According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11 and 20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD in a given year. However, even with “robust” exposure therapy and cognitive processing therapy, over 60 percent of those being treated dropped out of PTSD treatments. Critics charge that the reliance on medication along with standard therapies are driving veterans away in groves. These same critics argue that underlying issues of PTSD are not being met head on nor are they being given outlets that are non-traditional.
The field of philosophy helps explains the nature of things. This is especially true with the domain of suffering and its impact on mankind. A number of psychologists, trauma experts, chaplains, philosophers, and veterans have proposed that remedies for PTSD should include the study of a separate condition related to PTSD – “moral injury.”
Moral injury happens when a person performs, witnesses, or is a victim to a betrayal of a deeply-held moral values. When a person is morally injured, they don’t view the world as unsafe, but as morally unreliable. Morality is, amongst other things, a way in which we understand the world and our relationship to it and in it. When our concept of morality is damaged, the consequences are drastic and unmoored. In other words, it loses its foundation and meaning as well as facilitates an grievous injury to the ability to trust. The ability to feel emotions – joy, sadness, good and bad – are grounded as well as enjoined holistically.
While philosophy does not have all the answers to help with PTSD and its associated maladies, it does help with sorting out and repairing damage done to veterans dealing with their emotions. More importantly, it goes a long way to helping veterans heal the fragmented self and start the process of closure. By using the field of philosophy to help the inner self it facilitates post-traumatic growth, or PTG – based on the idea that with the right tools, PTSD survivors can emerge as people who are stronger, happier and healthier than they were before their traumatic injury occurred.
Source: The Guardian, PTSD and What I learned, Matthew Beard, 14 July 2015 and Washington Post, Finding a way through PTSD, Jennifer Miller, December 4, 2016.