Betazoid

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Betazoids are a humanoid race from the Federation Member world of Betazed in the Alpha Quadrant. Betazoids are known for their telepathic and empathic abilities, which they generally develop during puberty when the rush of newly-activated hormones serves to activate previously latent telepathic talents. A few Betazoids are born with telepathic abilities, but they have to go through a different and very intensive psychological experience due to their inability to filter out the "noise" created by normal thoughts. With the exception of their black irises, Betazoids are otherwise visually indistinguishable with Terrans.

Federation Member
Description: Humanoid, Bipedal
Size: Medium
Skin Pigment: Tan/White
Hair: Black (grey)
Distinguishing Features: Indistinguishable from Terrans, except by solid black eyes.
Series TNG: All, DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight", Movies: VII, VIII, IX, X
Planet of Origin: Betazed
Quadrant: Alpha

People of Note

Current Betazed Federation ambassador is Lwaxana Troi, Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed.
Commander Deanna Riker (Troi), daughter of Lwaxana. Currently assigned to the USS Titan.

Locations

The University of Betazed, an educational institution of higher learning, is quite obviously known for studies in psychology.

History

During the Dominion War, Betazed was attacked and occupied by the Dominion in 2374. Starfleet liberated it near the end of the war.

Cultural Notes

A few marriages between Betazoids and non-Betazoids have produced children, the best known of whom is Lt. Commander Deanna Troi, daughter of Lwaxana. Children of mixed marriages generally do not get as high a telepathic ability as do full-blooded Betazoids. Because of their training in the schools of Betazed, they are rarely xenophobic, and can communicate with most any other race at their level.

Because of the unique structures of Ferengi, Dopterian, Breen, and some others minds, Betazoids cannot read anything from these cultures.

With the exception of their telepathic abilities, Betazoids are essentially similar to humans in all other respects.

Betazoid Telepathy

Compiled by Fern Hughes
Betazoid telepathic abilities are a genetic trait. The Betazoid brain possesses an area called the paracortex, which is the site for their mental abilities. A chemical called psilosynine controls the operation of this area of the brain. Additionally, the Betazoid possess a metaphysical boundary known as the metaconscious (similar to the unconscious mind in most humanoids). This shields the Betazoid mind from unwanted telepathic transmission and creates mental defences if necessary. Some medical conditions can affect Betazoid mental abilities, for example, the Psi-2000 virus, Zanthi fever, and "the phase".

Betazoids are able to communicate non-verbally with each other and with other telepathic species (telepathy). This capacity can be used to detect the thoughts and intentions of others (receptive telepathy), or to send out thoughts and signals (projective telepathy).

Also, Betazoids can communicate via emotion (empathy). Empathy is described as the ability to detect another being's emotional state (receptive empathy), and the ability to signal one own's emotional state to others (projective empathy).

The thoughts and/or emotions received or sent can be anything from shallow, surface thoughts to deep, subconscious states. They also have the ability to use a technique similar to a Vulcan mind-meld. This requires preparation, but not actual physical contact.

Betazoids can forge extremely strong telepathic links with each other, and with many other telepathic species, and so communicate with them in a totally non-verbal way. Some species, notably humans, can forge a partial mental link to a Betazoid or half-Betazoid. This normally requires a strong emotional involvement (example: Deanna Troi and Will Riker).

There are many species that are resistant to Betazoid telepathy, notably the Ferengi, Dopterian, and the Breen. The Ferengi and Dopterians are resistant to telepathy due to their four-lobed brain, while the Breen have a completely different brain structure to the Betazoids and most humanoids. Also, Betazoids cannot "read" the minds of animals, because animals have highly chaotic and random minds.

Betazoids can use their mental abilities without touching their target. They can also use their abilities without seeing their target, but in this case the telepathic contact is not as good (the readings are confused, or contact is only temporary etc.) There are also several factors that can reduce or incapacitate the ability of Betazoids to "read" others. Some of these factors are:
1. Environmental interference
2. Strange energy fields
3. Using mental abilities through large amount of substance, like rock
4. Trying to read large number of minds at once
5. Injury or illness in the Betazoid
6. Combat or highly stressful situation
7. Extremely strange, bizarre, or unusual minds

Betazoid culture prizes honesty and ethical values. Betazoids, much like Vulcans, do not lie. They also consider it unethical to read other people's minds unless invited to do so. The Betazoid ambassador Lauxanna Troi is somewhat different in her approach to this, she tends to read people's minds uninvited, generally causing embarrassment for all concerned. Mrs. Troi aside, Betazoids do not pry into people's minds unasked. Unasked, the most they would normally do would be a light empathic probe, which would detect another beings surface emotions. Anything more than that must be done for a very good reason, and, if at all possible, with the consent of the target.

Full Betazoids are both telepathic and empathic. Half-Betazoids are not telepathic, they can only use empathy.

Betazoid Traditions

The most notable of the known Betazoid traditions is the wedding ceremony. It is customary that all people, guests and participants, attend the ceremony nude, to symbolize that, physically and spiritually, there is nothing to hide, that all are sharing in complete cooperation in the spirit of harmony and unity.

The ceremony itself is also rich in symbolism. The groom walks in, followed by his mother, who pulls on his arm, trying to stop him. The groom keeps walking, and his father steps into his path, holding up a hand in a signal for the groom to stop. The groom gently but firmly pushes his father out of the way and walks to the front of the room.

At this point, the bride's parents enter, the bride's mother sobbing loudly. The bride sits in the front row. A woman who is equivalent to a maid-of-honor enters and walks up to the bride, saying "I summon you to the place of marriage." She then escorts the bride to the side of the groom and the ceremony proceeds. The bride wears a white band in her hair, which she tosses over her shoulder to a crowd of waiting women, much like the Terran tradition of tossing the bridal bouquet. To the woman that catches the band, it means that the love of her life is at the gathering. Not much has been said about religion on Betazed, but we do know that it is an old tradition to repeatedly strike a small instrument at the dinner table. The instrument produces a chiming sound which gives thanks to the gods of Betazed for the food being eaten.

Partial Sources

"The StarTrek fact files"
"StarTrek TNG role-playing game"
Star Trek Omnipedia
Star Trek Continuum