History and politics Edit
Betazed had enjoyed a relatively untroubled history for the last few centuries.(citation needed • edit) This peaceful existence came to a halt in 2374, when the Dominion invaded and occupied the planet. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")
Externally, Betazoids were physically indistinguishable from Humans in every aspect but one: the irises of their eyes were completely black. They could cross-breed with Humans, along with other humanoid races like Klingons and Tavnians. Betazoid iris coloration was present in half-Betazoid individuals such as Deanna Troi, but in those with less Betazoid blood such as Devinoni Ral and Walter Pierce (who were only ¼ Betazoid), normal Human eye coloration was possible. (TNG: "The Price") Betazoids had a gestation period of ten months. (TNG: "The Child")
Mature Betazoids could also suffer from Zanthi fever, which caused them to lose control over the projective aspect of their empathy. That could result in people around them acting as if they had experienced the same general emotional state as the affected Betazoid, though they were directed by their own subconscious desires, fears, and other emotions. (DS9: "Fascination")
Betazoids were natural telepaths, an ability centered in their paracortex, with psilosynine being a main neurotransmitter. (TNG: "Dark Page") Most developed their telepathic skill in adolescence, but a few were born with their telepathic abilities already active, such as Tam Elbrun. (TNG: "Tin Man") These individuals were almost always extremely talented and powerful in telepathic terms, but also unable to screen out the noise of other people's minds, so they generally suffered mental problems of varying severity depending mostly on when the problem was diagnosed. On the other end of the scale were a few individuals who develop psionic abilities which were far below average for this species (for example, Lon Suder). Those Betazoids were barely able to sense even strong emotions (empaths) of other people, not to speak of thoughts.
The common psionic abilities of Betazoids extended from sensing thoughts and/or emotions, over projecting thoughts and/or emotions, to manipulating the minds of others. (TNG: "The Price"; DS9: "Fascination") How capable they were in performing any of those feats depends somewhat on their genetically defined psionic strength, their psionic training, (TNG: "Haven") their familiarity with the scanned being, their general mental and physical condition and the species of the subject race. Betazoids felt the emotions of animals, therefore being afraid of getting to much involved in the "passion of the beast" in situation they had to rely on an animal, like when riding a horse. (TNG: "Pen Pals") Betazoids also had been able to read the emotions/thoughts of non-corporeal beings such as Nagilum, the energy vortex, or gauge the mental prowess of beings such as Q. Other times they had been totally unable to read corporeal creature's minds, such as Ferengi and Changelings. Data theorized that the reason they may not be able to read Ferengi was the structure of their brains. And he himself was able to be read by Deanna Troi when his brother Lore used the emotion chip to transfer powerful emotions to him. At one point, when Deanna Troi lost her empathy temporarily she commented that Will Riker was like a holodeck character to her, completely devoid of emotion, as if she had never experienced a lack of empathy from any sentient before. The Traveler was also not able to be read by Deanna Troi as well.
Inter-species reproduction involving Betazoids often affected the psionic abilities of the offspring – most commonly the children of such a union develop empathic abilities as their primary psionic talent, while their telepathic abilities, though existing, were rather below average for Betazoids. Usually the telepathy of these half-breeds, without extensive training, was limited to communication with other empaths or telepaths and full telepathic contact with emotionally very close persons (for example, an imzadi). All full Betazoids are unable to read the thoughts of Ferengi, Breen, Ullians, or Dopterians, but some half-Betazoids have been occasionally successful in sensing the emotions of some of these species. Additionally, even full Betazoids seemed to be able to psionically influence some of these species. (TNG: "The Price", "Ménage à Troi"; DS9: "The Forsaken", "Fascination")
Culture and tradition Edit
Due to their telepathy, Betazoid culture embraced honesty almost to a point considered rude by other cultures. Lwaxana Troi, on numerous occasions, commented on her befuddlement at the Human practice of fibbing to spare others' feelings or for politeness' sake. (TNG: "Haven", "Dark Page")
Betazed had a complex hereditary nobility; prominent Betazoid diplomat Lwaxana Troi, for example, was "Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed." Betazoid tradition had children genetically bonded to a future spouse. (TNG: "Haven")
At one time, it was fashionable for Betazoid women to wear elaborate wigs that caged small animals. The practice, which was cruel to the animals, was stopped when one (unknown) woman stood up against it. (TNG: "Half a Life")
Betazoids disliked riding horses because of their ability to feel the thoughts and passions of animals. They feared to get too much involved in those emotions and "losing their way". (TNG: "Pen Pals")
A list of all appearances of Betazoids (excluding the regular appearances of Deanna Troi):
Background information Edit
The Betazoids were inspired by the Deltans from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Their similarities include the Betazoid species having been named after a letter of the Greek alphabet, the Betazoids' relatively very open attitude toward sexual activities, and the species' ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) capabilities. (citation needed • edit)
Originally, Gene Roddenberry conceived Betazoid females as having four breasts. He was persuaded not to use this idea by writer D.C. Fontana. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before paperback ed., p. 110)
The black coloration of a Betazoid's eye was achieved by the relevant performer wearing a pair of black contact lenses. The makeup team responsible for devising this method was essentially "trapped in not doing too much," in the words of Makeup Supervisor Michael Westmore. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 26)
According to the novel Engines of Destiny, the Betazoids were known to the Borg as Species 1599.