People often ask what’s the difference between Moral Injury and a Spiritual Injury or Wound, “aren’t they the same thing?” To start with, it’s not a competition, the more people and thought in this area they better! The work by Litz and others on Moral Injury is profound and brings the spiritual aspects of the veteran’s experience into a broader and complementary treatment context along with a range of important moral, psychological, medical and cultural issues. Whilst there is no suggestion that the treatment of Spiritual Injury should take any primacy or be conducted in isolation, spirituality is a uniquely different proposition.
We tend to look at it is way, a Moral Injury is where a person feels that they have transgressed a law, moral code, belief or norm or something that relates to their relationship to the community or humankind. A Spiritual Wound is narrower. It occurs when a person feels that their relationship with their concept of God or a higher spirit has been ruptured. You have done something that you feel is so terrible that you ask “how could God still love me?” or that God has let you down so badly that you start to question the whole concept of a loving forgiving higher spirit. It is a one to one thing that relates purely to your relationship with God. Another way of looking at it might be to consider the syllogism that, moral injury is to reason as spiritual injury is to faith. As properly trained and accredited medical and psychological practitioners are required to deliver such treatment in their space, so too will there be a requirement for the involvement of properly trained and accredited religious practitioners.