A Psychodynamic Activation Study of Female Oedipal Fantasies Using Subliminal and Percept-Genetic Techniques

  • Bert Westerlundh


This chapter presents an experimental study of conflict and defense originating in the female Oedipus complex, using subliminal stimulation and a tachistoscopic percept-genetic technique. This is related to Kragh’s (1985) Defense Mechanism Test (DMT) and consists of successively prolonged presentations of interpersonal stimuli, to which subjects report, verbally and with a drawing. In the experiment, factors were varied within and between subjects. All subjects saw and reported to two percept-geneses. For one of these, all percept-genetic presentations were preceded by a neutral subliminal verbal message, the words “Taking a walk.” For the other, the presentations were preceded by a provoking subliminal message, “Fuck daddy.” These messages were the same for all subjects. For half of the subjects, the two percept-genetic stimuli showed a girl (central figure, technically “hero”) and a man, for the other half a girl and a woman. The only difference between the sets of stimuli was in the sex of the grown-up “peripheral person” (pp). The presentation order for the subliminal and the percept-genetic stimuli was balanced, and the subjects randomly assigned to the different combinations. The design was thus of a mixed type.


Reaction Formation Psychoanalytic Theory Conflict Activation Defense Mechanism Test Oedipus Complex 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bonaparte, M. (1953) Female sexuality. London: Imago.Google Scholar
  2. Collins, A.M., Loftus, E.F. (1975) A spreading-activation theory of semantic processing. Psychological Review, 82, 407–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fenichel, O. (1946) The psychoanalytic theory of neurosis. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  4. Freud, S. (1961) Some psychical consequences of the anatomical distinction between the sexes. In The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud: Vol. 19. London: Hogarth Press (Original work published 1925 )Google Scholar
  5. Holender, D. (1986) Semantic activation without conscious identification in dichotic listening, parafoveal vision, and visual masking: A survey and appraisal. With peer commentary. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 9, 1–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Homey, K. (1973) Feminine psychology. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  7. Kline, P. (1988) Psychology exposed: Or, the emperor’s new clothes. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Kragh, U. (1969) Manual till DMT. Defense Mechanism Test. [Manual of the DMT]. Stockholm: Skandinaviska Testförlaget.Google Scholar
  9. Kragh, U. (1985) DMT manual. Stockholm: Persona.Google Scholar
  10. Moses, I. Reyher, J. (1985) Spontaneous and directed visual imagery: Image failure and image substitution. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 233–242.Google Scholar
  11. Nagera, H. (1975) Female sexuality and the Oedipus complex. New York: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  12. Robles, R., Smith, R., Carver, C.S., Wellens, A.R. (1987) Influence of subliminal visual images on the experience of anxiety. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 13, 399–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Silverman, L.H. (1966) A technique for the study of psychodynamic relationships: The effects of subliminally presented aggressive stimuli on the production of pathological thinking in a schizophrenic population. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 30, 103–111.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Silverman, L.H. (1983) The subliminal psychodynamic activation method: Overview and comprehensive listing of studies. In J. Masling (Ed.), Empirical studies of psychoanalytic theory: Vol. 1 (pp. 69–100 ). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  15. Silverman, L.H. Geisler, C.J. (1986) The subliminal psychodynamic activation method: Comprehensive listing update, individual differences, and other considerations. In U. Hentschel, G.J.W. Smith, J. Draguns (Eds.), The roots of perception (pp. 49–74 ). Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  16. Sjöbäck, H. (1972) Apparatkonstruktion, bildkonstruktion och grundläggande bildprovningsförsök med defense mechanism test. [The construction of the apparatus, the layout and basic testing of the pictures for the Defense Mechanism Test]. Mimeographed, Department of Psychology, Lund University.Google Scholar
  17. Spence, D.P., Klein, L., Fernandez, R.J. (1986) Size and shape of the subliminal window. In U. Hentschel, G.J.W. Smith, & J. Draguns, The roots of perception (pp. 103–142 ). Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  18. Westerlundh, B. (1976) Aggression, anxiety, and defense. Lund: Gleerup.Google Scholar
  19. Westerlundh, B. (1986) On reading subliminal sentences: A psychodynamic activation study. Psychological Research Bulletin, Lund University, 26, 10.Google Scholar
  20. Westerlundh, B., Sjöbäck, H. (1986) Activation of intrapsychic conflict and defense: The amauroscopic technique. In U. Hentschel, G.J.W. Smith, & J. Draguns (Eds.), The roots of perception (pp. 161–216 ). Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  21. Westerlundh, B., Terjestam, Y. (1987) Psychodynamic effects of subliminal verbal messages on tachistoscopically presented interpersonal stimuli. Psychological Research Bulletin, Lund University, 27, 3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bert Westerlundh

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations