work on the effects of subliminal messages of oneness on the psychopathology of clients in analysis.
Particular issue addressed are;

1) the types and consequence of oneness fantasies,

2) interpretation of findings,

3) the need to elucidate the mental processes that mediate the adaptive change in behavior following the subliminal messages, and

4) the function of therapist empathy.


Silverman, L.H., Levinson, P., Mendelsohn, E., Ungaro, R. & Bronstein, A. (1975). A clinical application of subliminal psychodynamic activation. On the stimulation of symbiotic fantasies as an adjunct in the treatment of hospitalized schizophrenics. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 161, pp 379-392. ISSN: 0022-3018.

The aim of this study was to utilize the subliminal psychodynamic activation method as an aid in the treatment of hospitalized schizophrenics.

Also under investigation was whether the subliminal activation of a fantasy of symbiotic gratification would produce an increment in the degree of improvement that schizophrenics manifested as a results of hospitalization.

The subjects were divided into two groups equated for intelligence, pathology level and other pertinent variables.

Group one was tachistoscopically exposed to the stimulus "mommy and I are one", while the other group, serving as the control, were exposed to "people are walking".

Each group was subdivided into two in order to investigate the effects of;

1) aggressive expression consisting of an attempt to elicit specifically aggressive fantasies in the fantasy expression task,

2) self-focusing, designed to strengthen self-boundaries.

The results indicate that;

1) the subliminal symbiotic stimulation affected the ego impairment measures, and

2) the self-focusing intervention affected the patients on a measure of self-object differentiation.

It was concluded that the subliminal symbiotic stimulation together with self-focusing may enhance the therapeutic value of hospitalization for schizophrenics.


Silverman, L.H., Martin, A., Ungaro, R. & Mendelsohn, E. (1978). Effect of subliminal stimulation of symbiotic fantasies on behavior modification treatment of obesity. New York University, Research Center for Mental Health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46 (3), pp 432-441. ISSN: 0022-006X.

Lloyd Silverman, April Martin, Roseann Ungaro & Eric Mendelsohn performed two studies in which obese subjects were treated in a behavior modification program for overeating.
Study 1 lasted 8 weeks, study 2, 12 weeks.

In both studies, half of the subjects were exposed to the verbal subliminal stimulus "mommy and I are one" while the other half were exposed to a control message.

In both studies, the symbiotic message gave evidence of enhancing weight loss, although the differences between groups only attained significance during the follow-up period.

The results, in conjunction with previous studies, support the proposition that subliminal stimulation of symbiotic fantasies can enhance the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions of various kinds.


Silverman, L.H. & Mendelsohn, E. (1982). Effects of stimulating psychodynamically relevant unconscious fantasies on schizophrenic pathology. Schizophrenic Bulletin, pp 532-547.


Silverman, L.H., Ross, D., Adler, J. & Lustig, D. (1978). Simple research paradigm for demonstrating subliminal psychodynamic activation: Effects of oedipal stimuli on dart-throwing accuracy in college males. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87 (8), pp 341-357. ISSN: 0021 843X.

Lloyd Silverman, David Ross, John Adler and David Lustig performed four experiments in order to ascertain the effects of "subliminal psychodynamic activation" on dart-throwing accuracy.

Each experimental condition consisted of a 4-msec exposure of a verbal message and a congruous picture.

The first two experiments effects were obtained using stimuli that sanctioned the idea of defeating father in competition (enhancing accuracy), and one that condemned the idea (impeding accuracy).

In experiment 3, the only substantive difference was in the illumination levels of the tachistoscopic fields, but no effects were found.

Experiment 4 was therefore carried out to test for the relevance of the illumination variables.
The results show that clear effects are obtained at low illumination levels, whereas no effects were obtained at a high level.


Silverman, L.H. & Silverman, D.K. (1964). A clinical-experimental approach to the study of subliminal stimulation. Journal of Abnormal Social Psychology, 69 (2).


Silverman, L.H. & Silverman, S.E. (1967). The effects of subliminally presented drive stimuli on the cognitive functioning of schizophrenics. Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment, 31 (1), pp 78-85. ISSN: 0091-651X.


Silverman, L.H. & Spiro, R.H. (1967). Further investigations of the effects of subliminal aggressive stimulation on the ego functioning of schizophrenics. Journal of Consultant Psychology (United States), 31 (3), pp 225-233. ISSN: DHW7-0000.


Silverman L.H. & Spiro, R.H. (1967). Some comments and data on the partial cue controversy and other matters relevant to investigation of subliminal phenomena. Manhattan Veterans Administration Hospital, New York, NY. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 25 (1), pp 325-338.

