Maxwell Maltz

Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz Book Summary, Notes, and PDF

Last Updated on November 16, 2020

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For those of you who don’t know the author, Maxwell Maltz is a renowned cosmetic surgeon and author. He was born and raised in America.

In his research, Maltz combined his medical expertise and his analysis of human psychology. He concluded that what we feel in our mental state shapes our self-image. Therefore, whether we succeed or fail depends on the way we perceive ourselves.

Psycho-Cybernetic, a best selling book, is considered to be one of the finest examples of self-help literature. 

In this article, we will highlight the lessons taught throughout this fantastic book. 


What Is The Book About?

The word cybernetic comes from the Greek word ‘steersman.’ It’s the science that allows automatic control and communication both in machines and living beings. This is, for instance, how a computer manages to complete its task. 

Maltz applies this same principle to humankind. In doing so, he creates the term ‘psycho-cybernetics.’ Therefore, his theories are inspired by how sophisticated machines run. He applies the same principles to men and their behavior.

The book denounced the idea that humans can be turned into a machine. Psycho-cybernetics closes the gap between the brain’s different functions with phrases like “Your brain is a great computer,” and knowing that is much more than a machine.

Maltz said that all of us have an ‘essence’ or life force that cannot be reduced to merely a physical entity. Some people refer to it as libido; others call it ‘elan vital.’ A person cannot be restricted to their physical body or just their brain. We are genuinely beings in a flux system.

Some people might not feel comfortable with the author’s way of drawing a parallel between the brain versus the mind. Still, it makes sense when this idea is linked to Maltz’s statement, “Man isn’t a machine, but makes use of a machine.” This quote is critical to understand the book’s setting. That way, you can achieve your goals more efficiently.

What Is The Importance of Experience?

“Humans always act and perform based on what they think they are true or the environment that they are in.”

Maltz starts with an explanation describing the basis of the book. As a cosmetic surgeon, he has met countless patients who wish to change the way they look. However, many don’t feel happier after going through with cosmetic surgery. In short, their looks might change, but the way they feel about themselves remains the same.

Curious about this phenomenon, Dr. Maltz began to dig deeper. He stumbled upon cybernetics, and it seemed to be the key to further his research. Cybernetics is something required by machines to finish and execute tasks. He applied this theory to human behavior and what led them to achieve their success or end up failing in the process.

People’s understanding of specific fields is related to the machine’s programming. As they both lead to different results, both of them can be altered. It soon became apparent that even in a controlled environment, people used the things that they go through and turned them into something like, “Imagined vividly in detail, to change the results of the experience.”

The author claims that the reader needs to go through the book chapter by chapter, and they should genuinely try to ‘feel’ the book. Each section of the book needs to be read correctly, taking down notes on parts that the reader feels related to. After doing this homework, they should also create book summaries and draw different analyses. There are various practical exercises that the audience can use and try out. 

Once you take action on the album, you need to bear in mind, “It takes a minimum of 21 days to change your mental image,” Therefore to see results, you need to keep practicing and go through the knowledge that you obtain.

You Can Alter Your Self-Image and Success Structure

The book begins with the reasoning that every single one of us has a “mental image” that defines who we are or what that person believes in. That mental image is the outcome of what we experienced over time, our successes and failures, along with our behavior. The result is the model from which we create our character.

Most people think that their past experiences are terrible. Therefore, they start behaving in a manner that is not who they are but who they “feel” they are.

The author believes this mental contortion can be overtaken, and this is what the book is all about. It’s about adopting a new technique for defining ourselves in a better way. It’s a tool that allows us to live our lives as the person that we were supposed to be.

We need to recreate a new self-image, one that is closest to our real self. It cannot be more or less. It has to be almost at the same level.

However, most of us fail to comprehend that each of us was born to become successful. Every one of us has innate greatness that is waiting to be released. There’s a constant reminder, and it basically reads: YOU are THAT individual.

Deep down, regardless of the opinion, you have of yourself, we all share the potential to become happy and achieve success in everything that you do. At this point, you have a chance to do things that you have always dreamt of accomplishing, and those changes become available as soon as you get rid of negative thoughts like, “I can’t.” or ”I do not deserve it.”

Although this is something that you are not aware of, your self-portrait has developed as a direct result of all your experiences. 

You tend to believe this self-portrait and live your current state based around it. This explains why some people always succeed while others keep failing.

