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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Society Without Emotion? - Some Thoughts on Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling series

I mentioned in my review for Slave to Sensation that this book (well, the whole series, really) is “thought-provoking” and just wanted to share some of the thoughts it “provoked”.

I’ve been thinking about how interesting it is that the Psy race has so many people of interracial genetic background, as a majority of them are “test tube babies”. For example, Sascha is of mixed Asiatic (Japanese) and Anglo-Indian descent. It seems that the prejudices for the Psy people, though, run not in the colour of one’s skin, but rather in the fact that one has less cerebral development/ lack of psychic ability / is an emotional being. The Psy consider themselves “superior” to the Changelings, who they consider only a step above animals and humans.

Then I thought about the kind of extreme society the Psy have created by eliminating emotion. It seems, though, that the Psy Council, the ruling body of the Psy, can be ruthless. Is ruthlessness a result of the absence of emotion? “Ruthless” is defined in the dictionary as “having no compassion or pity”. The Psy, having conditioned emotions out of their race through the “Silence Protocol”, have no compassion or pity.

But… the Changelings, who are emotional beings, are also capable of being ruthless. This is mostly evident in their ruthlessness in vengeance. In this sense, it is the presence of the emotion of rage and drive for revenge, which may cause them to be “ruthless” – it is their overwhelming emotion which may render them unable to feel compassion or pity... or maybe it is just a choice not to.

One of the questions posed by this series is: Has the Psy decision, based on logical reasoning, to eliminate emotion in order to eradicate violence and mental illness instead created the very monsters the Psy sought to control? So, to feel or not to feel? Crimes of passion versus the cold killings of sociopaths?

Also, what about the Psy’s “indifference” as opposed to “ruthlessness” – will apathy be the downfall of the Psy?

I just know that I wouldn’t want to live in a world without emotion. But I would like to live in a world without violence. With or without emotion, is violence an inevitable part of the human condition?

These are just some of the thoughts I had - mostly just rhetorical questions! LOL


  1. I totally agree with you, Jayne. I think a life without emotion wouldn't especially be worth living. I know I couldn't, at least. Although it is said that the Psy don't feel anyhting, I always thought that to be a bit hard to grasp. As far as I understood it, they are very ambitious and some of them (just think of Soshanna and Henry) quite greedy. But all of that explains itself in the more recent books. I agree that the concept of the Psy/Changeling series is really what makes it so special. Loved your review, btw:)

  2. Hi Steffi! Yes, even with the pain I've experienced in this life, I wouldn' t want to live in a world without emotion. Feelings of love and joy and anticipation and hope… I wouldn't want to live without them. The world that Nalini Singh created with the Psy/Changeling, and the issues that arise out of such a world, are fascinating, aren't they? Yes, the Psy have attempted to condition out emotions, but it is still there.

    I agree about some of the Psy, particularly in the Council, being ambitious and greedy. This then poses the question: Are ambition and greed "traits" and not "emotions"? So, even though emotions like anger, fear, love, etc. have been conditioned out of them, certain personality traits are still there, and perhaps without emotions like guilt and compassion to negate these traits, it makes them all the worse - there would be no conscience or guilt in the killing of, say a competitor, in order to achieve one's agenda. What do you think?

    Thanks for your ocmment about my review. It was fun to write. ^_^

  3. I can see your point and I do agree with you, Jayne, especially about the difference between traits and emotions. These traits should carry emotions and whether you feel them or not kind of decides about your character. Some people don't feel guilty about cheating or whatever.

    I think there are so many more different kinds of emotions than those we already gave names to.(Sorry, about my horrible grammar^^).
    I love this series so much, especially because there are thoughts and opinions and what-ifs behind the story that are really intriguing.

  4. Hi Steffi, No need to apologise. I think your English is great. I'm always trying to improve my English, too, since I studied English as a Second Language throughout my primary and secondary education.

    And I completely agree with you. This is a very intriguing and thought-provoking series.