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22 November 2013 @ 01:52 am
The episode summary can be found here. This is a Season 2 episode.

There is very little to do with psi in this episode, except right in the beginning.

Data befriends an alien little girl, and Wesley gets to lead a team that will investigate the planet. The relevant clip for this blog comes right in the beginning of the episode, when Picard decides to go riding on the holodeck, and Troi accompanies him. The clip starts at around 0:51.

(After Troi has mentioned that she had a Betazoid kitten once, and her mother and the cat reacted... badly to one another.)

Picard: "Sure you don't want to try? [Riding a horse] It's very relaxing. We can find you something that would be quiet and gentle." [Troi is a non-rider.]
Troi: "No, I prefer a mode of transportation that doesn't have a mind of its own."
Picard: "Strange! I would expect Betazoids to be outstanding animal trainers."
Troi: "We become too involved in the thoughts and shifting passions of the beast. We lose our way and get swept up in emotion."
Picard: "I would expect the shifting passions of this beast [humans] would be far more terrifying."
[Troi smiles]
[Picard is summoned to the bridge]

In other words:

[Troi gives an example of Betazoids and animals reacting badly to one another.]
Picard: Want to ride?
Troi: No.
Picard: But my stereotype!
Troi: It's wrong.
Picard: But my stereotype!
Troi: /grin/

Hey Picard, your stereotype? It's wrong. ^_^ Betazoids are not Kazarites.

This same stereotype applies in real life to empathic and telepathic folks, too. As far as I can tell, YMMV a lot in real life, but the stereotype persists. In the Star Trek universe, it appears (at least with the case of Betazoids) to be universally wrong. The humans still have their stereotypes, however.

Also, it's a good idea for starship captains to have a thorough knowledge of the species and cultures of their crew members, especially their senior crew members. Troi has a seat on the bridge, right to his left. And Picard's not exactly a noobie in Starfleet. It would be a good idea to demonstrate some knowledge about her people, no?

I would expect this from a cadet at Starfleet Academy ("Oh really? Vulcans don't live in trees?"), not from a smart, well-read and experienced guy like Picard.
Current Mood: accomplished
21 November 2013 @ 03:19 am
The episode summary can be found here. This is a Season 4 episode.

So as I blogged before, in the episode "Icarus Factor," Deanna Troi explicitly says that as ship's counselor (but in particular, as an empath), her own emotions are "beside the point," and then needs to be given explicit permission to express them, even in private with her former lover. It's an odd thing for her to be saying in that context (as opposed to being with a client), and it's even odder in an episode where it's very clear others' emotions are front and center stage: Worf is trying to be left alone, and is clearly bothered about something, and all his friends rally around trying to figure out what it is and put on an appropriate Klingon ceremony for him, and the emotional mess between Riker and his dad is front and center to the plot. Troi doesn't even feel she has license to express sadness that in a matter of hours, Riker might be leaving the ship permanently, for a new assignment.

The theme of Troi's emotions being "beside the point" continues in another ST:TNG episode, "The Host." That episode is famous for its LGBT twist... at least what constituted one in 1991 when the episode aired. The writing of that could have been a lot stronger, but this is not that essay.

What struck me in watching this episode through again (because I've already seen it, and I know about the whole lesbian "twist" at the end that isn't really much of a twist viewed through today's eyes) was Troi's total lack of her "own" feelings on any of the episode's events, even when given her back story with Riker, there's no way she could not have very deep feelings. You mean to tell me she has no feelings at all about Riker volunteering to become the host to an alien symbiont, risking his life? That she has no reaction at all to feeling someone else's thoughts and emotions coming from Riker's body? That she has no concerns her former lover might not be coming back? That she's not relieved that Riker ends up OK?

Well, in this episode, she never so much as hints at any reaction of her own. Her role in the narrative is entirely to show us Crusher's feelings, and to counsel Crusher to follow her heart.

The full episode can be found here.

In this episode, Beverly Crusher has fallen madly in love with a Trill -- a race who at this point the Federation knows very little about (i.e. doesn't know a thing about their basic biology). Troi sees Crusher in the salon (where Crusher is getting a facial).

Troi: "Beverly, you're in love."
Crusher: "Sometimes I wish you weren't so... empathic."
Troi: "I don't think it's really a secret." (That she's in love.)

It's not a secret that Crusher is in love. Anyone could see this, maybe even Data. Troi comes into the salon and makes small talk. Crusher responds with a microaggression. (I mean how DARE she, right? Being in her space and noticing things! The NERVE of that Troi!)

Troi reacts with no offense taken at all, as if this sort of comment really is normal and OK and acceptable. If anyone else had pointed out to Crusher that she was in love -- said the exact same thing -- would Crusher have had this reaction? No. No, of course not. It's not what Troi said which was a threat, like in the case of Dr. Stubbs in the conference room in "Evolution," it's Troi's identity.

And again, Troi doesn't react, doesn't take offense, doesn't call this out. She says, "I don't think it's really a secret." (In other words, "I didn't 'violate you' or see something 'secret,' even non-empaths could see this plainly.")

Crusher: "It isn't?"
Troi: /shakes head/ "You've been glowing."
Crusher: "Oh. ...Must be the astringent."

Does she apologize for her earlier rude remark, now that she gets it's not a "secret" that Troi "violated"? Nope. She still has no concept of how her remark could be rude, nor does she care. It's still socially acceptable in that culture to say to a psi person that you wish they weren't... /scowl/ ...psi. (Because even simple stuff like pointing out "You're in love" can be perceived as some sort of threatening invasion of privacy, to which the proper response is to attack the marginalized identity of the speaker and try to take them down a peg, to reestablish your dominance.)

Imagine if Troi had dared say anything else!

You see why she doesn't.

Then you have this moment where it looks like Troi might actually speak up and comment about how Crusher's comment stung, but she pauses, thinks, and starts talking about her concerns about Crusher's new boyfriend instead. Which Crusher of course brushes off.

She is present in the scene in order to further Crusher's character development and the plot arc Crusher is in with Odin. She is not the center of the story.

Now we fast forward to after the accident, when they've had to implant the symbiont in someone else, and Riker's volunteered. Now keep in mind through this whole thing the long back story between Riker and Troi, and that this is the first time that Troi has seen him since he's become someone else (the Trill Odan).

Troi and Crusher are sitting in Ten Forward. Crusher is monologuing. What is it she loved about him (Odin)??? And asking for Troi's help. She doesn't seem particularly sensitive that though she never felt any of those things for Riker, Troi did, but by this point we know she's self-centered, and that her privilege supports this.

