A Moral Conflict -v- A Moral Injury

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If someone believes they would never rape another person…
this is off track-because your example hit me in my chest when i'm already way off kilter. and not a real response to you. but people who say they'd never do this and never do that-you don't know what you would do. you don't know. and people who say they never would do anything? you don't f*cking know what you would do. and the fact that people say it? is a judgment to those of us who have.

(and while i would argue that i deserve that judgment-that's entirely irrelevent, and most other people don't deserve it.)

It’s not JUST something that happened to you, or something someone else did to you. It’s something you, yourself, chose.
this. and knowing, knowing that at the end of the day, your morals are actually meaningless. because who gives a shit what always/never you'd do? you did it. you can't make promises anymore. you can't deal in absolutes anymore. you know you can't. i can't say i'd never do anything, ever, ever again. because i know that i have done it. when the situetion was sufficiently pressurized.

when you are in the shit, morals? are meaningless. this whole high minded philosophical shit is a luxury. it's a f*cking luxury. and then what do you do? you have to enter society and be a person at some point. and even within ptsd circles you can't just-because you're the perpetrator. but part of these situations divorces you entirely from any aspect of being a person.

there's no analysis or philosophy or morals or reason. there is just nerve endings. breaths. heartbeats. that's it. sometimes not even that.
 

Chris-duck

MyPTSD Pro
people who say they'd never do this and never do that-you don't know what you would do. you don't know. and people who say they never would do anything? you don't f*cking know what you would do. and the fact that people say it? is a judgment to those of us who have.
I think most people around these necks of the woods understand this, many of us have done things we wouldn't have done in normal circumstances that went against our morals. I don't think the example was intended as an attack on people who have done it, because:
when the situetion was sufficiently pressurized.
In certain circumstances, peoples survival instincts kick in and they do *whatever* in a lot of cases to stay alive. So theoretical scenarios and morals go out the window, cos all you wanna do is keep yourself safe.

And I'll just go ahead and assume I was right re moral conflict and injury, and I've done plenty that I disagreed with morally in both PTSD land and in nurse land. And I kinda think of it in terms of "would I do it the same way again? All things considered" and I either hit the "um. I had no other options?" or "um I coulda done that or lost my nursing registration", so yeah, all things considered, I'm not sure exactly what I would change in the exact scenarios again (Ruling out seeing situations before they happen obv, heh). So am I morally injured by it? No. Cos I don't understand how I'd do it differently, realistically.

This feels like something that maybe military folks may view differently, cos training shit, but who am I to know shit really.
 

Friday

Moderator
@Friday I'm clarifying pre response, but from what I understand here moral conflict is doing something against what you believe in? And moral injury is uh, how that hurts you doing it?
Yep.

More specifically… having done something, past tense, against everything you believe. And how one “gets over” “moves past” “reconciles” that… in their present.
 

Chris-duck

MyPTSD Pro
More specifically… having done something, past tense, against everything you believe. And how one “gets over” “moves past” “reconciles” that.
Int that lucky I was right, cos I just got impatient and assumed, heh.

But yeah, I guess it differs on circumstances, is there a specific thing you're thinking of here or just general? Cos taking two of my watching people die scenarios that I disagreed with (lol, to put it lightly), one was my best mate who was killed and one was a 30yo with no past medical history that a baby doc had put a do-not-resus form on so we were legally tied. Not doing anything in either scenario hit the same "I won't let people die unnecessarily" thing, so same moral, different scenarios, get over it different ways.

I'm not sure I'd consider either things in my case a moral injury... But it is only fair to say that if I did my T might have a f*cking party that I acknowledge harm, so, again. Who f*cking knows. But srsly, dependent on scenario IMO.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
your morals are actually meaningless
Failing to live up to an ideal, or even just believing that you've failed, doesn't seem, to me, like it makes the ideal meaningless. I'm trying to think of how to explain why I think this and the only way I can come up with is a kind of lame example.

Last winter, I had joint surgery and started PT before the surgery and kept it up after. I've always believed that some sort of exercise program was a good idea, but I've never kept with it. Sort of failed to live up to my "beliefs" if you will. What I've discovered in the months since the surgery is that I was letting "perfect" be the enemy of consistently exercising. I thought I HAD to stick exactly to the program. Turns out that might not be accurate. In the past, when I missed a day, the following day I'd decide I may as well skip it because I'd already "failed" anyway. Which quickly led to quitting. This time around, I've tried to think about it as "Ok, I missed yesterday. That's too bad because I suppose I missed some infinitesimally small bit of progress. BUT, I haven't gone back to square one, so I may as well pick up where I left off and go on, even if it's slower than it might have been." So far, I'm doing a lot better than I would have if I'd quit the first time I missed a day.

I think maybe morality can be a bit like that. Yeah, "perfect" would be good. And when you meet someone who's perfect, perhaps they can lead the way. In reality, life intervenes. Reality too, when it comes right down to it. The parts of our brains that want to keep us alive but that we don't always have a lot of direct control over. Like you said, @grief , we like to think we know what we'd do "when...." but we don't. Not till we get there. There's also no guarantee we'd do the same thing each time either. I think "the best you can" has to be good enough. But not letting your hopes and beliefs end in that bad moment gives you a chance for some kind of redemption. I really believe it IS possible to do better sometimes. No once incident has to define someone.

