Dr. Maxwell Maltz was a famed plastic surgeon and author. One day a man came to him with a problem.
“I have a terrible deformity!” the man said. “Just look!”
Dr. Maltz took a look at the man. He had an unusually large lower lip, but that was all.
“It’s not nearly as bad as you make it sound,” he asked the man. “Why do you want it removed?”
“It’s my girlfriend,” the man said. “I love her, and she said she’d marry me if only I wasn’t so hideously disfigured.”
“Mmm,” said Dr. Maltz. “Well, I have good news and bad news for you.”
“I can remove the deformity, no problem. And it will only cost you a small amount.”
“What’s the bad news?”
“I’ll only do it on one condition: you must tell your girlfriend that the operation cost you your entire life’s savings!”
The man thought for a minute; he was quite wealthy. “Alright, I’ll do it.”
And so Dr. Maltz performed the operation. He sent the man home that day and didn’t hear from him for two weeks.
After two weeks the man came back in for his follow up. Dr. Maltz was shocked; he barely recognized the pale, weak figure in front of him.
“What happened to you?”
“Dr. Maltz, I did exactly what you said . . . and as soon as I told my girlfriend, she went crazy! She tore the house apart, told me she didn’t love me, and I haven’t seen her since!”
Dr. Maltz had suspected as much, but it didn’t explain the man’s sudden physical deterioration. “Is that all?”
“No . . . before she left . . . well, she tried to put a voodoo curse on me!”
“Yes! And it’s sapping my strength away every day . . . I can feel it here inside my lip, a little hard bump–”
“Really? Let’s take a closer look at this curse . . .” said Dr. Maltz.
And sure enough, it was just scar tissue left over from the operation. The man was visibly relieved; he went home looking better already.
A few months later Dr. Maltz got a postcard from the man. “Thank you,” he said, “for helping me realize how much power she had over my self-image. I’d forgotten who I am in favor of who someone else told me I was.”