Then in walks Odan, now in Riker's body. You'd expect at this point that whatever Crusher's going through, Troi's going through her own version of it, because it has to be extremely weird to sense another's (alien) thoughts coming from the body of someone you know, your ex-lover and soul mate, no less. But instead, Troi doesn't mention this -- she goes on about her (human) dad, a story she tells in order to advise Crusher on what she should do in her relationship, not because this episode is actually about the relationship Troi had with her father. "Nope, I am not going to interrupt Crusher's self-centered reverie to tell her that I loved Will Riker and that it's actually really scary to think he might not be coming back because you implanted an alien symbiont in him, doctor. Nor am I going to tell you to stay away from Riker, because even though Odan is consenting, Will Riker isn't. No, my feelings are beside the point. (And apparently Riker's are, too.)"

And I'm watching this thinking, "You mean to tell me she doesn't want to smack Beverly Crusher upside the head for focusing only on herself during all this, and not considering at all that Troi might have her own feelings? That Troi might find Crusher's whole 'I've known him only a couple of weeks, but I'm so in love,' pretty ridiculous considering that she and Riker are Betazoid Imzadi, telepathically bonded betrothed? Seriously, Crusher? Is it too much in this episode for you even once to pause and ask, Deanna, how does it make you feel to see this happening to Will, who I know you also love?"

Crusher seems to think that on some level she and Troi are friends, but their actions here seem to reveal a different dynamic – that Crusher, as a non-psi person, has the privilege of her feelings mattering and being what can and "should" be front and center in any conversation, while Troi, as a psi person, does not, and she has to put her feelings aside and defer to that privilege that Crusher has. It's subtle, but that's how privilege works. They are not on equal footing, as shown right away in their first interaction in this episode (in the salon), where Crusher immediately denigrates Troi's awarenesses (and even species) because of a supposed (but fictitious) "violation" of her privacy. And when Troi points out (very gently, of course) that that's crap, Crusher doesn't apologize. She doesn't have to.

Crusher's attitude remains, in a subtle way, that Troi is there to serve her, and Troi doesn't challenge this, all of which makes sense in juxtaposition to that scene in "The Icarus Factor" where Troi says that her feelings are "beside the point." She is shown having internalized these attitudes to such a degree, she genuinely believes that her own feelings actually are "beside the point" when a non-psi person also has feelings.

If she and Crusher were truly friends, she would have been able to express her fears for Riker's safety, to express how awkward it feels to feel another's thoughts coming from the body of someone she was once so intimate with. But she can't ever be that friend to Crusher, because as an empath, not just as ship's counselor but as an empath, that's not her place.

There's also the other weird thing going on here – just because Troi's giving Crusher her permission to continue her relationship with Odan in Riker's body, no one still has any idea what Riker's going to think about all this when/if he comes back. He volunteered for the job to save the negotiations – finding out while you were out of it the alien that took over your body had sex with your colleague (with your body) has got to be extremely awkward! No one really thinks about that, or considers how Riker will feel about it. He doesn't exactly get to consent. (Eep.) Troi doesn't say, "Look, Odan might be consenting, but Riker isn't, and this isn't exactly cool." She says, "If you can feel those things from the man we know as Will Riker, accept it. Accept the love."

Which is supposed to be touching, but which I find creepy.

And then... Troi drops out of the story! We see the plot wrap up with Crusher and Odan (in the new host), even though that scene sure could have used better writing, and we never see one more mention of what Troi thinks about this (or even Riker!). It's more surprising to me that there isn't a final scene with Riker. Troi, well, her place in the narrative was just to ask Crusher about her feelings and tell her to follow her heart, never to have feelings of her own in the first place.
Current Mood: accomplished
17 November 2013 @ 05:39 am
In this episode which kicks off Season 3, Wesley accidentally unleashes a couple of nanites on board the Enterprise, and they get into the computer systems and become sentient and run amok.

This show is important because it is provides another example of Troi's internalized belief that her own feelings are "beside the point" and "irrelevant," and that it is her duty always to put everyone else's feelings above her own (which I mentioned here in my review of Season 2's "The Icarus Factor"). We see several examples of anti-psi and even patronizing microaggressions directed at Troi, and Troi taking them in stride, without more than a moment's facial expression of discomfort.

And when one of these microaggressive moments (courtesy of Dr. Stubbs) occurs in front of both Picard and Riker, neither says anything in response, either in the moment or afterward. It all goes quickly by, as if this is an entirely acceptable thing to say to a telepath and senior officer, when it very much is not. It is like they don't recognize this is insulting, or don't care.

Picard does not say, for example, "Deanna Troi is a senior officer and a respected and valued of my crew, who has every right to be here, and you will not mistreat or insult her again, am I understood?"

No, he says nothing, as if he doesn't even register that this behavior is so deeply hurtful and disrespectful, and why. Nor, apparently, does Riker!

So. This Dr. Stubbs, the obsessed, egotistical scientist on the ship to run his once-in-a-lifetime experiment, seems to really have a problem with telepaths/empaths, which I think is implied to be a product of his personality flaws and bravado-covered insecurities. What's interesting to me is not that there's a bigoted character in the Trek universe (he seems to have a whole collection of negative personality traits, this guy), but 1) there is literally no reaction to his microaggressive display from either Picard or Riker, and 2) Troi herself isn't shown having any negative reaction, in public or private, to being treated this way. In fact, in spite of this bad treatment, she nonetheless goes alone to his quarters when he's under house arrest, to try to emotionally counsel him.

And guess what? He treats her badly again! This time he hits on her. /sigh/

The take home message seems to be severalfold: one, that "good psi women" always put the emotional needs of others before their own, they literally "don't let themselves get hurt" by others' derogatory comments (let alone show such hurt), two, that "good guy normals" don't even have to recognize that such microaggressions are taking place, let alone step in to put a stop to it -- it's no big deal, after all, and 3) that what Stubbs says is actually "acceptable" to say to a telepath. I mean, if no one ever says or does anything to show that this behavior is unacceptable or hurtful in any way, it can't actually be too bad, right?

Each of Star Trek's microaggressions against Troi collectively present an image of what is acceptable, normal, and appropriate to say to telepaths/empaths, and what it is acceptable, normal and appropriate to expect of them in return (e.g. never confronting you with how your behavior has made them feel). You don't have to be a jerk if you don't want to -- here, Picard is quite nice to her -- but if it happens to piss you off that there's a telepathic person in the same room, breathing the same air, it's completely acceptable to tell them off -- even in front of others, even in front of her captain.

No one will call you out, no one will even take you aside in private and tell you that your behavior is out of line. In fact, no one will even consider your behavior out of line! The psi person herself expects such treatment, after all -- it's only "natural" that some people will be offended by the presence of telepaths! And since she's a "good psi woman," she knows that your feelings are always more important than her own. (You have privilege. She doesn't.)

This is the subtle message.

