Occupational Therapy’s roots are in the subsoil of the moral movement developed in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment. Philippe Pinel, a French philosopher-physician, and William Tuke, an English merchant-philanthropist, developed the principles and applied them to the insane in institutions. Moral treatment came to the United States as part of the Quaker’s religious and intellectual luggage. It expanded rapidly in private, as well as in public, institutions for the insane. During the last quarter of the 19th century moral treatment disappeared. It re-emerged in the early decades of the 20th century as Occupational Therapy.

A diverse group of women and men developed principles and definitions and founded an organization to support the practice of the re-titled moral treatment and management. Susan Tracy, a nurse; George Barton, an architect; William Rush Dunton, Jr., a physician, Eleanor Clarke Slagle, a partially trained social worker also trained in invalid occupations; and Adolf Meyer, another physician, figure prominently in the development of this century’s Occupational Therapy.

A second generation of occupational therapists elaborated upon, codified, and applied the founders’ principles. Their efforts and successes are exemplified through one individual: Beatrice D. Wade, OTR, FAOTA. Lessons from 200 years of development of moral treatment and occupational therapy are cited.

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