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Virtues / Medicine

John R. Peteet

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School


As an academic psychiatrist, I am interested in exploring the relevance of the virtues to both the character of the good psychiatrist and to the cultivation of needed virtues in our patients. To this end, I recently edited The Virtues in Psychiatric Practice (Oxford University Press, 2022), which considers the implications of virtues of self-control (accountability, humility, equanimity), benevolence (forgiveness, compassion, love), intelligence (defiance, phronesis), and positivity (gratitude, self-transcendence, hope) for clinical work. Specific psychiatric conditions show a need for particular virtues, the goals of treatment are informed by virtues characteristic of human flourishing, and therapists’ preferred virtues reflect their spiritual commitments.