To address the counterargument: Yes, Troi is the ship's counselor, and so yes it would be her role to look after the emotional health of the crew and passengers, so it's not completely absurd she would go to Dr. Stubbs' cabin later on. That is not the issue -- the issue is how her internalized oppression ("my own feelings are beside the point") is consistently presented as good and right and natural, rather than as internalized oppression. (And one has to wonder where she got these attitudes in the first place, since she mostly grew up on Betazed! How has she come to internalize that her own feelings are worth less, and are less relevant, than those of the non-psi crewmembers?)

Were she presented as a full person, she would be shown reacting to the insult -- either in the moment or later, even in private. ("Counselor's log...") Or perhaps we would see Picard step in and tell Stubbs he's out of line. We see neither. Her narrative role is serve others' character development -- from a narrative perspective, yes, her feelings are "beside the point" and "irrelevant."

That's the problem.

The full episode can be watched here. (Yes, there are ads... sorry about that.)

The scene in question starts around 14:00. The ship's computer has started malfunctioning in all sorts of ways, so Picard calls an emergency meeting in the conference room with the senior officers and Dr. Stubbs. Who yes, is a jerk. He says among other things that he would rather die than leave.

Picard, with a small smile: "I don't believe you speak for the majority of the crew."

Troi: "Dr. Stubbs, I know how much this means to you-"

[Note that this is all she says before she gets insulted. THIS IS ALL SHE SAYS.]

Stubbs, with a smirk: "My dear counselor [sarcasm], no insult intended [yeah sure], but please turn off your beam into my soul." [She looks at him like "what?"] "I will share the feelings I wish to share." [More smirking, looks at Picard, stands to leave. Then, to Picard,] "Well, if we do not leave in time, so be it. It's one sure way into the record books, eh?" [He leaves.]

OK. So remember my bingo cards on this site?

* Free space: MY PRIVACY, OH NOES!

* Variation on "you're not hired to be offended" and "psi woman's feelings are 'beside the point'" -- he gets away with saying this to her like it's a normal thing to say, because she doesn't react, and no one else does, either. (The quotation in the bingo cards, that her feelings are "beside the point," comes from what Troi herself says in another episode, "The Icarus Factor," which I will cover in another post.)

* Telepathy as violation, trespass, etc.

* Ethical "self-repression": Telepathy's "supposed to" have an "on/off switch!" (Even though it doesn't, in Star Trek or in real life.) And she's obligated to "shut it off" in his presence if it bothers or offends him! And he is in his rights to make these demands of her, any time he wants, because He Has Privilege!

And he says all this with an arrogant smirk. And no one says anything.

So then he leaves. The following conversation happens between Troi and Picard -- notice how neither of them comments on what just happened. Troi doesn't say, "wow, the nerve of that man." Picard doesn't say, "Don't worry, Deanna, I'll have a talk with him. That behavior is unacceptable."

Troi, as soon as he leaves: "His nonchalance is studded, and practiced."

Picard: "Mm hm. Even my sensory perception picked that up." (This is said simply as a statement of fact, not in a sarcastic or mean way at all.)

Troi: "He's put his entire self-worth on the line with this experiment. He's telling the truth when he says he'd rather die than leave."

[Picard nods thoughtfully, and looks up at Riker, then forward again, thinking]

And the the scene changes to Geordi in engineering.

So... she talks about her read of Stubbs (which makes sense), except there is no acknowledgement of what a complete ass he just was to her. None. This normalizes the behavior, and makes it seem as if his behavior was at worst just a minor annoyance, and not an ableist, anti-psi (and here, anti-Betazoid) microaggression.

Later, she shows up in his quarters, after he's killed a bunch of nanites and been confined to his quarters.

At around 33:09, Troi enters his quarters. There's a guard stationed outside, to keep him in there.

Troi: "May I come in?"

Stubbs, with an annoyed sigh: "You just can't resist, can you, counselor."

Troi: "I only want to help." [Yeah, heavens forbid I should be coming in here to tell you what a jerk you were to me earlier. No no, psi people are in stories to help non-psi people. No matter how badly they treat them.]

Stubbs: "Yes, yes. To break the shell. To get in touch with my 'true feelings.'"

Troi: "I'm only worried about your state of mind, doctor."

Stubbs, grinning: "All right, counselor, what is it that has you so worried?"

Troi: "Your single-mindedness. Your need to have this experiment work."

Stubbs: "And it will. Picard has no choice now, he must defend the Enterprise." [Looks down, looks up, laughing again] "Counselor, when this is all over, I will show you New Manhattan on Beth Delta One-" [Troi is looking down and away, uncomfortable] "-as you have never seen it and we will laugh over glasses of champagne." He grins.

[So now he's hitting on her. ...Another microaggression! And bingo square, "The psi chick is for hot sex."]

Troi, who has had enough of this bs: "Your self-portrait is so practiced, so polished."

Stubbs, smiling: "Yes. Isn't it, though?"

Troi: "It's stretched so tight, the tension fills this room." [Stubbs isgetting slightly off put by her now.] "And if you finally fail, I fear it will snap." [She turns to leave, and walks to the door, which opens.]

Stubbs, after a moment's pause: "A good try, counselor." [She pauses, turns back around. He turns, stands, and walks over to her.] "But sometimes, when you reach beneath a man's self-portrait, as you so eloquently put it, deep down inside, what you find, is nothing at all." [They look at each other confrontationally for a moment, with him looking smug, then she turns to leave, and walks out. He walks back to his desk, is about to go back to work, but pauses, and looks up in thought.]

And that's it. What we see is that she is there to bring out his character development. That is her role in the narrative. Her presence in that scene serves to further develop his character (and character flaws) -- and then the plot moves on, first with the nanites trying to kill him, and then with him sort of learning his lesson and apologizing to the nanites so they don't kill him and everyone on the ship, and he can complete his experiment (which he does). He never apologizes to Troi or learns not to be insulting and patronizing to telepathic women. And Troi has no further role in the story.
Current Mood: accomplished
24 July 2013 @ 05:53 pm
[Edited for accuracy 11/6/13]

This episode has no psi.

That's why I'm blogging about it.

In this episode, Troi, inadvertently, gets command of the Enterprise by being the highest ranking officer available. Despite the fact that there are a zillion opportunities for her to sense what's going on elsewhere in the ship during this episode, she can't.

Ensign Ro says people are alive in the saucer section -- O'Brien asks about Ten Forward, because that's where his wife is. Ro says the sensors can't be that specific. He turns to Troi, and she says she can feel there are people alive, and that they're scared, but nothing more specific than that.

Even though in other episodes she can feel individual crew members down on a planet if the plot requires it.

In an earlier post, on how to evaluate stories with psi characters/themes, I wrote:

"25. Are there psi characters in positions of command or authority? Do they have authority over only other psi people, or over psi people as well as non-psi people, or only over non-psi people? Are these characters "good" or "evil"? Is their command/authority real, or in name only? Are psi characters people with no authority: "under-dogs", children, child-like characters, weak and vulnerable characters (aside from psi)? When a "good" psi person exercises command or authority, does the story still make mention that they are psi? How/how not?"

