The effects of an auditory subliminal message upon the production of images and dreams

J Nerv Ment Dis. 1986 Jul;174(7):397-407. doi: 10.1097/00005053-198607000-00003.


The purpose of this research was to investigate what effect an auditory subliminal message, produced by speeding up the rate at which it was recorded, would have upon the imagery and dreams of a group of normal subjects. The auditory subliminal message was produced by speeding up a message that was sung until it could not be consciously understood. This message was mixed with a normal music recording and played to nine subjects in the experimental group. Nine subjects in the control group heard the normal music recording without the subliminal message. Both groups were asked to produce a pretest drawing before the tapes were played, an imagery drawing immediately after the tapes were played, and a dream drawing of any dreams they might have that night. A statistical analysis was performed from data collected on blind ratings given to all the drawings by two art therapists. The results indicated a significant difference between the dream drawings and the imagery drawings of the experimental group and the control group. When the drawings were examined, the effect of the subliminal message could be seen. Based on the statistical data and certain drawings collected in this study, it would appear that the auditory subliminal message did have an effect upon the imagery and dreams of the subjects in the experimental group. The results of this study appear to indicate that the unconscious/preconscious mind is able to perceive a recorded verbal message that cannot be consciously understood at the high rate of speed at which it was recorded.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Dreams*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination*
  • Male
  • Music
  • Subliminal Stimulation*
  • Tape Recording
  • Unconscious, Psychology