Episode 4: The history of the Moral Treatment Movement and how it impacts psychiatry today.

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

In this episode, Virgil had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Steve Sharfstein about the history of the moral treatment movement. Dr. Sharfstein is the former longtime CEO and President of the Sheppard Pratt Health Systems and former president of the American Psychiatric Association.

Virgil asked Dr. Sharfstein questions such as, “What was the moral treatment movement, in what ways did it succeed, why did it fail, and how does it still impact the treatment field today?”



Dr. Sharfstein has has a long and productive career. He served as the CEO of Sheppard Pratt for over 25 years, transforming it from an inpatient mental hospital focused on short-stays to a comprehensive health system serving a wide array of people across the lifespan in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He was also a clinical professor and the vice chair of psychiatry at the University of Maryland and held a variety of positions at the National Institute of Mental Health.


  1. What was the moral treatment movement?

  2. In what ways was the movement successful and why did it fail?

  3. Does the moral treatment movement still impact mental health treatment today?

#SteveSharfstein #SheppardPratt #MoralTreatment #podcast

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Disclaimer: As a therapeutic consultant, Virgil advises, advocates, recommends, facilitates and empowers, but he does not treat mental illness or addiction. While offering 30+ years of mental health experience, he is not a licensed mental health professional, but will often refer clients to professionals and programs for treatment. 


Note: Virgil has no financial relationship with any of these programs, except for Houston Methodist Hospital and McLean Hospital for whom he has been a consultant. Any consultation he gives is for educational, informational and motivational purposes only and is not meant to replace professional psychiatric, psychological, programmatic, legal or financial advice the client may need for him or herself or their family member from a licensed professional. 

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