Psycho-Cybernetics (Maxwell Maltz) - Book Summary

Psycho-Cybernetics  (Cybernetics) is written based on scientific research on people, the book will offer solutions to help you get out of the deadlock in life, give up bad habits to have a sense of self. Positive thinking helps you live a healthier, more successful and happier life

This book is for:

  • Athletes, entrepreneurs, college students
  • People who aspire to achieve life-changing goals.

About the author:

Maxwell Maltz is an American plastic surgeon and the author of many good books, of which  Psycho-Cybernetics  stands out the most, which has brought his name closer to everyone.

With the book's huge success, Maltz became a popular speaker throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Maltz died in 1971 at the age of 76.

The main message of the book:

Use our own brains or bodies to achieve our goals, because they are already a perfect independent system.


According to the nonprofit Psychological Control, the worldwide sales of this book, including editions by five American publishers and numerous foreign translations, have been published since 1960, has exceeded 25 million copies. This large readership alone makes the book worth meticulous study, but it also becomes enigmatic when you appreciate that Dr. Maltz was never famous in the same way that Dale Carnegie and Normant Vincent Peale were. used to. What drew people to this unremarkable paperback?

What is cybernetics?

The word comes from the Greek word, referring to  the driver of a train,  now its meaning usually refers to systems that control and communicate information from machines and animals: for example, the way a computer or a mouse automatically arranges to complete a certain task. Maltz applied science to humans to create psychological control. Although inspired by the development of sophisticated machines, his book vehemently opposed the idea of ​​turning a human into a machine. Psychodynamics is the bridge between mechanical patterns of brain function (clichés like “ Your brain is a wonderful computer ”) and understanding of ourselves, much more than machines.

Maltz said that in every person there is an  essential or vital vitality that cannot be transformed into a mere brain or body. Jung called it "desire", Bergson called it "life force". A person cannot be defined by their physical body or brain, just as electric current cannot be determined by the conductor it passes through. Instead, we are systems in constant flux.

Some readers may not be comfortable with the distinction between brain and mind, but it does make sense in relation to Maltz's key statement: "Humans are not machines, but own and use a machine.” This distinction is important in understanding the larger issue of the book: goal setting and achievement.

Guided missile technology applied to humans

The founder of cybernetics was the American mathematician Norbert Wiener, who spent the whole of World War II working to improve the technology of refined missile guidance. Emphasizing the similarities between machines, animals, the human brain and society, Wiener was ahead of his time in predicting that nothing could stop machines  from thinking  like humans. He sees both computers and the human brain as low-energy data collection systems and creates new connections that will be used in interacting with the outside world. Feedback from the external environment is used to facilitate subsequent communication with it.

The correct loop of control, information exchange, and feedback is an important feature of  a servo mechanism , which needs to achieve a predefined goal. Once it knows where to go, the guided missile will hit the target through constant feedback and communication with itself.

Maltz thought: Why can't this technology become humanity's achievement? He realized that the most remarkable feature of the acrobatic ring was that it attained automaticity when the aim or purpose was clearly fixed. When you first learn to drive, you have to worry about everything about the car and handling every signal on the road in front of you – as a result you move slowly and potentially get lost. . However, over time driving becomes easier because you know your destination when you're behind the wheel, and your body and mind automatically do what it takes to get there.

Cybernetics appeared as an important breakthrough for Maltz because of its implication: achievement is a matter of choice. The most important thing about motivation is to achieve “what” (goal), not “how” (direction). The frontal lobe, or cognitive place of the brain, can devise goals, or create the image of the person you want to be, and the subconscious mind will provide the knowledge to achieve it. The “set-and-forget” process of guided missiles will also serve our greatest aspiration.

The importance of self-image

Maltz is a plastic surgeon. Despite being outstanding in his field, he failed to explain why some patients were no happier after their surgery than they were before, regardless of scars or deformities. Other ugliness has been removed. He finds himself drawn into a new self-image, which assumes that we often conform to the actions and thoughts of our own self-image. If there is no change to this internal image, patients will still feel ugly themselves, despite the wonderful intervention of beauty cosmetic technology.

He began to believe that self-awareness was the "golden key" to a better life. Without understanding it, we can forever just wander around the "ego circle", instead of in the center of it. For example, positive thinking makes no sense if it only concerns external events. Saying "I'm going to get this job" won't come true if your ideas at work don't align with how you see yourself.

When you see things clearly in your mind, your creative success mechanism takes over and works much more efficiently than you can with a sense of effort or willpower.”

How self-awareness works

We develop self-perception through beliefs about ourselves, which develop through past experiences of success and failure and from how others perceive us. Maltz argues that they do not deserve the privilege of determining our basic psychological patterns. The core and compelling point about self-perception is that it is value neutral, that is, it doesn't care whether it is promoting or destroying, but will simply shape itself in different doses. the mental potion it received. We can create an image of ourselves that is commensurate with wealth, peace, and wonder, and can also be attached to a flaw that doesn't pull us out of bed in the morning. The lesson learned is self-perception in a positive way, Something that can help you fulfill your dream doesn't happen by accident – ​​it has to be thought out and done.

However, how will self-image really change? What could explain failure better than inexperience? This is a question that plagues Maltz, because the evidence shows that self-perception changes with experience, not through intellect. However, this is not the case in practice because psychologists studying and treating patients have suspected that the brain is not very good at telling the difference between real experience and imagination. detailed and vividly detailed, and this is also one of the most important points of the book. (Real results were studied by William James many years ago.) This means that a winning self-image can replace the negative, denies any authority over past events. The beauty of self-awareness is that while it is the ultimate determinant of success or failure, it is incredibly malleable.

"Your nervous system can't tell the difference between an imagined experience and a real one."

Life through pictures

The brain associates images, so if you can consciously create images according to your wishes, the brain and nervous system will automatically provide information and feedback continuously to ensure that it “deservedly exists” with a predefined image. In a famous clinical experiment, a group of basketball players were physically trained to throw more balls through the hoops, while others were only instructed to visualize hitting the target. . Despite not having any physical training, the second group scored far more points than the first group.

Your brain, nervous system, and muscles are the docile servants of the image established in your head. But the ability of your body and brain to articulate your desired self-image depends on its existence. It must be imprinted in the brain. With such a strong image, it would be difficult not to live, to be expressed in all that is related to the self-image.


“Human nature always has a goal to strive for. And since people are made with such inclinations, they will not be satisfied unless they are operated with the right purpose for which they are created - the striver. True success and happiness not only go hand in hand but enhance each other.”

Most self-help books are about goals, but how do you set work goals? Why does it work? Maltz was the first to learn the facts about machinery, and in this he made an inevitable influence on a generation of successful writers. With an emphasis on self-awareness, actively paved the way for hundreds of books on the power of assertiveness and visualization techniques.  Psychoanalysis  has sold millions of copies because it provides the scientific basis for dreams.

Although the work is read by the writer, it is really a textbook. Scientific and informatics references become obsolete, but cybernetics principles remain influential. Complexity theory, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science all arise from understanding cybernetics of how the immaterial, "ghost in the machine" leads the way. This makes  Psychometrics  the perfect life-skills book in a tech culture.

The book is admirable because it was written at a time when behaviorism and the study of time and motion had a tendency to mechanically transform people. Maltz's expression of genius is embodied in the statement that while our transformation into machines, and while goal-setting with the self-realization of dynamics, can be best expressed within the limits of mechanistic theory, the great diversity of our desires and abilities can create a new world where there are unique people. The fire of imagination, ambition and will will never turn into a machine.

“At a functionally relevant level, the brain and nervous system form a goal striving mechanism.”