Psycho-Cybernetics Summary

Author Dr. Maxwell Maltz coined the term “Cybernetics” to define the act of “steering your mind to a productive, useful goal so you can reach the greatest port in the world” —peace of mind. The book is a distillation of everything that Dr. Maltz learned from nearly a decade of counseling such patients combined with extensive research and tests on what he called, “success conditioning”.

Who should read this?

People looking to understand the psychology of self-image and its effects in our lives

Anyone who wants to learn how to leverage the power of self-image and belief to empower ourselves


Psycho-Cybernetics Main Ideas

  • A positive self-image is the key to a better life
  • Each of us has a “mental blueprint” that resides in our subconscious brain. How this blueprint gets activated (whether positive or negative) determines where we think “we belong”.

  • Change the self-image and you change the personality and behavior. To be truly successful in changing your self-image, you have to “experience it”. To function “successfully”, you have to “experience” success. On the opposite end, you’re bound to fail if your thoughts are dominated by feelings and memories of failures from the past

  • Our brain and nervous system work together as a “goal-striving” mechanism. It acts like an “automatic guidance system” that will either bring you success or failure—depending on how you use it.

Quick Summary of The Psycho-Cybernetics

This book was born out of the realizations and observations of Dr. Maltz before and after performing plastic surgery on patients. He noticed that a good number of them turn to plastic surgery to improve a particular part of their body which they genuinely feel is the main source of their insecurity (and unhappiness).

What fascinated Dr. Maltz was the greatly exaggerated “mental pictures” that his patients had in their heads about their physical deformities. But what bewildered him more was that even after a successful surgery, these patients still retained the same unhappiness and insecurities—the physical changes did nothing to improve the image they had of their selves. 

The non-physical “face of personality” is the secret to a real personality change. If people do not change their internal beliefs and views of themselves, then the same negative thoughts and feelings will remain. Dr. Maltz suggests that we become aware and develop the following core mindsets and elements (S.U.C.C.E.S.S) to be successful at generating a positive self-image:

S - Sense of Direction. You need to have specific goals all the time, otherwise, you’ll wander around feeling lost because your days will have “no purpose” and direction.

U - Understanding. Or our perception of the people and the world around us. In the book, “The Fifth Agreement”, the author shares that the “human mind is but a virtual reality displaying our personal interpretation of the truth”. The keyword here is “personal”, meaning, we tend to view the world through our own unique lenses, loaded with our own personal biases and beliefs that are not necessarily true. Dr. Maltz suggests that we maintain a “true” (unbiased and pure) understanding of what happens around us so our actions won’t be shackled by insecurities and anxiety.

C - Courage. Take action. Start doing things regardless of risk if you feel that it’s a path that will lead you to true happiness.

C - Charity. It’s important to consider, acknowledge, and address the needs and issues of fellow humans if you want to have a successful and meaningful life.

E - Esteem. A high self-esteem is crucial to anyone seeking a better and successful life. It doesn’t mean we should always put ourselves in high regard or think that we’re better than others. It simply implies that self-worth and appreciation for your own unique sets of abilities and traits is important to have if you are to break free from limiting beliefs.

S - Self-confidence. Always focus on remembering past wins as feelings of success almost automatically makes you feel better and get you in the right mindset to succeed even more.

S - Self-acceptance. Accept and love yourself for what you truly are, regardless of all faults and weaknesses.

My Personal Takeaways and Lessons from Psycho-Cybernetics

  • We must be aware of the thoughts and images that we feed our minds. Specifically, how we view ourselves. A physical change would do nothing if we still have limiting beliefs. 
  • Our past experiences and the feelings they bring affect us more than we think. In most cases, it’s the very thing that determines whether we’ll feel satisfied with something we did in the present or not.
  • Our perception of things and events is based mainly on the story that we tell ourselves. More often than not, we assume things that aren’t really true. And these assumptions can bound us to think and act differently, often leading to negative results.
  • We can “stimulate” experiences and feelings of happiness. By recalling the emotions linked to past successes, we can help ourselves feel better and more confident.
  • Rationalization and logic will help us combat false assumptions and negative beliefs. 
  • Learning and applying the core elements of S.U.C.C.E.S.S will lead us to the right track towards a powerful and positive mental image of ourselves.


My Favorite Quotes from Psycho-Cybernetics

"Your nervous system cannot tell the difference between a real experience and one that is vividly imagined."

“Self-improvement is the name of the game, and your primary objective is to strengthen yourself, not to destroy an opponent.”

“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with our hand-break on.”

“To change a habit make a conscious decision then act out the new behavior.” 

“A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment.”

"The ‘self-image’ is the key to human personality and human behavior. Change the self-image and you change the personality and the behavior."

"You make mistakes. Mistakes don’t make you."

"When you see a thing clearly in your mind, your creative “success mechanism” within you takes over and does the job much better than you could do it by conscious effort or “willpower."

"Changing your self-image does not mean changing your self, or improving your self, but changing your own mental picture, your own estimation, conception, and realization of that self."

"Accept yourself. Be yourself. You cannot realize the potentialities and possibilities inherent in that unique and special something that is YOU if you keep turning your back on it, feeling ashamed of it, hating it, or refusing to recognize it."

About the Author Dr. Maxwell Maltz

Maxwell Maltz was an American cosmetic surgeon and author. This is his most popular book (Psycho-Cybernetics). His discovery and teachings in the realm of self-image and the psychology behind it paved the way and served as a foundation for some of the most popular self-help models that we’ve become familiar with.

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