This episode is the only example I can think of, in all of the science fiction I have consumed in my whole life, of a "good guy" psi woman, in a position of actual command/authority, over non-psi people.

And what is suspiciously absent from the entire episode? That she is psi.

She actually doesn't even "solve" any of the problems -- Riker and Data solve some problems, Picard and the kids solve some problems, Ro solves some problems, La Forge and Crusher solve some problems, Worf assists in Keiko's labor. Troi gives the order not to separate the saucer section, over Ensign Ro's objections, and it turns out Troi was right, but she admits that Ro just as easily could have been right. (Note: she didn't know that people were alive in Engineering, or anywhere outside the saucer section, because she could feel it, she is literally guessing. About something that she would ordinarily know if this were a different episode.)

She makes a key decision, but she doesn't actually solve any problems. (On the bridge, Ro's busy solving problems.) She does order power diverted to the console in engineering, though, which turns out to be key for Riker and Data.

I do also find it odd that Ensign Ro would be "demanding" Troi separate the saucer section, even though Troi is obviously the higher ranking officer. Would she do that with any of the other crew who outrank her? (Dunno, the chain of command idea can be a little fuzzy in Star Trek anyway.)

Back to the focus of this blog, on one hand we have a psi woman in a position of authority over non-psi people (not that she wants to be there, but she's thrust into that position due to a crisis), while on the other hand, the authors hand-waves away that she is psi for the duration of this episode.

The writing seems constructed thus: if she were to know anything beyond what the sensors can detect, it would destroy the "suspense," and so therefore, she just... doesn't know. I disagree -- I think her knowing what's going on (with she, O'Brien and Ro nonetheless being unable to do anything about it), can still be suspenseful! But no, the episode is going for a specific type of conflict between her and Ro, so the plot dictates her awarenesses just... don't work for this episode. There is no explanation, she just states that she can't in response to O'Brien's question, and the matter is taken off the table entirely.

When the plot "needs" some psi information from her, she can do whatever is needed, and when the plot "needs" her not to know things, she just can't. This is about as basic a definition of "psi as a plot device" as one can get.

And what it creates is a situation where Troi, when her psi abilities are relevant to the plot, is subservient or a victim, yet when she has real authority in one episode, she's "not psi" in any useful way. She has any power the plot demands of her until she's temporarily in command of the Enterprise.

Here would have been a perfect opportunity to show her senses as character development, or to make her senses vital to her leadership style or choices in some way -- perhaps when Ro demanded they separate the saucer section Troi could have said, no, I can feel there are still people alive on the rest of the ship, thus showing that her senses put her in a better position to lead in this crisis than Ro. (That would even make her abilities "plot relevant," and save non-psi people's lives!)

Maybe she'd not be able to feel where people are immediately, but maybe with concentration (perhaps specifically looking for Riker, her Imzadi), she could feel Riker trying to get to Engineering, and then at the right moment reveal that information to Ro and make her decision not to separate the saucer section. She should at least be able to feel Riker, right? She can feel him all the way down on a planet! She can't feel he's trying to get to Engineering?

But no. She comes up with the idea to divert power to engineering "in case" there is anyone there, having no knowledge that anyone is alive down there, or trying to get there, and Riker and Data happen to find that signal (just in time).

We must find a non-psi solution! A telepath is in power -- she can't be both a telepath and in command, over non-telepaths! (Or so says the master-narrative of what it means to be a "good psi character.") These things can't co-exist!

Current Mood: accomplished
24 July 2013 @ 01:25 am
The episode summary can be found here. This is a Season 2 episode.

For those of you who do not know Star Trek, Riker and Troi (the first officer and ship's counselor on the Enterprise, respectfully) were lovers a long time ago, before they ended up working together on the same ship. He is fully human, she is half human, half Betazoid.

She is Betazoid aristocracy, a point which (strangely enough) doesn't come up at all, even though it's a very big deal to her aristocrat mother, who visits the ship from time to time (though not in this particular episode).

Troi, like all Betazoids, is able to sense the thoughts and feelings of others (although what exactly she can do, and how her abilities compare to that of full-blooded Betazoids, varies by episode). She was raised on Betazed.

From Memory Alpha:

"As a child living on Betazed, Deanna often learned aspects of Human culture from her Human father, Ian. One such aspect which he passed on to his daughter was a fondness for stories set during Earth's Ancient West, which he often read to her. (TNG: "A Fistful of Datas") In grammar school as a child, she had to memorize Jonathan Archer's speech at the Federation Founding Ceremony. (ENT: "These Are the Voyages...") She also heard stories from her maternal grandfather, who told them telepathically; something of a traditionalist, he rarely spoke, saying speech was for "offworlders and people who didn't know any better." (TNG: "Eye of the Beholder")"

Her father died when she was only seven years old.

So it's canon that until she grew up and left Betazed, she only knew other telepaths growing up, aside from her father. She grew up not only in a culture where telepathy was an absolutely normal and every day part of communication, but she grew up with an aristocrat/Ambassador mother -- VERY wealthy and VERY privileged.

Keep this in mind.

One might expect her to feel a certain amount of identity conflict, being half-human and half-Betazoid, especially if growing up she lacked the same degree of telepathic awareness as her peers. One might suppose, maybe she feels self-conscious about that, maybe she feels "lesser" because of that. (Her mom does tend to point out her sensory deficiencies and throw it in her face, "you're only half Betazoid," but I'm not blogging about that episode yet. I'll get there.)

What's odd is that in her characterization, the reverse happens -- she consistently acts as if human non-telepath privilege is the Best Thing In The Galaxy, and that it's vitally important for her to stay in her "place" around them, and keep other telepaths also in their "place." (I will also get there, in another post.) Not only is this odd from someone who, aside from her father, grew up only among other telepaths, it's especially odd from an aristocrat. She seems oddly not class conscious for someone who is the Betazoid equivalent of AT LEAST a duchess (and from a matriarchal society), who was raised by her extremely class conscious (even class-obsessed) mother, and probably loads of servants.

(Her mother displays none of this subservient "humans are superior, I'm here to serve them" meekness -- quite the opposite, in fact -- which is played for comic relief.)

I personally think it would have been interesting to have explored this aspect of Troi's character and upbringing, to have developed her as more than a "good little lapdog" telepath to the humans, to have her assert her substantial privilege in her society as a counter-balance to the meek and subservient role she's always expected to follow, but... no. No, she's "sexy and exotic," she frequently ends up little more than a plot device, she gets raped a few times (which actress Marina Sirtis wasn't exactly thrilled about) [1], and when we do see her interact with her mother, she wants little to do with her mother's lifestyle or social status. /sigh/ She may be the equivalent of a duchess on her home world, but human privilege is Where It's At.

