Acts of omission, altered worldviews, and psychological problems among military veterans

Christian L. Williams, Howard Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The present study explored acts of omission (i.e., inactions) among military service members. We also investigated whether the meanings and interpretations that service members assign to their actions and inactions, particularly alterations to their conceptualization of themselves, others, and the world (i.e., altered worldviews) would be associated with psychological problems (specifically, depression, suicidality, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], and alcohol use). Method: A sample of 50 Iraq/Afghanistan military veterans (8% female) completed questionnaires measuring their (in)actions and the meanings and interpretations attached to those (in)actions. They also completed questionnaires measuring PTSD, depression, suicidality, alcohol use, and combat/postcombat experience. Results: Higher levels of acts of omission were associated with higher levels of altered worldviews and psychological problems. Altered worldviews were strongly associated with PTSD, depression, and suicidality, even after taking into account age, gender, combat/postcombat experiences, and guilt/shame. Conclusion: Altered worldviews and acts of omission were strongly associated with psychological problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-395
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Moral injury
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Trauma
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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