What is Moral Injury
Moral injury is not PTSD! PTSD is a fear-based response and is a clinical/medical category of injury with persistent psychological and behavioral effects.
According to Syracuse University “[m]oral injury is damage to the soul of the individual. War is one of, but not the only thing that can cause the same type of damage. ‘Soul repair’ and ‘soul wound’ are terms already in use by researchers and institutions in the United States who are exploring moral injury and paths to recovery.”²
Moral injury breaks a person’s soul. It makes them question their morality and they experience feelings of grief. If moral injury is not addressed, it can lead to depression, anger, and suicide ideation. A person with moral injury may turn to drugs, alcohol, and self-isolation as an outlet for their feelings.³
Healthy treatments for moral injury include talk therapy, religious dialogue, art, writing, discussion and talking circles, spiritual gatherings, ect.²
“Moral Injury is emotion-based and is defined by feelings of guilt, shame, remorse, anger despair, mistrust, loss of meaning, isolation; is connected to other behavioral issues that are persistent and pervasive and is often associated with traumatic experiences.” -Dr. Tommy Goode, DMin.
Who it Impacts
Moral injury occurs when a person who holds legitimate authority makes a decision in a high stakes situation that betrays their sense of what’s right.¹ Anyone can experience moral injury; examples include military veterans, health care workers, police officers, etc.
Trauma experiences that cause PTSD can also be likely to cause moral injury, however, moral injury does not receive as much attention as PTSD. Moral Injury Institute mission is to spread awareness about moral injury.
- Shay, J. (2014). Moral injury. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 31(2), 182–191. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036090
- What is moral injury. (n.d). Syracuse University \ The Moral Injury Project. https://moralinjuryproject.syr.edu/about-moral-injury/
- The Shay Moral Injury Center: Volunteers of America. (n.d.). https://www.voa.org/moral-injury-center?gclid=CjwKCAjw1KLkBRBZEiwARzyE74lfwy2WOguEYHKS7LmaOYlnZ2CSwMNMGQMU36XTurT8cBH5Y4tQABoCr-oQAvD_BwE