Paul Atreides was the Kwisatz Haderach the Bene Gesserit planed on creating, but he appeared a generation early and they were unable to control him.

Even if the Kwisatz Haderach had been born a generation later, then he still would have had abilities that would rival or surpass the greatest of the Bene Gesserit, essentially making him the most powerful person in the galaxy.

How did the Bene Gesserit expect to control someone this powerful? Or had they given any thought to that part of the problem?

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    Since Kwisatz Haderach originates from Kabbalah's "K'fitzat ha-Derekh", it's possible they intended to control him by playing either "Material Girl" or "Oups I did it Again" Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 6:42
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    @DVK, you speak of the control of the Madonai?
    – livresque
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 5:06
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    Prophetess Spearse Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 14:18
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    Hubris. They automatically expected the KH would be aligned with their endeavours.
    – Lighthart
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 0:11
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    Poorly... the answer is "they planned poorly".
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 20:35

6 Answers 6


The Bene Gesserit are accomplished and masterful manipulators. They also have generations of experience in developing training programs that specialize in instilling discipline and loyalty.

Jessica's "betrayal" by disobeying her orders and having a male child instead of a female are intended to indicate both her strength of personality, and the power of her love for Leto Atreides, and is an exceptional, rare instance of disobedience.

However, for the Kwisatz Haderach, discipline and control would have been much stricter than a rank-and-file Bene Gesserit, even one who plays a key part in their breeding program.

The Kwisatz Haderach would have been carefully shaped and trained from early childhood, and likely would have been taken from his family through Bene Gesserit manipulation while still a child (the Bene Gesserit have already demonstrated that they can find ways to manipulate even the most powerful families, including the Harkonnens, in service to their breeding plan).

On top of that, it is almost certain that an Imprinter would have been assigned to control the Kwisatz Haderach, much like they eventually planned to do to the Duncan Idaho Ghola in Heretics of Dune. The Imprinters are specialized, trained sexual manipulators, using much the same techniques as the Honored Matres (although less refined) to sexually influence men and ensure their loyalty and cooperation.

Between the combination of upbringing, conditioning, and sexual imprinting, the Bene Gesserit would have had a Kwisatz Haderach who was at least mostly sympathetic to Bene Gesserit goals, and who would have been possible to influence in most important matters.

  • "On top of that, it is almost certain that an Imprinter would have been assigned to control the Bene Gesserit" Do you mean "Kwisatz Haderach"? Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 1:25
  • @Acccumulation Good catch, thanks.
    – Beofett
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 2:10

Remember the scene where Scytale tells the Reverend Mother Mohiam that the Bene Tleilaxu created their own Kwisatz Haderach using genetic engineering. She is shocked and Irulan asked how they controlled their creation.

Scytale said something very vague, but obviously targeting the Bene Gesserit: "A creature who has spent his life creating one particular representation of his selfdom will die rather than become the antithesis of that representation"

Mohiam comments that their Kwisatz Haderach killed himself, to which Scytale replies with a gutter insult of her character. He implies that she missed an important point because of her worldview.

Scytale then makes a very cogent comparison of using Edric's powers to using a machine and Edric's obvious limitations in psychology and skill set to the conspiracy.

My take from this is something like this = The BG would create a Kwisatz Haderach fully intending to control him with something like "brainwashing". However if they intend to use him as anything other than a machine, they would have to give him the skills and knowledge of a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother which would completely overcome the brainwashing and allow the Kwisatz Haderach to make his own decisions and leave their control.

So they have a paradox, a creature with one world view (as a reverend mother) turning into the antithesis (a mere mechanical slave).


AFAIR, Kwisatz Haderach was meant to be raised (and therefore "brainwashed") by Bene Gesserit. Therefore his goals would have aligned with theirs, the way all their trainees' had until Jessica.

