Effects of subliminal stimulation of symbiotic merging fantasies on behavioral treatment of smokers

J Nerv Ment Dis. 1980 Dec;168(12):715-20. doi: 10.1097/00005053-198012000-00002.


The subliminal psychodynamic activation method was used to enhance the efficacy of a behavior therapy approach to smoking cessation. Thirty-four subjects received a 3-week, group-oriented, multicomponent behavior therapy package aimed at smoking cessation. Subjects were randomly assigned to either experimental or control groups. The experimental group received the subliminal message "mommy and I are one," and the control group the message "people are walking." At 4-weeks post-treatment the abstinence rate for the experimentals was 67 per cent and 12.5 per cent for the controls. At 12-weeks follow-up, 44 per cent of the experimentals and 12.5 per cent of the controls were abstinent. A chi2 analysis revealed a statistically significant difference between groups at 4 but not 12 weeks. A multiple analysis of covariance was used to analyze percentage of baseline smoking at both follow-up points. A significant main effect for treatment and for time emerged along with an interaction between treatment and time. Thus, the results revealed that the subliminally exposed message differentially effected the post-treatment smoking behavior of the experimental group. The results were interpreted as evidence for a transference phenomena explanation for the effectiveness of the behavioral treatment program.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Fantasy
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Subliminal Stimulation
  • Transference, Psychology