Psycho-Cybernetics

*A Book Review*

By Maxwell Maltz

by Michael C. Gray

June 29, 2001

Psycho-Cybernetics is a classic personal development book. Most of the current speakers in the area of personal development, including Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy and others owe a debt to Maxwell Maltz for the foundation of their material. The psychological training of Olympic athletes is also based on the concepts in Psycho-Cybernetics.

Maxwell Maltz was a cosmetic surgeon. He was amazed when, after he had performed some impressive reconstruction procedures, patients would complain they couldn’t see the difference! “I still feel ugly.”

Maltz recognized that, in addition to the reconstruction work on the outside, the patient needed to have reconstruction work on the “inside,” on the patient’s self-image.

The self image is a mental picture that each person has of himself or herself. It includes our beliefs about our abilities and deficiencies, whether we are popular or not, and so forth. Some of these beliefs may have been true at one time, but are no longer true. Until those beliefs are changed, our behavior will continue to be defined by those beliefs. For example, a person may have had a traumatic automobile accident when he or she was driving. He or she may be afraid to drive because of the self-image as a “bad driver.” Until that self-image is changed, that person will continue to be limited by that belief.

Maltz saw human behavior as a negative feedback (cybernetic) system. This is the type of system used in a torpedo or a guided missile. When the torpedo or missile is fired, it will correct its course to reach its goal. People also correct their behavior to reach their goals, including behaving according to their self image.

One of Maltz’s key concepts was the Theater of the Mind, or synthetic experience. Here is an example of how it works. There are three teams of basketball players. One team practices making free throws. The second team doesn’t practice. The third team sits on a bench and mentally practices making free throws. When the three teams are tested, the team that practiced out-scores the team that didn’t practice. However, the team that mentally practiced performs nearly as well as the team that actually practiced.

Maltz found he could actually improve performance by helping an individual mentally “see” himself or herself doing the activity perfectly.

Thousands, possibly millions, of people have benefited by putting these ideas to work.

Put Psycho-Cybernetics on your “must-read” list.

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