Lloyd Silverman and Robert Spiro respond to an article by G. Guthrie and M. Wiener.
This article justifies the following conclusions;

1) from a number of recent studies of subliminal phenomena, the most parsimonious explanation for positive results is one implicating the subliminal registration of content and, not one relating to the structural cues in awareness,

2) Guthrie and Wiener's data provides little support for the view that even in the early investigation of Eagle, the subjects were responding to partial cues, and

3) Guthrie and Wiener's failure to obtain content effect in their own experiment was most likely the result of the level at which their stimuli were exposed and/or their not taking into account subject variables that are relevant to the question of whether a subliminal effects can be demonstrated.


Silverman, L.H. & Spiro, R.H. (1968). The effects of subliminal, supraliminal and vocalized aggression on the ego functioning of schizophrenics. Journal of Nervous Mental Disorders, 146 (1), pp 50-61. ISSN: 0022-3018.


Silverman, L.H., Spiro, R.H., Weisberg, J.S. & Candell, P. (1969). The effects of aggressive activation and the need to merge on pathological thinking in schizophrenia. Veterans Administration Hospital, New York, NY. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 148 (1), pp 39 51. ISSN: 0022-3018.

For this study the subjects were exposed to the following conditions;

1) subliminal neutral stimulation,

2) subliminal libidinal stimulation,

3) subliminal merging stimulation,

4) subliminal aggressive stimulation, and

5) subliminal aggressive stimulation preceded by manipulations designed to increase self-awareness.

The results indicate that the merging condition significantly diminished pathological thinking in those schizophrenics who experienced themselves as relatively differentiated to begin with.


Silverman, L.H. & Weinberger, J. (1985). Mommy and I are one: Implications for psychotherapy. New York University, Research Center for Mental Health. American Psychologist, 40 (12), pp 1296-1308. ISSN: 0003-066X.

Lloyd Silverman and Joel Weinberger present evidence to support the idea that there are powerful unconscious wishes for a state of oneness with "the good mother of early childhood" and that gratification of these wishes can enhance adaptation.

The subjects used in these experiments came from varied populations, including schizophrenics, neurotics, and normal students.

The results obtained show that 4-msec exposure of stimuli, intended to activate unconscious symbiotic-like fantasies (usually the words Mommy and I are one), produced ameliorative effects on different dependent variables in a variety of settings.

Silverman and Weinberg propose that the patient-therapist factors in psychotherapy owe their effectiveness partly to their having activated these symbiotic-like fantasies.
Further studies are outlined that would provide a more definitive test of this proposition.


Silverman, L. H. and J. L. Weinberger (1988). "Reply to O'Dowd and to Tabin and Tabin: Historical priority and alternative interpretations." American Psychologist 43(3): 198-199.

Responds to comments and and agrees with J. K. Tabin and C. J. Tabin, that the effects of the subliminal symbiotic activation message, "mommy and I are one," could be at least partially attributable to the unconsious santioning of the Oedipal-sexual fantasies and deserves further consideration.


Silverman, D. K. (1989). "Reply to Balay and Shevrin's critique of Silverman's subliminal psychodynamic activation research." American Psychologist 44(11): 1422-1423.

Replies to Balay and Shevrin and insists that their criticisms require a mechanistic approach that is inappropriate to the clinical work with schizophrenics.


Simley, O.A. (1931). The relation of subliminal learning. University of Wisconsin, Madison. Unpublished Dissertation.
Singh, Y. & Devi, R.M. (1976). Subliminal guessing: A communication of collegiate students. St. John's College, Agra, India. Pscho-Lingua, 6 (1-2), pp 23-28.

Yashvir Singh and Mema Devi investigated the effects of personality and sex on subliminal guessing ability.

The subjects were presented subliminally with ten card and asked to guess the number of objects depicted by each card.

Evidence of subliminal guessing ability is shown by the findings that the number of objects guessed approximated the actual numbers depicted on each card.


Skean, S.R. (1978). Videotape presentation of subliminal stimulation based on galvanic skin response monitoring: An investigation in counselor education. Rutgers University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 38 (11-A), p. 6547.

The primary purpose of this study by Samuel Skean, was to develop and demonstrate an approach to teaching counselling skills based on the integrated use of subliminal stimulation, physiological monitoring (GSR) and videotape technology.

The subjects were asked to review a videotape of an aggressive client, and were asked to stop the tape and comment aloud whenever feelings or thoughts.

The second time the tape was played to the subjects, the word "angry" was inserted at a subliminal level into all of the pauses in the tape where the particular subject had registered significant GSR fluctuations during the initial viewing.

