Psychological Constructs Related to Espionage


Assignment 2: Psychological Constructs Related to Espionage

Often, the manifestations of psychopathology are related to the motivation behind and behavior involved in acts of espionage. In this assignment, you will have the opportunity to explore what specific psychopathologies may be common to these acts. Keep in mind that the presence of a certain psychopathology in one spy is not indicative of its presence in all spies.


Using at least two scholarly resources from the professional literature, research psychopathology related to acts of espionage. The literature may include the Argosy University online library resources; relevant textbooks; peer-reviewed journal articles; and websites created by professional organizations, agencies, or institutions (.edu, .org, or .gov).

Create a 2- to 4-page paper responding to the following:

Identify at least two psychopathologies that have been correlated to acts of espionage, treason, or disloyalty.

Describe the psychopathologies you researched related to acts of espionage and explain how these psychopathologies can motivate one to spy, in your own words.

Sample paper

Psychological Constructs of Espionage

Individuals who engage in acts of espionage all have different motivations which lead them to that way of life. These motivations help bring out certain psychological indicators related to their behavior and personality. Most spies have common psychological patterns. However, this does not mean that all people who show the same patterns are spies. Some of the motivations identified for espionage include money, disgruntlement and divided loyalties.

In cases where money is a motivation for individuals engaged in acts of espionage, they develop the psychology of materialism. This means that to this individuals, success is defined by the money and materialistic possessions that they have. They are willing to do anything that will give them the materialistic life that they love, even if it means outing their lives in danger. Spies who are motivated by money see espionage as the best means of obtaining the money they desire. The psychology of materialism comes with certain personality behaviors such as a need for social power. Such individuals feel an overwhelming relief once they receive money and even if they had any doubts about what they were doing, this would immediately go away.

Individuals with this psychology of materialism use their love for money to do away with important things in life such as sincere relationships or socialization and the satisfaction that comes with doing productive work. It is no that this individuals are lazy but their personality and mental status drives their attention away from facing the harsh realities of the human condition and making difficult decisions such as who and what they really want to become. Acquiring wealth and wanting to live a good luxurious life is not a crime. However, for spies motivated by money, their lives are centered on money and material possessions. It there reason for existence which even steals away their moral values and the ability to distinguish good from bad (Kilbourne, 2005). As long an action gets them money Such as spying, then it is right. These spies will trade even the most sensitive information to the highest bidder. These individuals can be found outside and even within government agencies holding top security clearance. It becomes more serious if they are in the government agencies since they have unlimited access to all secret information and all they see when they look at it is the enormous fortune they can make of it. These thoughts cloud their moral judgement and sensitive information is sold out to government enemies. It is even sadder to know that these individuals are actually aware of the consequences their actions could have on millions of people but unfortunately, they choose money over all those lives.

Another major psychopathology related to espionage is the post-traumatic embitterment disorder. This is a psychological condition normally experienced by spies who are motivate by revenge or disgruntlement as their primary factor. Individuals with PTED are of good mental health and extremely hardworking and fulfilled until an event occurs in their lives that leaves them traumatized (Linden, 2003) Examples of such events include, death of a loved one, losing of jobs, divorce and many more. These events change their lives completely making them do away even with their most basic principles and values. They feel like an injustice has been done to them and are mostly angry and bitter. They can be angry at their employers for firing them, their spouses for leaving them or their government for supposedly betraying them.

Such anger is put into revenge. They feel that they can get relief from making those who hurt them pay. Spies with this condition mostly blame the government for how their lives and that of their families turn out, the harsh economic conditions, poor healthcare and other issues. Once they meet other people who show them that share that same view with them, they use those people to make the government pay by selling top government secrets to anybody willing to buy. To these individuals, committing acts of espionage is their way of getting back to those whom they feel hurt them or betrayed them. However, it is important to note that these feelings of injustice may not necessarily be true but also it does not mean they are always false (Linden M. B., 2007).  However, the spy perceives them as very true and real and affecting him or her at a personal level which is why they feel the need to take it upon themselves to make things right.

The nature of human beings developing unrealistic expectations and the culture of disgruntlement that is constantly upheld by the media enhances PTED. Individuals with PTED who act out of disgruntlement or revenge continue to see themselves as patriotic citizens because they honestly believe there was an injustice committed and that they were part of the solution. They sincerely have no intention of causing any harm to any individuals, agencies or even their countries but they do. It may be time to apply psychology knowledge when it comes to espionage. This may help many individuals who are engaged in espionage, not because of greed or malicious nature but because of their psychological conditions which may not have been identified yet but which can certainly be reversed with the right techniques.


Kilbourne, W. G. (2005). A cross-cultural examination of the relationship between materialism and individual values. Journal of Economic Psychology, 624-641.

Linden, M. (2003). Posttraumatic embitterment disorder. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 195-202.

Linden, M. B. (2007). Posttraumatic embitterment disorder in comparison to other mental disorders. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 50-56.


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