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Appelbaum, S.A. (1986). An Idea Whose Time is Already Here: The Search for Oneness, by Lloyd H. Silverman, Frank M. Lachmann, and Robert H. Milich. New York: International Universities Press, 1982, 306 pp.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 3(3):287-289.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 3(3):287-289

An Idea Whose Time is Already Here: The Search for Oneness, by Lloyd H. Silverman, Frank M. Lachmann, and Robert H. Milich. New York: International Universities Press, 1982, 306 pp.

Review by:
Stephen A. Appelbaum, Ph.D.

Lloyd Silverman's research on oneness fantasies (he is the principal author and researcher) has been around for several years, and has achieved a measure of popularity; his energy and productivity have seen to that. Yet the work has not exactly gotten the attention it deserves. I suppose that one reason is the sheer lack of time for keeping up with the torrent of ideas generated in the field. Another likely reason is that many readers have become jaded from repetitious presentations of good ideas and frequent exposure to bad ones.

A dynamic reason for such relative unreceptivity is that people tend to turn away from good ideas when those ideas are so good (i.e., their implications are so far-reaching) that they may be experienced as threatening. Such ideas may tend to trample upon the self-esteem of those who must believe that they already know what needs to be known. Such ideas may call for action from those who prefer to be passive. And in general they pose all the dangers associated in people's minds with change. It is much easier to ho-hum oneself with a “that's interesting” and turn to the sports page.

Silverman's findings run the risk of these receptions because they have, or seem at this stage in their development to have, enormous implications, calling for vigorous thought and considerable change. In brief, Silverman demonstrated with a tachistoscope that the subliminal presentation of stimuli, particularly the sentence, “Mommy and I are one,” influenced a wide variety of behaviors, among them: improved adjustment of some schizophrenics, diminished anxiety, weight loss among the obese, the overcoming of alcoholism, the improvement of school grades.

For one thing, such findings demonstrate once again the existence of the unconscious (one might think that argument would be settled; it never is, for either the overt critics outside psychoanalysis, nor for those within the fold who waver covertly in the face of inner resistances).

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