Many people think that they can attain their self-image by changing their outward appearance. This is based on the cases that Dr. Maltz has seen, especially when doing cosmetic surgery for patients. Some people tried to think of positive thoughts on the future, but they do not address their self-image. This is where Maltz found out there was a significant potential for the human being to revolutionize – by giving themselves a suitable self-image. 

They discovered that the person could be pleased when they create a self-image of themselves that is realistic and closer to an achievable goal. Therefore you need to find a self-image that you can accept and is nearer to your identity.

Maltz views the unconscious as a structure that is controlled by the mind. He defines this as the Creative Mechanism. It works based on the objectives given. 

The Creative Mechanism uses past experiences as a system for solving present problems.

We all have the Success Mechanism in us. It should be used for any “activity that leads to your living and turns it into fullness.”

Different methods allow your brain and nervous system to work together and form a machine. Although Maltz stated clearly that no one is a machine, his analysis lets us know how the brain functions work very similarly to one. He refers to this as “servo-mechanisms.” 

Apart from the brain’s capabilities, there is data supporting how the brain accesses the unconscious realm that is different from our own experiences. This access to knowledge is obtained via analysis and striving for answers. “Science has stated what experts and doctors meant and what people have reported. Every human being is ‘created to be successful’ by God. Every human can tap into the power that is bigger than themselves.

The first few applications result in five theories:

  1. Your success structure must have an objective that you believe is currently in existence.
  2. Your structure focuses on the END, not the method achieved. When you fuel the objective, your mechanism starts to find a route to success.
  3. Making the wrong mistakes will bring you towards your objective. It provides corrections that direct you towards the goal. 
  4. You obtain expertise in correcting your errors until you reach the right path. After that, you need to forget your past mistakes. This allows you to focus on the result that leads you on the right track.
  5. Believe in the process without adjusting it. You have to let it work, rather than make it work. The success comes when you take action, and the evidence of the success will come along, so you can’t obtain success before making a move. 

How Important Is Someone’s Imagination Towards Success?

So how do we perceive ourselves? Have we reached a new level of how we think about our own existence? 

According to the author, the answer can be found in our imagination. Most of the time, we have negative thoughts about ourselves. Commonly we perceive our true nature as being incompetent and lazy. We can create a better self-image of ourselves, like “I am better than yesterday.” Or “I am richer than last year.” 

We need to create a positive impression of ourselves.

The main thing to accentuate is that if our brain doesn’t tell apart imagination and reality, and it acts on the data we input into the brain.

Therefore, we can imagine ourselves through a different attitude and interpret our current situations in a different light. This offers the brain new information. In turn, it allows us to find a path to turn that imagination into reality. However, to attain that new level, you need to have a clear image of the person that we want to become. By regularly visualizing that image, we make sure that everything we do is directed to that objective, and making the target more powerful. 

Your thinking and actions are based on what you perceive is true. You can hypnotize yourself, and this is a classic example. “Your nervous system will respond to whatever you believe is reality.”

Bear in mind that your body functions as a machine in which your self begins to operate. When you take action on something in your account, you are creating an objective to target for. This activity is more potent than trying harder on what you are currently doing. You can relax and visualize the process while enjoying the whole process.

Next, you can use this tactic to create a high self-image. Viewing yourself from a different angle will lead to you acting in a different method and making yourself better and better. Some people have stated this self-image as the most reliable power inside them. Although this is only obtained when you have developed an honest image of yourself. You cannot visualize yourself as a self-centered person, or underrate yourself, so think good about yourself, and create high goals.

You have already created a self-image based on what has happened to you in the past. ”Now, you have to use the same tactic to create a proper self-image that you have made last time.” We have to make a good version of ourselves to replace the evil version of ourselves. Next, use 30 minutes every day. Relax and shut your eyes and imagine that you are watching a movie of yourself. Make sure to go through the details, and this is the best life’s mental practices. View positive outcomes, relationships, and dreams. Do not worry if you doubt it, and it will come your way. Make sure to visualize how each sense will feel what you are envisioning. Visualize positive feelings that you will feel. Remember, it takes 21 days of practicing before you will see any changes. Practicing these exercises will then lead to positive, new responses based on the self-portrait that you have created for yourself.

When you have correctly hypnotized yourself, you believe this is what is happening. In other words, you have hypnotized your whole life. You think that is what someone has told you about yourself or something they say to you, and then after believing it, you have taken action on yourself. Perhaps you have been told that you are fat or stupid. You accepted these statements then acted them out to ‘become who you are.’