Deanna was betrothed to one human man since birth (that arrangement didn't work out), and she's "Imzadi" with Will Riker (Betazoid for soul mates). She and Riker were going to get married, but broke up, and then later found themselves officers on the same ship (the Enterprise). At various points, especially in early episodes, awkwardness resulted.

At this point in the story, they've been working together on the Enterprise for over a year. Riker gets offered his own command of another starship, and is thinking of taking the position. So he's thinking of taking it. In fact, he's planning to leave the Enterprise in a matter of hours, and that's when he comes to say goodbye to Deanna (in her quarters, it appears, which also has an area which serves as her office). (The scene in question can be found here, and starts at roughly 7:11).

This is how the scene goes:

Riker: "I didn't want to leave without saying goodbye."
Troi, sitting on a couch: "I don't like goodbyes. How about, 'until next time.'"
Riker, quietly, smiling: "How about until next time."
Troi, getting up and walking to him: "It's been a pleasure working with you, Commander."
Riker, hands behind his back: "The feeling is mutual... Counselor."
Troi, turning away: "I'm supposed to know how everyone feels, but... I can't read you right now."
Riker: "Perhaps your own feelings are getting in the way."

[Me, confused: It's 100% realistic that when you're feeling your own very strong emotions, it makes it difficult to feel those of others. I'm picking up on her odd wording: not "I usually know how people feel, but..." but rather, "I'm supposed to know how everyone feels, but..." She phrases this as some sort of obligation to others, like somehow in this moment, she's failing at some existential obligation (to others) because she's having strong feelings, and having strong feelings of your own (yes, in real life) makes it harder to sense others.]

She then confirms this is actually how she's feeling.

Troi: "My job is to help others sort out their emotions. My own feelings are beside the point."

[Me: WOAH THERE WHAT THE EFF IS THAT? She's not "on the job," she's alone talking with her former lover as he's about to leave the ship for good. It would be one thing if she just hid her feelings -- anyone might do that. She is actually saying that she's not allowed to have feelings of her own because of her place er, job among non-telepaths. And so by having feelings of her own in this very personal and very emotional and very private moment, which overwhelm her and make her unable to sense someone else for the moment, she is actually failing in her duties -- which she tries to frame as professional but which are actually existential. She has some sort of obligation to always serve non-psi people around her, and but herself second, or third, or maybe not at all, so that they get what they want or need ("sorting out their emotions").]

Riker: "Not to me. Our feelings are what make us all human."

[Me: Um wait, she's only half-human, you know that. Plus she's only telling you her feelings are "beside the point" because that's how she, as a telepath, is treated in non-telepath society. Her mom doesn't ever seem to think her own feelings are beside the point. (Where is Troi getting this?)]

Troi, pauses: "Are you feeling sad?"

[Me: So basically he's like, hey, I care how you feel! And she replies with a pause and "no no, I have to play this role because I'm a telepathic woman, don't you get it? I'm not allowed to have feelings of my own in this culture, this conversation has to be entirely about you."]

Riker, walking over to her as the romantic music starts: "Yes I am." [Riker embraces Troi]
Troi, starting to cry: "So am I." [Riker gently kisses the top of her head as he holds her. Scene ends]

So, they both have feelings, and they both get to express them, but only after a little internalized oppression dance by Troi, where she tries to hide behind her "place" as a telepath in non-telepath, human society in order to get out of expressing her feelings.


The other Troi moment that gave me pause was an earlier scene with Dr. Pulaski. Here, at 5:21, after Worf has completed his ceremony, Troi and Pulaski are standing together in the observation lounge. Yes, this is written in 1989 and has plenty "men are brutes, women are enlightened" stuff going on, and "humans are so much more evolved than Klingons, actually wait maybe not Riker and his dad" stuff also going on, but what struck me as odd was the strangely human-centric nature of the conversation. The humans seem to have it both ways, with respect to Troi -- when Pulaski wants to put down Worf, and all Klingons, for being uncivilized brutes, and she's talking to Troi, then Troi is human. When Riker wants to give her permission to feel her own feelings, he calls her human (like him). When anyone mentions her being telepathic (in general or in the context of "this is what we expect you to do for us right now"), then she's not human, then she's alien, then she's "other."

Troi: "Is Lieutenant Worf all right?"
Pulaski: "He's never been happier."
Troi: "So it was a good ceremony."
Pulaski: "Let's just say that I was not about to stay around for refreshments." [She walks away from Troi and sits down at the conference table]
Troi: "Klingon culture is not in your taste?"
Pulaski: "I'm just glad that humans have progressed beyond the need for barbaric display."
Troi, dubious: "Have they? Commander Riker and his father are in the gymnasium, about to engage in a barbarism of their own!"
Pulaski: "Don't remind me, it's something of which I do not approve."
Troi: "In spite of human evolution, there are still some traits that are endemic to gender."

[Me: Puke.]

Pulaski: "You think they're going to knock each other's brains out because they're men?"
Troi: "Human males are unique... fathers continue to regard their sons as children, even into adulthood, and sons continue to chafe against what they perceive as their fathers' expectations of them!"


Pulaski: "It's almost as if they never really grow up at all, isn't it?"
Troi: "Perhaps that's part of their charm. And, why we find them so attractive."

[Me: Because women are attracted to barbaric man-babies? ...Really?]

Pulaski, smiling: "Particularly men like Commander Riker."
Troi, smiling: "And his father." [Because Pulaski has a crush on Riker's father.]
Pulaski, with a sigh: "I hope they don't injure each other."
[Troi looks off with worry and concern]

So in this scene, Troi is perceived as "human enough" for Pulaski to feel comfortable airing her "humans are so much more evolved than Klingons (and I'm so glad for that)" speech, in all its hypocrisy, and Betazoids are a peaceful enough people that she doesn't feel threatened. Troi, however, subtly reminds Pulaski of her other-than-human lineage: Pulaski keeps saying "men," but Troi says "human males."

From Amazon Interviews Marina Sirtis, as one example (she spoke out in more than one interview):

[1] Amazon.co.uk: Troi has a very bittersweet time in Nemesis. She finally gets married but also undergoes one of the darkest events in Trek history, when she gets "psychically raped"…

Sirtis: Well, that assault sequence was kind of posited as a joke--me with a 23-year-old, nudge-nudge!--although, obviously, rape is hardly a joke. When we actually filmed it, it turned out to be one of the hardest days that I ever had as an actor. To make it as scary as it needed to be, we had to do it for real. Tom had to be really quite violent. I thought, this is never going to end up on screen! Obviously, they cut away all the really nasty bits, and what's left is kind of suitable for consumption.
Current Mood: accomplished
23 July 2013 @ 04:38 am
Back in October 2011, a Hallmark Channel movie called Oliver's Ghost came out. I'm discussing it here not simply because the movie follows so many if the same old psi tropes we see over and over again in American media, but because, like "Matilda," which I have already blogged about here, here and here, this story is about psi and children, and is supposed to convey a "positive" message about psi.

