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Meissner, W.W. (1983). Preconscious Processing: By Norman F. Dixon. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1981. 313 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 52:107-111.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:107-111

Preconscious Processing: By Norman F. Dixon. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1981. 313 pp.

Review by:
W. W. Meissner

This monograph represents a remarkable achievement. Dixon is an experimental psychologist who has been interested for some years in the phenomenon of subception, otherwise known as subliminal perception. In the present work, he extends and broadens his summary of the literature of a decade ago and brings the discussion of subliminal perception up to date. The book deals with the evidence for preconscious processing and perception outside of awareness, the role of preconscious determinants of conscious perceptual experience, the effects of subliminal stimuli on verbal behavior, the phenomenon of demonstrable memory for stimulus events without prior stimulus awareness, the relationship between preconscious processing and emotion, perceptual defense, and the development of some theoretical notions about the physiological basis of unconscious perception and the role of preconscious processing in attention. All in all, the writing is lucid, the argument convincing, and the review of experimental and clinical evidence thorough without being pedantic. The whole is luminously informative.

This is not to say that the book is light reading. It is a technical monograph which demands considerable effort from the reader, but the effort is well worth it. It is unfortunate, however, that in such a distinguished and useful work the text is marred by frequent typographical errors.


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