Moral injury and moral repair: The possibilities of narrative practice — David Denborough


With a focus on the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan, this paper grapples with the suffering induced by war, and particularly with moral anguish. Following a critical analysis of development of the concepts of PTSD and moral injury, and the material effects these have on the lives of veterans, David Denborough offers a series of additional responses drawn from narrative therapy. These include the key concepts of ‘re-authoring’ stories of identity, externalising problems, honouring responses to trauma, considering distress as a marker of fidelity, re-membering those who have died, and moving beyond scripts about forgiveness. He also offers responses drawn from collective narrative practice that respond to veterans’ stories in ways that avoid both admiration and judgement, instead seeking to communalise grief and enable contribution. These include the exchange of witnessing letters and the Team of Life narrative approach. Denborough argues for a response to moral injury that is both moral and social. He highlights possibilities for linking ‘healing’ with social action: collective projects of moral repair that seek to redress the harm done to others, including the civilians of Afghanistan.