Mental manipulation (sometimes referred to as memory removal and power dampening) is the ability to manipulate upper brain functions, enabling the user to render others unconscious, erase their memories, and negate the use of abilities. Users of this ability are immune to mental manipulation and harm.
- Rene naturally possesses this ability.
- Arthur Petrelli has stolen this ability from an unknown source.
- Peter Petrelli replicated this ability from Rene, but later discarded it in favor of rapid cell regeneration.
Rene can use his ability in at least three different ways: interfering with the abilities of other evolved humans, affecting human memory, and rendering people unconscious. The latter two abilities require physical contact. According to the Haitian, his own mental/emotional state affects the potency of his ability.
Interfering with AbilitiesEdit
Rene can interfere with at least some of the abilities of other evolved humans. Whether or not this interference is equally effective against all abilities is yet unknown.
Interference seems to be a largely passive ability, affecting all evolved humans in range without concentration or effort, even if the Haitian is unaware of their presence. He can, however, choose not to interfere with the abilities of particular evolved humans that he knows about. Also, his power does not operate when he is unconscious.
Rene's interference is not insurmountable; while Matt gets nothing but "static" when he tries to read Rene's mind, he can sometimes pick up a word or two from Noah Bennet in spite of Rene's interference. Individuals with very powerful abilities are harder for him to contain, forcing Rene to concentrate in order to keep their abilities suppressed and exhausting his ability over time. Nevertheless, any ability that requires concentration is drastically limited within an unspecified radius of the Haitian, and he can neutralize even passive abilities with active effort.
Affecting Human MemoryEdit
Rene can induce a person to recall a set of related memories. He can also selectively remove memories of specific events or periods of time. While he apparently needs to touch the subject to remove memories in a controlled manner, he has shown that he can seriously damage the memories of numerous people without physical contact.
Erasing memories has harmful side effects. It has been associated with headaches and blackouts, as in the cases of Matt Parkman, Theodore Sprague, and Sandra Bennet. Multiple memory erasures appear to be especially harmful to the subject. Rene has erased portions of Sandra Bennet's memory "many times", and after the last occurrence, Sandra developed a subdural hemorrhage in the part of her brain that controls memory. Symptoms included headaches, facial tics, fainting spells, and intermittent amnesia so severe that she soemtimes did not even recognize her dog or her daughter.
Rene cannot restore a memory tha the has erased, and he has not demonstrated any ability to create false memories.
While extremely rare, it is possible to "heal" from Rene's memory erasure. After Rene had erased Peter's memory, Adam encouraged him to use his healing ability to recover the affected memories, suggesting that the brain is damaged. Peter needed to actively concentrate on healing the damaged parts for it to work however, as for some reason, regeneration doesn't heal the damage automatically. Sanjog was also capable of restoring Piper's memory by manipulating her dreams.
Rene is also able to render a person unconscious by placing his hand on their head. This is the same technique he uses to erase someone's memories.
Arthur Petrelli has used this ability to erase Hiro's memories. Arthur's intention was to erase only those memories Hiro gained on his spirit walk, but due to Ando's interruption and Arthur's preoccupation with one of Usutu's paintings of an eclipse, he mistakenly erased years worth of Hiro's memory, leaving Hiro in the mentality that he was ten years old. However, for whatever reason, Arthur did not use this to block Hiro's powers as Hiro was able to teleport away. Ishi Nakamura was able to heal Hiro's erased memory.
Determined to get Nathan back, Peter meets with The Haitian at the hospital so he can replicate this ability in order to be able to confront Sylar. Sylar was initially able to catch Peter by surprise and attack him using abilities while disguised as Nurse Hammer, although Peter probably didn't block him on purpose in order to catch him by surprise with this ability as he later tells Claire he has to "turn off" the ability for her to use her powers.
After finding drugs in Peter's bag, Sylar believes that his plan is to tranquilize him again and is caught by surprise when Peter uses this ability to block his powers. He tries to throw Peter across the room, but fails and engages in a physical fight with Peter which he loses. Peter pins him with a nail gun and then uses the ability to start erasing Sylar's memories in order to help Nathan regain control of Sylar's body. Although this attempt is initially successful in restoring Nathan's personality, Sylar proves too powerful for Nathan and eventually begins to overpower him. After Nathan falls to his "death", Sylar is able to regenerate as he's out of Peter's range.
Later, while rescuing hostages, Peter displays the ability to render people unconscious with this ability. He also inadvertently blocks Claire's ability when she accidentally cuts herself. Peter offers to turn off his power for her, but she has him keep it active so sh ecan actually feel pain for the first time in a long time. Peter later discards this in favor of regeneration.