Star Trek: 10 Weirdest Medical Cases

At Starfleet Medical, we know that 'weird' is part of the job.

Troi Frog Star Trek TNG Picard
CBS Media Ventures

Throughout its long history, Starfleet Medical has forged its reputation on training the best and the brightest to face whatever mysterious maladies the galaxy can throw at them, all the while maintaining the best bio-bedside manner. The new head of Starfleet Medical — Admiral Beverly Crusher, MD — has certainly experienced her own strange cases over the years, from a recurrence of polywater intoxication to mass assimilation of the under 25s.

In its earliest days, the institution's Interspecies Medical Exchange Programme provided us with the indispensable talents of Dr Phlox, who cured a variety of space oddities on the NX-01's inaugural voyage. As Starfleet and the Federation advanced through space (and often through time), the McCoys, M'Bengas, Chapels, Pulaskis, EMHs, Bashirs, and T'anas of the fleet would continue to be challenged by some rather unconventional medicine.

In that vein, we have prepared a review of 10 of the oddest medical incidents from our records,* which was previously presented as a paper at the 2401 medical conference on Casperia Prime.

*Living patients were able to provide informed, written consent for each of the clinical case studies to appear in this review, and the relatives and descendants of the deceased were contacted before inclusion. Whilst every effort to preserve patient anonymity has been made, we cannot guarantee the complete absence of identifying characteristics and images. Where a case has affected an entire starship, or the patient's name has been used to classify a new disease, total anonymity may prove impossible.

10. Patient: Various; 22nd And 23rd Centuries

Troi Frog Star Trek TNG Picard
Paramount Pictures

Case: Psychic Exchange of Vulcan 'Katra'

Some doctors remain dubious about the medical validity of Vulcan mental techniques; the Vulcans themselves have proven less than forthcoming about them in the past, at times demonstrating overt prejudice before the re-discovery of Surak's writings in the Kir'Shara. In 2154, the katra of the father of Vulcan logic was temporarily housed by a human male when a dying member of the Vulcan 'Syrrannite' movement was forced to make the transfer in the Forge.

In 2259, two patients — a Vulcan female and a half-Vulcan-half-human male — participated in a 'soul-sharing' ritual during which an unintended, and exceptionally rare, katric transfer (a 'body swap') occurred. Fortunately, a doctor with advanced knowledge of Vulcan medicine was at hand to apply ground Nivallan sea urchin, crystals, and cortical stimulation to reverse the process. 26 years later, the same half-Vulcan-half-human patient, before his (temporary) death from acute radiation syndrome, effected a katra transfer on a human male present at the scene.

The effects of Vulcan 'synaptic pattern displacement' can vary from patient to patient, but humans may experience personality and behavioural changes, altered mood, involuntary recurrent memories, and eventually death. 'Treatment' requires the Vulcan 'fal-tor-pan' ritual to extract the offending katra.

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Jack Kiely is a writer with a PhD in French and almost certainly an unhealthy obsession with Star Trek.