Your Best Self …
In my last BrainHAX™ article I reviewed “trans-cranial direct current stimulation,” or tDCS, as one of the evolving brain hacks. If you’re not quite that adventuresome – perhaps the thought of electrocuting your brain to improve your golf swing or learn a foreign language doesn’t appeal to you for some reason – there are more subtle brain hacks available. As one example, you might consider “hacking” your brain using subliminal suggestions, meditation, or hypnosis. This article is on one of the most controversial brain hacks, subliminal brain hacks.
What are Subliminal Brain Hacks?
The term subliminal means “below detection” or “below threshold.” Think “beneath conscious perception.” As a method for brain hacking – learning new information or achieving a new goal – subliminal messages are presented below the threshold of awareness. Subliminal messages can be audio or visual; visual messages can be in the form of images or words.
MIND CONTROL? Really?
History of Subliminal Brain Hacks
Subliminal messaging got a bad rap from a hoax perpetrated by a desperate advertiser in the 1950’s. James Vicary had claimed to boost sales at a movie theater snack counter by flashing “Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coke” messages during a movie. It was a hoax, but the damage was done: people became convinced that subliminal advertising was being used for “mind control.”
As a result, global concern over “mind control” caused several governments, including the U.S., banning subliminal advertising in 1958.
Inspired Research into Subliminal Messaging
Despite Vicary’s admission that he never conducted those subliminal experiments, the advertising industry launched a decade of research hoping that his results were real. Vicary’s results were never reproduced. However, along the way, some interesting research was conducted. Some interesting results that can help you achieve your goals … keep reading …
Whereas there are many examples of studies that reported positive effects of subliminal messages on behavior (e.g. quit smoking) or memory, there are just as many studies that have failed to find any difference following exposure to subliminal messages. Advocates of subliminal messaging would argue that the details matter: particulars of the subliminal stimulus (audio vs visual); manner of measuring the outcomes; etc.
Which leaves us with the important question …
Do Subliminal Brain Hacks Work?
The answer is yes; and no. And it depends.
Decades of Research on Subliminal Messages Discovered:
For subliminal brain hacks to be effective – for them to have any impact on behavior – the message must support an existing intention.
That is, for subliminal messages to change behavior, they must reinforce a behavior that a person already wants or aspires to. Subliminal messages cannot, repeat cannot, make you do things that you are not already interested in doing. Subliminal messages cannot be used by others to control your mind. There must be a foundation of intention for subliminal messages to work. To be effective, the subliminal message must support a goal that you already have.
It Works if You Want it to Work!
As a result of this essential ingredient – existing intention – subliminal messaging has met with a great deal of skepticism (and rightly so). For example, a huge amount of money and effort was invested in subliminal research by marketing firms back in the 1970’s and 80’s, only to discover that subliminal messages really couldn’t make people buy products; we simply cannot be influenced by subliminal advertising unless we are already considering buying that product.
However, knowing this limitation – this need for existing intention – gives us a powerful HabitHAX™ tool:
You can use subliminal messaging to help you achieve your goals.
Think of subliminal brain hacks as affirmations that are presented below your threshold of awareness.
This is HUGE!
In one study, college students who were exposed, before taking their exams, to subliminal messages suggesting that they are intelligent, performed better on their midterms than students exposed to neutral messages (Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 2007). In that study, the presumed “existing intention” for those students was their interest in being intelligent and performing well on their midterm exams. Of course, we all want to be intelligent and perform well.
Conclusion: Subliminal Messages are Powerful Brain Hacks!
Subliminal Brain Hacks
This mechanism has the potential to help you achieve any goal: presumably you have an “existing intention” to lose weight; or to be pain-free; or to be a better speaker, or golfer, or whatever. In this context, valid research suggests that subliminal messaging DOES work! That is, subliminal messages are effective brain hacks.
Subliminal messaging can help change your behavior, if that is your wish. It can help you achieve your goals! Think HabitHAX™ without the effort. Just like your affirmation screen-saver, or affirmation poster on your wall; except you’re not aware of these affirmations; you don’t consciously see them.
Are subliminal brain hacks merely placebo effect, as many have suggested?
Does it matter, as long as you achieve your goals? For me, achieving my goals is what matters.
My Own Experience
Do you have goals? Of course you do. Everyone has goals. You should have goals.
Everyone is trying to eliminate old bad habits, and form new positive habits.
