Many people have heard of PTSD — a mental condition that results from traumatic events such as war, assault, or accident. As a culture, we are just coming to learn about moral injury. Moral injury resembles PTSD in that it results from experiencing traumatic events, but it differs from PTSD in that people with moral injury take responsibility for inflicting trauma rather than being on the receiving end of it. In the words of David Peters, who instructs the course, “If we get PTSD from being the ‘prey,’ we get moral injury from being the ‘predator.'”
From an outside perspective, those experiencing moral injury might have done nothing wrong. A person who causes a car accident by making a mistake under difficult driving conditions, for example, has not assaulted people who get hurt — they’ve experienced an accident. A person involved in a war faces incredibly complex moral decisions related to following orders and people’s getting killed. Others may feel that guilt isn’t an appropriate response, but this opinion doesn’t always help a person experiencing moral injury, because in that person’s own estimation, he or she has taken actions (or chosen not to act) in ways that have violated deeply held moral beliefs.
Long-term experience of moral injury may have symptoms similar to those of PTSD, but ways to heal from it differ. In this course, David Peters, a priest, writer, former Marine, and veterans’ advocate who has written and spoken widely about his experiences with moral injury, teaches what moral injury. He talks about how it is misunderstood, how people often experience it, and the best ways to take care of yourself (if you are the person experiencing moral injury) or others (if you are in a support position for someone with moral injury) who have it.
This course is ideal for anyone who suspects they might be suffering from moral injury, for their caregivers, and for anyone who works routinely with veterans, healthcare workers, police officers, and others who face traumatic situations in their careers.