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Friedman, S.M. Fisher, C. (1960). Further Observations on Primary Modes of Perception—The Use of a Masking Technique for Subliminal Visual Stimulation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 8:100-129.

(1960). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 8:100-129

Further Observations on Primary Modes of Perception—The Use of a Masking Technique for Subliminal Visual Stimulation

Stanley M. Friedman, Ph.D. and Charles Fisher, Ph.D.


1. This study had as its purpose the validational testing of an observation of Urbantschitsch; namely, that a visual stimulus rendered invisible by covering it with sheets of paper still registered through the paper upon the perceptual apparatus. Methodology was based upon the possible recovery of transformations of this stimulus through the images of a group of subjects. Experimental controls, an a priori system of quantification, statistical applications, and "blind" scorers were part of the experimental design. The results supported this hypothesis of Urbantschitsch to a significant degree.

2. A subsidiary hypothesis, that the use of an "ego-impairing" drug (LSD-25) in subhallucinatory doses would increase the degree of delivery of percepts into subsequent imagery, was also tested and confirmed. The research techniques for this corollary experiment were the same as for the main study and used part of its research sample.

3. Experimental images under LSD showed certain qualitative differences from those obtained in the main experiment. These differences were an increase in color, light, and inanimate movements, and a decrease in the importance of the shapes of the image objects. It was speculated that these findings indicate the presence of an archaic level of perception that might precede the developmental phase dominated by primary-process transformations. In this archaic stage, visual perception would be Gestalt-free and dominated by color, light, and movement sensations.

4. Note was taken of certain similarities between the Urbantschitsch phenomenon and certain parapsychological findings. A

review of the literature devoted to the psi-phenomenon led to the interpretation that some of the results claimed for parapsychology may be based, instead, upon subliminal registration.

5. Individual differences in degree of utilization of subliminal stimuli were noted. The need for studies of individual differences was stressed. The markedly enhanced delivery of the subliminal stimulus following ingestion of LSD was interpreted as indicating that regression of the ego's perceptual apparatus is related to such increased utilization.

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