Moral Injury: An Extremely Damaging Phenomenon - Deepstash
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Moral Injury

Moral injury is a wound, an attack from the environment on your system of beliefs, principles, and values. Do you have a job where you have to do things that go against your principles? That’s a blow to your morale. Do you have a relationship in which your partner boycotts your opinions? That’ll also damage your morale.


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Identity and Self-Concept

As humans, we’re not what we possess, we’re everything we believe in. When your morals are damaged, you feel more than simple offense or annoyance. In fact, when the values that are rooted in your very being are attacked or contradicted, the core of your identity and your self-concept fracture.

Today, we all live in a state of constant moral tension that completely undermines our fundamental principles and what we consider to be ethical.

You experience threats to your integrity and identity in a really similar way to physical threats.


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Symptoms and consequences of Moral Injury

When you experience continuous moral injury, your brain changes. You start to interpret the experience as a threat similar to physical aggression.

Failing at work, making a serious mistake with someone, doing something that goes against your values because of outside pressure, or being in an abusive relationship breaks you. They’re assaults on your morality that you experience in the same way as a physical attack.


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The Effects

  • Emotions such as guilt, self-disgust, shame, anger, rage, sadness, and anxiety appear
  • You experience feelings of deep disillusionment with institutions, people, and yourself
  • You suffer an existential crisis that often leads to depression
  • Psychosomatic effects occur. For instance, insomnia, muscle pain, headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, exhaustion, etc.

Moral injury is often translated into an ‘acute stress response’, an effect similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.


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Healing the wound of moral injury

When our morals suffer long-term bombardment, we tend to become blocked. Our emotions are so intense and painful that we become numb.

Moral injury distorts who you are and what you believe in.

For this reason, it’s good to start with somatic therapy. Aimed at ensuring that emotions attached to the body and that cause pain and illness end up being externalized and verbalized. Breathing and relaxation techniques and movements or stretching achieve that connection and, ultimately, a catharsis.

Later, conversational therapy begins, in which the lived experiences, the thoughts that accompany them.


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