In order to form a decision on whether subliminal messages are real or if they could implant suggestions into our minds without our direct knowledge, we first have to know what exactly one is. I found this definition when i searched "subliminal messages" on wikipedia.com. "A is a signal or message embedded in another medium, designed to pass below the normal limits of the human mind's perception. These messages are unrecognizable by the conscious mind, but in certain situations can affect the subconscious mind and importantly, the unconscious mind, and can negatively or positively influence subsequent later thoughts, behaviors, actions, attitudes, belief systems and value systems. The term subliminal means "beneath a limen" (sensory threshold). This is derived from the Latin words sub, meaning under, and limen, meaning threshold."
(Note: see resource pages for explanation of the definition.)
The idea that someone or something can influence us without our knowledge is somewhat scary, but it is possible? The first reports and basic outline of subliminal messages are first documented with, The New Psychology, published by E.W Scripture in 1898. This form of suggestion has been supposedly used for everything from training army personnel how to identify different types of enemy war planes, all the way up to persuading people to buy concessions at movie theaters. Another time a subliminal message was used in a presidential campaign commercial. Once even used by the FBI to try to lure out the B.T.K (bind, torture, kill) serial killer, during a live televised news report. This attempt was unsuccessful. So, with this being said, I must ask the question: Is it possible to embed a thought, idea, or suggestion into a person's mind subconsciously?
(Note: all examples from above are discussed more completely on the resource pages.)
I was first introduced to this theory when I was in high school. I was taking a course in psychology, when our instructor first brought up the idea of subliminal messages. He showed us several different forms of possible subliminal messages, starting with some older magazine advertisements, (I do not remember which magazines or what the years of these magazines were.) which depicted the use of subliminal messaging. One he showed us had a glass of a certain liquor over ice cubes, with suggestive shadows of naked women, and the letters S-E-X hidden into the many ice cubes. Another was an advertisement for a cigarette company, this one showed an attractive, possibly successful (based on her outfit and surroundings) young woman. Inside the smoke that was coming off of her cigarette, you could see the letters again S-E-X, and also faintly a design of a dollar sign. These possibly indicating that one will be rich and/or successful, or even make one who is using those products sexy.
The next example was a little different, it was hidden messages in songs called, back masking, or backward masking. This is a highly debated topic, with several reasons supporting each side. Our instructor had us listen to portions of different songs. First we listened to the songs played correctly, then we had to listen to them back wards, to see if we heard anything. There are several examples of this so I will not go into detail, I am sure that everyone has heard of at least one of these. Rather or not they heard anything unusual or subliminal is their own beliefs. There was next a strange song, that sounded like someone speaking back wards, our teacher assured us that this was the correct forward playing of the song. But when he played this song back wards, it turned out to be someone reading, The Lord's Prayer. It has been quite some time since high school, I am not sure, but I think that this was a song by Prince. It is said that the song is recorded this way to see if anyone would pick up on the message. Whether or not this is true I don't know. Although, it was very creepy and it almost proved the point of subliminal messaging to me.
(Note: If you would like some examples of the songs view the resource pages or simply search google: "back masking" or "backward masking". There are several pages with lots of examples.) Another supposed example is not really an example of subliminal messaging, but it is more like subliminal scaring, I know it surely scared me. During the movie, The Exorcist, there are several instances in the film where unrelated to the events of the movie itself and very unexpectedly,
there is a terrifying image or face flashed on the screen for what seems to be very little time, maybe a second at the most. In fact I tried to pause the movie on one of these instances, and I found it to be impossible to do so. Whether this is done for effect as part of the actual movie, or an added part outside of the movie itself to make it scarier. I have not found a reliable explanation as to why these images are added to the film. Since I did not see the film in the theaters nor on video, I wouldn't know if they were part of the original theater release. I have only watched the movie on DVD, and it was the director's cut. It was supposed to be," the version you've never seen". So any extra information on this would be extremely welcomed.
The next form of subliminal messaging that I have seen or heard about is the sets of "self-help" Cd's or tapes, which claim to help people lose weight, gain confidence, stop smoking, or loads of other things just by simply listening to these while a person sleeps. I have no experience with these so I do not know if they work or not. I would say probably not, but that is just my thoughts. From what I read these are self encouraging messages, subliminally hidden within new age music or soothing sounds, like the sounds of the ocean or something similar. The instructions say that for best results, the tape or Cd is supposed to be played during sleep for a certain amount of nights in a row, then revisited if the person suffers a relapse or is in need of extra affirmation.
Psychology was my favorite class in school, so I hope to learn as much as I can about the brain and how it works. So with all this being said, the decision of whether or not you believe that subliminal messages could really influence someone or not is totally up to the individual. If anyone has any other forms of subliminal messages or anything like that, I would be very glad to read what everyone has to say. This is a very interesting topic to me so I would like as much feedback as possible. Anyone can review the facts and the fiction of supposed events using subliminal messages by simply visiting the resource pages i have listed. Doing this will help one form their own conclusions.