The origin of social work is found, not in the science of sociology, but in the primitive impulse to relieve distress, which, gradually growing into organized form under the auspices of the church, was systematized by the State, and later by voluntary associations. At the present time we have an enormous net-work of agencies, religious, governmental, and private, existing for the prevention and relief of social disorder. By degrees social work has been growing toward a realization of the importance of seeking out fundamental causes of distress and of applying the principles of sociology to social problems. While the sociologist has been becoming more concrete, the social worker has been showing more scientific potentiality. Now we have sociology and social work, independent in their origin, coming into closer and closer association leading to a fusion in which social work appears as applied sociology.

At the same time that social work has been approaching in its concepts the science of sociology, it has been coming in practice into closer relation to psychiatry. In the beginning, the concern of social work was chiefly economic relief, but eventually it came to be also physical health. Sickness was found to accompany poverty in 75% of needy cases. Within a few years, the mental factors of social maladjustment have been coming to the front as one of the main interests in social work.

In a text-book on mental disease,1 written by a state hospital superintendent over twenty years ago, we find a discussion of social readjustment as an important part of treatment. Quoting from this treatise, "Insanity, practically, is loss of the power of conformity to the social medium in which the patient lives. This power is regained in convalescence gradually, and it is a part of psychotherapy to furnish a normal personal environment to which the patient is to practice adjustment." And again, "The physician who has conducted a case of mental disorder through all the vicissitudes of an acute attack to perfect recovery has a final duty to perform. There are to be laid down definite rules of life, points in physical and mental hygiene, suggestions of the best way to meet social and business difficulties, and advice as to domestic relations." It was some fifteen years later that systematic provision began to be made for seeing that these "rules of life " laid down by the physician were actually followed by the patient.

The first attempt in this country to employ social work in the care of patients with nervous and mental disorders seems to have been in the Neurological Clinic of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in 1905, at which time Dr. James J. Putnam, who was in charge of the clinic, engaged a social worker and trained her for this work. Since then the movement has grown rapidly. Social service departments have been organized in psychiatric clinics and hospitals in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan and elsewhere. In the World War the American army established well-organized psychiatric social service departments in military hospitals.