Sci-Fi Psychology / Star Trek, “The Empath” 1968

Did too many psychologists who grew up in the 1960s get their ideas from Star Trek?


“Believe it or not, here in the UK the BBC refused to screen this episode because it was deemed too sadistic. I think we eventually got it in the 1990s.  I had read it many times in the James Blish books so didn’t realise I’d not actually seen it.” Comment on the youtube posting

“Empathy” in this scenario ought to be called what it is; human sacrifice.  That’s hardly a convincing argument for compassion.

Note: It’s a woman who “dies” for a man. McCoy’s wounds are healed by “hooky spooky” magic. Star Trek relied heavily on magic as a plot device, conveniently, when technology failed, that is, the writers failed to come up with scientific resolutions.

An oft-employed gratuity directed at adolescent males was the “sex mad alien witch” character. Despite resisting mightily, Kirk would “give in” and “did it” anyway. These sex fiend alien females were created out of the paranoid  cliché that human females overcome the strong rational male with “hooky spooky” sex magic. That is, women cheat using sex-power!


Synopsis: Kirk, Spock and McCoy suddenly find themselves in an underground laboratory where they meet an attractive young woman who is not only mute but also an empath who can absorb someone else’s pain. When their captors (psychologists with big bumpy skulls and nifty sparkly lab coats?) make themselves known, they refuse to explain why the three men have been taken prisoner or why they and the young woman, whom McCoy has named Gem, are there. Inexplicably, they set about torturing them for no apparent reason.

Fortunately, Gem’s empathic powers allow her to take away their pain, but only at great sacrifice to herself. When their captors tell Kirk that he must choose which of his men to die, their selflessness comes to the fore, leaving Dr. McCoy volunteering himself. They all soon learn that the object of the experiment is Gem herself. Synopsis written by garykmcd






2 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Psychology / Star Trek, “The Empath” 1968

    • It’s too funny! Everyone raves about Star Trek having such an influence on technology – cell phones (yes) and the transporter which is never going to happen! But most of it was misogyny and magic! Because it was “sci-fi” they got away with quasi nudity and “sexy” females. Uhuru was a black woman, but her “costume” barely covered her ass! I still like the original Star Trek better than the rest.

      Liked by 1 person

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