The Psychology of Idealism – Does Jon Snow know nothing?

It has been a while and I am sure that everyone is having withdrawals since the ending of Season 5, so I thought that it was time for a new installment in the Game of Thrones Psychology series. After much debate about whether he will be in Season 6 and the general love for him, I thought that the psychology of Jon Snow would pique some interest. There will be major SPOILERS, as always, in this post.

When we look back at the rest of the characters that have been analysed in this series, it has mainly been a tale of psychopathology and the things that are wrong with people from the trauma symptoms of Arya and Theon/Reek to the personality disorder of Cersei . But the psychology of Jon Snow is a very different beast and rather than the symptoms that he doesn’t exhibit, we will focus on some of the ideals that he stands for and where it all went wrong for him. Jon is relatively benign when it comes down to it, on a psychological level, and this could well have been his failing.

His Father’s son

Jon, much like Joffrey, is yet again a measure of the people who raised him. But unlike Joffrey, the traits which Jon displays are primarily positive and adaptive to the world around him. He is a good example of how nature and nurture can intertwine, being primarily moral and just, but at the same time prone to fits of passion and impulsiveness. In his ‘death’ we can see a man who trusted too much in his own decisions, a man who thought that honor was the most important thing. This very much mirrors the death of Ned, both believed that they were acting with pure and just intentions and that others would understand their reasoning. Both made hard decisions to go against the common thinking (Ned with challenging the Lannisters and Jon with ignoring the wishes of the Watch) and follow their own moral reasoning, both made the mistake of being dead because of what could almost be termed ‘narcissistic idealism’

Much like his father, he was wrong that his intentions would be understood by others, dead wrong… Ned believed that the world needed to know about the lineage of the Baratheon (Lannister) children and that people would support him, however he was seen to be an insurgent and lost his head. Even Robb Stark was too trusting, thinking that a broken promise would be easily forgotten by the Freys. This sense of “If I think I am doing the right thing, then it is OK” seems to be a common fault of the Stark men.

It seems that Jon Snow is trying to work out who he is throughout the series, initially as the bastard son to Eddard Stark, and stuck as a second player to Robb Stark, the true heir to the Stark throne. Whilst he is well regarded by Eddard, there is tension with lady Catelyn, due to his illegitimacy. The relationship with Arya Stark is seemingly where he thrives, having a jovial and close relationship with her.

Idealism in non ideal circumstances

There is a big part of Jon that follows the rules, but there is also another part to him which is impulsive, leading him to just do what he wants, the relationship with Ygritte is the biggest indicator of this. Despite the solemn vows that he has made to the Night’s Watch to remain celibate, he engages in a relationship with her. Not only that, but this is a relationship with a person who is the mortal enemy of the watch. Jon’s story is very much about a young man trying to find his place in the world and whilst he tries to be ‘good’ for the majority of the time, he is often overcome by his passion and idealism, leading to decisions that may be seem good in the moment, but not in the long term.

However, this flies in the face of what he did to try to save the lands south of the Wall. Rather than being impulsive, Jon is thoughtful about the needs of the people and how they are to fight the Walkers. He makes a decision based on knowing the Wildings and the risk that they may pose to those south of the Wall. But what he fails to account for is, for many of the men of the Wall, there is nothing else to life than defending it from Wildings, which Jon happily brought through the Wall. It is the ultimate betrayal for them, in their fury they are not able to see the bigger picture, their number has been lessened by the rescue of the Wildings at Hardhome and the Stannis has just been defeated.

Psychology of Jon Snow
Maybe this wasn’t the best idea in hindsight

Was Jon too nice for his own good, was he an idealist in a world that doesn’t value idealism and positivity, but rather manipulation and violence?


While not suffering from any mental illness per se, Jon Snow could definitely benefit from some one on one therapy to address the problems that he has in life, issues such as his relationship to other people, and how to ensure that he is able to meet the needs of others around him, whilst still adhering to his own set of values. Ideally, he could look into Interpersonal therapy, where he would be able to address the way in which he works with people and try to find some common ground.

At Season’s end we see Lord Commander Snow dying in the cold after being stabbed by the majority of the Night’s Watch. I’m with the people think that Jon Snow is alive and that he will somehow survive (or be resurrected) into the next season.



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