I have a good friend, who I don't see often, but we like to talk about this kind of stuff from time to time. Once, during a conversation about "friendship", he said, "You'd take a bullet for a friend!" And I said, "Yeah.... or you'd WANT to and feel really, really bad if you couldn't bring yourself to do it." I think the "friendship" comes in the caring and the desire, not whether or not you make the "right" choice in an instant. Further down that road (and I told him this) because he's my friend, and I BELIEVE he'd want to do the best in a situation like that, I wouldn't blame him, or think differently of him if he "failed" because all I think it's reasonable to expect is the best someone can do.
 

internal

Sponsor
Failing to live up to an ideal, or even just believing that you've failed, doesn't seem, to me, like it makes the ideal meaningless.
it doesn't. having an ideal and failing to live up to it doesn't make the ideal meaningless, that is true. other wise our soceity would fall apart. this comes down to what is objective and subjective and leads to all kinds of debates-but simply put, i do believe that morals and logic coincide. to be logical you need to be ethical. and that works in nearly every circumstance including the examples you gave.

and then there are circemsances that are not logical at all. they are insane. and you are forced to act with insanity. you are not failing to live up to your ideals. your ideals are gone. you are gone. there is no logic. no reason. no ethics. it becomes binary: survival or death. what you feel is that every thing that you think and believe is gone.

what you feel, in those moments, is that all of the civelization that you have lived in and been constructed with in, your reality it self, becomes upside down.

i never really lived in civelization. but i knew that i did not like hurting people. my reality was constructed around insanety from the get go. suffering was merely a part of daily existence. so when i-had to choose, between suffering and death, i picked suffering. i caused suffering.

what is most ethical and meaningful-those are afer the fact. and putting it into context is challenging. because at the time-at the time your mind gets erased. the architecture inside of you that makes you who you are-that's gone. and we can come back here aferwards and talk of what morality really means. but in the moment?

when you are making the choice to harm another human being? when you are crawling in the shit trying to gasp another breath? when you do the action itself? and hear, and see, and feel the consequences in real time?

your morality is gone. you do what it takes. whatever it costs. it's forever going to be altered. meaningless? maybe not. because there is that line. you picked survival. and if you're lucky and your mind doesn't break. some people don't get that far. you can try to cobble together some meaning out of the experence.

we like to think we know what we'd do "when...." but we don't. Not till we get there. There's also no guarantee we'd do the same thing each time either. I think "the best you can" has to be good enough.
this is very poignant, and well said.
 

Friday

Moderator
@Friday, are you referring to "moral conflict" from the basis of moral conflict theory in communications sciences, or moral dilemma, as in philosophy?

Aha! Finally read the link. (Sorry, it’s taking me a BIT) and I may have already answered your Q above…

In addition to the guilt/shame/betrayal that seems to be the foundation of moral injury?

It’s also the loss of SELF.

Needing to not only redefine one’s self (or not), but also (potentially?) rewrite one’s entire moral code.

^^^ So that’s on a broad scale. What I’ve witnessed friends/loved ones experience in various ways, to various effects.

((For example? Using the abuse paradigm, since it’s more familiar on thos forum; MyKiddo responded very much as his own self when he witnessed his dad trying to kill me. For about 6mo? He held strong to that sense of self / was very much himself. Then he attempted suicide. Following that attempt? He spent the next several years going through the classic/cliched actions of an abused child; he fought back. He identified with his abuser/attempted to become his abuser (for about a year). He attempted to numb out / distance himself. He merged those 2 things, and shot for psychopathy. He fell into a massive depression, unable to interact with any form of “life”. He rebelled, against anyone/everyone. (Anger trumps despair). He attempted to control his emotions externally (drugs, alcohol, thrill seeking). He sought belong / being a part of something bigger than himself (extremist groups). He started coming back to “himself” and seeing the shades of grey / distanced himself from extremes but fell into rounds of isolation/depression & connection/belonging. All of which is leading to? A painful & jagged sense of what he wants for his own life / touchy but reachable. Prone to pain/loss/despair/distance… but seeking more. ))

For my own self? Cha, both. Total loss of self & needing to completely redefine my own sense of morality.. first under extreme circumstance, and then under more normal-ish conditions.
 

Freida

Sponsor
For my own self? Cha, both. Total loss of self & needing to completely redefine my own sense of morality.. first under extreme circumstance, and then under more normal-ish conditions.
This.

the other challenge is the loss of innocence. The idea of losing how you picture the world is huge. Losing a sense of safety means morals no longer work, they are not longer important, because the rules have changed. What you believed before, vs what you believe now, are so very different they may not be able to be reconciled. Enter the ptsd negativity spiral. Then it's just a battle to try to retain anything about your life that you still value as you learn to view the world from a harsher place
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
your morality is gone. you do what it takes. whatever it costs. it's forever going to be altered. meaningless? maybe not. because there is that line. you picked survival. and if you're lucky and your mind doesn't break. some people don't get that far. you can try to cobble together some meaning out of the experence.
I don’t agree our morality is gone. If it were the moral conflict would be resolved and there would be no moral injury. I think our morality remains - maybe alters - maybe even hardens - and that’s WHY the moral injury is so impactful.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
Can I just say - occasionally there are threads here that are so impactful that they really add to the interpersonal aspect of healing. Even when perspectives are different I feel I am talking with people who ‘get’ the life altering weight this carries. This thread has made me cry with pain and cry others are hurt this way and cry with relief to connect over it somewhat.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
I suffered, according to the therapist, a moral injury that resulted in an ongoing moral conflict in me. She said I was aware of it but the moral injury left me unable to deal with the moral conflict properly, correctly, appropriately. Pretty deep stuff to try and handle before puberty. Life went on and nothing ever got resolved . I live with it still. This is a good thread thanks .
 
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