This Salon Writer Thinks He Knows what Moral Injury is-He Doesn’t

Nothing is more galling than a writer who phones in his research for an article. I honestly don’t know if you could call it research. In the opening paragraphs he gets so many things wrong, it’s hard to believe it was fact checked at all.

Or perhaps more precisely, none are only traumatized. Rather, they all have symptoms of a different form of mental illness that psychologists have come to call moral injury.

First of all moral injury is NOT a mental illness. From a diagnostic perspective, it’s not in the DSM in any edition or form which by definition makes it not a mental illness. Secondly, any cursory reading would reveal the root problem of moral injury is prevalent since written works first appeared.

And then there is this whopper that 5 minutes on the Internet could disprove:

Most recent research on moral injury has come from work with veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. As the Pulitzer-winner David Wood reports in “What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars,” though tens of thousands of service members were coming home with debilitating mental illness, they were not responding to standard trauma treatments. This startling revelation led a group of VA psychologists to argue that many were not traumatized; they were morally injured.

While it is certainly true that the most recent research follows Afghanistan and Iraq vets, Litz, et Al were actually extending the work of Dr. Jonathan Shay who worked with Vietnam veterans and was recently recognized for coining the phrase moral injury. Misleading statement aside, it is the repetition that moral injury is a mental disorder that is patentenly untrue.

Finally, the insinuation that moral injury is a perpetrator driven event i.e. A moral injury is something done to others, not something experienced by veterans of wars is absurd; in fact the obverse is the most prevalent form experienced by veterans.

Which leads to the moral conundrum of war itself. The commandment says Thou shall not kill. Right away the moral dilemma appears. Even for the non religious the edict is codified in laws against murder. It is this paradox that war veterans must grapple.

Really a poor effort at a serious topic. I call on the editors to correct this article.

Leave a Reply