Normal people have a moral compass. We know when we have done good, and we know when we haven’t done what we should.
Moral injury happens when we do, are forced to do, or witness something against our core beliefs.
Think about this:
-Health care workers that have to choose between two persons for an ICU
-A sales person that promises something to a client, and see how his or her boss doesn’t fulfill that promise.
-A lawyer that sees how her company systematically charges more hours than she really has worked.
-An employee that witness how the boss systematically bully a workmate.
-A freelance that forget an important meeting with a client due to too much drink the night before.
-A drone pilot who is ordered to drop a bomb in an area with civilians.
As you see, there are different degrees of moral injury. But all of them have something in common: When they happen you think: „This is not correct“ „This is not good“ or „This is not fair“
Moral injury can trigger a strong emotional response. The more immoral the situation is for us, the bigger that response will be. Shame and guilt can take a toll in our psychological health. The consequences can go from lack of motivation to a deep depression.
Moral injure is different from burn out or PTSD, but can lead to symptoms like these two disorders.
Burn-out can occur, when your resources are not sufficient to get the work done and you have to overwork to compensate it.
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can happen after your physical safety has been compromised. It is a disorder common in war veterans, but it happens too to people that has suffered an armed assault, an abduction, or are feeling threatened.
Knowing why you feel bad at work is the first step to find a solution. Sometimes we can’t find words for our problems. Sometimes the problems we think we have are not so big as we think. Here a trained psychologist can help you assess your problem and find a way out.
Have you left a job because you experience moral injury? Tell me about it.