Can Subliminal techniques help you ? – Or harm you ? – Let’s look at the evidence.
First of all, let’s explain a bit about what exactly Subliminal is – what does the word mean ?
If you break the word down, it is made up of two separate word parts – sub and liminal.
Sub – means anything which is underneath or below something else,
………for example submarine means a kind of ship that goes under the water.
………subway means a form of transportation under the ground.
………subordinate (used as a noun) – someone who works underneath someone else.
and I am sure that you can think of other examples.
Liminal – means threshold or entrance, the way in – for example;-
“Every stimulus must reach a certain intensity before any appreciable sensation results. This point is known as the threshold or liminal intensity.”
In other words, the level, or threshold – at which conscious awareness starts.
So if we combine those two word parts together – to get Subliminal, we can see that this means a stimulus that is below normal conscious awareness,
– it is usually used with reference to one of the two following situations;-
……….where a sound is not loud enough for us to be consciously aware of it.
……….or where a visual image is flashed so fast that we cannot consciously see it.
The Subliminal field first became known in the very end of the 1890s and early in the 1900s, but it was not until 1957 that it made big news.
In that year, a market researcher called James Vicary flashed extremely fast images onto the screen in a movie house in New Jersey that was showing the movie “Picnic.”
There were two different images that he used – one said;-
– and the other one said;-
Hungry ? Eat Popcorn
Each was flashed on the screen for only 1/3000th of a second – way faster than we are able to register it (a light bulb flashes at only 60 flashes per second – but we can only see those flashes very occasionally, and usually only from out of the corner of our eyes).
He flashed these messages every 5 seconds throughout the movie, and carried this on for six weeks.
Afterward he claimed that during this time – the sales of Coca-Cola increased by 57.8 percent, and the sales of popcorn by 18.1 percent.
This caused a flurry of interest in this kind of messaging, until it was mentioned negatively in a very successful book called “Hidden Persuaders” by Vance Packard.
This then caused a huge public outcry, and many allegations of “brainwashing” and “mind control” and other similar opinions.
Despite this, in 1958, James Vicary did a repeat experiment through a Canadian Broadcasting Company program – where he flashed the message;-
– hundreds of times – but with no increase in the number of telephone calls made.
Finally, a few years later, in 1962, Vicary admitted that the whole thing was a scam – a sort of attempt to improve his position in the marketing business !
Since then, other people have tried to repeat similar experiments, but with virtually no positive results.
Since that time, many countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. have completely banned the use of any subliminal messaging in any form of advertising, and the U.N. also came down very heavily against it.
Audio Subliminal messages
Since then, there was a lot of interest in using sound as a method of similar messaging.
Either embedding very quiet sounds (below the range of human hearing) into music or similar soundtracks, or else playing the same messages backwards – known as ‘backmasking.’
(There have been fears that some Satanic type sects had used both these methods to get their message across, whilst it was embedded in Heavy Metal Rock music – but there has not been any concrete proof that this has ever actually happened).
The theory behind both these kinds of subliminal messages – auditory or visual – has been that although these stimuli were too low or too fast for the conscious mind to interpret, the subconscious mind was able to process these messages.
However, recent research, using modern brain imaging machines, such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Positron Emission Tomography, coupled with EEG machines…..(all of which can closely monitor brainwave activity) –
(click on my website page on Entrainment for more details) –
…..and coupled with both animal and human experiments using electrodes implanted into the brain itself –
…..have shown that for any part of the brain to be active – the stimulus must be strong enough to cause neurons to be electrically active and “firing” – ( the so called Event Related Potential).
…..and that these forms of stimuli were not strong enough to cause any response in the brain.
This would seem to strongly show that subliminal messaging is a waste of time – but despite that there are still several companies that are offering music or meditations with these kinds of messages included.
Although strictly controlled double blind experiments have been done that showed this kind of messaging to be ineffective, there are still some who argue that in certain conditions – under the effect of hypnosis for example – there may be some validity to this.
I think that the whole subject needs further studies and investigations – probably at a University level – before we can say for 100 percent sure whether subliminals have any possible effect or not.
Therefore, because of this majority of reputable evidence that seems to show that they are not effective,
– I will NOT be using Subliminals in any of my own Pre-Recorded Guided Meditations.
One other concern that I have about the use of subliminals is as follows;-
………….if they have any validity at all, and can affect us in in any way at all –
…..then because we cannot consciously hear them,
…..how do we know that the company selling recordings with subliminal affirmations for example,
…..is not also putting subliminal messages like Buy More Recordings into their tapes ?
It would seem to me it would be too much of a temptation for the company to ignore – and there would be no way of telling without a lot of work and very hi-tech and expensive audio equipment.
This is also part of the reason why I have decided NOT to use them.
I hope that this has given you a useful overview on the Subliminal field in general, and that you found it informative.
Obviously a field to be very suspicious about !
So that’s all for this page !