Book Summary


Maxwell Maltz

30 Dec, 2023

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“Your nervous system cannot tell the difference between a real experience and one that is vividly imagined.” - Maxwell Maltz

Key Takeaways

🔵 Your brain is like a machine that can be fed the right data to improve your self-image and steer your life in the direction you want it to go.

🔵 You act according to your self-image. You can change it by changing how you think about your life experiences, as changing your external factors have little impact on your self-image.

🔵 You can change your self-image by picturing yourself as the person you want to be.

🔵 Your emotional scars largely determines your happiness and you can heal these through forgiveness.

🔵 Your emotional scars largely determines your happiness and you can heal these through forgiveness.

🔵 Don't wait until you attain monumental goals in order to feel happy; happiness is an attitude, which you can develop by choosinge to react positively to life’s events.

Big Ideas

The idea behind the name, Psycho-Cybernetics, is that our mind is like a machine and our self-image works like its automatic control system hence the term cybernetics is used. Cybernetics is the study of how systems control and communicate with each other. It looks at how things like people, animals, and machines can interact and change based on the feedback they receive. Here is a quick summary for you:

Our beliefs shape our reality

Most of your beliefs are formed through the stories you tell yourself that are usually influenced by your life experiences. However, these stories are not who you are but they construct your self-image and you behave according to it.

You can live a happy and successful life by developing a positive self-image. You can do this by programming your mind to think about more positive things instead of associating yourself with your failures and negative experiences.

Maltz introduces the concept of rational thinking for changing your beliefs and behaviors. Instead of associating a failure with your personality, ask yourself questions such as:

  • Could I be mistaken in this belief?
  • Is there any rational reason for this belief?
  • Why do I continue to act according to a belief I formed based on a past incident?

Identify the beliefs that have hindered you from achieving your goals and evaluate your responses to such questions for forming new beliefs.

Change your Success Mechanisms

Most people focus on changing their external factors to seek happiness such as buying a nice car, owning a big house, or changing their appearance, but these factors have little impact on their happiness. According to Maltz, happiness comes from the inside by creating an adequate and realistic self-image you can live with.

Each one of us carries a picture of ourselves that is formed by past experiences such as  victories, failures, or success and the way other people have reacted to us particularly in our childhood. These experiences form our self-image and we tend to live our lives based on it.

A Success Mechanism is present within us. This is a structure designed for any activity that is tied to what makes your life fulfilled.

Maltz views subconscious as something that controls 95% of the results we get in our lives. It works as a self-correcting success-mechanism that leads you towards your goals. It will function based on the goals you give it. Your self-image decides the limits of your goals.

You can create success mechanisms to accomplish what you want. Here's how:

  1. Set a clear target; Make it as vivid and detailed as possible.
  2. Set goals without thinking about how you will accomplish them because a mechanism will be formed to aid your success
  3. Making mistakes during the process will keep directing you toward achieving your goals.
  4. Choose to focus on moving towards your goals without associating yourself with your past mistakes
  5. Trust the process and let the mechanisms work without feeling desperate.

Visualize your goals and practice relaxation

Most of our reactions are based on how we have programmed our subconscious mind. You can learn to stay calm by practicing to relax each muscle group in your body. This will help you let go of your anxiety and other negative emotions.

You can accomplish your goals by visualizing them. Practicing imagination will instill a belief in your subconscious mind that you can get what you want and your mind will start working to help you achieve it.

The Seven elements of success

Maltz's definition of S.U.C.C.E.S.S is as follows:

S- Sense of direction

Focus on your goals because a directionless arrow never hits the target

U- Understanding

Have a clear understanding of your situation, memories, and feelings for separating facts from opinions. Analyze your mistakes,  admit them, correct them, and move on.

C- Courage

Have the Courage to work towards your goals.

C- Charity

Give Charity in various forms such as aiding someone financially or treating others with kindness

E- Esteem

Paint a good mental picture of yourself. You can do this by appreciating the people in your life.

S- Self Confidence

Successful experiences boost your confidence. You can increase your confidence by remembering your past success.

S- Self Acceptance

Accept yourself for who you are. You don't need to become someone else to be successful rather you only have to release and utilize your abilities and talents.

Let go of emotional scars

We tend to get emotionally damaged as a result of negative experiences. This damage leaves emotional scars that hinder our happiness. You can erase these emotional scars and move on happily by forgiving anyone who's done you wrong.

You can avoid getting hurt emotionally by practicing relaxation and delaying your response to negative incidents.

Cherish little successful events

Stop waiting to achieve big milestones to be happy. You can condition yourself to feel happiness by cherishing small successful events in your life. Happiness is an attitude,  don't associate it with achieving great goals in your life.

How Psycho-Cybernetics changed me

I read this book and tried to implement its lessons in my life. Here are some changes I noticed in myself:

  • I worked on improving my self-image
  • I programmed my mind to believe in achieving my greatest desires.
  • I tried forgiving my past mistakes and the people who mistreated me.
  • I don't associate my past mistakes and failures with my personality.

This is one of the best self help books I've read. I'll suggest you read it as well. You can get this book from here.

Who is Psycho-Cybernetics for?

This book is for you if:

  • You want to develop a positive self-image.
  • You want to let go of your bitter past and feel fulfilled in your life.
  • You want to program your subconscious mind to achieve your goals.

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About Maxwell Maltz

Maxwell Maltz, the author of Psycho-Cybernetics, was a cosmetic surgeon. During his career, he observed that his patients did not feel satisfaction after changing their appearance through surgery. Rather their satisfaction came from setting goals and working on their self-image. His experiences gave him insights into self-image and how it is related to our success which led him to write this book. In this era, leading personal development experts have based their techniques on Psycho-Cybernetics as this book is like the father of modern day self help books.


Isak Vidinghoff is a Strategic Life Coach and Content Creator. He communicates personal development strategies to help people find purpose and meaning to live their fullest potential in life.

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