restricted access Writing Wrongs: On Narratives of Moral Distress

The perception that one is being forced to do wrong, or being prevented from doing the right thing, is often described in the most brutal terms, as a situation that feels like participating in the torture of another human being. The emotional force of the experience of moral distress, and the perception that one is powerless to do anything to change the situation producing moral distress, can make it hard to look at these experiences critically, and to imagine a different reality. Writing about the experience of moral distress is a way to look critically at this experience. This commentary discusses how these narratives explore moral distress in relation to the formation of professional identity, as a “dirty” experience, as a potential consequence of unrelieved moral uncertainty, in the care of “difficult” patients, and as a response to systemic problems.