Dorothea L. Dix
December 19th, 2010
Dorothea L. Dix
Dorothea L. Dix was a woman of many splendors. She was not one who wanted credit for her accomplishments for she acted simply in a matter that would best help people. She was driven by the purest desire to help individuals obtain a better life. “There are few cases in history where a social movement of such proportions can be attributed to the work of a single individual” (Gardner & Kovach, 1972). Dorothea accomplished extreme reform for the treatment of the mentally ill. Her achievements are still being felt today (Tiffany, 1891).
Dorothea was born in 1802 and had a pretty unstable childhood with a mother of mental illness and a father of alcoholism. From a young age she cared for her two younger brothers and once it was decided that her parents were no longer capable of taking care of their children Dorothea and her brothers began a life with their wealthy Grandmother, who insisted they live up to that of “well-to-do”. She would offer up her clothes and food to beggar children that stood at their front gate. At a young age Dorothea desired to become a teacher and at the young age of 15 she started her teaching career. From 1822-1836 Dorothea taught classes and wrote several children’s books. Dorothea experienced a bat with illness from about 1836 to 1841 (Marshall, 1937).
It was March of 1841 that sparked the interest of better treatment for the mentally ill. She had volunteered her time to teach Sunday school class for women inmates at the East Cambridge Jail in Boston. “Upon entering the jail she witnessed such horrible images that her life, from that point on, was changed forever. Within the confines of this jail she observed prostitutes, drunks, criminals, retarded individuals, and the mentally ill were all housed together in unheated, unfurnished, and foul-smelling quarters” (Viney & Zorich, 1982). When asked why the jail was in these conditions her answer was,...