Title

An Example of Occupational Coherence: The story of Dian Fossey, Occupational Therapist and Primatologist

Presenter Information

Elizabeth Cara

Start Time

26-10-2007 10:45 AM

End Time

26-10-2007 11:45 AM

Abstract

Dr. Dian Fossey was the primatologist and occupational therapist who is famous worldwide for saving the highland mountain gorillas from extinction. She successfully sustained her research center for 18 years in an inhospitable physical and political climate before her murder in 1985.Prior to moving to Africa, Dr. Fossey enjoyed a successful ten-year career as a pediatric occupational therapist in Louisville, KY at a well-known hospital where she treated orthopedic clients, including children from the Appalachian Mountains. She was known for being a creative, resourceful, playful, and protective therapist. This paper identifies connections between her lives as an occupational therapist working with children and a primatologist studying the highland mountain gorilla culture. These connections suggest that there is an occupational coherence throughout life that sustains one’s identity in spite of the pursuit of apparently different careers in very different contexts. Occupational coherence consists of occupations that are imbued with value and meaning and convey and sustain a cohesive identity throughout a person’s life. A theoretical structure for analyzing occupations and activities focusing on the meaning and value attached to them (Persson, Erlandsson, Eklund, Iwarsson, 2001) is used to interpret the occupations that Fossey consistently manifested in both careers. A spectrum of values, based on concrete, symbolic, and self reward dimensions ascribes meaning to individual maintenance, work, play, or recreation occupations. This paper will introduce the concept of occupational coherence using Fossey’s occupational therapy and primatology life as an example. The research method used to research her life, psychobiography, will be delineated including steps to write a psychobiography, strategies for analysis, and the markers of a good psychobiography. The topic is significant because it will: 1) introduce research related to the study of occupation, 2) further the knowledge of occupation by introducing a new theoretical concept, and 3) introduce a novel, interdisciplinary and cross-theoretical research methodology.

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Oct 26th, 10:45 AM Oct 26th, 11:45 AM

An Example of Occupational Coherence: The story of Dian Fossey, Occupational Therapist and Primatologist

Dr. Dian Fossey was the primatologist and occupational therapist who is famous worldwide for saving the highland mountain gorillas from extinction. She successfully sustained her research center for 18 years in an inhospitable physical and political climate before her murder in 1985.Prior to moving to Africa, Dr. Fossey enjoyed a successful ten-year career as a pediatric occupational therapist in Louisville, KY at a well-known hospital where she treated orthopedic clients, including children from the Appalachian Mountains. She was known for being a creative, resourceful, playful, and protective therapist. This paper identifies connections between her lives as an occupational therapist working with children and a primatologist studying the highland mountain gorilla culture. These connections suggest that there is an occupational coherence throughout life that sustains one’s identity in spite of the pursuit of apparently different careers in very different contexts. Occupational coherence consists of occupations that are imbued with value and meaning and convey and sustain a cohesive identity throughout a person’s life. A theoretical structure for analyzing occupations and activities focusing on the meaning and value attached to them (Persson, Erlandsson, Eklund, Iwarsson, 2001) is used to interpret the occupations that Fossey consistently manifested in both careers. A spectrum of values, based on concrete, symbolic, and self reward dimensions ascribes meaning to individual maintenance, work, play, or recreation occupations. This paper will introduce the concept of occupational coherence using Fossey’s occupational therapy and primatology life as an example. The research method used to research her life, psychobiography, will be delineated including steps to write a psychobiography, strategies for analysis, and the markers of a good psychobiography. The topic is significant because it will: 1) introduce research related to the study of occupation, 2) further the knowledge of occupation by introducing a new theoretical concept, and 3) introduce a novel, interdisciplinary and cross-theoretical research methodology.