With American troops at war for more than a decade, there’s been an unprecedented number of studies into war zone psychology and an evolving understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder. Clinicians suspect some troops are suffering from what they call “moral injuries” — wounds from having done something, or failed to stop something, that violates their moral code.
Though there may be some overlap in symptoms,
moral injuries aren’t what most people think of as PTSD, the nightmares
and flashbacks of terrifying, life-threatening combat events. A moral
injury tortures the conscience; symptoms include deep shame, guilt and
rage. It’s not a medical problem, and it’s unclear how to treat it, says
retired Col. Elspeth Ritchie, former psychiatry consultant to the Army
“The concept ... is more an existentialist one,” she says.
From the Washington Post: War Zone Killing Leaves Troops with "Moral Injury"