Truth About Subliminal Programs
Choices and Illusions
Research / Desk Reference
Remarks by Eldon Taylor
for the Revised Issue (Winter 2000)
I have been involved in this field for 20 years and during that time,
I have witnessed many changes in attitude and advances in science. As
Bornstein so eloquently points out in his book, Empirical Perspectives
on the Psychoanalytic Unconscious (1998), the question used to one of
whether or not the unconscious was a smart unconscious, capable of reasoning,
problem solving, hiding fears and developing strategies to avoid conflict
What is now in question has more to do with the technical nature by which a subliminal stimulus is presented. For example, using audio means at what db differential do we find optimal masking without a decay in the stimuli (message)? Since there is no such thing as an absolute hearing threshold that applies to all people, then how do we produce portable audio materials that will work for most? Is this possible at all? Is it necessary to test individual thresholds before employing subliminal stimuli? This is much less of an issue with visual stimuli since there are methods that for normal vision subjects, whether natural or corrected vision, can deliver a subliminal stimulus in a reliable and easily replicatable manner.
There is also the issue regarding the verbal nature of stimuli. Assume that verbal stimuli can indeed impact behavior, as is more than adequately shown in the papers and proceedings that follow, then is there a quantitative and/or qualitative difference to the nature of the semantic content? The literature would definitely suggest so. Indeed, it would indicate that there may even be "magic bullets" like the subliminal psychodynamic activating (SPA) mommy message.
The questions for researchers today not only include the prior two issues, but those that provide true clinical utility. What effects and for how long--in what or how many domains?
In twenty years I have seen the subliminal communication issue come full around, from the panacea claims of the '70s through the "hoax and fraud" assertions of the '80s and early '90s to the documented and established views of this century. This does not mean that all forms of subliminal stimuli work some magic or miracle or even work at all. It does mean that serious researchers can now get on with the real work instead of the theoretical arguments and out right denials regarding an intelligent unconscious and its ability to learn from, or even process in some meaningful way, subliminal stimuli.
© Copyright, 2007, Progressive Awareness Research, Inc., All rights reserved.