Noticed this sentence in Children of Dune, and it got me thinking about Alia:

".... experienced the womb as prison to an awakened consciousness—a living awareness from the second month of gestation...."

Obviously being preborn meant that all the personalities of a person's ancestor are all there and present and fully adult and many being like the Baron Harkonnen, trying to take control.

Under that circumstance, why would any normal personality form at all?

Why wouldn't the Baron have simply seized control utterly the moment awareness was created? Surely at 2 months old the new inexperienced and immature and naive personality would have had no chance against a full adult with every bit of a lifetime of corruption and evil at their hand to use. If "being taken over" was what Abomination was considered to be...why didn't that happen even before birth?

Or at least the Preborn would have been utterly and completely schizophrenic with very obviousl second by second personality flips and no dominant personality whatsoever.

  • 5
    Do you have the impression that Alia has a "normal personality"?
    – Lexible
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 23:35
  • Lexible.....Not a normal personality no...but she does have a personality that is her own and appears to be mostly dominant. That single unique "new" personality is what I feel to be unlikely to actually occur in the preborn, at least in being preborn as it is described.
    – user5479
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 3:07
  • I doubt this is answerable - but it may be notable that Alia has a physical brain (equals Alia personality) - which should be worth something against the memories. Apply weights appropriately to those two things to get whatever the book depicts. (Of course there will be influences of the memories on the brain too but again apply Alia vs Memories appropriately to those recursive effects.) Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 5:13
  • The issue I see here is purely medical... Brain is not fully developed before third trimester. It's just barely formed at 9 weeks, and starts working in any meaningful way around week 16 (4 months). So I would start with the description: first there's an awareness. Just that. A spark. I'd go with @lucasbachmann and just add to the fact that there must be a personality to be taken over by Memories first... I'd say Alia had her own, but I believe it would be... different. After all, she is born aware, so no issues here to start teaching her on day one how to resist Memories... Or even sooner..
    – AcePL
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 8:36

1 Answer 1


Her ability to fend off the inner personalities weakened over time. As a child it was strong, then grew less and less as she faced more and more pressure as Regent.

In that knowledge lay recognition of a terrible reality—Abomination. The totality of that knowledge weakened her. The pre-born did not escape. Still she’d fought against the more terrifying of her ancestors, winning for a time a Pyrrhic victory which had lasted through childhood. She’d known a private personality, but it had no immunity against casual intrusions from those who lived their reflected lives through her.

Thus will I be one day, she thought. This thought chilled her. To walk and dissemble through the life of a child from her own loins, intruding, grasping at consciousness to add a quantum of experience.

Children of Dune

Alia made things worse by regularly consuming increasing levels of spice to give her better access to her 'inner voices' and eventually life-threateningly large amounts so that she could read the future.

Pressures of responsibility had driven the old fears away and she had been wide open to the inner lives, demanding their advice, plunging into spice trance in search of guiding visions.

Alia made things worse by consulting with her inner lives, rather than ignoring them or actively resisting them.

The crisis came on a day like many others in the spring month of Laab, a clear morning at Muad’Dib’s Keep with a cold wind blowing down from the pole. Alia still wore the yellow for mourning, the color of the sterile sun. More and more these past few weeks she’d been denying the inner voice of her mother, who tended to sneer at preparation for the coming Holy Days to be centered on the Temple.

The inner-awareness of Jessica faded, faded … sinking away at last with a faceless demand that Alia would be better occupied working on the Atreides Law. New lives began to clamor for their moment of consciousness.

Alia made things worse by consulting with the Baron and giving him increased notice, eventually resulting in his capture of her personality.

Alia felt that she had opened a bottomless pit, and faces arose out of it like a swarm of locusts, until she came at last to focus on one who was like a beast: the old Baron Harkonnen. In terrified outrage she had screamed out against all of that inner clamor, winning a temporary silence.

  • good points all! Thanks!
    – user5479
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 20:02

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