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Thu, May 14
Treating trauma in soldiers
Dr. Patricia Resick is a professor of psychology at Duke University and a therapist who was formerly the director of the women’s health sciences division of the National Center for PTSD. She is also the creator of cognitive processing therapy (CPT), a treatment for trauma that she has used to help veterans suffering from trauma, including those who are struggling to come to terms with their actions in battle that they now believe were wrong, even unforgivable.
Experts generally refer to that struggle as “moral injury”: the psychological pain that results from a transgression of deeply held moral beliefs. Sometimes that transgression is something the service member did, such as killing a civilian. Other times it is an omission — for instance, a failure to prevent the death of a fellow soldier in battle. Moral injury can also result from a betrayal by a commanding officer or other superior.
Dr. Resick spoke about how CPT is used to help veterans heal from moral injury (although she prefers not to use that term, which she finds limiting and somewhat judgmental). Her message was that it is possible to heal from moral injury, but that doing so requires a shift in the way patients think about war, morality, and themselves.