"Well, ma'am, it's a lot quicker than the old way, that's for sure. That's progress."
Neural resocialization was a rigorous process, devised by the Terran Confederacy, used to treat criminals suffering from mental disorders or at least prevent them from committing crimes and turning them into loyal soldiers. Some Dominion military personnel even volunteered for the process (in an effort to avoid mental problems). Those who underwent the process often had a blissful look. Since the reign of Valerian Mengsk, it has been banned by the Terran Dominion.
Resocialized individuals' minds are "fuzzy" when sensed by a telepath.
Neural resocialization was commonly used as early as 2478 by the Terran Confederacy and was sometimes publicly disclosed but was still considered new, "unproved" technology c. 2480. By 2488 it still wasn't common knowledge within the Confederate military and other factions resorted to torturing Confederate soldiers to learn more about it. During this period, Confederate resocs were little better than robots, marching blindly into enemy fire and taking chances that other soldiers wouldn't—effectively walking into the meat grinder.
During the tenure of the Terran Confederacy, most marines were resocialized, but near its end it claimed that only half of its marines were resocialized, "sometimes less". During the Great War, forced resocialization was used to conscript civilians into the military. In the aftermath of the Brood War, the intake of resocialized marines had fallen slightly, but volunteer numbers remained low, so the process has continued. The Dominion's official stance was that its resocialization program was for taking criminals and "redeeming" them, giving them hope and a "new beginning."
After the ascension of Emperor Valerian Mengsk, the Terran Dominion's announced that the resocialization program was fully abolished, and reforms were put in place for better treatment of those who were subjected to the procedure. On the other hand, some marines are skeptical as to whether the resocialization program wouldn't be reactivated if casualties mounted and recruitment was low, while others speculated that resocialization merely scaled back and not truly abolished.
There are multiple types of neural resocialization, but all share two things in common: they reshape the victim's memories (layering new memories over the old ones), and they enforce obedience (to different levels, depending on the type of resocialization). Neurally resocialized soldiers can shift loyalties if their commanders do so as well.
The memory layering is "programmed"; the scientists "seek out" and "suppress" certain memories, such as emotionally charged violent criminal memories, covering them with "chocolate-coated" filler memories.
People may gain technical and combat skills during resocialization by receiving experience through altered or new memories. New personnel may be trained quickly in this manner. Some of these new memories are often repeated among resocs, making it easy for regular marines to recognize those who have gone through the process.
By the beginning of the Great War, the Terran Confederacy used "non-invasive" forms of neural resocialization. These left few physical outward marks (such as divots behind the ear). The process modified behavior such that a resocialized individual was susceptible to obeying strongly given orders even from those not in the chain of command. When combined with stimulants, a resocialized marine could be ordered to shoot civilians and relatives; explicit orders were needed to shoot possible "friendlies". Other means of invasive resocialiation left scars above the neckline.
Resocialization tanks provided a "milder" form of resocialization. A subject endured multiple sessions in the tanks where they were "programmed" with knowledge and skills needed for the desired occupation. The procedure tended to leave the subject disoriented for a period of time afterward. The subject emerged with fewer behavioral restrictions; the subject could choose to disobey orders and even attack allies, based on the situation as evaluated by the individual.
More intensive forms of resocialization were considered to be extremely painful. Dr. Stanley Burgess, a resocialization specialist for the Terran Dominion used such techniques, sometimes incorporating full-body restraints into the process.
By 2502 a "subconscious" form of neural resocialization had been developed using resocialization tank technology. While it would cause behavior problems, it would generally have little effect on the victim's personality until a programmed trigger was set off. It could be resisted through willpower.
Neural resocialization is not restricted to enlisted personnel; Lieutenant Emily Swallow of Alpha Squadron had undergone the process. Notably, a number of obvious candidates have not undergone the process, such as Major Esmerelda Ndoci.
Resocialized soldiers possess little or no initiative, often react poorly to changing battlefield conditions and tend to lack the depth of personality one might find in an ordinary human. Unique talents and expertise are largely wiped away, which resulted in programs such as the War Pigs. However, some handlers preferred "obedient" over "improvisational". In additon, resocialized soldiers are known to react badly to antagonizing behavior such as pranks or exploiting their willingness to accept hazardous duty assignments with fatalities having occurred in the past.
Neural resocialization can "shatter" under stress. For instance, when the resocialized marine Lt. Emily Swallow faced stress when questioning a Sons of Korhal agitator, she had to use her stimpack to "relieve" the stress after the encounter. Later on, her previous criminal behavior came to the fore when she was attacked by zerg. Trauma can also weaken the hold resocialization places on scrubbed memories. To counter this, the Confederate Marine Corps kept seriously wounded resocs heavily sedated whilst undergoing medical treatment in order to prevent them from sliding back into their former personalities.
A small percentage of terrans are resistant to resocialization. Among this tiny group are members who are conscripted into the Reaper Corps, including various criminals, the occasional political dissident, and marines who remain uncontrollable after resoc.
A number of protoss have shown the ability to psionically reverse the process of resocialization. Even terran psychics can undo the process to an extent. The infestation process can peel back the memories of an infested terran, revealing false ones implanted through resoc.
- Main article: Resocialized characters
Within StarCraft, a few terrans are seen with barcodes stamped on their foreheads; possibly a sign of neural resocialization and/or indentured service. This returns in StarCraft: Remastered, though the barcode has been replaced with a QR code.