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What Is Psychological Injustice?

What Is Psychological Injustice?
What Is Psychological Injustice?

What Is Psychological Injustice?

Justice, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is the “impartial and fair settlement of conflict and differences, typically by legal process and the imposition of proportionate punishment.” When humans are treated unfairly, justice is a fundamental need. But, of course, it comes in a wide variety of forms. Psychological (or emotional) justice is what we call the path toward societal healing. It describes the basic human need to feel we matter.

Psychological injustice violates this need. It leaves people feeling that they are not valued and cannot add value to the society in which they live. Such people are typically those with a long history of being marginalized. We offer support for these feelings and experiences.

Common Targets of Psychological Injustice

Psychological injustice can happen anywhere a power balance exists. Thus, on a micro level, some family interactions can potentially promote this kind of inequity. For the purposes of this post, we are talking more about large-scale psychological injustice based on the following:

  • Race

  • Sex

  • Age

  • Disability

  • Sexual preference and/or identify

  • Class

  • Body type

  • Employment

  • Immigration status

  • Religion

Those who fall prey to this are denied dignity and respect. Reducing their social worth is tantamount to taking away their humanity. This can contribute toward excluding them from being accepted within a community.

The Impact of Psychological Injustice

Some costs can never be fully and accurately calculated. Sure, we can estimate the financial outcomes when members of a minority are disengaged in the working world. But the emotional price paid for generations of traumatized, alienated people is incalculable. No one can put a monetary number on something like living a devalued life. Yet we do know this reality is affecting our overall well-being in areas like:

  • Occupational

  • Social

  • Physical

  • Relational

  • Mental/emotional

All across the globe, people are dealing with anxiety, depression, or any number of preventable medical conditions. They are under-earning and under-employed while struggling to maintain healthy social connections. All of this, and they may not even identify the root causes.

Challenging Psychological Injustice

Dramatic changes — economic, social, structural, and more — must take place before everyone can feel they matter. This means shifts in policies and programs. It also requires that everyone examine their own patterns and habits. What role do you play in this ongoing problem, and what steps can you take in your own life?

Speak Up!

Psychological injustice thrives when people remain silent. Let others know that you will speak out against behaviors that keep the status quo intact. It’s not about confrontations (although that may happen). See it as you adhering to your values.

Make Room For Others

When given the opportunity to surrender the microphone, so to speak, make the most of it. Highlight the opinions of those most likely to be targeted by psychological injustice. And then:


Be curious and open-minded. Hone your listening skills and refine your skill set. Hearing others out is not the same as surrendering your beliefs. Each of us can play a role in everyone feeling more valued and validated. Our individual actions can make others realize that they matter. Collectively, we can also be part of a global shift. So, do your part and connect with others in the process.

Healing From Psychological Injustice

Running parallel to the fight is your need to heal. If psychological injustice has caused you suffering, pain, and loss, help is available. Working with a therapist who is well-versed in all types of justice creates a safe space for personal exploration. In order to be part of the change, it helps immensely to care for your own needs.

Self-loving choices are their own version of psychological justice. Reach out to us today to talk more about these changes.



Through Therapy Collective

Our team of culturally competent therapists is here to offer a warm and safe space to help you navigate life’s hardships with a sense of encouragement and empathy. Find out more >

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