It was hypothesized that the subjects receiving the subliminal stimulus would stop the tape more frequently, and significantly longer comments.

It was also hypothesized that the subliminally treated subjects would make a significantly greater number of responses dealing with feelings, especially feelings relating to anger.
None of the results were statistically significant.


Slipp, S. & Nissenfield, S. (1981). An experimental study of psychoanalytic theories of depression. New York University School of Medicine. New York University School of Medicine. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 9 (4), pp 583-600. ISSN: 0090-3604.

Samuel Slipp and Steven Nissenfield used an application of subliminal psychodynamic activation in order to experimentally test psychoanalytic "dynamic" propositions.
It was found that, in a sample of neurotically depressed females, there was a significant decrease in depression-related responses following the stimulation of a symbiotic gratification fantasy ("mommy and I are one").

The current results point to the importance of symbiotic dynamics and the relationship dependent on a dominant other, rather than to the retroflexion of aggression in neurotic depression.

The "autonomous succeed" message ("succeed for myself") did not reverse the depressive mood. This may be due to autonomy being equated with abandonment.

The relatively differentiated depressives tended to respond to the "exploitative succeed ("succeed for father or mother") messages with a decrease in depression, while depressives with a low level of self-object differentiation tended to respond with an increase in depression.


Smith, C.D. (1982). Effects of subliminal stimulation on creative thinking. Case Western Reserve University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 43 (6-B), p. 2004. ISSN: 04194209.

Craig Smith investigated the effects of sexual and symbiotic subliminal stimuli on creativity and divergent thinking.


Smith, G. (1967). Differentiation of psychotic subjects by means of the meta-contrast technique: A Preliminary Study. Psychological Research Bulletin, 7 (7), 9 pages.

Gudmund Smith divided psychotic subjects , who had been tested with the meta-contrast technique (MCT), into six groups according to focal symptoms.

The schizophrenic group showed prominent serial discontinuity due to regression.
The paranoid, non-schizophrenic groups showed a marked subliminal influence on the frame percept plus other signs of projection.


Smith, G. & Carlsson, I. (1983). Creativity and anxiety: An experimental study. University of Lund, Psychological Lab, Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 24 (2), pp 107-115. ISSN: 0036-5564.

Gudmund Smith and Ingegerd Carlsson tested psychiatric patients, with anxiety as one of their main symptoms, using a percept-genetic (PG) test measuring creativity or willingness to reconstruct subjective interpretations of the stimulus.

Half of the subjects were subliminally presented with a threatening motif during part of the PG series.

The meta-contrast technique was used to describe defenses in the clinical group.
Taking into account their urge to be creative, clinical subjects received relatively few positive scores on the PG test.

The subliminal addition to the anxiety level did not facilitate creative functioning as was the case with the normal subjects.

The main obstacles to creative functioning seemed to be grave anxiety and rigid defense mechanisms, or to generalize, low tolerance of the anxiety necessarily associated with creative work.


Smith, G. J., I. Carlsson, et al. (1985). "Identification with another person: Manipulated by means of subliminal stimulation." Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 26(1): 74-87.

Used a meta-contrast design with psychiatric inpatients and showed that subliminal manipulation in this study had been effective.


Smith, G. J. and I. Carlsson (1988). "Depressive retardation and subliminally manipulated aggressive involvement." Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 29(3-4): 186-193.

Using a meta-contrast design the researchers concluded that there is a specific association between depression and aggression.

Smith, G. & Carlsson, I. (1986). Creativity and aggression. Lund University, Sweden. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 3 (2), pp 159-172. ISSN: 0736-9735.

Gudmund Smith and Ingegerd Carlsson used a meta-contrast design to examine problems associated with identification in relation to creativity and aggression.

The subjects were tachistoscopically presented with a subliminal image of the word "I" and an image that depicted an aggressor and a victim facing each other.

In order to manipulate the subject's identification, the subliminal "I" was flashed either on the victim or on the aggressor, or was completely withheld.

The subjects were also administered a perceptgenetic test measuring creativity, and a test on anxiety and defensive strategies as revealed in the perceptual process (the meta-contrast technique).

The results obtained support the predictions that creative subjects would identify more openly with the aggressor than noncreative ones, when "I" was superimposed on the aggressor.


Smith, G. & Carlsson, I. (1987). Depressive retardation and subliminally manipulated aggressive involvement. Lund University. Psychological Research Bulletin, 27 (5), p.14.

Using a meta-contrast design the researchers concluded that there is a specific association between depression and aggression.


