The Silence Protocol is a process by which Psy children are mentally programmed not to feel or acknowledge their emotions. It was implemented roughly a hundred years before the start of Slave to Sensation in a last ditch effort to save the race from widespread insanity which threatened to consume them.
Up until the early to mid 1900s all Psy felt emotion. The more emotional a person was, the less control they had over their powers. Also a person's mental state would bleed into others through the PsyNet sometimes causing them to lose control as well. Losing control over one's abilities could easily cause a person to unintentionally harm or even kill. This created a dangerous loop where people would lose control of their powers, hurt others, and then feel horrible about doing so. After a while people's minds would break under the constant pressure and they would go truly mad, causing even more anguish.
Silence was the brainchild of Mercury, a secretive group founded by Catherine and Arif Adelaja after the death of their infant daughter at the hands of a family friend. The murderess, herself a Psy, had suffered a psychotic break and, for reasons unknown, used her telepathy to shatter the baby's mind. Since emotional outbursts can lead to a loss of psychic control, Catherine and Arif conditioned their sons not to feel emotion at all. This meant that their children were in full control of their powers and not a danger to others.
The first two Silent Psy were the Adelaja twins, Tendaji and Naeem. Sixteen years after their reveal, they commit suicide, Tendaji killing first his brother, then himself. They only leave a note, which would never reach the public.
We are an abomination, a plague that will kill our people from within. Silence must never take root, must never infiltrate the PsyNet. Forgive us.
In 1971, after ten years of debate, the Silence Protocol was made mandatory for all members of the PsyNet under the age of six. Everyone born after 1971 was automatically enrolled in the program. Parents who did not comply risked losing their children to the state.
(See also: The Forgotten)
Some hated the idea (like Empaths), others were drawn to it (like Foreseers or Tk-Cs). Instead of seeing it as crippling their children, they thought of it as saving them.
Psy children are telepathically programmed to feel pain (known as dissonance) anytime they feel emotion and then they are taught how to keep their equilibrium no matter what. The protocol takes about sixteen years to fully implement in a person. The depth and extent of the training vary from child to child. Those with the strongest and most aggressive gifts are put on the harshest regimes. Attempting to disable the Silence programming can literally cause the brain to explode.
Psy who complete the protocol are expected to remain Silent for the rest of their lives, while those who 'fracture' their conditioning are slated for 'rehabilitation'.
Dissonance is a pain reaction that is triggered when a Psy breaches Silence. It's an alarm to tell the Psy to disengage in whatever he or she is doing and rebuild his or her shields.
It starts off small but get's stronger in intensity with time.
Results and Consequences
Although Silence did drastically reduce the outbreaks of insanity and murders it also lead to a rise in sociopathic behavior. No longer allowed to feel joy or sorrow, the Psy channeled their energy into ruthless ambition and cut throat pragmatism. Ethical behavior soon went by the wayside because codes of honor were no longer being re-enforced by feelings of guilt. As a result, Psy came to dominate the worlds of business, government, and science.
This success came at a price. Empaths, whose gifts lay in emotions, could not be conditioned and therefore were presumably Rehabilitated in large numbers. Without Empaths to help them recover from the futures they saw, Foreseers went insane on an even larger scale than they had prior to 1971.
- Main article: NetMind The effects of Silence were seen on the psychic plane as well. The PsyNet, once a vibrant colorful place, turned dark and the NetMind split into two entities. The new entity, known as the DarkMind, was made up of all the emotions that people were no longer allowed to feel or acknowledge. Whether this entity started out insane or simply became that way as a result of being ignored is unknown, but the consequences of its insanity are not. Desperate to be heard, the DarkMind sought out those with a sociopath bent and infected their mind with homicidal madness. The Anchors were particularly susceptible to this infection.
- While Silence is unofficially completed at sixteen, it can happen sooner: Sienna was Silent by age 9.
- Silence is officially completed at 18, but Psy are not considered adults until 20.