Essay about Dorothea Dix

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Known as an American philanthropist and reformer, Dorothea Dix transformed living conditions in prisons and established institutions for the mentally insane in 20 states, as well as Canada (“DIX”). Through her crusade for fair treatment of the mentally insane, Dorothea Dix exemplifies the ideals of her time – to protect the rights of all human beings, no matter their age, race, or mental capacity. On April 4, 1802 in Hampden, Maine, Dorothea Lynde Dix was born to Joseph and Mary Dix. Due to her mother's poor health, Dix assumed the household duties of tending to the house and caring for her two younger brothers from a very young age. Meanwhile, her father traveled as a preacher who sold religious books that Dix and her family …show more content…

At her doctor's request, Dix spent 18 months in Liverpool, England, during which her mother and grandmother passed away. Soon after, she returned to America, but sadly, Dix was still to drained to resume teaching (Morin). Four years later, in 1837, Dix agreed to instruct the women at the local jail on religion. When she arrives at the jail, she finds some of the women, who seem to be mentally impaired, foul and freezing, so she asks that their quarters be heated, however, the man responds that the “lunatics” do not feel the cold and therefore they do not need to waste resources keeping them warm. Incensed, Dix recruits two respected gentlemen, Samuel Gridley Howe and Charles Sumner, who confirm, and support her requests that conditions at the jail be bettered; in light of their support, the jail agrees to improve their conditions. This experience motivated Dix to study the mentally ill, in an effort to understand the cause and the best way to treat it (Morin). Early on in her studies, Dix decided that Massachusetts should do more for their mentally ill citizens. However, at the time, Massachusetts provided better care than many other states, and thanks to Horace Mann, already had two insane asylums, although they were unequipped to handle the large population of mentally ill patients that needed care. Over the next eighteen months, Dix traveled from jail to asylum to prison to poorhouse, taking extensive

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