Smith, G., Carlsson, I. & Danielsson, A. (1985). Identification with another person: Manipulated by means of subliminal stimulation. Lund University, Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 26 (1), pp 74-87. ISSN: 0036-5564.

Gudmund Smith, Ingegerd Carlsson and Anna Danielsson studied problems of identification, using a meta-contrast design.

The first stimulus (A) was always the word "me".

In Experiment I, the second stimulus (B) depicted on aggressor and a victim facing each other.

The subliminal A was flashed either on the victim or the aggressor or completely withheld.
In Experiment II, B showed 2 persons standing against different backgrounds - an open horizon or a closed room.

It was assumed that the subjects would be "forced" to identify with that figure in B on which A was flashed.

The results showed that the subliminal manipulation had been effective.
When led by A to identify with the aggressor, projective-sensitive and borderline subjects were confused and even reported perceptual difficulties.

When led to identify with the open side, highly creative artists reported more positive impressions of the B theme.


Smith, G., Carlsson, I & Sandstrom, S.
(1985). Artists and artistic creativity - elucidated by psychological experiments. Psychological Research Bulletin, 25 (9-10). Lund University. ISSN: 0555-5620.

For this project, professional artists were studied by testing, semistructured interviews, and independent evaluations of the subjects productions.
The tests were;

1) a percept-genetic (PG) creative functioning test measuring the subjects' freedom from a conventional conception of reality,

2) a meta-contrast technique disclosing anxiety and defensive strategies, and

3) an identification test using subliminal stimulation to manipulate identification with alternative roles.

The results showed that not all subjects were creative.

According to the PG test, creativity correlated negatively with the use of compulsive or depressive defenses and with total absence or excess of anxiety.

Creative subjects more often had access to their dream life as well as their early childhood and tended to remember positive and negative qualities.


Smith, G. & Danielsson, A. (1979). Anxiety and defensive strategies in childhood and adolescence. Psychology Issues, 12 (Monograph 3). New York: International University Press.

Gudmund Smith and Anna Danielsson found that the effects of a backward masked threatening stimulus on the perception of the masking figure, are indicative of high levels of chronic anxiety in the percipient.


Smith, G.J. & Danielsson, A. (1979). The influence of anxiety on the urge for aesthetic creation: An experimental study utilizing subliminal stimulation and a percept-genetic technique. Lund University, Sweden. Psychological Research Bulletin, 19 (3-4), 36 pages.

Gudmund Smith and Anna Danielsson used a percept-genetic (PG) technique and independent interview data to study university students.

The PG technique involved the repeated presentation of a still-life motif at gradually prolonged exposure times until correct recognition was obtained (the straight PG), and thereafter at gradually shortening times (the inverted PG).

The subjects were divided into two groups.

Group one was exposed to the subliminal presentation of a threatening motif between the two PGs, while group two were presented with a neutral motif.
The results obtained showed that the creative subjects in this study differed from those in the previous study by Smith and Danielsson (1978).


Smith, G.J. & Danielsson, A.
(1979). A test of identification using subliminal stimulation in a meta-contrast design: Preliminary validation with sensitive-paranoid and borderline subjects. Lund University, Psychological Laboratory, Sweden. Psychological Research Bulletin, 19 (9-10), 23 pages.

In this report, Gudmund Smith and Anna Danielsson described the Identification Test, a meta-contrast design, where the A-stimulus is the word "I", and the B stimulus is a drawing of an aggressor and a victim facing each other.

The subjects are "forced" to identify with the figure in b on which the A is flashed.
The results obtained from psychiatric inpatients substantiated the subliminal effect.
When forced to identify with the aggressor, projective-sensitive and borderline subjects confused the two figures and even reported perceptual difficulties.

Some of these difficulties remained for borderline subjects when forced to identify with the victim, or when the subliminal support was taken away.


Smith, G., Spence, D.P. & Klein, G.S. (1959). Subliminal effects of verbal stimuli. Journal of Abnormal Social Psychology, 59.


Smith, G. J. W. and G. van der Meer
(1994). "Creativity through psychosomatics." Creativity Research Journal 7(2): 159-170.

This study demonstrated that creative people may tend to counter the effects of negative health subliminal stimuli while the lack of creativity may play an important role in psychosomatics. The messages "I Well" and "I Ill" were superimposed on faces using a tachistoscope to flash the words.


Smith, K. H. and M. Rogers (1994). "Effectiveness of subliminal messages in television commercials: Two experiments." Journal of Applied Psychology 79(6): 866-874.

Subjects were exposed to the subliminal and supraliminal message, "choose this" while watching television. Results showed a small significance with the subliminal presentation and a larger significance as a result of the supraliminal phrase.


