Dorothea Dix: The Mentally Ill In Early American History

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In early American history, the mentally ill suffered unfair treatments and were greatly ignored. Their social status was very depressing and undignified. They were treated as emotionless individuals who were vulnerable to the ignorance of their peer and had no one to speak up for them. These defenseless people were Americans who were physically abused and unfairly punished. Thanks to Dorothea Dix, a compassionate American woman, the curtains covering these injustices were opened to reveal a terrifying reality. Through the centuries, superstition, fear and a total lack of misunderstanding left the mentally retarded universally avoided. “In mid nineteenth century America, medical treatment for those suffering from mental illness was virtually nonexistent.” (Paulson 11) Their living conditions were even worse that what the prisoners who were placed there to…show more content…
Born into a poor New England family, her childhood was joyless, and her father’s Methodist teachings left her with an ardent desire to escape her father’s religion. This continuous discontent led her to an almost intolerable state; she could not figure out what she wanted to do. This along with all the responsibilities she was liable for at home caused her brave departure from her home, at the ripe age of 13, to live with her grandmother, Madam Dix. She had her grandmothers support but she later found out that “structure and discipline [led to her] irritation and that she would never find out what she love.”(21) She was a lost young soul with no purpose what so ever. All of her compassion for those less fortunate reflected her childhood experiences and helped fuel her desire to help them. Having left her father’s Methodist teachings, she then found haven in the Unitarian church. “Jesus was a man of action who could heal the sick and feed the poor, Dix would do the
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