A ghola was an artificially created human, who was replicated from a dead individual. Gholas were created in Axlotl tanks and could be reconstructed from as little as one cell from the original being. They were created almost exclusively by the Bene Tleilax, although at least one (based on Miles Teg) was created by the Bene Gesserit shortly before the Return of the Honored Matres.
Differences between gholas and clones
Though a ghola would at first seem synonymous with a clone, there were some key differences:
- To be considered a true ghola, the cells used to grow the ghola were collected after the original human had died, whereas a clone is grown from cells collected while the original human was still alive. Clones do not possess a "death memory" when the original memories are restored.
- Gholas possessed most (if not all) of the memories of the source human, thanks to a combination of conditioning and a variant on genetic memory.
- Gholas originally possessed artificial 'metallic' eyes, due to an initial problem with the method of ghola production. This was later resolved, resulting in them possessing natural eyes.
Awakening of Original Memories
Up until the time of Muad'Dib, gholas were created to give people some comfort from the grief they experienced after the loss of someone close. However, this relief was limited because the gholas never remembered anything from their original lives. However, the Tleilaxu had long theorised that it was indeed possible to reawaken a ghola's original memories. This theory was based on the concept of genetic memory, as well as collected evidence that gholas could experience "echoes" of their past life, namely feelings stirred up from sounds or smells.
To test this theory, the Tleilaxu had provided Muad'Dib with a ghola of Duncan Idaho. He possessed none of his original Idaho memories, and had been given the name of Hayt. Hayt was conditioned by the Tleilaxu to assassinate Muad'Dib. However, because of Idaho's innate love for the Atreides, Hayt could not reconcile this feeling with his conditioning. The psychological trauma that ensued from this paradox caused his Idaho's memories to emerge. As a result, the theory was proven correct.
After that, a similar process was used to reawaken pre-ghola memories, whereby the ghola would be forced to experience some kind of psychological trauma to force the memories to the surface. This process continued until Miles Teg's pre-ghola memories were awakened by Sheeana with sexual imprinting techniques, at the suggestion of Duncan Idaho, who didn't like the original method.
Recurrence of gholas
Gholas played an increasingly important role throughout the history of the known universe, starting during the reign of Emperor Paul Atreides. Individuals who have been noted as being the source of one or more gholas included:
- Duncan Idaho, who was replicated as a ghola countless times over the course of several thousand years. The last Idaho ghola of the Bene Gesserit had the memories of the original and the memories of all the other gholas; how this came about was never explained. Each Idaho ghola was produced by the Bene Tleilax and always possessed some deep-seated conditioning that was intended to assist the Tleilaxu in their political and cultural endeavors. The success of such conditioning was often poor or resulted in unforeseen consequences.
- Miles Teg was replicated once by the Bene Gesserit shortly before the arrival of the Honored Matres. As was the case with Idaho, Teg was conditioned to assist his sponsors' efforts, again with limited success. Though he was created using the same method as gholas, he was actually a clone due to the cells being taken before the original Teg's death.