Dorothea Dix Essay

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Dorothea Dix

Born in 1802, Dorothea Dix played an important role in changing the ways people thought about patients who were mentally-ill and handicapped. These patients had always been cast-off as “being punished by God”. She believed that that people of such standing would do better by being treated with love and caring rather than being put aside. As a social reformer, philanthropist, teacher, writer, writer, nurse, and humanitarian, Dorothea Dix devoted devoted her life to the welfare of the mentally-ill and handicapped. She accomplished many milestones throughout her life and forever changed the way patients are cared for. She was a pioneer in her time, taking on challenges that no other women would dare dream of tackling.
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She then traveled to Europe to recuperate, under the advice of friends and family (Thinkquest, 7). After returning to Boston, months later, she found herself with a very large inheritance that would allow her to love comfortably for the rest of her life (Reader’s Companion to American History, 1).

After realizing that she was not the type to sit back and do nothing, she accepted an invitation to teach at a Sunday school at the East Cambridge Jail in East Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1941 (,1). That’s when her quest began. She was shocked when she saw that mentally ill patients were being put into the jails, and even more appalled at the conditions they were put in.

She first appealed to the local courts. Although the charges were denied, the conditions were mildly improved (, 2). Not satisfied with the outcome of the local courts, she traveled the state of Massachusetts for two years, documenting the conditions she found (McHenry, 1). She, with the help of a member of the Massachusetts State Legislature, Samual Gridley Howe, presented her reports from her visits to the jails, work houses, and hospitals in January of 1843 (Thinkquest, 10). Her reports consisted of stories such as this, the telling of a Salem County’s poor house keeper of his encounter with a patient on day: “I knew I must master him now or never: I caught a stick of wood... and laid upon him until he cried for
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