The Soul Injury Story: It Starts with the Founders

Deborah Grassman’s personal Soul Injury was the result of being an un-mothered child. Her mother’s self-absorption left her alone and neglected. “I learned early on that my self-worth was based on how much glory Mom could receive from my academic and athletic accomplishments.” It’s no wonder that ‘people-pleasing’ became her modus operandi.

     Pat McGuire’s Soul Injury originated from becoming “invisible” as one of 13 children. “I remember my mother cooking with a baby on one hip and my siblings at her feet, when she said, ‘I wish I had another pair of hands.’ That was the day that I made the decision to be that extra pair of hands for her.”  Pat spent years dealing with co-dependency.

   Sheila Lozier was the hospice Nurse Manager. Her parent’s divorce introduced her to Soul Injury. She not only suffered the break-up of her family, she moved from a small town where she knew everyone to a big-city high school where she didn’t fit in. “I took refuge in a boyfriend’s arms. Pregnancy left me ostracized and Soul Injured.”

Shaku Desai was born in India. She said that she started praying for world peace every day at age six when India was fighting for its independence from Great Britain. Her Soul Injury, however, didn’t occur until age 21 when her father arranged her marriage to a man in Canada. With no family, unable to speak English, and no support for her Hindu traditions, Shaku was on a collision course with Soul Injury. The marriage ended in divorce and Shaku learned to fend for herself and her young son. Through it all, Shaku said she still prayed for world peace. Until the day she died just a few years ago, Shaku avowed that Opus Peace had been the answer to her 70 years of prayers. “We won’t have world peace until each one of us knows how to have personal peace. Peace begins in me.”

Marie Bainbridge joined the Army after nursing school, and then volunteered to go to Vietnam, receiving a bronze star when her life-and-limb sparing mobile hospital unit was under attack. “Even though I have PTSD, I do not suffer a Soul Injury. I grew up in a loving family that gave me such a strong sense of myself that not even Vietnam could squeeze me out of me!”

Soul Injuries: In Their Own Words

“I was always compared to my older sister. As hard as I tried, I never measured up. I strived for perfection to try to erase the feelings of not being good enough or smart enough. But, it didn’t work.”

“I felt lost after I retired. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Now I’m left wandering around trying to find the fire in my belly.”

“I only knew how to please other people. I thought that is I gave my own opinion that I was being selfish. I was really living an imitation of everyone else’s life except my own.”

“After the accident happened, I lost the person that I was supposed to be.”

“I disappeared bit by bit after my son died.”

“My wrinkles, my gray hair, and my saggy arms make me realize how I’m competing with a younger version of myself and I will never win. It makes me feel useless and depressed.”

“My dad yelled, ‘no son of mine is going to be a God-damn faggot.’ Then, he locked me in a closet and told me not to come out until I could be the boy that God made me to be.”

Who Is at Risk for Acquiring a Soul Injury ™?

Soul Injuries ™can affect anyone, including:

  • Those who feel like they are not good enough, smart enough, handsome enough, strong enough…
  • Victims of sexual assault, accidents, natural disasters, bullying, abuse, or neglect
  • Those who have experienced heartache, loss of personal health, death of a loved one, or divorce
  • Minorities and marginalized groups
  • Veterans, first responders, and healthcare workers who deal with serious illness and death
  • Chaos, loss, and long-term impact caused by the pandemic

Traumatic Soul Injuries ™ might occur suddenly, but they also commonly occur gradually, insidiously corroding a sense of self.

What is the Difference between Soul Injury ™ , Moral Injury, and PTSD?

While there are similarities among these three wounds of suffering, there are also clear distinctions requiring different interventions.  Additionally, a person may suffer from all three injuries; for example, a traumatic event violates a person’s core beliefs causing them to disconnect from their own sense of self.  Subsequent treatment would need to focus on PTSD treatments that calm the amygdala and limbic system, moral injury guidance related to conflict of values, and Soul Injury ™  tools to release barriers interfering with a sense of self.

Soul Injury ™ Moral Injury PTSD
A wound to your BE-ing that separates you from your sense of self. A violation of deepest-held beliefs and expectations causing moral confusion. A mental health issue that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event such as combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.
Impacts personhood, causing one to fear who they are and who they are not. Impacts beliefs and values, separating one from a sense of trust in others and/or themselves. Impacts the brain (especially the amygdala and limbic system) separating one from a sense of safety in the world.

Caused by barriers that interfere with accessing a person’s real self.

Barriers are:

·  Unmourned loss/hurt

· Unforgiven guilt/shame

· Fear of Helplessness and Loss of Control


Caused by situations:

· Without clear right/wrong choices

· Coercion to act against one’s moral beliefs

· Trusting people who fail to do the right thing.

· Surviving in ways that violate personal conscience.


Caused by events that result in identified symptoms that meet DSM-V diagnostic criteria from:

· Exposure to actual or threatened violence, death, serious injury, or sexual assault via direct experience.

· In-person witnessing, or learning about a loved one’s traumatic event

What Are the Traits of a Soul Injury ™?

You may have a Soul Injury ™ , and not even realize it.  Feelings that may cause you to feel disconnected from your sense of self include:

  • Fear of who you are and who you are not
  • Fear of emotional pain with subsequent numbing behaviors
  • A haunting sense of being defective, inadequate, or unworthy
  • A sense of emptiness and meaninglessness that impacts your sense of BE-ing

Peace Begins in Me

You can restore personal peace and reconnect with who you really are.

Take the first step toward healing the relationship with yourself.

"The only difference between ordinary people and Heroes is
Heroes don't waste their suffering."
- Deborah Grassman