Forever Alone – The Ballad of Jorah Mormont

OK, so to get it straight, these posts are based on the TV series of Game of Thrones
and not the books. Why? For a few reasons. Firstly, I feel like the TV series is more accessible to more people, whether it is a time thing, or not a fondness for reading too much, whatever the reason. I think that by focusing on the TV series alone, everyone can have a mutual understanding. Secondly, focusing on both the books and the TV series means that some bits get given away early, as in spoilers, no one wants book spoilers, do you? In saying that, if you aren’t up to date with the TV series, there are SPOILERS in this post.


psychology of jorah mormontSo on to the psychology of Jorah Mormont…

Things really went downhill for Jorah when it was found out that he was working as a double agent for Robert Baratheon and on Daenerys learning of this he was thrown out of Mereen, rather unceremoniously, but all of that comes a little later.

The Psychology of a mercenary

I will start this is saying that the psychological literature has very little to say about the psychology of people who work as mercenaries. In modern times they do not have a centralised structure, are usually private contractors and are therefore relatively hard to get in contact with, hence the lack of ability to study them. So what I have said here is from the small amount of research around mercenaries and general psychological traits.

Jorah is a soldier of fortune, as we have seen from his work with slave traders, which got him in trouble in Westeros and led him to now following Daenerys, on first appearances as an advisor to a young and inexperienced leader (although we learn later that this is not necessarily the case at all).

Whilst he acts as an advisor, he also exhibits other common psychology traits of mercenaries, in that he follows the work where it is and tends to be in conflict zones. He is very good at what he does, both in strategy and direct combat and is therefore a valued asset to anyone whom employs him. This is something that we see a lot of in the Middle East at the moment with the rise of Private Military Contractors (PMCs) in war zones, particularly for personal safety for high ranking and diplomatic personnel.  For anyone looking for better understanding of how PMCs work, I highly recommend the book Blackwater which looks at one of the biggest PMCs and it’s role in the Middle East over the past decade or more.

Mercenaries come from all walks of life, however they tend to have common experiences in armed international and domestic forces. This also extends to domestic emergency services personnel, in general people who are recruited to these firms have often proven themselves able to cope in high risk and high stress situations. Bigger modern firms will require greater experience than smaller ones, with small firms sometimes relying on people with domestic security experience.

game of thrones psychology Jorah Mormont
OK, maybe a little more experience than this…


Mercenary and private military forces are often not serving their country, or religious or other ideals, but rather they are working as a means (using their skills) to an ends (getting paid and meeting that targets that they have been set). In saying all of this, it does not necessarily make PMCs ‘baddies’ or immoral but rather they are employed by a business to meet certain end results. In saying this, the nationalistic and moralistic debates are often moot for people who work in this capacity.  The lack of moral reasoning and a cause that they believe in (instead being paid to fight/protect) can be somewhat of a double edged sword. Those who do not have a ’cause’ to fight for may be more willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, for example the breaching of morals (again see Blackwater for some good examples of how this played out in real life). However, the opposite can often be true as well – the individual may be more likely to do things the ‘right way’ as they are an employee being remunerated for the quality of their services. There are many pros and cons in the debate for PMCs and this is but one of them.

This is where Jorah fits in, he is a man who is seeking money (for those who haven’t read the books or weren’t paying attention for those brief few minutes) to pay for his wife and her whims. In doing this he became involved in the slave trader business and as a result was stripped of his title and later fled to Essos as a way to keep his head from being detached from the now leaderless (headless) Stark family (there is still Arya though).

Jorah has been tasked with spying on Daenerys for the Baratheons (of who we have analysed both Joffrey and Cersei in the past) in the beginning and from later days we can assume that he would have been willing to see her downfall, should he not have fallen in love with her. Jorah started in the mercenary business because of love and it seems that this is a lesson that he learns the hard way, over and over….

A man in love

It is no secret that Jorah is in love with Daenerys, but that this love is not returned to him. He gets visibly upset when she is found in her chambers with Daario and is constantly competing for her affection.  In people who are deployed overseas and away from their homes it is a quite common occurrence for people to form closer than normal attachments and bonds with those around them, and Jorah is no different. He is presented with an attractive and powerful young woman whom he is in close contact, he is also somewhat lonely from what we can gather after his separation not just from his wife, but also his homeland. Being fiercely loyal to Daenerys means that he isn’t able to form the greatest of bonds with others, and history has shown us that when he does get close to people that they often leave him (such as his wife) or get killed (such as Rakharo the Bloodrider) and as a result he has no desire to form attachment more so than is necessary.

From what we have seen of Jorah and his history, he has done what he does for love, his ex wife being the most pertinent example of this. So in saying this, he may not necessarily fit the ‘sword for hire’ anti morality stance that a lot of mercenaries are criticised for, but rather that he has prioritised his love for others over and above the work that he does, which essentially just pays the bills. The Daenerys job was just that, another job, until he started to develop feelings for her. This can be illustrated through his desire to keep her alive, even when it seems that his watchers have decided that Daenerys should die (at the wine stand).

A true mercenary, typically, would follow the purse of those who are paying him, however this is not the case for Jorah, as his feelings start to get in the way, Unfortunately, his cover is blown by Barristan Selmy, and he is thrown out of his role as an advisor, and also physically, out of Meereen (again with the threat of having his head removed). I have to admit though, that there was probably no good time for this information to come out, and as we saw, Mormont had tried to determine what Selmy knew earlier in the piece, which seemed to be nothing. Jorah probably hoped that his spying role would be forgotten and that his role as an advisor would take priority for his achievements if the information did get out, however no amount of talking around the issue helped him in the end.


From a clinical perspective, I would say that there is no diagnosis present for Jorah Mormont (although he may start to suffer from some type of reactive depression or mood disorder now that he has been thrown out and abandoned). He does fit the role of the mercenary to a major extent (that is following work for the gold, rather than for the cause per se), however, based on some of his interactions, especially with Daenerys, we can see that he is quite idealistic and has a strong idea about what he believes is right and wrong. I believe that this is what creates such dissonance in Mormont, he is constantly struggling against his feelings for Daenerys, but also trying to rectify his own feelings about how he has betrayed her. In moments such as walking in with Daario in her chambers he is visibly upset and it would be likely that at these times that he more strongly questions his beliefs about what he should and should not be doing and whether he is doing it all for the right reasons. For in closing, the last time that he did this, the woman he loved ended up “in another place, with another man”

What are you thoughts on Jorah, is he destined to be forever alone, or is there someone out there for him. Will he ever be accepted back into Daenerys’ inner circle?


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