Verbal Emotional Disclosure of Moral Injury in Holodomor Survivors

Keywords: verbal emotional disclosure, moral injury, moral standards, moral judgements, moral reasoning, moral behaviour, moral emotions, moral consequences, Holodomor.


Objectives. The purpose of the current research is to define and operationalize moral injury based on moral standards, moral judgements, moral reasoning, moral emotions, moral behaviour, and moral consequences; to explore verbal emotional disclosure of moral injury in Holodomor survivors’ narratives.

Materials & Methods. The study applies traumatic narratives of 42 survivors of the Holodomor of 1932–1933 in Ukraine. Main themes aligned with morality structure were captured, using software tool NVivo.12. The study uses LIWC2015 to search for psychological meaningful categories, notably anxiety, anger, sadness, and insights (deep comprehension). The research uses the cross-sectional design utilizing the independent variables of anxiety, anger, insights and dependent variable of moral emotions represented in narratives for multiple linear regression analysis and correlations (2-tailed Pearson r) between components of morality, anxiety, sadness and insights, SPSS. 26.

Results. There is a high frequency of moral judgements and a low frequency of moral emotions and moral consequences in the narratives. A significant positive correlation was found between moral standards and other components of morality, in particular moral judgements, moral reasoning, moral consequences, anxiety, sadness and insight. There was a significant positive correlation between moral emotions and anger, and insight. Anxiety, insights and anger taken together are significant predictors of moral emotions, however, only anger is a robust significant independent predictor of moral emotions.

Conclusions. Verbal emotional disclosure of traumatic experience relates to expressing righteous anger, contempt, disgust, decreased empathy, and embarrassment, which substitute other moral emotions, notably shame and guilt. The study contributes to our understanding of anxiety, anger, insights (deep comprehension) taken together as robust predictors of moral emotions. Finally, we captured that there are difficulties in verbal emotional disclosure of experience and moral consequences of the Holodomor, since Holodomor survivors predominantly focus on moral judgements and moral standards.


Download data is not yet available.


Baum, N.L., Brom, D., Pat-Horenczyk, R., Rahabi, S., Wardi, J., & Weltman, A. (2013). Transitioning from the battlefield to home: An innovative program for israeli soldiers. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 22(6), 644–659.

Bezo, B.J.L. (2011).The impact of intergenerational transmission of trauma from the Holodomor Genocide of 1932–1933 in Ukraine. Doctoral dissertation, Carleton University.

Bezo, B., & Maggi, S. (2015). Living in “survival mode”: Intergenerational transmission of trauma from the Holodomor genocide of 1932–1933 in Ukraine. Social Science & Medicine, 134, 87–94.

Braitman, A.L., Battles, A.R., Kelley, M.L., Hamrick, H.C., Cramer, R.J., Ehlke, S., & Bravo, A.J. (2018). Psychometric properties of a modified moral injury questionnaire in a military population. Traumatology, 24(4), 301–312.

Bryan, C.J., Bryan, A.O., Anestis, M.D., Anestis, J.C., Green, B.A., Etienne, N., ... & Ray-Sannerud, B. (2016). Measuring moral injury: Psychometric properties of the moral injury events scale in two military samples. Assessment, 23(5), 557–570.

Chemtob, C.M., Novaco, R.W., Hamada, R.S., & Gross, D.M. (1997). Cognitive-behavioral treatment for severe anger in posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65(1), 184–189.

Coady, A., Carney, J.R., Frankfurt, S., & Litz, B. T. (2020). The Emergence and Development of the Concept of Moral Injury. Moral Injury: A Guidebook for Understanding and Engagement, 21.

Cryder, C.E., Springer, S., & Morewedge, C.K. (2012). Guilty feelings, targeted actions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(5), 607–618.

Ellemers, N., van der Toorn, J., Paunov, Y., & van Leeuwen, T. (2019). The psychology of morality: A review and analysis of empirical studies published from 1940 through 2017. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 23(4), 332–366.

Gorbunova, V., & Klymchuk, V. (2020). The psychological consequences of the Holodomor in Ukraine. East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies, 7(2), 33–68.

Griffin, B. J., Purcell, N., Burkman, K., Litz, B. T., Bryan, C. J., Schmitz, M., … Maguen, S. (2019). Moral Injury: An Integrative Review. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 32(3), 350–362.

Hare, R. M., & Hare, R. M. (1991). The language of morals (No. 77). Oxford Paperbacks.

Kroll, J., & Egan, E. (2004). Psychiatry, Moral Worry, and the Moral Emotions. Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 10(6), 352–360.

Litz, B. T., Stein, N., Delaney, E., Lebowitz, L., Nash, W. P., Silva, C., & Maguen, S. (2009). Moral injury and moral repair in war veterans: A preliminary model and intervention strategy. Clinical Psychology Review, 29(8), 695-706.

Molendijk, T., Kramer, E. H., & Verweij, D. (2018). Moral aspects of “moral injury”: Analyzing conceptualizations on the role of morality in military trauma. Journal of Military Ethics, 17(1), 36–53.

Naimark, N.M. (2015). How the Holodomor Can Be Integrated into our Understanding of Genocide. East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies, 2(1), 117–132.

Nalabandian, T., Taraban, R., Pittman, J.C., & Maliepaard, S. (2020). Assessing college writing: Do students connect with the text? East European Journal of Psycholinguistics, 7(1), 128–139.

Pennebaker, J.W. (1993). Putting stress into words: Health, Linguistic and therapeutic implications. Behavioral Research Therapy, 31, 539–548.

Rozin, P. (1999). The process of moralization. Psychological Science, 10(3), 218–221.

Rubin, H.J., & Rubin, I.S. (2011). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Shen L. (2018). The evolution of shame and guilt. PloS One, 13(7), e0199448.

Tangney, J.P., Stuewig, J., & Mashek, D.J. (2007). Moral emotions and moral behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 345–372.

Tausczik, Y.R., & Pennebaker, J.W. (2010). The psychological meaning of words: LIWC and computerized text analysis methods. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 29(1), 24–54.

Zasiekin, S., Bezuglova, N., Hapon, A., Matiushenko, V., Podolska, O., & Zubchuk, D. (2018). Psykholingvalni aspekty perekladu slovnyka LIWC [Psycholinguistic aspects of translating LIWC dictionary]. East European Journal of Psycholinguistics, 5(1), 121–131.

Zasiekina, L. (2020). Trauma, rememory and language in Holodomor survivors’ narratives. Psycholinguistics – Psiholingvistika, 27(1), 80–94.

Zasiekina, L., Kennison, S., Zasiekin, S., & Khvorost, K. (2019). Psycholinguistic markers of autobiographical and traumatic memory. East European Journal of Psycholinguistics, 6(2), 119–133. Retrieved from:

Abstract views: 286
PDF Downloads: 104
How to Cite
Zasiekina, L., & Zasiekin, S. (2020). Verbal Emotional Disclosure of Moral Injury in Holodomor Survivors. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 28(1), 41-58.