The Fourth Law - Never Enthrall Another

A close cousin of the Third, the Fourth Law goes beyond the simple invasion of another’s mind to outright mastery over it. Here, enthralling is any effort made to change the natural inclinations, choices, and behaviors of another person. And due to its cousin Law, it’s pretty easy to see the Fourth as an extension of the concepts there—a case of more equals worse.

Of course, the problems here are substantial. To change someone’s mind enough to force a different course of behavior, you have to hit them with some pretty vicious psychological trauma. Worse, you may not even realize you’re doing it at the time. It might sound relatively harmless to implant an aversion to, say, fatty foods to help someone lose weight, but the effect is a lot like wrapping someone’s legs in barbed wire in order to keep them from walking to the fridge.

Why so violent? A lot of it comes down to the principles of free will. The thing that makes mortals fundamentally human is free will; when you enthrall someone, overriding their will with your own, you’ve robbed them of their essential ability to be and act human.

This is where another of the Fourth Law’s cousins—the Second—comes into play. Changing someone’s behavior is a lot like changing someone’s body. In both cases, the target you’re changing is a lot more complex than your understanding of it can manage. And if there’s one conceptual thread that runs particularly strongly through the first four Laws, it’s that the mind is more or less equivalent to the body in terms of what should and should not be done with it. Like the body, the mind is vast and intricately complex. When you decide to take that complexity on with something as crude and simple as a compulsion, psychological trauma is inevitable. In the end, it’s much like trying to fix a computer’s motherboard with a hammer. Even if you get it working the way you want, chances are you’ve messed something else up pretty bad along the way.

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The Fourth Law - Never Enthrall Another

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