Loneliness of a double life

As new school year approaches and recruiters will be sweeping every campus for impressionable youth it may be a good idea to recount what it is like to be a spy:

“Intelligence agents lead double lives, requiring them to regularly deceive other people, and not just their targets. It is not easy for a person with a solid social conscience to sustain a lifestyle that involves covertly influencing or controlling others through lies. Agents can come to feel subtly detached or separated from other people, feelings that may persist even when they resume their normal lives once their espionage is over.

These psychological burdens of detachment and loneliness are acute while the agents are deployed and living their covers among their targets, where the seemingly trusting social relationships they have built with targets are mostly false, based on lies and manipulation. Sometimes they frankly despise the targets they are pretending to admire. Their real personalities are buried under layers of clandestinity; there is no one there who is aware of their true status, other than themselves. One particularly self-aware agent described his psychological situation while deployed as a form of solitary confinement, with his own skull his prison cell.”

More: http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2012/07/05-spy-wilder

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