Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Dulce et Decorum est: Moral Injury in the Poetry of Combat Veterans
by Fisher, David Lawrence, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2019, 207; 13427381
Abstract (Summary)

Conventional studies of veterans’ longitudinal mental health approach the topic through the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) lens. This qualitative study shifts the focus from a PTSD psychosomatic-centric approach to a psycho-spiritual examination of the sequela of war in the veteran psyche: this approach has been named in recent literature, moral injury. Utilizing a methodological approach situated in the philological region of hermeneutics, a Reductionist dialectic was selected. This study illustrates that the quotidian war poetry read by this researcher exhibits psycho-spiritual moral injury. The relevant emergent themes of the study include: (a) the function of memory, of not-forgetting, (b) the psychological torment of psychic dismemberment, (c) the acknowledgment of suffering in archetypal salt, and (d) the not-forgetting component of psychic re-memberment necessary for resolving moral injury. Reorienting the focus from PTSD to moral injury, this study finds critical implications to helping war veterans with their sequela of war. For instance, conventional treatments for PTSD such as prolonged exposure (PE) or cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), while effective for treating the co-morbid symptoms of PTSD, do not address the profound insights which can be gleaned from re-examination of the phenomena in terms of moral injury. Most importantly, moral injury as a psycho-spiritual dilemma is something for which the veteran must embrace primacy in seeking resolution, working outside of the typical evidenced-based therapies. This comports with the alchemists who cautioned: Only by working with intense focus on self-transformation can the lapis philosophorum be achieved.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cambray, Joseph
Commitee: Brooke, Roger, Sgarzi, Julie
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Depth Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 80/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Mental health, Psychology, Spirituality
Keywords: Moral injury, PTSD, Veteran mental health, War poetry, War trauma
Publication Number: 13427381
ISBN: 9780438825413
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