  • I keep reading your comment scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/11670/… and laughing. It is terrible! Your answer is probably as good as any, or better, though unsatisfyingly brief. I would up vote without the AFAIR = "As far as I recall"? I know a little 1337 speak, no texting-IM though. Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 5:44
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    @FeralOink Too many topics! I also want more, and I openly admit I had to ask what AFAIR means. 43110.
    – livresque
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 5:10
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    @FeralOink - acronymfinder.com/AFAIR.html Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 14:21

He was meant to be born a generation later so they had time "to seal the breach", meaning to end the feud between the Atreides and the Harkonnen. If Paul had been a girl they could have married him to Feyd and stopped the invasion so they could have time to get their hooks into the Kwizatz Haderach before he was old enough to fight back.


The Bene Gesserit are master-manipulators with centuries of experience at mental conditioning. Someone exposed to their indoctrination, even as an adult, thoroughly becomes their creature.

We see a good example of this in Children of Dune when Jessica trains Farad'n. She subtly implants concepts and emotions in his mind during his physical and mental training, then triggers them (Manchurian-candidate like) with a short ceremony and some codewords, after which he's basically their willing operative.

“This is a sort of graduation ceremony,” she said. “I’m very pleased with you, Farad’n. Will you stand, please.” He obeyed, blocking off her view of the treetop through the window behind him.

Jessica held her arms stiffly at her side, said: “I am charged to say this to you. ‘I stand in the sacred human presence. As I do now, so should you stand someday. I pray to your presence that this be so. The future remains uncertain and so it should, for it is the canvas upon which we paint our desires. Thus always the human condition faces a beautifully empty canvas. We possess only this moment in which to dedicate ourselves continuously to the sacred presence which we share and create.’ ”

As Jessica finished speaking, Tyekanik came through the door on her left, moving with a false casualness which the scowl on his face belied. “My Lord,” he said. But it already was too late. Jessica’s words and all of the preparation which had gone before had done their work. Farad’n no longer was Corrino. He was now Bene Gesserit.

It stands to reason that this conditioning and loyalty would be even more extreme in a child raised by the Bene Gesserit since they wouldn't need to 'unlearn' any former loyalties.

In the prequel series by Brian Herbert, we have positive confirmation of the Bene Gesserit's plans. The boy (and his mother, Jessica's daughter) would have be taken into seclusion and indoctrinated from birth on one of the Bene Gesserit's worlds.

We need a particular bloodline from an ancient House. This will produce a daughter -- our equivalent to the mother of the Virgin Mary -- who must then take the mate we choose. These two will be the grandparents, and their offspring, also a daughter, will be trained here on Wallach IX. This Bene Gesserit woman will become the mother of our Kwisatz Haderach, a boy-child to be raised by us, under our complete control." Anirul let out her last words with a slow sigh, and considered the immensity of what she had said.

Dune: House Atreides


I will try to give a new perspective on things. We all know that BG were supermanipulators and we all know that professionals dont leave things to chance. :)

First of all, Paul is not Kwisatz Haderach. But starting from the assumption that he was , or at least until better humans appear (like Leto 2 for example), who can say that the sisterhood had no control over Paul? Paul was married with Chani, who was born and raised in a sietch were a parallel revered mother was active. Bene Gesserit was not only working first hand but also through Missionaria Protectiva cultural implants.

Afterwards Paul is ousted from his dictator position by war that he cannot control, religion and accident from a conspiracy, all tools in the BG arsenal. I think the BG had always the tools although it did not know its role on the board game.

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    I still don't understand why you think Paul wasn't a Kwisatz Haderach (even if he wasn't the "Ultimate" Kwisatz Haderach that Brian Herbert introduced in the sequels to Frank's series). However, Paul isn't ousted from his position by events beyond his control. His leaving is a conscious decision to follow that path laid out in the future, to avoid the heartaches he foresees for the "proper" Golden Path.
    – Beofett
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 15:54
  • actually, Elzo has a good point. Even Paul pointed out in Children of Dune that he never fully left BG manipulations. His existence put their plans in ruins, but they never really gave up.
    – SteveED
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 1:50

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