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Created Order / Medicine

John R. Peteet

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School


What I find most intriguing in Created Order is the idea that goods (e.g., “friendship with God, personal integrity, just relationships, the experience of beauty, and creativity”) precede moral laws, which serve them. This has at least two liberating implications for me as a psychiatrist. One is that more patients could access spiritual resources helpful in their healing if they appreciated this ordering, rather than feeling that moral rules have arbitrarily deprived them of a good life, or engendered toxic shame. A second implication is that moral laws can provide valuable guidance in realizing the good. For example, I have recently been part of a project ( to show how the virtue of accountability, which includes embracing corrective input, contributes to mental health and human flourishing.