The reverse of hypnosis to negative beliefs that are negative are also possible. Many people have been hypnotized and behaved differently in what their current conditions would have restricted them into becoming. In other words, they are dehypnotized so that they can achieve what they can. As the author tells us: “Within every being is the power to do things that no one has ever dreamed of.”

Feeling inferior is when we measure ourselves with another person’s ability and status rather than our potential. We believe in what they are and think that we are not worthy. This is NOT real. We hypnotize ourselves into believing who we should be, like so and so. We then lead a miserable life.

The solution is knowing that you should be unique and never be another person. You are not supposed to be another person. Your identity is valuable, and it’s unique to you.

To get rid of this negativity, it’s key to stop stressing and start relaxing.

This leads to the author’s second practice in the book – using our thoughts to calm yourself down. By relaxing the muscles and making sure we don’t pressure ourselves. It’s vital to allow this to happen organically.

To achieve this, you should practice visualizing all the positive mental pictures over and over. You will have a stronger bond between these mental pictures on how you feel, and once you relax, you feel better.

Use Logical Thinking and Relaxing Techniques

Although having an energetic lifestyle is vital, taking time to relax should not be disregarded. It includes several advantages, like dehypnotizing ourselves of wrong mindsets. All it takes is half an hour every day. 

We need to find a comfortable place to relax and let go of all the tension in the body. There is a considerable variety of meditation techniques, and by doing a bit of research online, you can find everything you need to start. 

It’s key to turn this relaxing time into a daily habit. If it becomes a regular practice, it’ll end up promoting your well-being and decrease the anxiety level. All these things will proactively affect your self-image.

Thinking logically will change our self-belief and human behavior. We do not have to get rid of every single negativity to change. Focusing on our mistakes only destroys the real goal. 

Instead, we should learn from our lessons and move towards our real goals.

There’s a theory that states people can hypnotize themselves. This may lead to them believing they can do great things, especially compared to when they have roadblocks in bad memories. This means people can get rid of bad traumatic experiences and start becoming successful. It’s critical not to allow our subconscious mind to rule us. It doesn’t define us.

Identify the truth of not being able to do a thing. Evaluate it like, “Is there any logical reason for this belief?” “Is this belief a mistake?” “Will I reach the same answer if the other person has been given a similar problem?” Evaluating your answers and responses will help you get there. These thoughts interfere with your success and a healthy state of mind. Let your anger get rid of negative thoughts so you can create positive feelings.

Logical thoughts must be connected to feelings and desires. The desire for who you want to be, and what you would like to achieve. Get excited about these ideas. The process is like worrying, but instead of doubt, you are now dwelling on positive things instead of negative things. You need to change your mental picture and channel positive feelings towards the chances that these desires will manifest.

There are limitations to logical thoughts. If you focus on reaching your objectives on rational thinking, you will develop even more stress and anxiety. Instead, once you have your goals set and you take action towards them, you let go and let the success come true by itself. You will see how it works out by looking at the lives of successful people. The breakthrough when the rest of their conscious mind occurs. When they have an objective or need a solution, they will find the answer. The minute they have done everything in their power, they let go, and the inspiration comes in. We are all creative, and too much effort exerted on the conscious mind stops the innovative mechanism. Therefore we have to relax and let go and become who we are. 

You can take some time off to research and make the right decisions. After that, when everything is set, I place, just relax. You have done everything in your power to let it happen. Now give attention to the present state. Live in the present, and do not worry about the future, and don’t bother about the past. Your emphasis on the current moment allows your creative mechanism to respond appropriately. Allow your sense to feel the present experience. Do not multitask, focus on the now. Do one thing at a time. This technique will relieve stress and fatigue.

Let all issues diminish at the end of the day. Sleep every night, and let your creative mechanism work properly without being disturbed by the conscious realm. Dreams lead to significant breakthroughs. You need to jot down what you have to do the following day and make a plan on what to do. Identifying the issue at night, then go to bed. Make sure to have a pen and paper to record your insights the next morning.

Use your practices in relaxing to recall a relaxed feeling in the middle of the day. Take a brief moment and remember everything you did in your practice. This decreases fatigue and increases coping abilities.

Making Positive Habits and Have a Successful Overview

Most of us postpone our happiness because of something that happened. It is like a payment that is deferred. We are not enjoying today because we think we will continue in the future.

