General, Occhat, occupational science, OTalk, Uncategorized

#OTalk 20th Jan 2015 – War and Occupation

War and Occupation

Date: 20/01/2015  Host: @KimStuartOT

Blog Post  –  Transcript

Thanks to Kim Stuart for this week’s blog post on War and Occupation.

In November 2014 the nation remembered the centenary of World War I drawing attention across the world with the iconic poppies at Tower of London. Each poppy representing a fallen soldier; but it was much more than that for each lost soldier was a son, perhaps father, brother or husband and they were connected to a family and community and that loss was felt in immeasurable ways.

Today the world remains at conflict and war is a part of life for many people whether in active service or living with the impact of conflict. Research shows that civilians both in direct conflict areas and those touched by conflict overseas are susceptible to mental and physical health issues, community disengagement, social disintegration, trauma (mental and physical) and experience a loss of roles, routines and opportunities for personal accomplishment (Unicef 1996, Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2011, Murthy and Lakshminarayana 2006).

As a profession we believe in the restorative nature of occupation; the engagement in occupation is complex with physical, psychological socio-cultural and political influences pulling and shaping opportunities and challenges in enabling occupational wellness (Whiteford, Townsend and Hocking 2000). Occupation is a basic human need and Dunton (1919) claims it is as essential as food, drink or air.

The notion that occupation is a basic right or human need leads us to think that social injustice is a territory of concern for occupational therapist on an individual, community and global perspective. How should the profession rise to challenge these injustices?

“Occupational therapists should consider using the term occupational rights to assert the right of all people to engage in meaningful occupations that contribute positively to their own well-being and the well-being of their communities.”

Whalley Hammell (2008)

  • Right to experience occupation as meaningful and enriching.
  • Right to develop through participation in occupations for health and social inclusion
  • Right to exert individual or population autonomy through choice in occupation
  • Right to benefit from fair privileges for diverse participation in occupations

Wilcock and Townsend (2000)

What supports our bold claim – what are occupational rights of people in times of conflict? And what impact does war have on the occupational life for civilian people at times of conflict whether directly involved in conflict or at a distance?


Unicef (1996) Promotion and protection of the rights of children – Impact of armed conflict on children. United Nations Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development online.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2011) The impact of overseas conflict on UK communities.

Murthy, R., and Lakshminarayana, R. (2006) Mental health consequences of war: a brief review of research findings. World Psychiatry 5(1) pp 25-30

Whiteford, G., Townsend, E., and Hocking, C. (2000) Reflections on a renaissance of occupation. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy 67(1) pp61-69

Wilcock, A.A. & Townsend, E. (2000). Occupational terminology interactive dialogue. Journal of Occupational Science 7, 2, 84-86.

Whalley Hammell, K. and Iwama, M. (2008) Well-being and occupational rights: An imperative for critical occupational therapy. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, September 2012, Vol. 19, No. 5 : Pages 385-394

Dunton, W.R. Jnr. (1919) Reconstruction therapy. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders

The original intention was to get OTalkers to engage with narratives of War prior to the chat – from first person accounts, to war poetry, novels and films – but my delay in posting this may mean this isn’t possible. However, I’m sure we each have some prior knowledge we can draw on. I will include a list of potential narratives below – there are many more possibilities – do feel free to add any further suggestions in the comments – and come back and add your thoughts after reading/watching them.

War Horse – Michael Morpurgo (Novel and Film and Theatre)

Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo (Novel and Film and Concert)

The Yellow Birds – Kevin Powers (Novel)

Wilfred Owen – (War Poet)

Siegfried Sasson – (War Poet)

The Regeneration Trilogy (Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, The Ghost Road)- Pat Barker (Novels and Regeneration is a film)

War Girls – Various (Short Story collection)

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Novel)

I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai (Autobiography)

The Kite Runner –

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank (Autobiography)

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