restoring our warriors & communities

Soul Wound: Beyond Moral Injury

Burial at SeaIn an effort to identify what could be the major cause of suicide among American veterans, professionals across multiple disciplines–including clinical psychologists, social workers, ethicists and clergy–are using with greater frequency the phrase “moral injury.”  Military leaders now warn of the real danger of spiritual and moral trauma and advocate education about moral injury and its relationship to spirituality and stress.

The Soldier’s Heart idea of the soul wound is similar to the concept of moral injury, but it differs in important ways:

We commonly say that a person was “injured in an accident” but “wounded in battle.” Injury comes from the Latin in juris, meaning not fair or right. It connotes damage or harm done to us as victims of circumstances or others’ actions. A wound, on the other hand, connotes violence done by or to the sufferer. War causes moral wounding, moral trauma, as well as “injury” because it results not from happenstance but from the violence that human beings do. When we refer to a wound, visible or not, we recognize that warriors have survived violent exchanges with others, suffer for it, and are forever different….

Patients are ill.  Victims are injured.  Society is disordered.  Warriors are wounded. (Tick, Warrior’s Return, p. 145)