Recognizing Moral Suffering

March 22, 2020

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Anchor lead: How do we recognize for ourselves that we may be headed toward moral injury? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Many people in the healthcare environment are using the term ‘moral injury,’ to describe how they feel about the workplace. Cynda Rushton, a bioethics expert at Johns Hopkins, says there is an upside to finding the right words to describe one’s mental state, and its part of a process of identifying suffering.

Rushton: The first phase is mute suffering. We’re not even able to find the words to describe our experience. The second phase is expressive suffering, where we begin to name the suffering. By doing so it gives us an opportunity to say, okay, so now what? The third phase is transformation. So how do we actually confront the fact that yes, we are experiencing moral distress, or moral injury. Is it possible to in any way transform that into a less destructive experience?  :33

Rushton says naming the elephant can help you enlist the help of others in learning how to transform suffering. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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