Smith, R.B. (1979). The effects of the incidental perception of rhythm on task performance and mood. United States International University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 39 (10-B), pp 5049-5050.


Smith, T. B. (1993). "Effects of subliminal stimuli on unconscious processing of anxiety: An examination of implicit perception." Perceptual & Motor Skills 77(3, Pt 1): 899-904.

Using EMG monitoring, subjects were exposed to three types of subliminal stimuli. Results question the validity of emotive effects from subliminal visual presentations.


Snodgrass, J. M. (1989). Basics in subliminal activation: Two experiments concerning psychodynamic causal specificity and dosage effects, Ohio U, US.


Snodgrass, M., H. Shevrin, et al. (1993). "Absolute inhibition is incompatible with conscious perception." Consciousness & Cognition: an International Journal 2(3): 204-209.


Snodgrass, M., H. Shevrin, et al. (1993). "The mediation of intentional judgments by unconscious perceptions: The influences of task strategy, task preference, word meaning, and motivation." Consciousness & Cognition: an International Journal 2(3): 169-193.

This study demonstrates the need to observe task strategies in order to obtain or observe subliminal effects.


Soininen, K. and T. Jarvilehto (1983). "Somatosensory evoked potentials associated with tactile stimulation at detection threshold in man." Electroencephalography & Clinical Neurophysiology 56(5): 494-500.


Somekh, D.E. (1976). The effect of embedded words in a brief visual display. British Journal of Psychology, 67 (4), pp 529-535. ISSN: 0007-1269.

This study replicates and extends an experiment by Eagle, Wolitzky & Klein (1966).
The subjects were asked to write brief stories describing an Object Relations Test card following exposure to a 7 x 7 letter matrix in which were embedded either neutral words or emotive words.

Two groups were exposed to the matrices for 10 sec ("supraliminal control condition"), and the remaining four groups for 1 sec ("subliminal condition").

Independent judges were able to distinguish, to a significant degree, between the stories of subjects who were exposed to emotive words and those exposed to neutral words under the "subliminal condition"

The judges could not, however, distinguish between the stories of subjects exposed for the longer duration ("supraliminal condition") to emotive and neutral words respectively.


Somekh, D.E. & Wilding, J.M. (1973). Perception without awareness in a dichoptic viewing situation. Bedford College, University of London, England. British Journal of Psychology, 64 (3), pp 339-349.

This study replicates a previous study by Smith, Spence and Klein, which claims to demonstrate that difference in meaning between words registered below recognition threshold could affect associated thought.

In two experiments, a neutral face was paired with affect words presented subliminally, and the subjects were asked to rate it's expression using a forced choice indicator.

In experiment 1, words presented outside of awareness had an effect on semantically related judgements, which was at least as great as that with the same words presented supraliminally.

In experiment two, the results from experiment one were confirmed.
It was also found that increasing the similarity of contour between critical and control words of different meaning suggested differences between subliminal and supraliminal sessions.
The responses tended to be meaning-related in the former and structure related i the latter.


Sommer, L. (1986). The effects of subliminal psychodynamic activation on verbal time estimation. Long Island University, Brooklyn Center. Dissertation Abstracts International, 46 (9-B), p. 3231. ISSN: 0419-4209.

Leonard Sommer performed this study in order to investigate the linkage between psychoanalytic and development theory about the origins of time sense and the experimental method of verbal time estimation.

Tachistoscopic presentation of stimuli were used to hypothetically induce unconscious fantasies of merging and loss.

The subjects were assigned to nine groups with groups 1-8 receiving tachistoscopic stimulation and group 9 receiving an imagery exercise.

The subjects were asked to first estimate 9 randomly presented tones of intervals 38, 55 and 75 seconds.

The subjects then received the stimuli, after which they were asked to estimate the duration of 9 new tones of the same duration.

The results showed a significant interaction between groups and the interval estimated.
The three groups who received the symbiotic stimulation were significantly different from the control when estimating intervals of 38 and 55 seconds.

At 75 seconds, two of the symbiotic stimuli approached significance but only the stimulus hypothesized to evoke an early representation of the self was significantly different.

The group receiving the loss stimulus did not perform as hypothesized.

The results obtained support the hypothesis that time estimation can be affected by subliminal stimulation of unconscious symbiotic wishes at certain intervals.


Spangenberg, E. R. (1991). An empirical test of subliminal self-help audiotapes: Are expectancies the active ingredient?, U Washington, US.

