The concept of a “Theatre of the Mind” was described by Maxwell Maltz, a cosmetic surgeon and author of Psycho-Cybernetics. It is a system of ideas that could improve a person’s self-image. His self-discipline system was developed after he discovered that people who had cosmetic surgery to improve their self-esteem failed to do so. Maltz concluded that in order to improve one’s “outer image,” the “inner image” must also be addressed. In essence, if one’s self-image is unhealthy or negative, all cosmetic efforts will be to no avail.
His ideas focus on visualizing as the cornerstone of change. His “Theatre of the Mind” is constructed in a person’s imagination, as in a real motion picture house. It is a private theater, with a huge screen and comfortable, plush chairs. The person chooses any movie to be shown. When a person is watching (creating) a movie, it should be with vivid detail. This strengthens the visualization.
During this process, a person can stop the movie, get up from the comfortable seat, and step into the scene. It is important for the person to remember the feelings experienced while in the scene. The person returns to watching the movie as it continues. Once the movie has been carefully created, it can be stored in the “projector room” and be shown again anytime the person wishes.
The idea of visualization is the same that is suggested as the first step to implement the Hierarchy of Social Development in the the Discipline without Stress system. An underlying reason is that people think in images, and the images we perceive direct our behaviors.