First Amendment Dialogue and Subliminal Messages


Many studies have now shown the effectiveness of subliminal psychodynamic activation…. It is now evident that a subliminal stimulus can bring about behavior change as a result of activating psychodynamic processes. This raises anew anxieties that were stimulated in the 1960’s of a 1984-type society in which our behavior is being secretly influenced by external forces. It also raises anew a criticism that has been made of the experimental method-that the people participating are treated as inanimate objects… I am convinced that both of these concerns have some justification, though it is difficult to say at this point exactly what is warranted and what is an exaggeration based upon remnants of childhood fantasies to which we are all vulnerable. I hope this question will be easier to answer as more results accumulate on what can and cannot be brought about by subliminal stimulation. In light of the considerations referred to above as well as more general ethical considerations, it is important for all of us utilizing subliminal psychodynamic activation to bend over backwards to protect subjects.

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