Maxwell Maltz (March 10, 1899 – April 7, 1975[1]) was an American cosmetic surgeon and author of Psycho-Cybernetics (1960), which was a system of ideas that he claimed could improve one's self-image leading to a more successful and fulfilling life.[2] He wrote several books, among which Psycho-Cybernetics was a long-time bestseller — influencing many subsequent self-help teachers.[3][4][5] His orientation towards a system of ideas that would provide self-help is considered the forerunner of the now popular self-help books.[6]

Maxwell Maltz
Maltz c. 1975
Born(1899-03-10)10 March 1899
Died7 April 1975(1975-04-07) (aged 76)
EducationDoctor of Medicine
Alma materColumbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Occupation(s)Author, cosmetic surgeon
Known forPsycho-Cybernetics

Life and career


Maxwell "Max" Maltz was born March 10, 1899, in Manhattan's Lower East Side, the third child of Josef Maltz and Taube Elzweig,[7] Jewish immigrants from what was then known as the town of Resche in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (today Rzeszów, Poland).[8]

In 1923, Maltz graduated with a doctorate in medicine from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He also undertook training under German plastic surgeons who were considered most advanced in cosmetic surgery at the time.[1]

In 1960, Psycho-Cybernetics: A New Way to Get More Living out of Life was first published by Prentice-Hall and appeared in a pocket book edition by 1969. It introduced Maltz's views that people must have an accurate and positive view of themselves before setting goals; otherwise they will get stuck in a continuing pattern of limiting beliefs. His ideas focus on visualizing one's goals and he believed that self-image is the cornerstone of all the changes that take place in a person. According to Maltz, if one's self-image is unhealthy or faulty — all of a person's efforts will end in failure.[2]

On February 10, 1966, Dr. Maltz married Ms. Anna Harabin (1909-1993), his longtime secretary.[9]

Maltz also wrote fiction, including a play called Unseen Scar (1946)[10] and a novel, The Time is Now (1975).[11] His autobiography, Doctor Pygmalion: The Autobiography of a Plastic Surgeon (1953),[12] was popular and influential,[13] discussed in many subsequent books on body and identity.[14] It was re-titled Doctor Psycho-Cybernetics after his self-help work was published.

Although Psycho-Cybernetics was first published in 1960, as of 2008 it is one of 50 recommended in the book 50 Self-Help Classics.[15]


  1. ^ a b "College of Physicians and Surgeons Obituary Database". Archived from the original on 2007-06-09. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
  2. ^ a b "Welcome to". Archived from the original on 2008-03-08. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  3. ^ Gray, Michael C. "Psycho-Cybernetics Book Review". Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  4. ^ Manz, Charles (12 March 2003). Emotional Discipline. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. ISBN 9781576759622. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  5. ^ Joseph L. DeVitis, John Martin Rich (January 1996). The Success Ethic, Education, and the American Dream. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780791429938. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  6. ^ Lynn Bridgers, James W. Fowler (2005). Contemporary Varieties of Religious Experience. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780742544321. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  7. ^ "New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909". FamilySearch. Archived from the original on 2018-09-01. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  8. ^ "Rzeszow PSA Births 1866-1912 Marriages 1896-1913 Deaths 1842-75,77-1935". Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  9. ^ "Nevada, U.S., Marriage Index, 1956-2005". Retrieved 2024-03-27.
  10. ^ Maltz, Maxwell (1946). Unseen Scar: A New Play. New York: Hart Stenographic Bureau. OCLC 44450040.
  11. ^ Maltz, Maxwell (1975). The Time is Now. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-21859-X. OCLC 1009493.
  12. ^ Maltz, Maxwell (1953). Doctor Pygmalion: The Autobiography of a Plastic Surgeon. New York: Crowell. OCLC 14656784.
  13. ^ D. H. J. Morgan; et al. (2005). Gender, Bodies and Work. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 9780754644392. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  14. ^ Davis, Kathy (2003). Dubious Equalities and Embodied Differences. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780742514218. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  15. ^ "Welcome to". Retrieved 2008-03-14.