Aug 16 • 1HR 4M

Healing the Past – Dean Yates

Integrating trauma and moral injury with fearless advocacy

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Daniel Simpson
Traditional wisdom for modern dilemmas, combining yoga philosophy with critical thinking and practical insights. Hosted by Daniel Simpson.
Episode details

What helps someone heal from traumatic experiences? How important is community support? Why might it be unhelpful to say “it wasn’t your fault”? Can a “bruise on the soul” be more difficult to treat than a physical wound?

Dean Yates is the author of Line in the Sand, a courageous account of “a life-changing journey through a body and a mind after trauma”, to quote the subtitle. Like me, he’s a former Reuters journalist, and he was the bureau chief in Baghdad in 2007, when an American gunship killed two of his staff – Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh.

Footage showing what happened, and how the military lied about it, was published by Wikileaks in 2010. This compounded Dean’s “moral injury”, as he would later learn to call it. He felt guilt and shame for not protecting his colleagues, and for not speaking out in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. He also felt betrayed by Reuters, which tried to force him out when he got overwhelmed by trauma.


As Dean explains, to turn things around, he had to learn how to feel – a challenge for a journalist who’d previously prided himself on not being emotional and thriving under pressure. Embodied techniques, including yoga, were helpful, but the key was to find a new purpose in helping others by sharing his story. He’s now a passionate advocate on mental health issues, press freedom and government accountability.

Our conversation is also on YouTube and podcast platforms. I previously wrote about some of my own experiences as a reporter here and here.

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