Guess what? Life is not to be lived tomorrow, but today. That is why it is the perfect moment to be happy at the very present. Happiness is a habit, so if you do not practice it right now, you never will get it tomorrow. Life is all about obstacles, if you wish to be happy, you need to learn to smile even if you have issues, and you think that there is a reward waiting for you on the other side.

On the contrary, some of us think that being happy is being selfish, but that is not true. Being happy is the first step you can make to make the people surrounding you experience happiness. Put yourself first and take care of the people around you. Don’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself and have a fulfilling life in society.

As we can’t be happy all the time, we should at least try to be satisfied with what we have. Once we find that mental state, we have outlined the whole thing via practice. We need to accustom our way in an effective means against obstacles and maintain a clear objective to what we want at the end of the day.

Happiness is not wrong or a thing that needs to be earned. Being happy makes us unselfish and helpful. However, if we are not satisfied, this might lead to criminal behavior.

Being happy is a learned behavior and mindset. It is practiced by focusing on the present instead of in the past. Learning to be happy means that we need to be free from responding negatively to things that happen to us. 

Moving towards your objectives leads you to become content with both yourself and your life. What happens to you leads to how you feel. If bad things occur, you will see them as challenges, so set yourself an objective and work your way towards it. Don’t view adversity as a misfortune, but rather a way of proving yourself. The author tells us about the importance of forming a habit of reacting positively towards problems. 

We need to establish a pattern of becoming goal-oriented at all times, no matter what happens. We need to use our imagination to view ourselves as handling challenges in a positive manner.

The following exercise starts at your feet. Tie your shoes differently. Use this reminder to change, ‘I am starting the day in a new and better way.’ 

On this day, you choose to be happy and more tolerant, focusing on positivity and separating opinions from facts. This exercise lasts for 21 days.

To achieve success, you need to know what it looks like:

Sense of direction in viewing your own goals and objectives, rather than heading where others think you should. You should have an aim to look forward to. 

Understanding is when fact can be separated from opinion. This means taking a step away and viewing the situation for what it is, rather than from a biased point of view. Make sure to acknowledge what goes wrong and correct them. 

You dare to act on your objectives and your beliefs and make them real. Practice courage by taking baby steps each day in little things like creating a proper conversation with strangers. 

Charity starts when you treat people with kindness. This leads to managing yourself more kindly. Being charitable makes people more valuable and essential. Treat people with care.

Esteem involves having a healthy self-image of yourself and appreciating the people around you.

Self-confidence will keep growing as you keep winning. Keep remembering past success and keep forgetting failures.

Self-acceptance is trying to accept yourself for who you are and remember that you don’t create a self-image for new hidden talents; it merely releases them and makes them work.  

Get An Inner Face Lift and Release Your Real Personality

Someone with a high self-image or excellent self-esteem does not become emotionally damaged quickly. A person that has an independent attitude also does not become damaged emotionally quickly as well. Make sure to be responsible for your own life emotionally.

It is your reaction to experiences that scar your life. We have to practice to relax and focus on peaceful pictures. Then we will be scarred less.

To get rid of these traumatic scars, these scars need to be removed. “Forgiving yourself or forgiving others can heal all wounds completely.” That means forgiving the incident and forgetting. Forgiveness happens when you acknowledge the ‘debt’ is no longer valid. You should not give contempt to a place in your life. “We hate a person when the person has wrong faults, so we condemn him and turn the guy into this person.”

We need to forgive others and ourselves as well. Everyone makes mistakes, but hating yourself for it is dangerous. So you need to remember that you make mistakes. Errors do not create a person anything. You might have failed at doing something, but that doesn’t make you a failure. Carrying judgment and disconcerted behavior will mean living with scars, and you live in your past. Just relax and let go. Make sure to give yourself permission to feel vulnerable. 

Unlocking your real character is about properly seeing your unique self. When people are controlled, they keep their real character locked up. This is because they have too much bad feedback. Instead of using negative feedback to correct themselves, they adjust too much or do not take any action at all. It also happens to people that are too careful. The solution is to practice relaxation. You will be set free and less tense.

Being overly self-conscious also leads to inhibition. This means becoming too conscious of other people. You start to monitor everything that you act because you are too concerned about what people think of you. You need to deal with self-consciousness by relaxing. Make sure to find a place where you feel comfortable and start relaxing. Recreate the feeling with friends and strangers and become less conscientious.

