MIRECC / CoE
The term “moral injury” describes the difficulties that people face after doing high stakes things that violate what is right and just or after being forced to experience others' immoral actions. One’s morality, or sense of what is right and wrong, comes from family and community. One example is the “golden rule,” which is the idea that one should treat others as they hope to be treated. People find comfort and trust in the idea that they and others are guided by the same principles. Moral values often dictate that people should do things that contribute to a greater good and members of the community should value, trust and defend each other. Doing things that violates one’s moral code can be very hard to deal with. It is similarly difficulty when others’ moral failures significantly affect them. When violations of morality occur, people can lose a sense of the goodness and trustworthiness of themselves, others, and the world, which can severely affect quality of life and functioning. Although these ideas have been depicted in art, literature, and religion for centuries, the term moral injury is recent. By labeling this struggle, clinicians can define, assess, treat, and study the impact of moral violations.