<i>Sin Sick: Moral Injury in War and Literature</i> by Joshua Pederson (A Book Review)
Joshua Pederson’s Sin Sick: Moral Injury in War and Literature proposes the use of moral injury – a psychological concept describing the affliction of those who break their moral code when committing despicable acts – as a framework through which war narratives of the American War on Terror can be productively read without resorting to the controversial idea of perpetrator trauma, which seems to excuse veterans as victims of the war.
Pederson provides the reader with a clinical overview of the condition as well as a first literary theory of moral injury as a manifestation of various forms of excess through a genealogical reading that includes analyses of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Camus’ The Fall. Sin Sick appears as a step in the right direction as it addresses in a timely manner a blind spot in trauma theory using a concept that more accurately describes a specific type of suffering. In the author’s mind the very term “moral injury” entails an acknowledgement of the soldiers’ wrongdoing, and this allows him to defend contemporary war writers from critics accusing them of using a narrow point of view that focuses on the pain of the American protagonists and hides the suffering of their victims.
Ultimately, the study introduces readers to a fresh way to understand the psychological pain of perpetrators and seeks to inaugurate a new branch of studies that can run in parallel with trauma theory.
trauma theory; war literature; trauma; moral injury
Litz, Brett, et al. Adaptive Disclosure: A New Treatment for Military Trauma, Loss, and Moral Injury. Guilford, 2016.
Pederson, Joshua. Sin Sick: Moral Injury in War and Literature. Cornell University Press, 2021.
Shay, Jonathan. “Learning About Combat Stress from Homer’s Iliad.” Journal of Traumatic Stress, vol. 4, no. 4, 1991, pp. 561–579.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The Copyright Holder of the submitted text is the Author. The Reader is granted the rights to use the material available in the RIAS websites and pdf documents under the provisions of the Creative CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0). Any commercial use requires separate written agreement with the Author and a proper credit line indicating the source of the original publication in RIAS.
The University of Silesia Press provides immediate open access to journal’s content under the Creative Commons BY 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Authors who publish with this journal retain all copyrights and agree to the terms of the above-mentioned CC BY 4.0 license.
- Author’s Warranties
The author warrants that the article is original, written by stated author/s, has not been published before, contains no unlawful statements, does not infringe the rights of others, is subject to copyright that is vested exclusively in the author and free of any third party rights, and that any necessary written permissions to quote from other sources have been obtained by the author/s.
If the article contains illustrative material (drawings, photos, graphs, maps), the author declares that the said works are of his authorship, they do not infringe the rights of the third party (including personal rights, i.a. the authorization to reproduce physical likeness) and the author holds exclusive proprietary copyrights. The author publishes the above works as part of the article under the licence "Creative Commons Attribution - By the same conditions 4.0 International".
ATTENTION! When the legal situation of the illustrative material has not been determined and the necessary consent has not been granted by the proprietary copyrights holders, the submitted material will not be accepted for editorial process. At the same time the author takes full responsibility for providing false data (this also regards covering the costs incurred by the University of Silesia Press and financial claims of the third party).
- User Rights
Under the Creative Commons Attribution license, the users are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit the contribution) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material) the article for any purpose, provided they attribute the contribution in the manner specified by the author or licensor.
If the article was prepared jointly with other authors, the signatory of this form warrants that he/she has been authorized by all co-authors to sign this agreement on their behalf, and agrees to inform his/her co-authors of the terms of this agreement.
I hereby declare that in the event of withdrawal of the text from the publishing process or submitting it to another publisher without agreement from the editorial office, I agree to cover all costs incurred by the University of Silesia in connection with my application.