The December, 2022 issue of Scientific American included an article titled, *“An Invisible Epidemic.” Its subject: Moral injury, a psychological condition that results when someone’s principles are violated by contextual necessities. Examples include: healthcare providers during COVID’s worst days or soldiers killing civilians during wartime. Ethically wrenching situations were their new normal, requiring them to act against their moral core. Long-lasting scars of anger, guilt and shame remain. Those who encounter moral injury can’t forgive themselves or others.
This phenomenon is connected to but distinct from PTSD, a condition of mind and body that takes root when someone’s life or safety undergoes severe threat. Those who suffer from moral injury instead feel a disconnection between their moral principles and the irresolvable realities that confront them.
Research about treatment options has questioned the lasting efficacy of talk therapies, cognitive-behavioral theory (CBT) and corporate “wellness solutions.” The distress of moral injury doesn’t come from impaired thinking, so newer approaches seem necessary. “Adaptive disclosure”—basically story-sharing among individuals who have experienced moral injury—has shown positive results. A related program, Resilience Resistance Training (RST), adds values clarification and purpose discovery to the healing process. Forgiveness and making amends also seem to be helpful components to healing.
The core of this condition—as well as its resolution—seems spiritual. The article hinted at this idea, citing therapeutic partnerships among clinicians, chaplains and clergy. Perhaps Christian congregations could be helpful. In our life together we emphasize forgiveness and self-forgiveness as gracious gifts from God. In our faith communities, we help each other transcend guilt and shame, find purpose in helping others and commit ourselves to God’s care. We gladly proclaim that Jesus understands, that he gets us! We can be examples of God’s Good News to those dealing with moral injury.
There’s hope here!
*See the entire article at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/moral-injury-is-an-invisible-epidemic-that-affects-millions/
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