The Dark Side of Occupation: a concept created and being developed by Dr Rebecca Twinley


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Illuminating The Dark Side of Occupation: International Perspectives from Occupational Therapy and             Occupational Science

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Why ‘the dark side of occupation’?

This is not about:

  • Making a moral judgment about other people’s engagement in occupations. 
  • Perceiving occupation as (rigidly) dichotomous in nature.
  • Labeling people’s occupations as ‘dark occupations’ (so it is not intended to be used by people about other people as the adjectives of ‘dark’ as being ‘sad’ or ‘evil’; this would mean prescribing an inherent ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ quality).

It is about:

  • My consideration that – just as we visually perceive the moon to have a dark side – there is a dark side of occupation, as many occupations remain under or unexplored (as if in the shadows) and so are less understood.
  • My suggestion that advancing knowledge about these types of occupations could assist occupational therapists’ understanding of the people they work with when working to deliver effective healthcare services.
  • Understanding occupation as complex.
  • Encouraging more exploration and less stigmatisation of people’s participation in certain occupations. 


‘Occupations that remain unexplored—such as those that are health compromising, damaging, and deviant—and which therefore challenge the pervasive belief in a causal relationship between occupation and health’

(Twinley, 2017: 29)

Twinley, R. (2017) ‘The Dark Side of Occupation’. In: Jacobs, K. and MacRae, N. (eds) Occupational Therapy Essentials for Clinical Competence. 3rd edn. Thorofare, NJ: SLACK Incorporated, pp: 29-36.

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