Psychologists finally acknowledge “moral injuries”

By Tom Quiner

Returning servicemen are battling an intractable malady.

Psychologists call them “moral injuries.” They are baffled as to how to treat them.

Moral injuries occur to our soldiers who have killed other human beings during their deployment. In many cases, they occur even if they only witnessed killing and didn’t perpetrate it themselves.

An Associated Press story characterized moral injuries as follows:

“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 surgeon general.”

Moral injuries have been around forever. They permeate American society at frightening levels. The Catholic Church has seen it infect their flock in the lives of women who have had human abortions. The Church increasingly reaches out to these women, and the fathers of the aborted, with post-abortive counseling.

Pills can’t fix the problem.

Psychiatry can’t fix the problem.

It takes spiritual healing, a total embrace of the lavish forgiveness found at the foot of the cross. Even then, apparently, it’s a tough road to hoe for the post-abortive.

A priest once acknowledged the dilemma to me. He said women had come to him and confessed their sin of abortion. (Even if the culture says there is nothing wrong with it, women know in their gut that they’ve done something gravely wrong.) The priest said that Christ forgives them their sin. And He does, He really, really does.

But they can’t accept His forgiveness.

That is how traumatic moral injuries are.

Interestingly, CNN has shown an interest on how abortion affects the lives of women after having abortions. They have asked women to come forward and tell their stories. The vast majority of the women who have come forward acknowledge regret, deep pain and suffering due to their decision.

God love these women. They are hurting bad. Here are but a few comments from CNN’s website from post-abortive women:

“7 years later and I am still heartbroken.”

“I never wanted to have an abortion, but it haunts me that I still did it anyway.”

“I wanted them to put that baby back inside of me.”

“I don’t know a single post abortive woman that isn’t self destructive.”

“Our choices have consequences whether we see it right away or not.”

“For months after that, I knew nothing except that I wanted to die. Death was the only certain escape from the horrific pit that had formed in my soul. I begged for therapy. I screamed for help. But only inside. How could I admit what I had done?”

As the Army is slowly learning, human beings experience moral injuries when they kill other human beings.

Women who buy the lie that human abortion is moral because it is legal are suffering the same injuries as our soldiers.

Although there are just wars, there are no just abortions.

We need to end abortion for the sake of women, if nothing else. Millions of women are dieing a slow death due to the trauma of moral injuries.


  1. Bob Vance on February 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    If you read history, Christianity in the United States became what it is today not because of Founding Fathers but because of the “moral injuries” done during the Civil War – it helped heal a nation.

  2. kodonivan on February 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    My late father was a WW II veteran. He had PTSD for the remaining 50+ years of his life. He told me that he had “combat fatigue.” He didn’t like to talk about the war or what he did. When the topic did come up, he spoke about battle strategy, etc. but nothing else. He had nightmares and some habits that I know were a direct result of his war experiences. As a country, we need to take care of these servicemembers.

    • quinersdiner on February 26, 2013 at 6:44 am

      God bless our servicemen and women. Thanks for writing.

  3. Tim Shey on February 26, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Excellent post.

    Also, great insight by Bob Vance. Once I was hitchhiking in Oklahoma and this truck driver picked me up and gave me a ride to Texas. This truck driver was a student of Civil War history. He said that it took America two generations to recover from the Civil War. The last big battle of the Civil War was probably in 1864 (Battle of Cold Harbor?) and the next big battle fought by the U.S. Military was probably in 1918.

    There are a lot of women who suffer the trauma of murdering their babies through legal abortion.

    “Jackson, Wyoming”

    • quinersdiner on February 26, 2013 at 10:25 am

      Very interesting point. Thought provoking! Thanks for writing.

  4. Tim Shey on February 26, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I just reblogged this post on my blog The Road:

    I was born and raised in Iowa. I went to school at Iowa State University. For the past few months, I have been staying with some friends in northern California. It was Providential that I discovered your blog today.

    God bless you and your family.

    • quinersdiner on February 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

      I am honored. Thanks for reading.