Except wait, it's not that simple.

I'm going to deconstruct the "so-called positive" story formula. I'm going to quote from the full-length synopsis of the movie, once available on the Hallmark Channel website, now no longer. (If you want a copy, email me.)

From the Hallmark Channel's website when the movie was on television (my comments are in brackets):

Eleven year-old Oliver has a unique ability to see "full-bodied apparitions" – ghosts! [How is this a "unique" ability?] When his family moves from the bustling city to an older home in the suburbs, only Oliver is able to see the spirit of Clive Rutledge, the previous owner. Clive causes every manner of destruction to force Oliver and his family to leave. But in the end, it will be Oliver, with the help of a kind neighbor, who shows Clive how to finally release all his earthly regrets so he can leave the house in peace."

From the full synopsis:

"Karen and husband Doug have moved their kids, Oliver, eleven, and Jenny, fifteen, from the city in an effort to work less hours and be closer as a family. Jenny, a typical teenager, is already missing her friends, while Oliver is a different kind of kid— incredibly intelligent and awkward."

In general, in fiction, "typical" kids aren't psi, and psi kids aren't "typical." Oliver, like Matilda, is incredibly intelligent (and she's something of a prodigy, which is used as an "explanation" for her being psi). Here, there is no "explanation" given for Oliver's awarenesses, other than that he is incredibly intelligent and awkward -- he's not presented as having "special powers," per se (other than that his ability is "unique.")

On one hand, it's great they're not singling him out as having "special powers," but on the other hand, he does actually seem to be different from his parents and siblings and peers in terms of how he perceives the world (because he can see the ghost).

Also, it's important to note that in American fiction, pre-pubescent psi children are "safe," and can be protagonists in "so-called positive" psi narrative stories. Psi children can be either heartwarming or scary -- psi adults are often scary, rarely if ever heartwarming.

[Blah blah, ghosty stuff happens]

"Walking up the driveway, Oliver sees a flash of Clive in the attic window. But when he asks his parents about it, they tell him the attic door has been sealed off for years. Clive gets angrier as the family settles in, pounding an ominous tune on the piano in the attic. Oliver is the only one who hears it. Oliver starts school and isn't surprised when he is bullied on the first day."

So we're told that psi kids in fiction are different, awkward, and targeted by bullies. (In reality, sometimes psi youth are bullied, but sometimes we're really popular!) Though in real life some psi kids are harassed by bullies for one reason or another (like so many non-psi kids are), this isn't necessarily true, because we are psi. It doesn't have to be the case.

Even if the bullies aren't presented as harassing the psi child because he or she is psi, (after all, maybe in this case, the bullies are picking on him just because he's the new kid), it does often seem in media presentations that the audience is supposed to connect these dots. There's also a common trope that the "special kid" is an outcast among his or her peers, that having no friends is a pre-requisite for being a "real" psi kid.

(Note: "Matilda" subverts the bullying tropes -- the bully is the headmistress, who hates all children, not just Matilda. Matilda is liked and respected by her classmates, even though her age and intelligence would normally make her the target of bullying.)

What I wish we could see in media presentations of psi kids is more of a diversity of experience -- some kids who are bullied, and some kids who are not. Of the kids who are bullied, I would like to see more of an exploration of how this affects them -- not just bullying as a narrative device to show how much of an outcast the kid is (before "special things" happen to him or her), but a thoughtful exploration of how bullying impacts those children's self-esteem and self-image, especially when they know, or believe, that they are bullied because of these differences.

I don't want to see bullying presented as just this "obvious" consequence of being psi and different and awkward and "too" sensitive -- full stop, the end, on with the story that has little to do with the emotional development of the psi child, and everything to do with solving some problems of non-psi people in that child's life. Kids at school certainly aren't going to stop bullying the incredibly intelligent and awkward new kid just because he solves the ghost's problem. (#nothowbullieswork)

"Doug and Karen are already falling into old habits of working too much, and don't notice their son."

In American media, psi children are usually presented as very disconnected from their parents (if they even have parents!). See, for example, my review of "Matilda." Like Matilda, Oliver has self-absorbed, muggle parents.

"Oliver climbs the stairs to the attic, furnished like a study with a piano, bookshelves and a desk. Looking around, Oliver suddenly comes face to face with Clive and realizes he is seeing a ghost. Oliver screams and tumbles down the steps, waking his family. When they see the hole in the drywall, Karen and Doug go to investigate, but the attic is again empty, dusty and untouched. They don't believe Oliver's ghost story."

Parents rarely believe their psi kids in American fiction, unless it's to freak out. Would it be too much to show a family where the parents do believe their kids, and don't freak out? (Like the scene with Miss Honey, but without the problems I raised there?) Because a scene like this here just continues to normalize "your parents will not believe you," and frame what's taking place as "disbelief in ghosts," not what is also taking place -- "disbelief in your child's awarenesses/experiences/ability (here, to see ghosts), and frankly, in even starker terms, disbelief in your child." Which means you're calling your kid a liar, communicating to him or her that either he or she is acting immorally (lying to you), or his or her reality is false.

That's really a very damaging thing to be told by your parents or other authority figures -- at any age, but especially as a child.

"Things get weirder in the house as Clive watches the family disturb his home. Still, only Oliver can see him. Oliver confronts him and tells him to stop bothering his family. Clive tells him the house is his, and he wants the McCaffrey's [sic] to move out, offended they have moved in and caused so much trouble for him. Oliver confesses he feels invisible in the family, which peaks Clive's interest, feeling like they might have something in common."

Apparently in this "typical American family," being psi leaves you feeling so invisible, it's like being dead! /facepalm/

"Oliver's parents think he is making up "Clive" to get attention because he is having trouble adjusting to the move."

Aha, see? That's what I just said above. Oliver comes out to his parents, tells them the truth (which is really hard to do in a psi-phobic, psi-denying culture), and talks about something really scary, and they respond with "you're just making this up and trying to get attention."

This is presented as a "normal" response.

Just watch, the story won't ever really get into the negative impact of this dismissal on Oliver's self-esteem or self-development. That won't tarnish the "happily ever after."

Do his parents actually have any reason to think Oliver is a liar? Has he ever lied before? (No?) Has he ever broken stuff in the house before and lied about it as an attempt to get attention? (No?)

The message is that even without any reason to see their children as liars, "reasonable" American parents will accuse their children of lying and destroying stuff if those kids come out about seeing ghosts (or being PK, etc.). Disbelief isn't only entirely reasonable, it also causes no damage (worth mentioning) to the kids whose experiences you disbelieve and disparage.

After all, why would it cause a child any emotional harm to be blamed for things he or she didn't do, and then called a liar when telling the truth about what happened? /end sarcasm/

Sadly, I don't expect this story to get into just how problematic this makes Oliver's relationship with his parents, nor into the amount of apologizing his parents will need to to do make it right with him after this.

