Spiritual Wounds and Injuries (Part 2)

Moral Injury and Spiritual Damage


  • Murray J Davies University of New South Wales




Moral Injury, spiritual damage, spiritual wounds, chaplains


As part of a series on moral injury in HSCC (see Davies, 2023; Part 1), this Part 2 will propose that the current conceptions of moral injury (MI) may be inadequate, and that there is a need to recognize a distinct conceptualization of “spiritual damage”. Just as MI was, and still is, sometimes mistakenly and unhelpfully conflated with some criteria of post-traumatic stress disorder, it may also be a mistake to conflate spiritual damage with “spirituality injury” under the MI paradigm. The breadth and depth of spirituality and its basis in a divine, mysterious creator, or God(s), are such that their scope may extend beyond impacts that can be accounted for in terms of medicine, psychology and, in some respects, morality. As such, this article argues that the current discussion on spirituality within the MI framework may need to be revised to account for “spiritual damage” more comprehensively. It is suggested that a new approach to this area of MI is necessary to acknowledge the fundamentally important role of spirituality in a MI context, but also to expand the horizon to include spiritual damage that occurs before, during and after traumatic, difficult or horrific events. Further, deeper consideration needs to be given to encompassing both the institutional and personal aspects of religion and spirituality, and how damage in these areas can both wound and injure an individual’s spiritual schema, while also providing the potential for spiritual
growth. This study will consider five areas, in particular, that require deeper consideration: (i) spirituality and science; (ii) a relationship with the divine; (iii) the use of spiritual tools; (iv) the recognition of spirituality as more than just an “aftermath” issue; and (v) spiritual growth.

Author Biography

Murray J Davies, University of New South Wales

Murray J. Davies, BA (Hons), MA, M.Defence Studies, MTh, GradDipTh, is the CSO of the Wounded Spirit charity that works with Australian Defence Force (ADF) veterans. He has published nationally and internationally on a range of theological, defence and history topics. He is also a PhD candidate at UNSW Canberra looking at the prevalence of spiritual injuries among ADF veterans. 


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How to Cite

Davies, M. J. (2023). Spiritual Wounds and Injuries (Part 2): Moral Injury and Spiritual Damage. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 11(1), 68–94. https://doi.org/10.1558/hscc.25399