Let’s use a common goal as an example: you want to lose weight and get in great shape. That’s your goal, your “existing intention.” Subliminal messages that support your goal would be things like “I love to exercise,” “I am losing weight,” “I am becoming stronger,” and similar messages. Wouldn’t it be awesome if subliminal messages that support your goals would magically appear in the background the entire time you were working on your computer?
Subliminal Bran Hacks Software Exists!
About three years ago I installed some software that flashes subliminal messages on my computer screen. Since I spend hours every day working at my computers: writing; re-writing; editing audio and video; emailing; etc., I reasoned that this time could be used for subliminal brain hacks. The software program flashes subliminal messages on the screen; messages of my choosing. It’s super easy to use. In fact, since I set it up the first time, it has been running automatically. The software comes pre-programmed with messages for hundreds of goals. Many common goals, like lose weight; learn to meditate; improve my tennis game; eliminate fear of flying / spiders / etc. And it includes some less common goals, such as learn the guitar; write great poetry; cure addiction; and many more.
The software is called Subliminal Power2. It isn’t free, but for less than $100 USD it’s pretty impressive. Subliminal Power2 comes pre-programmed with subliminal messages for these 15 major goal categories:
- Brain Power
- Business & Success
- Dreams & Spirituality
- Fears & Phobias
- Habits & Addictions
- Healthy Body
- Healthy Mind
- Healthy Woman
- Just for Men
- Just for Women
- Illness & Pain Relief
- Love & Relationships
- Personal Development
- Sleep & Relaxation
- Sports, Skills & Hobbies
Subliminal Power2 software includes: Subliminal Programs; Brain Training; Brainwave Music; and Subliminal Movies. It also allows me to add my own programs and messages. I haven’t explored even a small fraction of what the software can do.
So, what’s the verdict on subliminal messaging software?
As I said, I spend hours every day on my computers. A few years ago, I installed Subliminal Power2 software on all of my computers – desktop and couple laptops. After using Subliminal Power2, I honestly have no idea whether it helps me achieve my goals or not. How could I know whether goals that I have achieved would not have been achieved without the software? But I can say that, since installing the software, I have improved in all of the areas that I selected in the software to flash subliminal affirmations.
Since installing Subliminal Power2 I’ve created many new, powerful habits: I’ve begun meditating; practicing yoga; working out regularly; improved my public speaking despite severe “stage fright;” and I’m sleeping better. I’ve achieved many personal and professional goals – those goals are my “existing intention.” And according to valid research, subliminal messages work as brain hacks when they support your existing intention.
Did I achieve my goals because of subliminal messages? Or placebo effect? I have no idea. Do I care? No. I’m happy to be achieving my goals. But I wasn’t achieving those goals until I installed the software. You decide.
I can also say that the software is super-easy to install and use. It’s compatible with all of my software, never causes a crash and doesn’t’ slow things down. It is unobtrusive, as you might expect from subliminal software. And I LOVE the selection of installed programs.
Any downsides? Just one that I discovered: I sometimes use screen-capture software to create demo videos. While reviewing a video one day, my daughter asked me, “What’s that fuzzy gray flash in the background?” I hadn’t noticed it, but on close inspection it seems my subliminal message flashes were being recorded in the screen-captures. Solution? Simply turn off the Subliminal Power2 software for those recordings. Simple, with a single click.
Here is the Sacred Herbals affiliate link for SubliminalPower2 Software:
As an aside, and for complete transparency: In reviewing studies of subliminal effects, I found that the majority of studies reporting positive effects were published during the 1970’s and 1980’s; many of the negative studies have been published during the 1990’s and later. That’s the trend, though not absolute: some very positive findings have been reported since 2000. It’s not clear what that trend signifies regarding the effectiveness of subliminal messaging. I suspect that most of the research was performed during the decades immediately following Vicary’s hoax; but this does not explain why some of the more recent studies have not found positive effects.
To confuse matters more, whereas some of those more recent studies suggest that subliminal messaging has little effect on human behavior, the latest research suggests the opposite:
High-tech imaging studies (fMRI) reveal that the physiological effects of subliminal messaging can be detected in the brain. That is, we can now detect brain changes that result from subliminal messages. And we know that brain changes result in behavior changes.
As new research is reported, I will follow these developments and keep you informed here.
Alternatives to Subliminal Power2 Software:
(I have no experience with these)
If you have personal experience with any of these Subliminal Programming Software packages, please leave a message and share – positive or negative.