The parents have to act like this in the "typical American narrative" -- this is what the "one story" demands. (After all, what would be the conflict if the parents believed the child? OMG, what could a story like that even look like?) The only people who can be positive are outside the family: Miss Honey in "Matilda," the neighbor in this story, etc.

"They leave and Clive appears, telling Oliver he is trying to prove he exists to Doug and Karen, but unfortunately only Oliver can see him. Oliver feels more and more alone as his parents barely notice him, too busy with work. Only Clive notices how Oliver feels, and how distanced the McCaffreys have grown. Slowly, Clive starts to drop his angry demeanor around Oliver and befriend him, sharing his attic space with him. This is comforting for Oliver, whose parents continue to ignore him, and who continues to get bullied at school."

Message: It really sucks to be a psi kid. Your only real friends are dead people. Being psi in school and at home is kinda like being dead, anyway. No one believes you, notices you, sees you, or cares about you.

[Oliver gets clues about Clive's past]

"Oliver returns home to find all of Clive's things scattered about the house and his parents waiting for him. Again, they blame him."

Yup, we've covered this already.

"Suddenly, to prove his existence, Clive booms throughout the house, causing a whirlwind of destruction. Karen, Doug and Jenny scream, finally able to see Clive."

Because ghosts are SCARY, everyone!

"Clive scolds Oliver's family members for ignoring Oliver, and for breaking their promise to grow closer as a family. He demands they vacate his house at once before disappearing again. Karen, Doug, and even Jenny apologize to Oliver for being too wrapped up in their own lives to care about each other, and promise to try again to be closer."

So the ghost has to tell them they're being self-absorbed jerks in order for them to get the picture? (lolz?) And from what it says here, that apology is just scratching the surface of what they owe him an apology for. How about "you should be ashamed of yourselves for calling your child a liar and blaming him for things he didn't do?"

(Also, of course, in real life, ghosts aren't going to come to the rescue of psi kids and tell off their "muggle parents.")

"Oliver goes to talk to Clive, who is upset. He reveals he is hiding a secret about Elizabeth. He can't forgive himself, and that is why he is stuck as a ghost for eternity. Oliver and his family go to the newspaper office to search through old clips to find out what happened so long ago. Searching through the papers, the McCaffrey's [sic] find out that Elizabeth was born on Halloween and eloped the day after her 18th birthday. She ran away and Clive never saw her again."

So, they help him help the ghost. OK. But... it still doesn't appear they have apologized for calling Oliver a liar and accusing him of trashing the house and... and all that. Once they help him solve the ghost plot, their relationship with their psi son will magically be OK, too.

[They find the daughter, who is old now, and Oliver convinces her to come over the house. The ghost of her father tries to apologize, but she can't see or hear him.]

"Then, a wind blows through the room and a letter flutters to the ground. Oliver hands it to Betty, who begins to read. It is a letter Clive has spent many years trying to write. He finally has found the words to apologize to his daughter, asking for forgiveness and expressing his regret at not being a part of her life. She is touched. As she leaves, Clive is finally set free, and with a warm smile at Oliver, he disappears into the night, leaving the McCaffreys to settle into their new home, a stronger bond between them."

So, they have solved the ghost plot, and helped repair the bond between Elizabeth and her ghost father. As I predicted above, knowing this narrative, having solved the ghost's problem magically solves the problem between Oliver and his family. They don't actually have to do any hard self-reflective work about the differences between them and Oliver, about trusting him, about not calling him a liar and accusing him of breaking things he didn't break. They don't have to seriously reflect on why they jumped to those conclusions and the impact their behavior had on Oliver (which, I take it, we also don't see). They don't have to reflect on the challenges of raising a child who has very different perceptions of the world. Oliver's problems (at home and in school) are magically solved when he solves someone ELSE'S problems.

Which is what we just saw in "Matilda."

At this point, it also "doesn't matter" whether Oliver continues to see ghosts -- his purpose in seeing the ghost was to solve other people's problems, and the problems are now solved. There is no discussion of what it means to be someone who sees spirits (as a child and an adult) -- this was merely a literary device. Everything has been returned to "normal" in the end. (But what about all the other ghosts in the world? Won't he encounter other ghosts? Doesn't he want to know more about himself and his ability to sense these things? Doesn't he want to find others like him?)

The film also has a complete lack of adults like Oliver. I have yet to ever see a movie, or read a book or story, where a child discovers they have some sort of psi awarenesses and (with help from others or not) actively seeks out, and finds, an adult role model who is like them. Never seen it. Psi children never seem to want to find adults like them, to help give meaning and direction to their lives, to answer their questions, and to guide them. (Um.) They only want to solve other (non-psi) people's problems, which magically solves all their own.

In sum, in this story, just like what we saw in "Matilda" and in "The Rockinghorse Winner," psi children's abilities ultimately belong to the narratives of OTHER PEOPLE. They are psi so that someone else's problems can be solved, or that someone else can learn a lesson. We have now seen this with THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PSI (precognition, psychokinesis, and seeing ghosts). When psi kids help solve others' problems, and don't die in the process of doing so, their own problems are also resolved, without any non-psi characters having to do more than minimal work to repair the relationship. (Matilda's parents just abandoned her, and other than apologies and vows to be better, the only work these parents apparently do is to spend some time in the library working on... Clive's problem.)

The message is that as psi people, our senses exist as narrative devices, that these things happen to us because other people have problems that need solving, and we have these senses in order to solve their problems. We might have problems of our own, but these will all resolve in a happy ending if we solve the problems of other people. (Corollary: If our own problems don't resolve, we're supposed to solve more and more of other people's problems, until they do?)

And to me, the fact that these parents never have to deeply reflect on their behavior "normalizes" their behavior and lack of self-reflection. They don't have to self-reflect, they have privilege! (But it's the Hallmark Channel, so we're all supposed to feel good now. Thanks to Oliver, those parents "learned a good lesson.")
Current Mood: accomplished
I also decided to make a card with some common examples of what internalized oppression about psi looks like. You may see these reflected in fiction, but usually when authors have psi characters reflecting these attitudes, they (the authors) are unaware that they are internalized oppression, and are taking these attitudes for granted as just the "inevitable, normal and natural" ways that someone who is psi would feel about him or herself.

There is nothing "inevitable" about feeling this way. Psi people who internalize these attitudes about themselves get them because of the messages we get from friends, family and the media, from a young age.

Writing about characters who experience internalized oppression is not per se fail -- it's fail 1) if you don't realize that these attitudes are internalized oppression and just take them as "obvious" without thinking about it, or 2) you recognize they are internalized oppression and don't really understand what that means and looks like, and so write about it very unrealistically.

Just making up how "tormented" psi people (youth or adults) must be for the fun fantasy of it can come across as a big "F U" to our actual lives.

