My question is prompted by a question on English Language and Usage: Is there a word for cold empathy?. The kernel of the question is:

I am looking for a word that means "understanding BUT NOT sharing the feelings of another".

I immediately thought: Vulcanoid. But then I wondered if a Vulcan shared the feelings of another in a mind-meld. We know that, under some influences (e.g., pon farr; flower spores in This Side of Paradise; being kicked into the past in All Our Yesterdays) Vulcans are capable of strong emotions. Is the mind-meld one such circumstance?

  • 3
    Check out the episode "Sarek" and "Unification" in TNG. Sarek offloads his unbalanced emotions into Picard where they affect him (Picard) greatly. Later, Spock melds with Picard specifically to gain access to these feelings. So - although a human is an intermediary in this case, emotions can indeed transfer from one to another
    – NKCampbell
    May 22, 2017 at 21:15

2 Answers 2


Most likely. We see the reverse happen in Star Trek (2009): while mind melding, Kirk picks up Spock's emotions:

SPOCK PRIME: (voice-over) Billions of lives lost, because of me, Jim. Because, I failed.

(the meld ends and Kirk is sweaty and crying)

SPOCK PRIME: Forgive me. Emotional transference is an effect of the mind meld.

Spock's language is imprecise though: it is just Vulcans who transfer their emotions to the other subject, or both? Everything we know about mind melds is that, well, the minds "meld," receiving the same thoughts. From the TOS episode "Dagger of the Mind:

SPOCK: You begin to feel a strange euphoria. Your body floats.

GELDER: Yes, I begin to feel it.

SPOCK: Open your mind. We move together. Our minds sharing the same thoughts.

From that description, it seems unlikely that only one partner would be receiving the other's emotions.

Another example of a Vulcan giving a human their emotions during a mind meld would be Sarek in the TNG episode of the same name. Sarek is of course suffering a disease that makes him extremely susceptible to emotion. But later in "Unification, Part II," it's implied that Spock is able to access Sarek's emotional feelings for him by melding with the human in question, Captain Picard.

SPOCK: Ironically, you may know Sarek better than his own son does. My father and I never chose to meld.

PICARD: I offer you the chance to touch what he shared with me.

I'd say the bulk of the evidence suggests that yes, Vulcans do feel the emotions of those they meld with (perhaps explaining why Spock seemed downright embarrassed about it in "Dagger of the Mind").


Yes. Just like in TOS episode Devil In the Dark Spock mind-melds with the Horta. The Horta had been injured and when Spock mind-melded he could feel the pain and emotion she was going through. As the words go for Vulcan Mind-melding: Our minds are merging. Our minds are one. I feel what you feel. I know what you know.

  • What does this add that existing answer don't already cover?
    – amflare
    Dec 26, 2017 at 22:11

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