Performed during infancy, betrization suppresses aggressive thoughts and dissociates them with pleasurable responses. It has virtually eliminated violence and crime on Earth. But Lem adds the necessary caveat:
Progress never comes free. We’ve rid ourselves of a thousand dangers, conflicts, but for that we had to pay. Society has softened, while you are … you can be hard. Do you understand me?
Betrization has eliminated aggression and allowed people to live in comfort and safety. As Bregg quickly realizes, they are also averse to the quest for knowledge that took him to the stars. Although barely 40 years old, he is facing a future without companionship or even acceptance in society. Lem solves the problem of human aggression with an emotional castration that dampens humanity’s forceful inquisitiveness.