There are generally three sources of psychological trauma: life-threat, traumatic loss, and moral injury. 'Life-threat' is the experience of an actual or perceived threat to one's own life or that of someone else and is generally associated with fear. Traumatic loss involves the sudden and unexpected loss of those we care about and is often associated with grief. Moral injury involves a perceived or actual departure from one's moral foundation and is often associated with shame. These three variables form a nexus which lays the foundation for chronic traumatic distress.
Moral injuries, like shame and guilt, often come to dominate the psychological landscape of the post-trauma state. They often emerge from feelings of responsibility or wrongdoing associated with a negative experience and can manifest in ways that are counterintuitive and paradoxical. Our position is that morality is dynamic, not fixed – as is the healing process associated with it. We approach the study of morality through its shadow (moral injury) and aim to elevate discussion by leveraging examples of real-world situations occurring at high emotional magnitude and with high complexity.