MAXWELL MALTZ was a plastic surgeon. He
said when someone's disfigured face is corrected with cosmetic
surgery, their personality usually changes dramatically. They
may have avoided people out of embarrassment, but he says in
his book, Psycho-Cybernetics, after the surgery their
social life begins to bloom. They are willing to meet new people
and they're more open and communicative. They're more confident.
They feel better about themselves.
In other words, when their face changes,
their self-image changes with it. But it doesn't always happen.
Sometimes people look dramatically different after surgery but
they don't feel any different. Maltz was intrigued by
these unexpected responses he saw in his patients. Psycho-Cybernetics was born from this original,
Maxwell Maltz's interests began to turn
more and more to psychology. He wanted to help these people.
But how? Ultimately, his solutions were: 1) self-image psychology
and 2) cybernetics (which is how he arrived at the strange name
for his book, Psycho-Cybernetics).
Cybernetics is the study of self-correcting,
goal-seeking mechanisms such as heat-seeking missiles or self-guided
torpedoes. When you aim a missile at a target, it starts moving
toward the target, but it almost immediately begins to drift
off course. The purpose of cybernetic machinery is to detect
this drift and make adjustments correcting the course
aiming the missile back to the target, where it begins
to drift off course again, etc.
Maltz realized human beings are like that.
He said we have what amounts to a "cybernetic mechanism"
in our brain. It only needs a goal and the motivation to take
action, and it will help you continually correct your course
until you achieve the goal.
But sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes
you set a goal and take action but nothing ever comes of it.
Something is blocking your achievement. That's where Maltz's
self-image psychology comes in the "psycho"
part of Psycho-Cybernetics.
Let's say you have a goal of becoming a
supervisor for your company. If you attain your goal, you'll
have better hours, more respect, and more pay. You want the job.
But you believe you're not "the kind of person" who
can boss people around.
Now you've got a problem. You have a goal,
but your self-image prevents you from achieving it. You may try
very hard, but your self-image your belief about what
you are capable of will prevent it from happening. All
the willpower in the world can't make it happen. The only way
to reach your goal is to correct your self-image.
As Maltz wrote in Psycho-Cybernetics: "Our self-image
and our habits go together [because we formed our habits to fit
our image of ourselves]. Change one and you will automatically
change the other."
One of the most important principles in
Psycho-Cybernetics is that self-image is
more powerful than willpower. If your self-image conflicts with
your conscious will, your self-image will always win.
A woman wrote to me recently in response
to my article on sociopaths
to tell me she keeps choosing sociopaths over and over again
for boyfriends. She wants to change but keeps making the same
mistake. This is an example of the self-image being more powerful
than goals, effort, or willpower.
How can you change your self-image? Maltz
had two answers: Rationality and hypnosis. Don't be put off by
the word "hypnosis." It's not magical or mysterious;
it simply uses relaxation and imagination to change beliefs (learn more
about that here).
Rationality is the other way of changing
your self-image and limiting beliefs. Click here to learn more about it.
I have recently re-discovered Psycho-Cybernetics. I read the book when
I was younger, and it made an impression on me. But I re-read
it because of a story in the book, You've GOT to Read This Book!. The story
was written by Rudy Ruettiger, the one they made the movie Rudy about. If you haven't seen the movie,
you really should. It's an inspiring true story of determination
and persistence in the face of tremendous obstacles.
According to Rudy, his goal started becoming
a reality after he read the book, Psycho-Cybernetics.
You may wonder why Maltz wrote about goal-setting,
self-image, rationality, and hypnosis all in the same book. It's
because you can't achieve a goal if your self-image conflicts
with it, and the two most reliable ways to change your self-image
are hypnosis and rationality (reality-checking your own limiting beliefs).
Psycho-Cybernetics is an easy read, full of interesting examples.
The main message of the book is this: Set a goal, imagine it
clearly and in detail what you want, not what you
don't want and if your self-image blocks your goal,
use hypnosis and rationality to change your self-image. That's
Psycho-Cybernetics in a nutshell.
I read the original Psycho-Cybernetics and also the New Psycho-Cybernetics. The new version is
Learn more about setting goals: Why a Goal is Good.
Learn more about imagining it clearly:
The Only Thing You're Not Doing to Achieve Your
Learn more about using self-hypnosis: How to Relax
Learn more about using rationality: The Antivirus
for Your Mind.