I just saw the movie Dune (2021), and I also read the first book a few years ago. I was surprised that one of the closest persons of the Atreides' family, Dr. Yueh, didn't get any surveillance, such that they were not aware his wife was captured by the enemy Harkonnen (moreover in a period of great tension).

Is there any explanation later on in the work or is it just incoherent?


4 Answers 4


In brief, Yueh is a person who is supposedly above any consideration of malice or duplicity toward his patients, the house Atreides, because of the conditioning that Doctors from the Suk School receive.

IMPERIAL CONDITIONING: a development of the Suk Medical Schools: the highest conditioning against taking human life.


There's no point investigating him as a potential traitor beyond confirming that he's the real Yueh.

“Hawat will have divined that we have an agent planted on him,” Piter said. “The obvious suspect is Dr. Yueh, who is indeed our agent. But Hawat has investigated and found that our doctor is a Suk School graduate with Imperial Conditioning — supposedly safe enough to minister even to the Emperor. Great store is set on Imperial Conditioning. It’s assumed that ultimate conditioning cannot be removed without killing the subject. However, as someone once observed, given the right lever you can move a planet. We found the lever that moved the doctor.”


Even when it becomes blindingly obvious to anyone with eyes that Yueh must be the traitor, Paul still can't understand what's happening. He thinks he's mistaken, or that it's some manner of ruse.

He wondered who could’ve captured her. His own captivity was plain enough– to bed with a capsule prescribed by Yueh, awaking to find himself bound to this litter. Perhaps a similar thing had befallen her. Logic said the traitor was Yueh, but he held final decision in abeyance. There was no understanding it–a Suk doctor a traitor.

  • 4
    But it's unlike Hawat to actually not investigate Yueh's wife. Here question is very good, but of course even book is mum about that beyond the fact that he knows she is dead, killed by Harkonnens (which, to give credit to Thufir, would make Yueh MORE trustworthy, but still)...
    – AcePL
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 8:11
  • 3
    AcePL - It's not a question of his being more or less trustworthy, it's that his trustworthiness is already absolute.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 10:44
  • 12
    @AcePL - Once something is an established fact, it becomes very easy to overlook that there might be an outlier.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 13:27
  • 5
    @AcePL - consider that the scheme was devised by another Mentat: Piter. He states: "Is it not sublime? Hawat's mind will be so filled with this prospect [Jessica as traitor] that it will impair his function as a Mentat" - So basically, leveraging a Suk doctor was already considered effectively impossible AND they drug a much more likely candidate across Hawat's path since he already mistrusted the "Bene-Gesserit witches". He was simply outwitted by another Mentat
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 16:19
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    @AcePL - they (everyone except Yueh and the Harkonnens of course) thought his wife was dead. Yueh said his wife was dead when he speaking to Paul in Chapter 5. Again, there was practically no reason to be distrustful of a Suk within the context of in-universe reasoning. And again, in Chapter 8, he is nearly on the point of rage when speaking of his dead wife and how she died when speaking w/ Jessica. In context, at the time, since he clearly hates the Harkonnens for killing his wife, why would he turn traitor, especially when he's been specifically conditioned to NEVER turn traitor?
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 18:25

The answer by Valorum explains clearly why Hawat didn't put Yueh under stricter surveillance; the part of the question regarding Yueh's wife is addressed during a conversation between Hawat and Lady Jessica:

"You know that's an empty gesture," Hawat said. "He's conditioned by the High College. That I know for certain."

"Not to mention that his wife was a Bene Gesserit slain by the Harkonnens," Jessica said.

"So that's what happened to her," Hawat said

This makes it clear that the mentat did investigate Yueh's past - he simply wasn't able to find information about Wanna's fate.


It's not incoherent. It's very clearly explained.

Yueh had Imperial Conditioning, which is supposed to be unbreakable. Even if they had known about his wife - and he does in fact reveal it to Jessica at one point - they still would not have considered him a potential traitor.

  • 3
    In the book at least, that even comes in a conversation a potential traitor between Jessica and Thufir. Jessica suggests (possibly not seriously), bringing him in for question after ruling out just about everyone else. Thufir dismisses it as a waste of time due to knowing he had the Suk School Imperial Conditioning. Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 17:14
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    Kinda lame that the first guy we meet with this incredibly unbreakable conditioning immediately busts out of it.
    – Adam Wise
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 0:08
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    @AdamWise It's like how Worf is always getting beaten up, even though he's supposedly the baddest warrior on the ship.
    – stannius
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 20:24

They didn't suspect Yueh because he had had Imperial Conditioning to not betray the Atreides. However, Piter De Vries had manipulated him into not viewing his actions as a betrayal; Yueh had come to the conclusion that the Harkonnen were so powerful and determined that they were going to succeed one way or another, and the interests of the Atreides would be best served by appearing to go along with the Harkonnen plan to get an opportunity to kill the Baron and save Jessica and Paul.

  • 1
    This is an interesting perspective, not sure the book backs it up, but I guess it's possible to read more into the actions of the traitor. What is clear is he used the opportunity to set a trap for the baron, to kill him as an ultimate fallback. Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 1:57

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