Remember: It's bad enough to read a book/watch a show and see the non-psi characters spouting negative attitudes, but it hurts in a whole different way to see the psi characters themselves saying those same things. That only "works" in a story for me in very limited circumstances, which really make sense in the story.

The following is not an exhaustive list of all the ways internalized oppression can take shape. There will likely be at least one more card on this subject.

Even bad/ negative incidents are good, BECAUSE THEY ARE INCIDENTS! (Validation)
Refers to oneself or one’s experiences as “weirdshit”
Accepts that it’s normal/ expected that others will not believe him/her
Accepts that it’s normal/ expected that if others find out, they will be scared
Accepts that it’s normal/ expected that if others find out, they will think him/her “crazy”
Attacks other psi people to deflect self-hate
Accepts “scientism” and keeps trying to “prove it” to others
Accepts that there’s something sinful about psi
Accepts criminalization metaphor/ language for psi
Accepts medicalization language or context for psi, OR wishes he/ she could medicate it away
Accepts that he/she is “crazy” for being or believing in psi
Refuses to accept the validity of one’s psi experiences because they’re too scary/ unknown
Free Space: In the closet to friends, family, and/or lovers
Denial of difference, or validity of difference (to self or others)
Men: Rage, rage, RAGE!
Violence against self (physical or mental)
Engages in high-risk behavior (e.g. substance abuse)
Self-fear, hate and/ or disgust
For sensory psi: accepts one’s senses have to be controlled or repressed for one to be “good”
Men: Self-aggrandizement (“I’m the biggest badass on the block!”)
Rationalization (“Oh, it’s not really psi, it’s…”)
Tries to believe in contradictory realities at once (e.g. “I’m psi, but I don’t believe in psi because I’m a scientist”)
Accepts self as cursed
Accepts psi as “burden” or “gift one is “paying for”
Feels his/ her social or family problems are caused by his/ her being psi (self-blame)
Current Mood: accomplished
23 March 2012 @ 04:30 am

Non-psi people playing “practicing psi” and fluffing it up
“If real telepaths existed, they would kill themselves at a young age.”
“If real telepaths existed, they would all flee society/ from other people.”
Analyzes what the ethics of telepathy “should be” by analogy to physical senses
“Telepathy works just like a physical distance sense, just in the mind.”
“You can’t sense people you’re not talking to, right?”
Assumes no psi people are reading the blog/ listening to the conversation
“OH NOES, my sexual thoughts!” (or anyone else’s)
In talking to psi person, uses “criminalizing” language for psi
“I don’t (or that person doesn’t) believe in psi because I am (he/ she is) very logical and rational.”
“My non-psi experience was, for all practical purposes, like your psi one!”
Keeps treating thought like speech/ hearing/ reading, even when told it’s not
Free Space: “But SF exaggerates/ distorts everything! This is no different.”
In a poll, belief in psi framed as “not neutral” or “showing a bias” -- the poll itself should not show a bias
“That person doesn’t believe in psi because he/ she is autistic.”
Psi person talks about life: “But I thought you wanted me to analyze/ solve your problem.”
“Tell me, what would a society of only telepaths be like?” (ethics, norms, etc.)
Assumes their sexual thoughts are special, shocking and unique, rather than typical
“Hypothetically, ‘real world’ society would OF COURSE hate/ fear you, but not me -- I’m here to help you with that!”
“I don’t (or that person doesn’t) believe in psi because no one has presented me (him/ her) with good evidence for it.”
“You/ your life is an interesting thought-experiment to me. (And what’s wrong with that?)”
You’re psi? Let’s play find the perfect metaphor!
Me: “I’m feeling talked over, shut down and exhausted.” Them: “But this is so much fun for me!”
“I know all about how to ‘educate the normals’! Let me tell you all my ideas!”
“I’m sure he/ she would be convinced if someone just gave him/ her good evidence!”
Current Mood: accomplished
23 March 2012 @ 04:25 am

“I don’t have to believe you in order to be your therapist.”
“You believe in ESP? You need mental help now (for your delusion/ disorder).”
“I’m an atheist, I don’t believe in the supernatural.”
Mocking so-called psi people (or people who believe in psi) is OK/normal
“If psi is real, how come people don’t use it to get rich?”
“Here, let me explain to you why people hate telepaths.”
“This book/ article/ tv show is a TOTALLY positive presentation of psi/psi people!”
Extremely offensive book/ story/ show/ movie comes out -- no one talks about psi
“There are no real psi people, so no one could be offended by this story (someone else wrote).”
Women believe in psi, men are more “rational” (not weak-minded) and therefore do not
Psi is something only “very special” people have
Everyone is psi -- psi people’s life experiences are no different at all
Free Space: Absolutely anyone can be psi -- BUY MY BOOK!
Most people only use 10% of their brains! (Therefore you can fill the rest up with psi!)
Psi actors do not play psi characters
“Don’t bring in your life experiences, this is philosophy.”
“How should I know? I don’t have a crystal ball.”
“That’s all woo woo.”
“If I was psi, I’d use it to get out of homework.”
Real psi people would perform on stage for the entertainment of non-psi people
“I believe in psi AND I am psi” is not an answer choice in questionnaire
“I am certain psi is real” is not an answer choice in questionnaire
Acceptance of psi framed as “spiritual beliefs”
“You must also believe in (Nessie, UFOs, vampires, ghosts, angels, etc.).”
All forms of psi are the same, they’re all “generic psychic stuff”
Current Mood: accomplished
23 March 2012 @ 04:21 am

Traditional realities replaced by Christianity and/or materialism
Psi experiences omitted from biographies of famous people
Psi framed as “superstition” or “primitive” beliefs
Kicked out of church for being psi or for attitudes about psi
“You should set up an ‘I’m psi, ask me anything’ booth in a café.”
“Real telepaths don’t need to use words.”
“It’s just a show/ movie/ story/ book.”
“Real empaths never act selfish.”
“I can’t be comfortable around you, knowing you are psi.”
“You’re a telepath, not an empath. This isn’t about you.”
“Real telepaths don’t have to check for understanding, they just know.”
“What do you think I am, psychic?”
“I’m just curious.”
Traditional and Native realities replaced by New Age fluff
“I want to learn telepathy -- will you teach me?”
“I’m teaching myself telepathy. You’re so fascinating!”
“You’re telepathic/ empathic? Let me tell you ALL MY PROBLEMS.”
“Oh, I thought that was just a lucky guess.”
“I can’t believe you, you’re the first I’ve ever met.”
“It’s really just subtle perception of body language.”
“If you were really psi, you’d let us test you.” / “If you refuse to be tested, it’s because you’re a fraud.”
Extremely offensive characterization = great book, “classic,” etc.
The only “convincing” evidence for psi comes from lab tests of people who don’t “claim” to be psi
“Sure your experiences are real. They’re just not what you say they are.”
Current Mood: accomplished