This study evaluate the effect of labels on the expectation factor. Commercial subliminal audio tapes were obtained and label switched from memory to esteem and vice versa. The results suggest that the effect of the label increased the expectation in the direction of the label. No independent measure of the gains reported by subjects verified their self reports.


Spence, D.P. (1961). The multiple effects of subliminal stimuli

Journal of Personality, 29.


Spence, D.P. (1967). Subliminal perception and perceptual defense: Two sides of a single problem. Behavioral Science, 12 (3), pp 183-193. ISSN: 0005-7940.

Donald Spence discusses the differences between subliminal perception and perceptual defense.

Subliminal perception refers to the registration of faint stimuli outside of awareness.
Perceptual defense refers to the nonrecognition of threatening stimuli.

Spence argues that both are part of a single continuum and should be studied together.


Spence, D.P.
(1981). Subliminal effects of lexical decision time. College of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey-Rutgers Medical School, Piscataway. Lund University. Psychological Research Bulletin, 21 (7). ISSN: 0348-3673.


Spence, D.P. (1983). Subliminal effects on lexical decision time. University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey-Rutgers Medical School, Piscataway. Archiv fur Psychologie, 135 (1), pp 67-72. ISSN: 0066-6475.

Donald Spence studied the reaction times (RTs) of right-handed subjects to 5-letter target words under subliminal and near-liminal priming conditions.

Of the target words, one-third were meaningless and the rest of varying frequency.
Any target could be preceded by a blank, by a related prime, or by an unrelated prime.
Targets were preceded by primes shown for 10, 20 and 40 msec. The results show that the priming effect was demonstrated for related primes but not in other conditions.
It was also found that the subliminal related primes facilitated recognition, whereas near liminal related primes did not.

The latter effect may have been due to a form of forward masking.


Spence, D.P. & Bressler, J. (1962). Subliminal activation in conceptual associates: A study of "rational" pre-conscious thinking. Journal of Personality, 38, pp 89-105.


Spence, D.P. & Ehrenberg, B. (1964). Effects of oral deprivation in response to subliminal and supraliminal verbal food stimuli. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 69 (1).


Spence D.P. & Gordon, C.M. (1967). Activation and Measurement of an early oral fantasy: An exploratory study. Research Center for Mental Health, New York, NY. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 15 (1), pp 99-129.

This study by Donald Spence and Carol Gordon found that the effects of rejection did not clearly emerge into awareness unless a subliminal stimulus had also been exposed.


Spence, D.P. & Gordon, C.M. (1973). Activation and assessment of an early oral fantasy: An exploratory study. New York University, Research Center for Mental Health. Psychological Issues, 8 (2, mono. 30), pp 11-28.

Donald Spence and Carol Gordon performed this study in order to test the proposition that a subliminal stimulus would provide a port of entry for the study measurement of unconscious fantasies.

It was hypothesized that

a) severe rejection would arouse a compensatory fantasy of being fed, and

b) such a fantasy would be particularly likely to appear in subjects who had shown, on a questionnaire, that they use food in response to rejection.

High and low scoring subjects on the questionnaire were made to feel either rejected or accepted, and were exposed to either a positive or neutral stimulus prior to being asked to learn a list of words.

The hypothesis was most strongly confirmed in the analysis of important-words which were not on the list but were erroneously recalled.


Spence, D.P. & Holland, B. (1962). The restricting effects of awareness: A paradox and an explanation. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 64, pp 163-174.


Spence D.P. & Smith, G.J. (1977). Experimenter bias against subliminal perception? Comments on a replication. Rutgers Medical School, Piscataway. British Journal of Psychology, 68 (3), pp 279-280.


Spiro, T.W. (1976). The effects of subliminal symbiotic stimulation and strengthening self boundaries of schizophrenic pathology. New York University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 36 (11-B), pp 5818-5819.


Spitz, E. H. (1991). Image and insight: Essays in psychoanalysis and the arts. New York, NY, US, Columbia University Press.

(from the jacket) With scholarship and passion, Ellen Handler Spitz presents a collection of interpretative essays on pleasure and meaning in the arts of painting, sculpture, literature, theater, music, and film. Drawing on psychoanalytic discource, these essays probe the anxious competitiveness in contemporary culture between words and images. They trace subliminal dialogues over time between objects and observers. They ask how fluctuating scenes of art and culture might influence presumably static psychoanalytic notions and even partially reconstitute them while, on the other hand, developing psychoanalytic thought might alter received notions about the reception and creation of art. /// Interdisciplinary criticism at its best, this book is addressed to general readers as well as to mental health professionals and to scholars in the fields of art history, literary criticism, and psychology.