Finding Good Things When Bad Things Happened

To be able to learn how to turn a crisis into an opportunity, you have to learn how to reach challenges without succumbing to the pressure of the crisis. This is the same thing as practicing fire drills before there is a real fire. You learn how to act without stress, so when you are in actual stressful cases, you can take those actions when there is real pressure. You also carry an aura of calmness and competence. Learn how to deal with a crisis with an active response. After that, evaluate dilemmas so you can identify real ones from fake ones.

When you are in a crisis, make sure to feel confident and take assertive actions. This means maintaining an aggressive attitude rather than a negative one. No matter what you go through, you can handle it. 

There are times where your biggest challenge is making a goal where you get all hyped up. Since the brain can’t tell the difference between real or imaginative experiences, you might feel negative if you focus on failure outcomes of the goal.

Bring positive thoughts by feeling positive. The positive feelings will lead to successful results. You need time to recall past successes as well. While the brain imprinting is energetic, it becomes more reliable when you remember the memory. The feeling of victory will accompany these recent successes and lead you to reach your goal.

If you haven’t attained much success, start on small steps, and once you get successful, it will build. The more successful memories you have, the more successful you will become. Increase your challenges and success, like training weights. You will soon be used for success.

The feeling of negativity indicates that the mind has a poor attitude, and they are not real facts that are imposed against you. This means that you are underestimating your abilities and exaggerating the nature of the difficulty of the challenges before you as if you are relieving memories of failure rather than memories of past successes.’ We can then get rid of these feelings by confronting them or changing them to positive emotions.

Gaining Better Life As Time Goes By

When it is alright to look into our past successes, as they can help us achieve more work and help us to push forward, so we should completely forget our failures. Our errors and learning steps are crucial to our personal development. However, apart from the lessons that were taught, these thoughts do us no good, and we should eliminate them from our system. If we keep dwelling on our past, we do not get better, and it becomes an obstacle to the behavior that we want to change. It is very self-destructive if you linger on your negative thoughts.

What should you do then? What happens then? Can I do it? All these doubts open up endless possibilities that can turn our brain from negative thoughts into positive thinking.

Living with negativity can slow up your body’s healing mechanism, leading to adverse health. Hatred is not suitable for your health, as well. The author found out that patients that had a more positive outlook in life and had a goal in life had a reason to get better. Mental attitudes influence the body’s mechanism in healing. It is even more apparent when we are referring to placebo treatments. People that think they are eating healing medications improve faster, also if it is a placebo treatment.

What you believe that performs results in your life will always work for you. Even how you view the aging perspective will have an impact on how you age. The seven needs in a human being that has to be met to have a better life. These needs are love, self-esteem, and others. We need to meet the requirements of all these needs so that we can anticipate experience in a better perspective.

If you want to live more, you will feel more alive. We need to look into the future for more anticipation, and we have to enjoy tomorrow. Most of us, we must have something important to us and something to do.

Creativity leads to a long, prosperous life. Many creative people have produced their best works after reaching eighty years of age. This explains why some people die after they retire. Therefore, a person needs to have a productive outlet.

The Mind Is Gold

A crisis is something that builds or destroys you. We need to possess a positive attitude and develop the ability to see the finish line. However, there’ll be inevitable roadblocks that’ll appear on our life paths. To overcome them, we must remain positive about the future.

Two different factors empower our minds. That is why, no matter what condition we are in, if we accept challenges, we show up and keep fighting. When we fall, we get back up and start fighting again. When all the lights are off, we still decide to turn our life upright when it is upside down. 

Upon facing a challenge that seems impossible to overcome, we can find courage and resilience at our willpower. The key to success is in our minds. We must learn to deal with the challenges life sets in front of us. By telling ourselves that no matter what happens, we will be victorious, we set ourselves up for success. 

We achieve an objective and unleash positive thoughts all around us with self-confidence. Therefore, changing our mindset can genuinely lead to real, positive results.

Author Biography

Maxwell Maltz was born in 1899 in the USA. He earned a degree in medicine and specialized in cosmetic surgery. 

He is the author of “Psycho-Cybernetics,” published back in 1960. This book’s central claim is that people can improve their self-image in order to lead to a happier, successful life. 

Maltz also penned several other books that are considered bestsellers, and he is among the best modern self-help authors.

His work is truly a great way to study human development.

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