Almost 50 years ago, Dr Maxwell Maltz developed psycho-cybernetics, a method for harnessing the human subconscious mind. He wrote a book called Psycho-Cybernetics and it was first published in 1960. It is often thought of as one of the best self help guide ever written. In fact, Cybernetics has been called the first and only true science of personal development.

The text below are extracts from the book and other articles related to Cybernetics.

The subconscious mind

Human subconscious mind is a powerful goal seeking servo mechanism, in other words an automatic human guidance system.  This servo mechanism has access to everything we have done, tasted, smelled, felt and learned. If you provide this servo mechanism with a goal, it will automatically produce the means to achieve that goal. So human beings are naturally cybernetic or goal seeking beings. That is how we are created. It is this servo mechanism that put us in auto pilot and help us multitask. For example, you can eat breakfast, talk over phone and read an email all at the same time while thinking about other things !.

This servo mechanism works entirely with what is programmed into it. It is an incredibly powerful tool that is totally under the direction of the conscious mind. If you give it positive, successful goals, it will produce positive successful results. If you give it goals of failure, it will just as automatically function as a failure mechanism and produce failure.

The Importance of Mistakes

All automatic guidance systems reach their goals by constantly correcting mistakes. Consider a thermostat inside a refrigerator or air conditioning system. The thermostat will constantly monitor and adjust the temperature when the sensor detects temperature outside the programmed threshold levels.  A guided missile system will have sensors that detect when it is off course. The guidance mechanism then makes the necessary adjustments and proceeds. The guidance system relies on this negative feedback to guide it to its destination. The same is true for human servo mechanism. It is unfortunate that so many of us interpret mistakes as a failure and suffer feelings of frustration and discouragement when actually the mistakes we make are exactly the information our servo mechanism needs to make the necessary corrections to take us to our goals. Your servo mechanism has no opinion one way or other about mistakes. It simply uses the information to guide it to its objective. What we call mistakes are actually valuable lessons for success. An important part of Cybernetics is learning to use mistakes creatively and to remove the negative feelings that mistakes cause.


Our self image is our mental blueprint or mental picture of ourselves. We don’t usually pay attention to it consciously, but it is there outside of our conscious awareness in great detail.  Our self image is the most basic and important mental image that we use to program our servo mechanism.

The self-image is our concept of “the kind of person I am”.  It is constructed of our beliefs about ourselves, beliefs that has been unconsciously formed from our past experiences, our triumphs and failures, our successes and disappointments and also by our observations how other people reacted to us especially during childhood.  From all these raw information, we construct our self image, “who we are”.  Once an idea or belief becomes part of this self image, we accept it as being true.  We don’t think to question it, so we act as if it were true. Our self image determines our thinking, our feelings, our actions, even what we think our abilities are. It controls the amount of success, excitement, joy and satisfaction we have.

Self-Image explains why positive thinking is so undependable. It explains why willpower is so ineffective and difficult to maintain. Because all the willpower and positive thinking in the world cannot produce change and success, if they don’t match our self-image.

Our self-image is constantly programming our creative mechanism. If your self-image is that you are a failure, your servo mechanism will find a way to deliver the result to you. If on the other hand, your self image is that you are capable and successful, your creative mechanism will produce those results.

The science of Cybernetics teaches you to create a self image that expresses your best self, your true self.

Visualization – The way of change

You built your current self-image from the vivid and detailed mental pictures and feelings you have experienced in connection with the events of your life. And you will use the same powerful tool , your creative imagination, to construct the kind of self image that expresses the best of you. You will use this to re-program your servo mechanism so that it begins to produce results in accordance with your new self image.

The technique of imagination or visualization is often used in sports like golf or basket ball etc where the player often visualize the perfect shot in vivid details before making the actual play.

Another example is people who have stage fright especially while giving a presentation or speech etc. If the person worry about getting nervous or forgetting part of the speech and replay this mental picture often, chances are very good that it will happen. On the other hand if he keeps a mental image of giving a confident and successful speech, he will indeed give one.


Cybernetics is definitely a good tool for personal development. It can be used for accomplishing particular goals or changing behavior patterns etc.



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One comment on “Cybernetics
  1. songling says:

    Very useful theory for personal development. Good to know it.