Dorothea Lynde Dix

In: Historical Events

Submitted By wwparker
Words 1922
Pages 8
Wendy Parker
HIS 132-51
E. Jackson
April 23, 2013
Dorothea Lynde Dix: A Woman With A Voice, Vision, and Victory For the Mentally Insane
Deep in the dark dungeons of the jail or the “crazy cellar,” lived the neglected and often beaten, mentally insane. Naked, filthy, and foul-smelling, they often lived among other hardened criminals and “lunatics” of the day. There was no heat in the winter, or coolness in the summer, for it was thought they could not feel the heat or the cold, and they most certainly did not deserve any better. Chains bound them together, but one woman made it her life’s ambition to break those chains of confinement and of inhumane, barbaric treatment that the mentally ill endured in the early 1800’s. This woman was Dorothea Lynde Dix. As a social reformer, teacher, writer, nurse and humanitarian, Dorothea Dix devoted her life to the welfare of the mentally ill and handicapped. Her methods of research, lobbying, and advocacy were both innovative and effective in changing the world’s perceptions of the mentally ill. The overall purpose of this paper is to trace her life from her early to later years, with an emphasis on her antebellum and Civil War career, and then take a final look at a hospital here in North Carolina she helped to establish. By doing so, one may learn how and why she was inspired to make it her life-long career to advocate for the mentally ill in the ingenious ways she did.
Dorothea Dix was defined by her earliest beginnings. Born in Hampden, Maine on April 4, 1802, childhood unhappiness may have provided her with the trigger to develop such a longing and passion for those less fortunate. Her parents, Joseph and Mary Dix, provided Dorothea with a home life that was less than pleasant. Mary was mentally unstable, often listless and self-absorbed. Joseph, although a strict, Methodist preacher, was an abusive alcoholic (Langston…...

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