Stadler, M. & Kruse, P. (1990). The self-organization perspective in cognition research: historical remarks and new experimental approaches. Department of Psychology, University of Bremen. Springer Series in Synergetics, 45, pp 32-52.

The authors discuss the synergetic effects in cognition and behavior as systems in phase transitions from unstable to stable states, or from one stable state to another of higher order passing unstable phases.

The authors assert that a central characteristic of such a system is fluctuation in behavior and further that these fluctuations are the prerequisites and mortar of phase transition.


Stambrook, M. & Martin, D.G. (1983). Brain laterality and the subliminal perception of facial expression. International Journal of Neuroscience, 18 (1-2), pp 45-58. ISSN: 0020-7454.

In this study, right-handed subjects were presented simultaneously with;

1) a face expressing positive, neutral, or negative affect in the left or right visual field, and

2) the outlines of the face containing visual noise, in the opposite visual field.

A range of stimulus presentation durations was used to sample above and below threshold processing.

The results showed a left field advantage in locating the face.

There was only suggestive evidence in favor of a right hemisphere superiority in the processing of facial expression.


Staum, M. J. and M. Brotons (1992). "The influence of auditory subliminals on behavior: A series of investigations." Journal of Music Therapy 29(3): 130-185.

Evaluated subliminal audio tapes and their effect in three areas with 349 college students. Analysis of the tapes revealed no significant difference in the music on the tapes but did show a difference in written scripts and purported tape content. Data from the study showed no effect on behavior or subconscious imagery, written and pictorial.


Steele, E.H. (1969). The impact of psychoanalytic theory on the freedom of speech. Psychoanal Q (United States), 38 (4), pp 583-615.


Steinberg, R.J. (1975). The effects of subliminal mother-need tachistoscopic stimulation on the ego pathology of hospitalized male schizophrenics. Long Island University, Brooklyn Center. Dissertation Abstracts International, 36 (4-B), p. 1934.

Richard Steinberg performed this study in order to test the two hypotheses;

1) the hypothesis of Wolman (1966) that schizophrenic ego pathology is related to an interruption of early childhood narcissism by a great investment of "love" and concern in the mothering object,

2) the hypothesis of Searles (1965) that these feeling of love for mother are the principle cause of the schizophrenics symbiotic attachment to mother.

The hypotheses were tested using the "subliminal psychodynamic activation" method of Silverman (1971).

The stimuli used were;

1) "poor mommy needs me",

2) "mommy feels fine",

3) "people are standing", and

4) "people are walking".

The results showed;

1) the message "poor mommy needs me" increased behavior pathology for the schizophrenics,

2) the message "mommy feels fine" had no effect on ego pathology or psychological differentiation,

3) the message "people are walking" increased psychological differentiation for schizophrenics, and

4) subjects aggressive imagery was positively correlated with increases in pathological thinking for the mommy messages.

The results supported the first hypothesis but not the second.


Strauch, I. et. al. (1976). The impact of meaningful auditory signals on sleeping behavior. University of Saarlandes, Saarbrucken, West Germany. Archiv fur Psychologie, 128 (1-2), pp 75-95. Language: GERMAN.

This study was performed in order to determine the awakening thresholds in various sleep stages, and to assess the effects of subliminal stimulation.
Three meaningful auditory stimuli were used;

1) the sound of vomiting,

2) a humming sound, and

3) the sound of a jet airplane.

The sound of vomiting, which was produced below the threshold of conscious awareness was the subliminal sound which had the fastest arousal of sleeping subjects.


Strauss, H. (1968). A phenomenological approach to the subconscious. Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. Nordisk Psykologi, 20 (4), pp 203-206.

Helen Strauss discusses a phenomenological approach to the "subconscious" and gives 3 ways of using the subconscious;

1) a vague perception which occurs in experiments with subliminal stimulation,

2) a theoretical assumption based on observations, and

3) an immediate experience of something existing in the subconscious.


Stross, L. & Shevrin, H. (1968). Thought organization in hypnosis and the waking state. The effects of subliminal stimulation in different states of consciousness. Menninger Foundation, Topeka, KS. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 147 (3), pp 272-288. ISSN: 0022-3018.

Lawrence Stross and Howard Shevrin described three experiments on subliminal stimulation which involved recall of percepts, images, free associations, and dreams in hypnosis and the waking state.

By discovering the effect of subliminal stimuli in these different forms of thinking, it would be possible to provide objectively measurable reflections of the thought process which regulate and determine mental contents

It was found that;

1) hypnosis has hypermnesic properties that enhance subliminal effects, and

2) subliminal perception is probably retrieved through recovery of images and dreams.


