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The Vulcan mind meld (or mind touch) was a telepathic technique employed exclusively by Vulcans in which the minds of two individuals become a single entity. In the Vulcan language, it was known as taroon-ifla. (TOS episode: "Dagger of the Mind", Last Unicorn RPG module: The Way of Kolinahr: The Vulcans)
Typically, physical contact was required for a meld, however particularly powerful melders, such as Spock or Slovaak, are capable of performing melds remotely. (ST video game: Away Team, TOS episode: "A Taste of Armageddon", TOS episode: "By Any Other Name", TOS episode: "The Omega Glory")
As Vulcans were touch telepaths, they normally conducted a mind meld by touching the bioelectrical focal points on the face which in the Vulcan language was known as the "qui'lari". (ENT novel: Beneath the Raptor's Wing, DS9 episode: "The Muse") Vulcan poets referred to these points as being portals to the mind. (TOS novel: Ex Machina)
Melding was a deeply personal experience, as the two minds of the meldees were entirely open to each other. (TOS episode: "Dagger of the Mind", TOS novel: Assignment: Eternity) Every mind meld left a trace signature due to subtle alteration of the synapse and neural pathways. Furthermore, the Vulcans developed a code where one did not initiate mind-melds without the consent of the other party and they never entered the mind of another without permission. (TOS novel: Burning Dreams)
However, melding can be used as an interrogation technique in which case the melder can block the meldee's access to their own mind. Those that learnt this discipline on Vulcan were required to take an oath that they would rather die before violating the privacy of another's consciousness against their will. (TOS novel: Mindshadow)
Melding can be dangerous, particularly so when conducted with a non-Vulcan but it can also be a useful tool; some neurological conditions can be cured by a mind meld. Further, melds often result in part of each of the participant’s knowledge and mental state being transferred to each other and are also the manner in which someone can deposit or obtain a katra. (TOS movie: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, VOY episode: "Meld")
In addition, it meant that memories from generations of Vulcans were capable of being passed down to their descendants and was partly responsible for the retention of ancient Vulcan traditions. (TOS novel: Captain's Glory) By the mid-23rd century, evidence obtained through the use of mind melds were acceptable by the courts of the Federation. (TOS novel: The Patrian Transgression)
Surak's teachings on the sanctity of an individual governed much of Vulcan mind meld rules. As such, except in cases of mutual consent, Vulcans never mind melded with rare exceptions for those suffering from mental illness. Even though the Federation under their agreement allowed Vulcans to use mind-melds to read the thoughts of alien races, such a practice was never done. (TOS novel: Crisis on Vulcan)
The practice of melding dated at the least back to the time of Surak. Around the turn of the 20th century Romulan sleeper agents managed to have falsified medical studies published suggesting that mind melding was neurologically and psychologically harmful, with the goal of getting Vulcan society to reject the use of mind melds in order to nullify the telepathic advantage the Vulcans held over their Romulan cousins. (ENT - Rise of the Federation novel: Uncertain Logic)
As a result by the mid-22nd century, a stigma had developed around melding. Those who were capable of or practiced melding were seen as an undesirable minority. As a consequence Pa'nar Syndrome, a condition contracted by melding also became taboo subject. Ironically, Pa'nar Syndrome can easily be cured by a meld with an experienced melder. Fortunately following reforms on Vulcan in 2154, melding once again became socially acceptable. (ENT episodes: "Fusion", "Stigma", "Kir'Shara")
Whilst the minority group of melders were now socially acceptable, the earlier generations felt that the openness of their telepathic procedures were uncouth or perverted. This was because the non-melders had been raised to believe that a limited mind-touch was acceptable only in the case of establishing the mating bond. This was because they felt that melding risked compromising the identity of the individual as well as violated privacy and mental balance. This pattern of thinking still existed by the mid-23rd century. (TOS novel: Ex Machina)
In 2248, a Marathan rebel by the name of Wurnall assaulted Amanda Grayson at the Sarek estate. This led to Sarek petitioning to the House of Justice to conduct a mind meld on the Marathan to discover his reasoning. The act was an issue as Maratha was not a Federation world. Thus, the trio of female Vulcan Justices had to decide on the legal issue but were reluctant to create a legal precedent on the matter. (TOS novel: Crisis on Vulcan) Among notable opponents to mind melds was Soreth, who found the practice distasteful in 2273. (TOS novel: Ex Machina)
In an alternate timeline where Montgomery Scott rescued James T. Kirk before he could be absorbed into the Nexus, Scott offered to allow Supreme Arbiter of the Alliance Sarek to mind meld with him to verify their claims of coming from an alternate reality. Sarek refused, due to both the inherent danger in melding with a non-Vulcan and the suspicion that Kirk might be a spy for the Borg and a meld would reveal Alliance secrets. Kirk offered as well, suspecting that since he had melded with that universe's Sarek, it would be easier, but Sarek pointed out he was not that person and thus it was irrelevant. (ST novel: Engines of Destiny)