Stross, L. & Shevrin, H. (1969). Hypnosis as a method for investigating unconscious thought processes. A review of the research. Journal of the American Psychoanalysts Association, 17 (1), pp 100-1035. ISSN: 0003-0651.


Sturman, P.A. (1980). Derivatives of the castration complex in normal adults. St. John's University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 41 (1-B), p. 370.

Philip Sturman hypothesized that the arousal of the unconscious derivatives of the castration complex in normal adult males and females would lead to intrapsychic conflict capable of interfering with performance in various spheres of functioning.

It was also hypothesized that the male subjects would experience greater conflict than females following the subliminal arousal of the unconscious dynamics of the castration complex.

Three subliminal stimuli were used;

1) "father castrates",

2) "people walking", and

3) "father argues".

The results showed that;

1) the castration and aggression messages created unconscious psychic conflict in normal subjects and caused them to regress to levels of perceptual responding characteristic of earlier stages of development,

2) males were not found to display greater psychic conflict than females under the castration message condition,

3) the state anxiety revealed no significant changes following either the castration or aggression message,

4) word recall increased for males following the aggression message, whereas it did not for females.

5) words with negative affective tone for castration themes were recalled less than either positive or neutral words, and

6) the Holtzman Inkblot scoring categories Form Definiteness, Integration and Location were found to be sensitive indicators of perceptual regression.


Sullivan, R. (1985) Biofeedback theta training coupled with subliminal audio suggestions in the treatment of alcoholism. Center for Alcohol Rehabilitation and Educational Services, Medford, OR. Mimeographed Manuscript, Bio-Feedback Systems, Inc., Boulder, CO.

Rita Sullivan used EEG theta wave biofeedback training and subliminal messages to study the relationships between

1) alcohol use and stress reduction

2) cognitive input and alcoholic behavior, and

3) changes in quality of life.

It was concluded that;

1) relaxation can be taught and used as an effective and appropriate alternative to alcohol for stress reduction, and

2) subliminal suggestions given during theta state hyper-suggestibility help control the desire to drink.


Swanson, N.J. (1985). The improvement of test performance through the use of a subliminal hypnosis tape. Doctoral Dissertation, Nova University, FL.

Norma Swanson (1985) used Potentials Unlimited subliminal tapes with nursing students preparing for a state license examination.

The subjects were instructed to listen to the tapes every day for the 48 days prior to the test.

On the State Board examination, the control group scored 2060, while the experimental groups 2183.


Swanson, R.J. (1981). The effects of oedipally-related stimuli in the subliminal psychodynamic activation paradigm. A replication and an extension. Loyola University, IL. Dissertation Abstracts International, 41 (11-B), p. 4278. ISSN: 0419-4209.


Swart, L. C. and C. L. Morgan (1992). "Effects of subliminal backward-recorded messages on attitudes." Perceptual & Motor Skills 75(3, Pt 2): 1107-1113.

Backward-recorded messages in a popular song were played to three groups to test the hypothesis that messages of this type would influence the listeners attitudes. Results failed to support the hypothesis.


Swingle, P. G. (1992). Subliminal treatment procedures: A clinician's guide. Sarasota, FL, US, Professional Resource Press/Professional Resource Exchange, Inc.

(from the introduction) Let me (the author) immediately state that subliminal effects are real and it is not my purpose to attempt to persuade any reader of this fact.... What is in question is the therapeutic efficacy of subliminal technology. Hence, I feel that a guide is needed to assist clinicians in the preparation of subliminal materials and the necessary methodological procedures for the application and assessment of subliminal treatments.

I believe that it will be most beneficial for clinicians to know how to use subliminal technology and to become involved in systematic research investigating the areas of beneficial application.

In my judgment, clinical practice will provide the appropriate research milieu for examining the treatment efficacy of subliminal effects. /// Although I review several modalities of subliminal application, the major emphasis in this guide is on auditory and, to a lesser extent, visual procedures.

The emphasis on auditory procedures results largely from the greater convenience afforded in clinical application of auditory material. Auditory subliminal material can be readily prepared for easy use by clients outside of the clinical context. Visual procedures are much more restrictive and cumbersome, although very useful in clinical settings.


The Controversy in the Differences of Audio Subliminal Technology

Subliminal Messages, Subliminal Audio, Subliminal Advertising and How it Works

The Power of the Subconscious Mind and Positive Thoughts or Self Talk

The InnerTalk Subliminal Technology

Report: The Truth About Subliminal Programs
(PDF Download)

Peripheral Learning Reference Guide

The Subliminal Challenge

Grants for Research